Women’s Grappling Camp at Fifty/50

Camp! Campcampcampcampcamp!

Oh, wait — no more camp. *sadface*

Seriously, ladies, you should go to camp. There are hardly words to describe the experience and the benefits. (Of course, I’m gonna try anyway 😉 )

This camp not only had Emily Kwok and Valerie Worthington, who run the camps, but also Hannette Staack and Michelle Nicolini AND with special guest Sayaka Shioda (2007 ADCC -55kg winner. Also, judo black belt, Sambo black belt, & BJJ black belt):

Hannette, Sayaka, & Michelle


Friday evening I drove up to Maggie’s house, just west of DC. (It is a sign of how much driving I did this weekend that I no longer think of the distance between Maggie’s and the gym as “far.”) We couldn’t make it to the welcome dinner in the city, but we hung out before I had to find a pillow.

Saturday Morning

Color belts everywhere! Many women I know from the Richmond camp, more from tournaments & open mats, and some from online, and many more who I didn’t know. Ladies came in from California, Texas, the Midwest, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and New England.

Saturday morning started bright and early with Hannette in the gi. We started with a takedown, and then moved to defending and passing the spider guard. Then later drilled standing passes against open guard. Throughout, Hannette would have us get in 3 lines for a monkey-in-the-middle review of the drills — middle does forward roll to one side, 3 pushups, then does the technique on the one partner; then the middle turns and does the same to the other partner. 1 min per person. I could only get 2 or 3 reps per technique, but the cheering and the time limit somehow compress the technique better into your brain. (Also, is fun.)

Finished up with specific sparring from the guard, switching top and bottom after a minute. When I got tired, I started pulling guard and playing from there in both rounds. Didn’t realize until afterwards, though. (Guess who is comfortable playing guard, lol?)

Camp picture:

Now here’s a nice problem to have: trying to fit all brown and black belts in one line!

(Also, it’s a little strange for me to be in a room full of people and to take a picture, and for me to NOT automatically be the smallest one.)

Lunch involved a drive to the nearby Whole Foods and me driving in through the Exit. Oi, city driving! I needed an out-of-state license plate!

Saturday Afternoon

Michelle taught the afternoon session, also in the gi — sweeps from spider guard. Hannette and Michelle said they didn’t coordinate their sessions, either.

First, though, Michelle did a warmup with us that included a lot of open guard passing drills, and one of her “warmup” exercises was pure jiu-jitsu magic and the entire room said, “ooohh!”

  • You’re standing in front of their open guard; they have their feet on your hips
  • Grip both their pant cuffs & step around to the side — so far, same as all other drills
  • They start to turn towards you to grab your near leg & attempt a single
  • Before they turn over all the way, swing your free leg around their head all the way to the other side
  • Sit down on the trapped leg’s hip as the opposite elbow goes to the mat in front of their hips
  • Now trap their top arm and/or extend your trapped leg to free it
  • Get over/under and take the back

Magic, I’m telling ya — simple and logical and graceful.

Specific sparring at the end: ten or so on the mat, then the line goes out one at a time to engage. Roll to points or submission. On-the-mat stays for 2 rounds, then joins the line.

Then some 3-min rounds. Got to roll with Emily once, and I tried some of the techniques from her video series. And she laughed, and then returned the favor, but for real this time. Heh.

Saturday Evening

We all grabbed dinner after training on Saturday and headed for Tori’s house for the Round Table Discussion with Hannette and Michelle. They both talked about how they started jiu-jitsu and their journey so far. Sayaka also told her story through an interpreter, Yoko (?), who was a camper who is Japanese.

Sunday Morning

So, during the warmup for the morning session — in the gi with both Hannette & Michelle, scheduled to be a review from Saturday — I started feeling a little woozy. Not breathing well, room felt stuffy, started overheating…. Figured I could just shake it off. Then there were some forward and backward rolls, and then some more warmup drills… and then I almost passed out. Ended up sliding down the wall. Oooo, not cool…

Michelle helped me get my gi off and Val helped me off the mat. I spent most of the morning session sitting in the office, eating my neglected breakfast and drinking as much fluid as I could get my hands on. I seemed stable enough by lunch, so I followed some of the other ladies across the street to a sandwich place. And then while waiting in line, everything started up again. ……….

