US Grappling Greensboro, February 18, 2012


  • lost 5 matches (4 to the same person, and 3 to her same armbar!), won 1
  • Did not have any matches go over 10 minutes (yay!)
  • Got a gnarly black eye from one of my matches
  • refereed for beginner & novice nogi and white belts for several hours
  • got to roll with Josh and meet his wife Jen. Josh also helped coach me in some matches and gave me a huge list of things to work on. 😉 Thanks a ton.
  • followed — or ignored — my GPS as it routed me up and down the backsides of mountains between here and Greensboro

So I tried cutting weight last week, in the hope that there would be other women in my weight class. But instead of losing the 3 pounds like I asked, however, my body decided to gain 3 pounds. W. T. H. Bad, body, bad. Since I knew I couldn’t lose that much on Thursday & Friday alone, I ate normally those two days. In the end, though, it didn’t matter, as I weighed in fully clothed and was still the smallest blue belt female.

Friday: Conspiracy!

I left work early since Google Maps told me it would take 3 hours to get to the far side of Greensboro. When I plugged the address in to my GPS, though, it only said 2 hours, so I didn’t know who to trust. As I was leaving town, my GPS kept trying to route me east and down the back roads. I wanted to stay on the interstates, though, so I ignored the GPS and headed down the interstate.

I didn’t get far before I got stopped by an accident up ahead. According to the signs, I was 10 miles back from it, and traffic wasn’t moving. Spent 20-30 minutes creeping forward to the next exit. My GPS tried to make me turn around so it could send me east again, but I ignored it again. I’ll just take this other route that will take me around the accident and get me back on the interstate further down. Apparently everyone else knew about that way, though, as there were tractor trailers converging from three directions, and traffic had stopped moving that way, too, since it wasn’t intended to handle that much traffic. Plus it was now after 5pm, and the post-work traffic was tangled in that, too.

So I finally listened to my GPS and let it route me back around and down the back roads. I lost an hour and a half (!!) trying to get out of my own county. Ree-diculous, I tell you. So I finally really left just as it was getting dark. My GPS took great delight in sending me careening down some switchbacking mountain roads (which I’m sure if I drove in the daylight would scare the pants off me — but since it was dark, I couldn’t see how close to a sheer drop I actually was), making me switch roads every few miles, and not showing me that the road ahead forks and that my road is not the one that continues straight. She would announce, “Recalculating,” in that smug voice and send me scrambling to figure out how to turn around. And the few times I finally was on the right road and doing good, I’d end up behind someone who was going 5-10mph under the speed limit.

It’s a conspiracy!

Called Chrissy when I got to the Greensboro city limits to tell her that my GPS claimed I would be 5 minutes late for weigh-ins. (Which is just silly because I left 3.5 hours ago for a 2-hour drive!!! Anyway.) I was 10 minutes late with all the traffic lights (and another “Recalculating” misstep). They waited for me, and then she told me to just take my shoes off and weigh. Came in at 133.x, and she said I was still the smallest blue belt female.

Saturday: My matches

Woke up early Saturday and could not get back to sleep. Later, couldn’t eat a lot for breakfast. Bundle of nerves had taken up residence in my gut. It’s not usually that bad, and was further weird because I had no reason to stress over this tournament. It was Submission Only, for one, but I also knew my preparation had been lacking (all the work travel, plus stupid injuries [I’m talking to you, toenail] and not being able to resurrect my “intensity” mindset recently in training), so I knew it wouldn’t be the most brilliant day. But my gut didn’t want to listen to all the logical reasons it shouldn’t be nervous, and instead made my morning miserable by dancing and being weird. *le sigh*

At the venue, I met Josh and Jen. Later Josh and I rolled to warm up, and then he had some advice for me. Seems I’m still leaving a limb behind in some positions and doing nothing to get it back.

The whole tournament experience was great overall. Wins are great, but then I think it’s too easy to assume you know what you did right in them; in losses, though, you know you did something wrong and so will look for it and try to fix it. But maybe the best thing was that I was trying to use what Josh had just told me, plus he also had feedback for me from the matches he saw, so I was able to start working those in immediately.

Also, he pointed that I need to hit the weight room. Which is going to mean finding time to go disassemble and move my power rack from my parents’ house and set it up in my basement.

And at the end of the day, I have two new friends in North Carolina and an invitation to come down for Women’s Open Mats down their way.

Nogi, weight class

There were 3 of us for Intermediate We actually did the absolute first, which oddly enough just had me and Mary, though we were the same weight class, and then Barbara did the weight class division.

