Girls’ Grappling Mini-Camp, RVA 2010, Part 3

Part 1 and Part 2

Sunday morning

Sunday morning started with a group breakfast and round-table discussion. (See the previous write-up for what we probably covered.) Another Crossfit workout followed. I actually convinced myself to stay away, since even the little bit the previous morning had destroyed me for most of the day. All of us who had done it on Saturday were complaining about sore quads and being tired all day. Some of them were crazy enough to do it the second day, too, though.

The first session Sunday was gi or nogi, though most of us stuck with pajamas. To warm up, we reviewed all the techniques from the day before and drilled them quickly with a partner.Then we worked some passing.

Passing open guard

First one: Get a good grip on the fabric inside their knees. Push in a little to get them pushing back, and then slam their feet straight down to the mat (so their knees are still bent). As you take their legs down, step in between their legs as far as you can with one leg while stepping past their legs on the outside with the other. Drop the inside leg for the cut-through knee pass. Works even if they sit up.

Second one: From combat base, keep your elbows in and get a grip on one the fabric of one hip. Other elbow braces inside their other leg. Come up to both feet. Foot on side without the grip steps wide, going behind their knee and stepping around and forward, so their leg is flat and stretched out to the side. Other arm is keeping pressure so their hips can’t turn. Now cut-through knee pass.

At some point, we played another game. I didn’t catch the name. Similar in setup to Queen of the Hill, but with a twist. You and your partner would be rolling (keep going if there are any submissions or sweeps or anything). Then randomly, someone from the line will run in and start attacking one or the other of you. Doesn’t matter which. If you’re not being attacked, then you go back to the line. Hilarious. And you start scouting for the person in the best position to attack — exposed back, open knee-on-belly, etc. Generally you got attacked from behind or sat on.

I believe there was also some rolling after that (there was lots of rolling throughout the weekend), and then a break for lunch.

Sunday afternoon

Sunday afternoon was a round-table discussion, an open mat/troubleshooting session, and then more discussion. I think many of us were starting to wilt at that point, so extra sitting and talking was a good thing. (Did I mention it was hot and humid? It was hot and humid. I’d take off my gi after rolling; the top would be soaked through, and there would be standing water on my arms. It. was. hot.)

(And you can tell I was wilting? — I can’t really remember anything.)

I can’t remember if we covered any technique at the beginning of the open mat, but I do know that we got to roll a lot. I got to roll with Val again, and I asked her how they made it through a week of camp. Here it’s only two days, and I’m already so tired! She said she didn’t know, either. (In the weeklong camp, they do get half of Wednesday off. Still.) I also got to roll with Emily, and then she spent a second round going over pressure with me.

Emily had to leave early on Sunday to catch her flight home, so the open mat finished up in time to see her off. Another discussion group, then dinner in downtown Richmond. Many of us splurged on homemade carrot cake. So good!

Monday morning

Monday morning was kind of tacked on as an Open Mat for anyone who would be in town. I don’t think it was really meant to be a part of the camp, but still, lots of us showed back up. There were also several guys there — Andrew Smith, Klint, Mike, TheMikeByrd, and one or two others. And several local girls also showed up — Lo and Thea, and some I didn’t know.

Goodness, so tired! But far too stubborn and lacking in self-preservation skills, so of course I was ready to jump back in there. Got to roll with Andrew to start things off; everyone else was still sitting around and waking up and talking, and he wanted to get things moving. Seemed like a long roll. I fell in to his triangle from inverted guard, and then he showed me a triangle defense. Then someone started a timer to keep us moving between partners. Rolled with TheMikeByrd, who is far more flexible than you think he ought to be, Klint, and Matt (who I might have met before); rolled with Tori, Thea, Val (?), Anahi (?), and several other girls. I’d last rolled with Thea last summer at the first Women’s Open Mat I came to Richmond for. She’s still fast and drops a ton of pressure. (And she’s only my size!) After the round, she commented that I was so fast and she was working to keep up with me. I laughed and said that I had just been trying to keep up with her. LOL.