So we pumped me full of calories and carbs and fluids and waited until I could walk in a straight line again, ducked next door to the 7-11 for portable fluids, and then went back for the afternoon session. I changed for it, but ended up only watching.

Sunday Afternoon

Nogi session; included a crazy relay-race warmup from Emily, which turned in to quite possibly the most intense relay race I’ve ever seen.

Sayaka, with some help from a Japanese girl at campYoko, taught the first nogi session after lunch. First a takedown and then a rolling kneebar from turtle. “Use their foot as a pillow,” she said, to indicate the positioning.

One of my favorite moments of the whole weekend came during this session. At camp, when an instructor wants to indicate a break (say, between instruction and going off to drill), they say, “One, two, three,” and then everyone claps all together. Since Sayaka had taught, it was her responsibility to count, so she did: “Ichi, ni, san,” and we all clapped, and the delight on her face was priceless.

(To bring everyone back together, the instructors use a whistle. Hannette loves the whistle. Be warned, Chicago!)

Then Michelle taught a toe hold and another kneebar, both starting from inside the guard.

They rolled again, but I still needed to be smart (especially since I was driving and so couldn’t just pass out in the car). I even went and changed in to my street clothes because the desire to get out there and train anyway nearly overwhelmed me. *sigh*

Sunday Evening

Sunday, we drove in to DC and ate at Old Ebbitt Grill, about a block from the White House. Then, since there were so many tourists among us, we did a short walk around the Mall, starting at the White House and looping out to the Washington Monument

Monday Morning

Monday morning’s session was a “Troubleshooting” session — gi and nogi; you could roll or drill or ask questions of the black belts. Whatever you wanted. I tried to do a little of everything. Got some good & fun rolls in, including one with Hannette, and also watched & listened to Emily as ladies asked her questions ranging from technique to her own story in jiu-jitsu.

Hannette & Michelle were going to run a co-ed seminar in the afternoon, but I needed to get home. So, reluctantly, after a final lunch with some of the other women, I packed up my car and headed out. (Good thing, too, as apparently a big storm hit all along the second half of my trip after I had passed through.)

I’m still a little nauseated, so have been drinking as much fluid & electrolytes as I can stand since I got home. I even called in from work today as well so that I could sleep and eat and drink and recover.

Camp was everything I needed it to be, and then some. If you get a chance to go, I would highly, highly recommend it.

Draculino seminar

Draculino did a seminar today at our gym.

(By the way, Draculino is smaller than I thought he was.)

The seminar was all about attacking turtle/all-fours, and everything ended in chokes. Painful, painful chokes, lol. Seriously, each one below is worse than the one before it. (So, note to self: do not turtle next week!!!!)

After a brief introduction and welcome from Draculino, we went straight in to drilling. I got to drill with Aaron Barr, a purple belt from Top Game Academy in Richmond; he got his blue under Tim. (Hi, Aaron! *waves*)

Draculino talked to us before one of the chokes and explained that in Brazil, techniques don’t have names, not the way we Americans give them names. Instead, they’ll call it “Oh, that sweep Roleta does all the time” or “Yeah, Renzo’s guillotine.”

Then at the end, he talked a little more about chokes in general. First, he said the gi doesn’t do the choking; your wrist and forearm bone do. If you just haul on the gi, you’ll give your partner a burn, but won’t choke him. Second, he said to believe in the choke and keep the pressure. That chokes aren’t like armbars or wristlocks where something feels like it’s going to break, so sometimes you have to wait the other person out when you know have the technique correct.


September 10th!

I think the cost is $75. Don’t know the time of the seminar yet, though. I believe he’ll also be available on Sept 9th for privates.

Romulo Barral seminar

So, I didn’t plan go to the Hannette Staack seminar in Richmond at first because Yoshi had a fight scheduled for the same day. Then his opponent backed out, but the boys were talking about a Romulo Barral seminar the same day down in Knoxville, TN. But then they stopped talking about it, and then guys started getting sick or announcing plans for the weekend, plus there was a home football game, so I thought no one was going. And then last night around 10 p.m., I get a text from Justin asking if I want to go to the Romulo seminar in the morning; if so, be at his place at 5:45 a.m.

Oh, my gracious, that’s early…

But, obviously, I showed up, else there wouldn’t be a post… Made it on time, too, which, if you’ve ever seen me before 7 a.m. (and most days, before 9 a.m.), you know that’s doing really good.