Barbara and her husband were kind enough to record all of my matches, too, so that I didn’t have to find someone to use my iPod to do it. 😛

First match, me against Mary Holmes from Team ROC. She finally got me in guard and locked on to my wrist; I knew I was in trouble, and then she armbarred me with this armbar that included a little twist in it, so that I couldn’t get my weight back down as that put pressure on the outside (I think) of my elbow. She said it was from Dave Camarillo, so I’ll later have to pore through Submit Everyone, which has a giant chapter on armbars, and see if I can’t find it. Match went 6:58.

Nogi, absolute

First match with Barbara, a friend from Richmond, Team Yamasaki. She also caught an armbar at one point that I seriously considered tapping to — and I apparently raised my hand in preparation — but then she shifted and I thought I had an escape so drove my raised tapping hand out to post at the same time that she shifted again and pulled me back over. My hand hit her knee (I know I thought it was the mat), but the referee decided that I’d tapped and stopped the match. I didn’t see much point in arguing, plus Barb and I both had more matches ahead of us, so just let it go. Match went 3:53.

Watching the match on video, I do see what the ref saw and I understand why he made that call. I still don’t agree with it, of course, because I was not tapping, but he doesn’t have access to my internal dialog. I think he also should have considered the fact that we were both changing directions at the time it happened, making it far more likely to be incidental contact. And he had no way to know — nor should I expect him to know — that I always always always also SAY “Tap” in tournaments, so that there’s never any question about whether I tapped or not. (Also, generally the opponent lets go immediately, which is nice as that takes the pressure off.)

Especially after I’d reffed later, I understand how sometimes hand movements are ambiguous: I had a guy who was apparently fanning himself with his hand, which looks exactly like tapping air; I called the tap, he protested that he hadn’t tapped, and his opponent hadn’t let go (because he hadn’t felt a tap), so I let them continue. Fan boy was tapping for reals within 10s anyway. I also had several false alarms where I’d dart in to stop the match but both guys continued as if nothing had happened, so I assumed that nothing had.

Anyway. Second match in nogi absolute was against Mary again. She armbarred me with the same armbar!!!, only much faster this time. 2:37.

Maybe if I didn’t have arms I would be doing much better right now, hmm…

Gi, weight class

There were 4 of us going blue belt gi. (One of the girls, Brittany, doesn’t train nogi.)

Yeah, Mary again. Yeah, Armbar again. I’m sensing a pattern here… *shifty eyes* 4:52.

Oh, yes, this was the one with the takedown that didn’t work out quite as well as she expected, lol.

Gi, absolute

My first match here was against Brittany. I pulled guard, and almost immediately the arch in my left foot completely cramped and locked up. When I exclaimed and grabbed it, Brittany was nice enough to give me space and let me massage it out (which involved punching the bottom of my foot until it released). (P.S. Owwww!!!!) I assumed I would be disqualified on that, but she said she didn’t mind if we started again. Very generous of her, and I appreciated that very much.

Somewhere in the match, she got me with a nice knee to the eye, and I’ve got a black eye to show for it.

Actually won this match with a RNC. I remember that as soon as my arm slid in, I knew it had clicked perfectly in to place, I heard her coach say, “You’re okay, Brittany.” Sorry, coach, but that one was in tight and I knew it. Match went 7:02.

Second match was… dun dun dun!… Mary again. It was over quickly, as I expected her to feed for the armbar as she had been doing, and I was so focused on defending the armbar that I ignored all other possible submissions from technical mount — and she snatched up the bow-and-arrow. Doh. 1:11.


My teammate Robert came down to compete, as well, though I didn’t see much of his matches as I was either competing or reffing at the same time. His daughter told me he got 3rd in his gi division, though.

And Neal, who trains with us some Saturdays, also came down and competed in nogi divisions. He helped me warm up before one of my nogi matches. I didn’t hear how he did.

Saturday: A new angle

After I’d had some time to change, eat, and rest, Andrew sent me over to relieve Josh as referee so that he could go compete in his purple belt division. And they called purple belts right in the middle of a match, so I just crept out there and took his place. And then generally had to act as if I knew exactly what I was doing. Holy cats! I think I was more nervous for this than I was for my own matches.

Thankfully it’s all Submission Only, so I didn’t have to track points. I’m not sure that I could have done that many things at once! I did try to practice later, as the guys got tired and didn’t scramble as much, and silently counted out the points for sweeps, guard passes, and mount.

Refereeing is hard work, even for Submission Only. Your brain is telling you either to passively watch the pretty grappling (or, in my case, a lot of cringe-worthy grappling, as I had lighter weight novice, beginner, and white belt divisions, lol) or to coach one or both competitors because you know exactly what they need to do. So, I was fighting against that and trying to run around the match and keep focused on the hand that would probably be the one to tap. Even then, I was still out of position for several taps as I couldn’t get around to that side quickly enough.