As the Open Mat continued, girls were having to leave, and exhaustion was forcing the rest of us to sit around and talk. But it made for a good transition from all girls to rolling with boys again. I talked to Chrissy in here, too, and mentioned my three epiphanies. She reads my blog (Hi, Chrissy!), and said that, yeah, I probably am training too much. Also, she reminded me that I do have a real, full-time grown-up job (oh, right).

I went back for lunch, shower, and a long nap before driving home. Missed class that night, but I think I more than made up for it during the weekend.

So, that’s the end of camp. It was so much fun, and I would definitely encourage any girls to go to either a full camp or a mini camp. (By the way, they’re talking about having more mini camps around the country.) Training with such a range of girls for such an extended period of time really gives you a good look at where your jiu-jitsu is and where it can go.

Girls’ Grappling Mini-Camp, RVA 2010, Part 2

Part 1, here.

Saturday afternoon

The afternoon session started with a round-table discussion. During the whole weekend, there was a paper circulating, on which we could write any questions or discussion topics. There were several round-table discussions throughout the weekend, plus random discussions over meals, during sessions, and all in-between, and threads that trailed off, intertwined, and picked back up again, so I’ll try to remember everything that was talked about all at one time.

Crying in jiu-jitsu. Yes, we opened with everyone’s favorite topic. Main point I heard were that it happens to nearly everyone, either on the mats (we all agreed being locked in the bathroom is the best place) or on the way home. Val also mentioned that it sometimes might actually be good for the guys to see that what they’re doing is reducing you to tears, especially if you already have the reputation as a “tough chick,” because if what they’re doing is too much for you, then it’s too much. Maybe nothing else will get through to them.

How to ask guys to take the intensity down. Related, what to do about guys who are cranking and muscling everything. One girl, Susan, is tall — close to 6 feet tall. But only about 140 lbs. She asked about how to deal with guys who see her height and assume they need to go a lot harder with her; she wants to ask them to tone it down without being a wimp. The conversation swirled around, ending up with the cranking and muscling crowd, which is where most of us have more experience. The general answer for that group was, first, to avoid rolling with them and even tell them that you won’t roll with them, and, second, if you can’t avoid them, to either tap early — even way, way early — or to make fun of them for ripping a little girl’s arms off or even to tap and walk away. Also, if a boy needs to be beat on for misbehaving, he needs to be verbally told why this is happening to him, else he’s likely to think that *this* is how jiu-jitsu is supposed to be, and will try to go this hard next time and will propagate this style of training.

Warmups and cooldowns. Emily talked some about warmups, about doing reflex and reaction movements that get you loose and alert without making you tired. We briefly discussed the lack of upper body strength in women and the focus in most BJJ warmups on upper body movements. (Gah!) Rosie and Maggie talked a bit about dynamic stretches to warm up, and Maggie led us through some stretching to cool down.

Women’s classes. I know we talked about this, and I even wrote down several questions about them, but I don’t remember what we said. Doh. Of course, the topic I was interested in is what I can’t remember…

Chiropractors, acupuncture, massage, physical therapy. A guy (I don’t know who) offered to come in and be available to give massages during parts of the camp. So of course we talked about the benefits of massages. 😛 We also talked about finding good and trustworthy chiropractors, etc., who could help us get better, stay healthy, and continue training. (And girls mentioned their chiropractors who tsked at them for the contortions they put their spine through. I’m glad mine trains, too.)

Owning your training. This popped up everywhere. Val’s big on the phrase. How much you train, who you train with, how intensely you train, how much you rest. Everything. This is you we’re talking about; be in charge of you.

Cutting weight. Especially differences between men and women when it comes to cutting, and about cutting weight at the last minute vs. dieting down. Jen Flannery told about a girl she’d seen at some competitions who looked like Death before her matches and usually did horribly; Ashley piped up that she’d actually nicknamed that girl “Death.” Val told us that she never cuts weight, not even 2 lbs.

Promotions. We talked about girls getting promoted too early and about whether set promotion times or random promotions were better (no consensus, really — everyone who didn’t get promoted beats on you anyway. Meh.). We did talk about how it’s probably better to hold a girl back a little since she will have to contend with all the boys coming after her.