Everyone else had backed out, so it was just me and Justin. It’s about a 3.5-hr drive to Samuel Braga’s school in Knoxville. We passed most of the time catching up on Fightworks Podcast episodes.

Seminar was from 10 a.m. till about 1 p.m. Wasn’t packed out like Justin said the Draculino seminar was, but was still pretty full. Romulo went over spider guard techniques — setups, transitions, sweeps, and submissions. He started with a few things that he wanted to show, and then he moved in to “If/then” scenarios, where we supplied the “if” and he supplied the “then.” I tried to write them all down, but he went so fast! He’s a very energetic guy. Showed things many times and explained it well, but still seemed to move fast. (Maybe it was just the caffeine wearing off for me.)

(I had issues with spider guard all day, too, and the simple stuff — grips, keeping my feet down near the elbows, keeping one leg straight. Bah. Haven’t gotten to play it much, though. Guys see me trying to set it up, and they clamp their elbows in tight and back away. Aw, c’mon, guys, lemme play it. My spider guard game sucks, I promise, because no one lets me practice it.)

(1) Just getting in to and moving around in spider guard as your partner tries to walk around your guard. Everything came back to here. He kept emphasizing to relax, relax, relax — this shouldn’t be a position where tired yourself out trying to hold it. This is a defensive, but relaxed, position. Also, he called feet-in-the-biceps “grips” all day. So I might, too.

(2) Partner breaks one bicep grip and grabs the pants inside your knee. Kick that leg out while pulling in on their sleeve to break the grip, and then “lasso leg” that arm (leg loops over their arm, and foot goes behind their triceps; pull in deep; you should have their hand trapped deep in by your own hip). So then the partner hips in to break your other bicep grip and tries to pass to the side you have trapped, pressing your knee and foot out of the way. Swing back around to square and lasso leg the other arm.

(3a) They try to bring your knees together to double-break, smash, and pass. All timing — drop your feet to their hips as you pull forward on their sleeves. Should bend them over at the waist. Then you can work back to spider guard/lasso leg.

(3b) They try to throw both hips in and chuck your legs over your head. Timing again — drop one foot to a butterfly hook under one hamstring. Done. Now back to center.

(4a) Partner has double-unders. Get normal spider guard sleeve grips; now press forward on their forearms while walking your hips back. Legs heavy. Romulo talked about how he’ll play his defensive spider guard game, especially this one, over and over again until the guy is frustrated and tired, and then he’ll switch to his offensive spider guard game.

(4b) Partner has double-unders, and you can’t break them with (4a). Bridge your hips straight up and push up on their hands, sliding them along your legs, until you can pull a foot through or two through. Start pushing back to spider guard.

Offensive Spider Guard: From having a lasso leg at any point, switch your grip from their sleeve to their near collar. They’ll probably unwrap their arm (and you can help by pulling out your leg) and put it inside. Romulo said he wants everyone to start playing this kind of spider guard, and said he’ll tell everyone this wherever he goes. So, there ya go. Everything from here on started this way.

(5) First, pendulum sweep — keep solid pressure in their bicep with your remaining foot while using the other in a “one, two, three” swing down and around, letting up just a little on the far arm as you swing through so you aren’t stopping them. If they don’t base out, continue the sweep and come up on top. Second, triangle — if they base out, which they can because you don’t have their arm, shoot your hips up while popping the foot on the bicep forward and sliding their arm backwards. Romulo also pointed out here that you must try the sweep for real; that if you try to set up the triangle from the beginning, that you’ll probably fail.

(6) They get to both feet, but crouch low. Take your free leg and slide it between theirs while pressing upwards with the bicep grip. This should make them stand and step forward, so they’re now standing over you, with one leg back and one leg over you and by your hip. Must keep pressure on the bicep. Let go of the collar grip and loop around the foot by your hip (almost like you would try to set up an ankle lock). Move your free leg inside to make your top X-guard hook; then release the bicep grip and bring that foot inside their knee for the bottom X-guard hook. Keep the sleeve for how. Use the X-guard to make them step closer so you can release the sleeve and get a good grip on their far pant cuff. Use your bottom X-guard hook to push out on their knee to sweep them in that direction. Turn belly down, rotating them by their ankles (you do still have them both trapped, don’t you?). You can come up to your feet, using their feet to control them.

(Extra tip on something he showed briefly — on de la Riva hook, use the hook to extend them before sweeping.)