There’s also keeping an eye on other rings, both so that they don’t crash on top of your fighters and that you don’t crash on theirs. And the edges of your mat — I had a corner mat, so I had two edges that the competitors seemed to gravitate towards. (Part of it was, I think, because of the divisions I had; lots of wildness involved.) I was very unsure about stopping and restarting my fighters, especially because so many things in jiu-jitsu are action/reaction, and I didn’t want to mess up someone’s grappling momentum if I could help it. I probably should have stopped several matches in quite a few more places and moved them back to center, as they’d tend to explode suddenly and end up off the mat. One guy even had a locked-in submission, but as his competitor bridged, they tumbled off the mats. (But it was the only direction the escapee could have bridged to escape, so it wasn’t fleeing the mats.)

I had one kid suddenly flee the mat to go throw up. I had no idea what to do then, and neither did my table worker, but thankfully Andrew was coming by just then and helped out.

Had a novice kid who had a little victory celebration when he won. He slapped the mat and crowed, “That’s what I’m talkin’ bout!”

Suddenly had 2 junveniles competing in a single adult division on my mat. Both fought adults for the first round. The rule is that even though they’re in an adult division, kid tapping rules apply: if I think they’re in a dangerous submission and are not tapping because they’re stubborn, I have the responsibility to tap for them. I was most terrified in these two matches, in case I should forget or accidentally let something go too long. (Interestingly, both juveniles won their matches. Then, to speed things up, Jarrett took the first place match with the kids to another match, which made me feel a whole lot better.)

Had only 1 competitor who questioned a call — well, a lack thereof. He had an armbar set up, but the arm wasn’t quite extended and the other guy had some room to move his head up. So the armbaree tried to stand (my brain was pointing out how that was actually valid here) and (in my opinion) inadvertently lifted the armbarer a few inches off the mat; then his brain did a “Whoa, he’s heavy,” his body staggered under the weight, and he dropped his opponent. Opponent immediately cried, “That was a slam, ref! That’s a DQ!” I didn’t see it that way, and I told the guy so. He frowned, but continued. (And then he lost, and I felt bad, in case I’d missed an obvious violation. Crap, second guessing all the way.)

As I was refereeing, an actual fight broke out on the next mat over when a ref stopped a match & said a guy tapped, and the guy claimed he didn’t.

Saturday: Aftereffects

We were cleaned up and out of the gym by 9:30 or so. We all stopped for dinner — and me for coffee — and then I headed back up the mountains (sticking to straighter roads this time) because the forecast up here was for 6-12 inches of snow. None had materialized by the time I got back, though this morning it started up. Now there’s probably 6 inches out there, more falling, and the roads are covered. Looks like someone’s working from home tomorrow…

Oh, and this morning I’m so sore! Everywhere hurts.

Also saw in the paper this morning that my high school wrestling team just won their 11th state title, and by a landslide.

Grappling again with US Grappling next weekend in Richmond.

11 thoughts on “US Grappling Greensboro, February 18, 2012

  1. Mary is awesome. And, there’s going to be an open mat with the NC ladies in Durham next month (3/18, if you’re free) if you want to come and train with her and the rest of them. I’ll be here, too.

    Also, I checked the weights – you and Mary tied for tiniest blue belts. 🙂

    1. I need to be stronger. I haven’t really emphasized the weight room before because I train almost exclusively with guys, and they will always be stronger than me no matter how many weights I lift. However, I’m not as strong as the girls in my own weight class. Need to fix that.

    2. Because its always better to be strong and skilled than just skilled.

      Grip control, submissions, etc… Are all a little easier when you have some spare muscle.

      Also, when you haven’t done much lifting you can make large improvements very rapidly, so your time investment pays off at a higher rate.

  2. Ref-ing is harder then most people realize and it is a thankless job. What you discribe didn’t sound like an illegal slam, although the armbarer could have been disqualifed for talking during the match (under IBJJF rules).

    I also wish there were after the fact DQs for celebrating after a vicotry. A fist pump is one thing but more and more people are carrying on like they won Black Belt Worlds.

    The throw-up sounds like a DQ for fleeing the mat, but I guess he didnt actually throw up on the mat. What did you do with that one?

    1. Well, *I* stared after him and said, “Wha-?”

      Andrew (one of the in-charge guys) waited to tell the guy that if he ran off again or threw up on the mat, that he’d be DQ’d. He let the guy get away with the one time because it was a novice or beginner division and the guy’s first tournament.

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