Longevity in BJJ. This discussion got me thinking about how much I train. Alaina and Val talked about times their bodies broke down on them from too much training, and about what they’ve done to fix that. Emily chimed in that taking time off isn’t bad: “jiu-jitsu isn’t going anywhere.”

I’m sure there was more, but I can’t remember it all right now. I know I did feel better after listening to the discussions because I felt like I was normal — everyone else seemed to have some of the same experiences; it’s not just me being crazy (well, not entirely).

Tossing this out — one thing I was surprised about was the average age of the girls at camp. I guess I’ve always had this idea that I was in the “old” category and that most girls would be younger than me, but actually quite a few (possibly the majority or even almost all of the campers) were 30+. Huh.

Saturday afternoon’s session was nogi. We ran over into a little bit because the round-table discussion was going so well. (I would have liked more of it, too. I like to sit and absorb it all.)

Emily led us in a warmup. More game-type drills.

  • Slapping the mat when she clapped her hands.
  • Weaving — first person in line stops on the mat; second person runs a little ahead and stops; third person weaves between them, then stops ahead of the second; etc.; until the last person is darting between a long snakey line of people standing — and then the first person darts, through, too, and everyone follows, to continue the game.
  • Fast feet — first person sits on the mat, legs spread in a “V”; second person steps to the outside of the near leg, then between the legs, then to the outside of the far leg [did that make any sense at all? It’s like the drills the football players do for agility with tires or ropes on the ground…], and then sits next to the first person, legs spread in a “V”; third person does the same dance over both their legs and sits; continue until the first person jumps up and joins to keep it going.
  • Leapfrog, with everyone crouching perpendicular to the jumpers, which meant you needed to keep your head tucked (which I am bad about, lol), else you’d get clocked when they jumped.
  • Double-leg jumps with everyone turtled up. (I couldn’t do this well because of my toe; I just ran around to hold my place the first time, and the second time, did a hurdle jump.)

The point of these, she explained later, was for reflexes and reaction time, while keeping you continually moving. At the end of the warmup, you were warm and alert, but not tired. All too often, I’m exhausted by our warmup, which is usually mostly conditioning.

Nogi started with escaping the head and arm choke. (I think. Not sure.) I know we did move on to a side control escape and sweep.

Side-control escape and sweep
Under side control, don’t just plant your feet and bridge up. First, bring your knees up and then explosively drive down and bridge. Instead of just turning onto your side and using both arms to frame out, as you bridge, drive your bottom elbow underneath your body so that arm can now be a wedge to keep you from being flattened. Now take your top leg and insert a butterfly hook inside their nearest leg. As they drive forward to flatten you out, trap their outside arm and lift with that hook to sweep them. Come up to side control.

I think there was something else, but I can’t remember. I need to find a balance between taking zero notes, as I did here, and taking way too many, as I’ve done at other seminars. Balance…

We drilled for a while, and then went into Queen of the Hill. I almost sat out because of my toe (and this is exactly what caused the injury in the first place), but then Val had the brilliant idea to ask my partners to let me start from bottom each time. Everyone was cool with that, so I did get to participate. I think there was some rolling after that before we headed off to dinner. Dinner was supposed to have a discussion component, too, but everyone was already brain- and body-dead by then.

Girls’ Grappling Mini-Camp, RVA 2010, Part 1

I took my camera, my video camera, my notebook, and my computer, and fully intended to record absolutely everything. But very quickly I found I needed all my attention to focus and to do, so the secretarial duties were abandoned. Now to see what this brain retained…


I got the Karate College schedule late Thursday night. Both Renzo and Matt Serra were scheduled for Friday morning. Sweet! But, since I didn’t have the schedule before, I hadn’t planned to go and still needed to pack for Grapple Camp. If I’d known earlier, I’d’ve packed most things the night I was home nursing my toe. Instead, I spent the morning packing and then drove over later in the morning while they were still teaching. Unfortunately, Matt had issues with his flight and couldn’t make it, but Renzo, Paul Creighton, and Bob Gracie were there, so I got to hang out with them for a little while.