(7) They stand. Pull your free leg in front of both of theirs, making them end up with both feet on the side opposite from where you have the spider guard grips. Use the spider guard grips to force them closer to your head (you still have the collar grip to control them, too). If needed, drop the collar grip to push their far knee out further. Now take your near leg and swing it back in and up, getting a kind of upside-down de la Riva hook. Sit up, switching your hips and scissor-sweeping them back. Come up on top.

(8) You have lasso leg, and they pin your knees and try to pressure pass. Must keep pressure on the bicep. Let go of the collar and reach back for the triceps. Kick the trapped leg straight while pulling on the triceps and pushing on the opposite bicep. Sit up and swing around to the omoplata.

We took the group picture then, and then anyone who wanted to stay and do some specific sparring could. Justin and I did a round or two together, and then everyone switched. There was a purple belt woman there from Alabama (I didn’t catch her name); I wanted to run over and work with her, but she hurt her knee during the last set and had to sit out, so I sat out, too. Justin did one round with a blue belt guy and then waved me in for the second round. Most everyone else left after that, so Romulo and Samuel played around for a while. (Looked a lot like this, though Romulo is limited to bottom half guard right now because of his knee injury. He had wanted to roll with everyone at the seminar, but with his knee still recovering, that wasn’t a good idea.)

(That’s Justin in the black gi.)

Justin and I went next door to this great Mediterranean place for lunch, er, mid-afternoon snack. (The “cheese baklava,” sadly, turned out to mostly resemble a single-cheese, slightly sweet tiropita. But the fried zucchini was fantastic.) Then we drove back mostly again to the sounds of the Fightworks Podcast.

The last leg of the trip, though, I turned it off and asked that, since I had him trapped for the remaining hour and a half (*weg*), could we please discuss my jiu-jitsu and what I needed to be working on. I wish I had taken notes, because it was sooooo helpful and very encouraging. Now I just have to remember it all!!

  • One of the first things he mentioned was exactly what I had noticed on Thursday — I was getting to mount and s-mount, but couldn’t finish the armbar at all. I thought my timing was off. He said my order of operations was off. The problem was that I was getting to s-mount before getting my grips on the arm. So then I’d often have to dig for that arm, which gave him time to escape, and, even if I did dig it out, my grips weren’t as deep as they needed to be. I wonder how many other places something like that is happening.
  • Speaking of timing, I still hesitate too much. Need to commit.
  • Take guys out of their game and their comfort positions. Don’t play their game. Romulo talked a lot about this, too. If the guy always passes to the right, make him pass to the left. If he’s really good in one position, don’t let him go there. Also, work on framing in such a way that the guy thinks he’s stable, but any movement will result in him sliding off or giving up space.
  • In nogi, think of grips in terms of surface area. I try too often to use my hands as grips in nogi, and that simply doesn’t work for me because I have small hands (small surface area) compared to who I’m attacking. Must have underhooks and overhooks. Also, a deep grip with no surface area isn’t necessarily a tight grip.
  • We talked a lot about simply controlling guys rather than always being concerned about having to finish them with a submission, especially for me. (Similar to what Scott had said a few weeks ago.) And if I find myself fixating on a submission (i.e., can’t see past it), to force myself to catch-and-release and to purposely not try to finish it. Romulo also touched on this today, saying that he doesn’t care how many times his students tap someone or not so long as they’re working on new things and not just sitting around on their favorite moves.
  • Also talked about how to start working on things. (A lot echoed Kintanon’s advice earlier.) He likes to have 2-3 things (usually separate for gi and nogi) that he’s working on at a time, and his goal is to attempt at least one of the bunch on everyone he rolls with in a given night. If he gets it, great, that’s 1 rep. If not, great, too; he’s found a way not to do it. His 2-3 things are also not related to each other and he tries to find things that aren’t too specific (e.g., would pick “kimura” over “kimura from north/south”) so that he always has something at least nearby that he can work towards. (I think my problem is largely picking something too specific and then never being able to get there.) Also, he works these things for 6-9 months rather than just a few weeks.

There was more, so much more, and I was very sad to see our exit arrive. I really wanted him to keep talking. *le sigh* But, he said I should bug him in class more about these things, too. (People should learn to be careful about saying these things to me…) I’m also going to try to remember more of what we talked about, too.

So, an unexpected, long, but very fun day.


Friday Night

I made it down to Yamasaki Training Center (formerly Mechanicsville Martial Arts) in time for Friday class. First, a flow roll to warm up. Rolled with Cheryl. Then actual rounds. Sat out at the beginning, and then one guy had to come out with a bloody nose so I took his spot. (At least I knew to be a bit careful with his partner!) Rolled the rest of that round. Geez oh pete, suddenly so tired. No energy, and my quads felt like concrete. Urgh. I survived, though, despite the attempts to submit me from within my own guard (um, no) and even swept him a few times and caught a few triangles, though couldn’t quite get the angle to finish.

Then a round with Chrissy, and she kept me under mount while teasing me with saying she had a better upa technique. Then Klint tossed me around gently for a round and pointed out lots of things I was doing wrong (which, at that point, was actually everything — so tired, and brain was starting to go at that point, too). Notes from Klint: sit in & open hips at the same time; pass the legs before trying to pass the arms; free the arms before moving forward. There was more, but my brain exploded.

A final round with TheMikeByrd, and he played with me and let me pretend I did some things right cuz he’s a nice guy like that.

Then technique: butterfly/hook/half-guard “flippy over pass”, as Chrissy called it. From coming in to butterfly or whatever, underhook the far leg; head on their far hip, looking at the ground on the other side. Other arm slides back along your ribs, keeping the elbow tight so it can’t be attacked, and grab the pants at the knee of their other leg. Now drive that leg back and down while opening your hips to pass; your shoulder drives into their stomach. Walk toward their legs (which seems counter-intuitive, but works) to get a better position, then come to side control.

Chrissy did finally show me her better upa technique. Thank you. 🙂


Saturday morning, Chrissy, Maggie, and I left Richmond to head to Hybrid Training Center. We allowed extra time because traffic is generally horrendous going through the tunnel, but it turned out to be extra hideous, and we arrived over an hour later than we’d planned, so we missed most of Addie’s seminar. The seminar was a fundraiser for Andre Margutti.

We did see a couple of techniques — a sweep when they stand up in guard, with a pass to side control, and then a guard recovery from side control.

  • As they stand, control one sleeve and slide in tight to the other leg. Pass the sleeve to the other hand, which reaches up between their legs to grab. First hand now reaches up to their collar on the opposite side or to the back of their sleeve. Front foot goes out in front of their far leg. Pull down with the arms while pushing/blocking with the foot. As they fall, you come up on top of both of their legs. Drop your hips to pin their legs. Front leg windshield-wipers across to hook over their ankles and pin. Then slide around to the far side to side control.
  • From side control, they leave an arm between your legs. (This happens to me frequently, oddly enough.) Reach around with the outside hand and grab their sleeve. (This technique works if they aren’t tight with that arm. If they’re tight, problems.) Take the inside foot and slide it inside this trapped arm. Use your foot to pull it away from your body; bring the other foot over to go in their bicep. So now you have a spider guard-type control on that side. Hip away, using that control, and then slide your knee through to guard.

Women’s Open Mat followed. Rolled with Maggie first to warm up, then with two 13-year-old girls that came down with Barbara. They’ve both been training for about 2 years and have good technique. One of them threw armbars like crazy; this is going to be Theresa in a few years. Also got a round with Rosie, a small part of a round with Barbara, and a couple of rounds with a girl I think named Yvette. Toward the end of the open mat, Antwain Britt and Scott Oates joined us, and I got a round with Scott, a black belt and the BJJ instructor at Hybrid. He let me play and pretend I knew some jiu-jitsu. (And I found out that Chrissy’s new upa technique doesn’t work so well on black belts, lol.)

Somewhere in there, Chrissy showed the two girls an armbar from mount. From mount, start as normal and get to S-mount. When they turn to their side, slide that back knee in tighter and slide in tighter. Your weight should be in their lower ribs (which sucks!, btw). Pin their legs with the hand on that side; the other hand gets their arm. Keep their legs pinned and turn toward their feet, walking your other hand up your own gi collar as your turn. If they aren’t tapping, then step your back leg over and turn that knee down.

(There were more girls there than this; we just forgot to take the picture between the seminar and the Open Mat, and several girls had to leave after the seminar.)

Saturday night now, and Chrissy, Maggie, and I are staying with Antwain and Addie (and Hummer and Drool Machine Tank). We may get some training in down here tomorrow, too. Wohoo!