While I was manning the merchandise table so Paul could get a break, Chrissy texted me to let me know that there would be training at 4:30 if I could make it there in time. Sweet again! So when Renzo finished his last seminar at 1, I hung around for a few minutes more and then split for Richmond. However, I’d forgotten that Radford is an extra 15 minutes south, but I’d planned my departure for the cutting-it-close time from my own house, which, combined with vehicles overheating and slowing down traffice because the shoulders were closed from construction, meant that I got there about 15 minutes late. Chrissy, Alaina, Val, and Klint were already rolling, and Mike was waiting.

Once I got changed and ready and started trying to limber up (three straight hours in the car!), they switched up partners and set the timer for 5-minute rounds (I think). Got to roll with Val first. That was fun. She let me flail around ineffectually for a minute or two before effortlessly taking my back and choking me. I want to feel like that some day, where it’s just “Oh, hey, yeah, so we’re doing some jiu-jitsu and I’m just gonna float around here and then drop OMG pressure!” *snort* I am amused when people can easily control me like that, where I seem to do their bidding, where slight movements put me in really really bad spots. I think I’m amused mostly because I see the possibility of one day being like that.

Then with… er… everyone else, in some order. A lot of the same, actually, where no one seemed to have much trouble getting me to do whatever they wanted. Klint did some Jedi-mind-tricking and Force-levitating stuff. Mike as usual was really excited to show me something, though I don’t remember what it was. (Rats. I do have vague recollections of possibly working it during the weekend, though. — Wait, I remembered: half guard to omoplata, going underneath. Justin and Will had worked this on me last week.) Also don’t remember what Alaina did to me. Remember small bits of practicing my “mean crossface” on Chrissy, from on top in half guard, and her commenting that it was indeed mean (yay! and “Sorry!”).

We girls piled back to Chrissy’s house to get clean and presentable, and then met quite a few of the other campers at a Japanese steakhouse. Tori was there, and I didn’t have to crash my car into hers to talk to her, lol. Dinner was the start of meeting people who I only knew before by their online personas, including Val (though our first meeting was actually me getting choked earlier, lol), Susan, and Ashley (Girls in Gis).


Saturday started bright and early at 8:30 a.m. with a Crossfit class run by Val. I, of course, am too stubborn to believe that I might need to sit out from something like this, so I taped the heck out of my toe and jumped right in. The class started with Val showing some Crossfit movements and discussing some of the philosophy behind Crossfit and why she does it (which, of course, only makes you want to do it more).

Then we did two WODs. The first was a Tabata (20 seconds on, 10 seconds off; 4 minutes total) of jump squats. I did have to do regular squats as the toe was still unhappy about having to push off of anything. Val is relentless as she calls out the time, but she also manages to convince you that you can in fact continue, even when your legs are burning. Second WOD was 21-15-9 of dip press (?) and situps, for time. For the first, hold dumbbells at shoulder level; drop your level a little bit and then explode up, catching the weights at the top. The trick is to use your legs, not your arms. Since it was the first day and we were all eager, about half of us did the Crossfit workouts.

Emily started off the first gi session with a jogging warmup that involved “getting to know you” games — find someone with a different haircut than you & ask them why they came to camp; find someone of a different belt color & ask them one interesting fact about themselves; make a group of 5 (our group of four shamelessly pinched Susan away from her group of 4, causing them to run and steal two more from another) — and some relay races. Warm, happy, talking, laughing, cheering: a good start.

Then Val and Emily wanted to roll with everyone at camp between the two of them. We rolled amongst ourselves, too. There were 22 campers that morning, though I think we ended up with an extra round or two. 3- or 4-minute rounds. I got to roll with Tori then for the first time ever. Chrissy also paid me back for my mean crossface from yesterday with an inescapable mount, lol. Also with Ashley, the purple belt from Texas who runs Girls in Gis — that was awesome. She’s quick and precise and persistent. Lots of rolling with lots of girls; don’t remember a whole lot. I was trying sometimes to work getting to deep half, that deep half sweep Will showed me last Saturday, and the half-passed position and sweep.

(P.S. Richmond is very humid. Walking outside felt like pressing through a viscous wall of air. Bleh. Inside wasn’t too much cooler. All weekend we were hot and soggy.)

Next was some technique. What was cool here was that Val would show something and then Emily would add to it, or vice-versa. I should be able to remember most of these since we also drilled them as part of the warmup the next day…

Started with grip-breaking and grip-fighting techniques. Which way to grab, which way to turn. A few rounds of grip fighting.

Taking the back. Bow-and-arrow choke from there.
I think we started this one from them being on their side and you at their back. Maybe. Bottom hand goes under their head, top hand comes under their top arm and in front of their face; grab the bottom hand. Lift them up first, to get them completely on their side. Top leg pivots to be parallel to their back. Now drag them over to take their back.

Choke: Top hand reaches back for the near lapel; pull it out and rotate it inward. Other hand now grabs, with the flat part of the lapel going neatly down the center of your hand; much tighter grip. Let them fall toward the gripping hand, kicking the leg out of the way and using the free hand to grab their pants.

Half-guard pass using the head.
In top half, underhook the far arm and overhook the near arm. Place your head on the mat next to their head on the near side. Now look around and up, toward where the top of their head is pointing. This drives your head into them and moves their head out of line with their spine. Now pass. (This is the same principle that Adam’s been working with me in half-guard pressure, but I think this may work better for me based on the relative size of partners.)

Head and arm choke. Head and arm choke escape.
(I think the choke may have been in the afternoon. Escape probably definitely was. Maybe.)

Choke: From side control, use your head to root around their armpit and control their arm. (Truffles!) Knee-on-belly switch to the far side, or mount then dismount. Set the choke in at about 60% intensity, so you can keep a constant pressure without burning out your arms. Now think, “Finish,” and wait for the tap. They pointed out that this choke is a slow choke and that people will try to fight it for a while, so you may have to wait for a little while until they concede. The thinking also helps you settle down and put pressure on them, rather than relying on your arms to squeeze it out. (The alternate and tournament-appropriate phrase is “Die, b****, die.”)

Escape: As they’re switching across, answer the phone to buy some space. You need to separate your near shoulder from your neck. Next bring your inside knee up toward your nose and shoot both hands out to grab behind your knee. Kick forward with that knee while hipping away from them to release the pressure and create space. You can often come up to take their back from there.

We might have had some open mat time before lunch, but I can’t remember for sure. If we did, I rolled.

Break for lunch. The poor man at the wrap shop — he had just sent his helper home, and then 10 or more of us walked in.

To be continued….

Michelle Nicolini seminar, April 3, 2010

So tired Saturday morning after the takedown session the night before. But me, Chrissy, Addie, and Liz headed off early for Fifty/50 BJJ. We got there a little early, too. I took a good long time to warm up my knee, just to make sure it was alright after all the takedowns. Missed getting to roll with Lisa because of the knee, but then did get to be flattened by Addie before the seminar started. I think she fixed my side control escapes. (!!)

Most of the seminar was spider guard, which Michelle said is her game. My notes are a little sketchy, but let’s see what we got… (Also, pictures don’t match nearby technique, unless I say otherwise.)

First we worked on just moving, keeping distance, one foot on the hip and the other in their bicep while controlling both sleeves. Then a sweet little triangle setup — drop the foot from their hip to inside their ankle. Pull out on their arm while sweeping out with that hook, stretching them out. Pull the other arm forward, shoot your hips up, and there it is. (Love it with the arm-over-head control we did in class a bit ago.)

Then a counter for if they get that leg stable and posture: hit the hook sweep (drop the foot from their bicep to their hip and your hand from that side sleeve to their ankle). Michelle showed coming up in front of their open guard then instead of trying to drive over, which is what I’ve always been taught (and where I’ve always gotten stuck).

Next were several attacks for when they step back and attempt to break the contact that way. Keep grip on one sleeve while scooting in to the other leg. Pull their arm through and switch hands on their sleeve (so your back hand has their sleeve now). Options: One, reach up with your free/front hand and grab behind their sleeve; roll them inside over that shoulder and come to side control. Two, pressure into them for a single leg. Three, reach across and double leg.

(This one’s fuzzy, sorry.) Now, if they slide around toward the side you have trapped and sit down in (what is it?) reverse half-guard (? are there names for all this?): the leg you’d trapped while sitting is now between your legs with your one hook around and over. Insert the other hook under their leg. If you can, switch your grips on their sleeve, so you’re now holding their sleeve underneath your own leg. Grab the back of their gi with your underneath hand, then drive back and over with your leg and arm to sweep them and come up in side control. (I think this one worked really well, and I finally figured out how to do it well, but I can’t describe it so well. I think I get here a lot of times in class, so I’ll probably have lots of chances to try it out, lol.)

Back to spider guard. A sweep for when they pressure in and walk toward the arm you’re controlling with your foot. Another timing one. Let them come nearly around, then push the opposite arm between their legs while driving the other leg and arm over the opposite shoulder to roll them over to mount. (Er, that was too many opposites… So you’re controlling their left arm with your right arm and leg; your left leg is on their hip or by their right ankle, and your left arm has their right arm. As they walk toward your right, push their right arm between your legs while driving your right arm and leg over your left shoulder. Better…? Better…)

This one was hilarious — my dominant (right) side had done every single technique nearly perfectly up to this point, while my left had struggled. On this one, I could get the position and the movement, but just couldn’t quite finish it. Michelle and Jen both tried to help me, but it was fairly hopeless; I just got stuck and couldn’t get the sweep over. And then Cynthia suggested I try it on my left side, just once, and swoop, over she went. Wha—? Silly body-brain connection.

A little different next, a pass once you get their legs down to one side. (See the previous picture for the position.) Thread your top arm behind their top leg and in front of their bottom leg, then drive their knee to their nose. Slide up to side control. (I was also immediately reminded of the pass from Thursday night — great spot to slide in to it.)

Then a half guard pass. Underhook and get your head in their chin to turn their head away. Tripod up (see the next picture) until you can free your knee and cut inside. If they trap your foot before you get it out, then drive your hips straight away from their body rather than continuing to slide forward to free it, and then up to scarf hold. Lace the inside arm. Finish with a wristlock, if you want. (Wristlocks? Lol, I always forget those are legal. 😛 )

Last thing — to remove spider guard hooks. First, prioritize. Which is the most troublesome? Remove that one first. On the side they have straightened out, step your foot in by their butt, then pressure in with your knee; run your wrist from the outside, under their leg, to the inside, [yeah, yeah, me and hand movements…] to free your hand from their grip. Then grip on the inside of their pants. Now turn your attention to the other hook.

Michelle walked around the whole time and watched & corrected everyone’s technique. Finally, after over two hours of teaching, Michelle wanted to roll with everyone there, three minutes each. So much fun. The best, for me, is that she rolls the way I try to — knees popping inside, little hooks everywhere, underneath wiggling until you can sweep them over. Squee! (See the 3rd picture, where she’s rolling with Addie, that little double underhook x-guard? Yay!)

Very great seminar. Much fun. (Maybe a little too much fun on the ride home. 😉 ) I just wish there was something like this every weekend.

See also: Jen Flannery’s writeup of the seminar

Emily Kwok seminar, 10-31-09

So, I did in fact get my butt in gear and to Philly for Emily Kwok’s seminar on Halloween. (Well, to Richmond (3hrs) on Friday, and to Philly (5hrs) on Saturday.)

I also got lost 3 times on the way to Philly, so arrived a little late (though they weren’t started yet). And then on the way home, while following Tori out of the city, I had my first ever car accident when some idiot driver stopped on the On ramp, which caused the car behind him to slam on his brakes, which caused Tori to slam on her brakes, which caused me to slam on my brakes, which wasn’t done quite quickly enough — and wasn’t helped by the wet roads — and I rear-ended her. Her little Honda came out better than my SUV and just had a little dent. We pulled over on the teensy-tiny shoulder, noticed that my car was spewing red fluid all over the road, decided that was probably a bad sign, and started the round of calling parents, insurance, tow trucks, and police. The tow truck driver said red fluid was probably transmission fluid. So my car is currently sitting at a dealership somewhere in Philly. Sad.

Tori offered me a ride back to to her home in Maryland, near D.C., and graciously put me up for the night and fed me breakfast. We didn’t get to her place until about 2:30 a.m. Thank goodness for Daylight Savings Time — an hour of extra sleep! We did get to talk a lot on the way back (2.5 hours!). My sister lives in D.C., so she came over in the morning and picked me up; we drove to meet our parents, who brought me back here. (I do have a great family, too.)

Tori and I have decided, however, that next time we’re going to carpool on purpose.

There were about 20 girls there. Anne (“E”) came from Ontario (I think), but actually had a shorter total drive than I did. But Jessica wins — she flew in from Omaha, Nebraska, just for the seminar! (That’s half the country!) There was also a girl there for her very first day of jiu-jitsu ever. Very good beginning.

When I got there, there was a girl who looked familiar; when we all introduced ourselves in the beginning, even her name was familiar. We talked during the break, and she was who I thought — Shannon had trained with me back in the first few months that I did jiu-jitsu. But she’d moved back home to the other side of the state. (Shannon is on the left in the front row.)

Emily wrote up a set of notes for us, which is really helpful now that I’m trying to remember (especially since jiu-jitsu was pretty much knocked out of my head for the last while).

First we worked on securing side control and north/south, just working through different hand/arm positions. Emily also mentioned not to commit too much to a grip if you don’t really have control with it, else when they move they’ll trap your hand or arm without even meaning to. (Happens to me a lot, so…) Side control: knee/elbow, knee/elbow (both elbows down by their ribs toward the ground and pinching in toward your knees); top hand under head, bottom hand under far arm, palm to palm, shoulder pressure; then top hand under head, shoulder pressure, bottom hand on near hip. North/south, all gripping the belt and pinching the elbows back: over/over; under/under; over/under. We drilled these briefly with our partners, moving between the three control positions for each position.

Then a hip movement drill. (I think they did this at the Women’s Grappling Camp in August?) Start in side control. Sit through to front scarf hold. Back to side control. Sit through to backward scarf hold. Leg over to mount. Walk hands around to the side you were just on, and dismount to the other side, through reverse scarf hold to side control. Sit through to front scarf hold. Turn your hips over to come up to north/south. Walk around just a little toward the other side, then sit through to front scarf hold. We drilled that with our partners for a while.

I had never seen dismount actually explained and so found that the best part of that drill. 😛 To dismount: first walk your hands to the same side. Then stretch the leg on the other side out and drop that hip to the mat. Open your hips to bring your leg over; now you’re in reverse scarf hold. Come up to side control.

Then two submissions. North/south to shoulder lock: First pinch your elbow in on one side, sliding the arm up until your hand meets the fabric along their torso; grab. Now, similar to the end of the previous drill, sit through from north/south to the side you’ve trapped, but this time, to reverse scarf hold (so post out on one leg and swing the other through the hole, with this leg going straight along their body). Your hips should point to the ceiling and you should still have their arm tight. Take your inside leg over and then down between their legs. Arch your hips up (not toward them, which is the tendency) to finish the shoulder lock.

Scarf hold to armbar: From side control, sit through to scarf hold. Slide your hand up to their wrist, then sneak your inside knee over their bicep, then sneak your whole leg over. Keep control of their wrist. Pinch their arm between your legs, being sure that their elbow stays above your legs. Good control position here (and they think “What in the world is she doing? She’s got nothing.” Ha!). Secure that trapped arm however you like your armbars, then push off them and spin your feet over their face to assume the armbar position. Feels a little weird, and so needs some practice, but a nice unexpected armbar setup.

One more control/position drill, this time when wanting to come up to knee-on-belly or when someone tries to push in to you from under side control. Emily talked about finding the “points” on your partner’s body that you can use to control their entire body. So, to get up to knee-on-belly, put one hand on their near shoulder and one on their far hip. Drop your weight through your hands as you pop up. Then, when you have side control and they’re trying to turn in, instead of trying to wrestle them in place, place one hand on their far shoulder and one on their far hip. As before, drop your weight through your hands.

Then king-of-the-hill sparring. Six or seven ladies (the highest belts — one brown, a few purples, and then blues) started out there and could sweep or submit. Those of us going out started in side control and had to mount or submit.

We took a short break and then came back for the second half of the seminar.

Emily started by talking about how to train: training with the right partners and having a plan/focus when you train to get better faster/more steadily. One suggestion that came up (from Jessica) was to train without arms, since our upper bodies aren’t comparable to the guys’ (and Jessica was actually bigger and stronger than most of the rest of us, and she said the guys still overpower her all the time). Emily also said that you’re only as good as your biggest weakness, so work on your weaknesses.

Then she talked a bit about visualization: how, if you want to float on someone, imagine that you’re a feather or a cloud, or if you want to be heavy, imagine that you’re a tree or a rock. Or if you’re trying to keep someone in close, imagine that you’re a vacuum cleaner. 😛

Then back to drilling. Open and spider guard. Started with an individual drill, in Sit-up Guard (never knew it had a name), and then just moving around as she called out commands: “Forward,” “Backward,” “Left,” “Turn right,” etc. Then with a partner — one partner working the Sit-up Guard (with either a quick cross lapel choke or a sliding/clock choke, though from the front), and the other attempting to pass.

Next drill was using your feet to re-guard. Partner started standing in side control; reach your outside foot to their farther hip (toward your head); use that to turn back to square. That on both sides. Then partner stood in north/south; cross your legs and swing them over your head; get your feet on the outsides of their legs; then push off their legs to uncross yours and swing back to square.

Next drill was switching between positionings for the hook sweep and sickle sweep. (I actually didn’t know either of these coming in.) Start on your back, with your partner standing in front of you. One foot on their hip, the other behind their knee. Keep the foot on the hip; turn to the other side, dropping the foot from behind their knee to behind their opposite heel and grabbing the outside of the other ankle with your hand. Back to foot on hip, foot behind knee. Switch feet. Do the same thing on the other side.

Then we actually did the sweeps. Hook Sweep: One foot on their hip, the other behind their knee. Get sleeve control on the same side on which your foot is behind the knee. With the other hand, grab behind the ankle on the other side. Push on their hip, pull on their knee. Follow their momentum over to top half guard.

Sickle Sweep: One foot on their hip, the other behind their knee. Get sleeve control on the same side as the foot on the hip. Keep the foot on the hip; turn to the other side, dropping the foot from behind their knee to behind their opposite heel and grabbing the outside of the other ankle with your hand. Push on their hip while sweeping through with the bottom leg. Follow their momentum over to top half guard or side control.

Next we played with Spider Guard. Emily talked about never letting your four points of control — both hands and both feet — be in the same plane at the same time, else it’s too easy to break through. It’s like playing with a marionette — keep him moving.

First we just played Spider Guard with our partners. Then we worked an outside-in sweep: push one arm/hip point away. Pull the other leg out and wrap it over their arm and under to hook their triceps with your foot. Pull that leg in to collapse them. Move the other leg down, putting your ankle in front of their ankle, at the same time that you drop the other hand either under their leg or to the outside of their leg to grab the fabric. Drive your legs to the far side to sweep them, coming up to knee-on-belly.

We finished with a quick re-guard from a single spider guard hook (one sleeve/same leg) (for when the sneaky fast guys think they’ve passed), and then a simple palm-smacking duh! actual pass for when someone has a single spider guard control (one sleeve/same leg)… which I’m not going to mention yet because I think this one, more than anything else at the seminar, is what most girls are taking home to spring on their training partners. I’ll tell you after I get it multiple times in class this week.

Then we did a few more rounds of king-of-the-hill sparring followed by 3 three-minute rounds of full sparring. I got to spar with Liz (orange gi), Anne, and Shannon.

Dinner afterward, at an Italian restaurant a few blocks away, then followed Tori until I rear-ended her car. But she took me home with her and fed me. Definitely worth going.

Also, check out BJJEdge. They were recording parts of the seminar and said they would post some later.

Oh, right. I had to wash my belt. It reeked after being trapped in my bag for so long. Sadness.