Submission Only Richmond, Dec 7, 2013

The absolute highlight of the day — Laurie Porsch tracked me down during the gi divisions to tell me that reading my blog was one of the things that helped her decide to start training BJJ. That is probably the best thing I have ever heard.

While I was at the tournament yesterday, two other significant things happened: my teammates Robert & Kellie got married, and my former teammate Nick Liaskos got his black belt from Ricardo Almeida.

Short version:

  • Nogi, advanced, weight class: 2nd (of 2)
  • Nogi, advanced, absolute: 2nd (of 2)
  • Gi, blue belt, weight class: 1st (of 3)
  • Gi, blue belt, absolute: 2nd (of 3)

Most matches were around 8 minutes or under. My first match in blue belt, though, went about 30 minutes. Yeoooowch!

I. Made. Weight. 124.5 on the nose. (There would have been fewer pounds to cut and/or the whole process would have been easier if I had had fewer slices of the homemade carrot cake during Thanksgiving…. I regret nothing!) I don’t have far to go to reach that; my walking-around weight hovers just under 130 these days (except after Thanksgiving *ahem*), but my body is very resistant to giving anything up. Also I like to eat and do not like being hungry.

Looking back over the results brackets now, though, it likely did not matter. In nogi I was combined up anyway because there were only two of us; in gi, it appears I would have been the lone person in my weight bracket and would have most likely been moved down, as there were fewer women there than the weight class above. Oh well, that’s how it always seems to go — you don’t cut and there’s actually a weight class there (and so you end up with bigger women), or you do cut and get combined up anyway.

US Grappling has a bunch of new things they’re doing on the organization side of the tournament, and it made a HUGE difference yesterday in how the tournament was run. Their Submission Only tournaments always run well, but this was better. There are now minions, and minions with minions, and better communication among staff which makes for better communication to competitors. Everything seemed to be moving along more quickly, even for the hour+ matches (and there was even apparently a 2.5-hr match). And also, this time they got to use an auxiliary gym, which is where they started the kids’ matches and eventually moved some of the adult matches, as well, which gave them an additional 4 mats.

Nogi, Advanced, weight class

Mary Holmes, who I last fought in Greensboro. I knew she liked armbars, so my goal was to not get armbarred. Instead I got head-and-arm choked. She’d set it up a few times and I’d managed to get out, but that last time, I knew I was sunk.

Goodness, I look so slow. And there are dumb things I did or let her do that I know better than to do. Gah.

Nogi, Advanced, absolute

Me and Mary again. Goal was still not to get armbarred. And also to work on all the things that Andrew and Liz had pointed out to me from the first match. We were sent to the auxiliary gym, and since my guys were either competing or coaching in the other gym (same for Mary), there was no one around to tape our match. It was over more quickly, though this time I did fix those things that Andrew and Liz had said, and I avoided her armbar, and I avoided the head-and-arm choke (by virtue of avoiding the position where she was throwing it because Andrew told me to) — and I got off the bottom and in her guard and thought I was doing decently well. And then she triangled me. Doh. (She was working for the armbar on the trapped arm, but it was the triangle that got me.)

Gi, blue belt, weight class

Long wait to gi, at least as far as waiting for women’s matches goes. We always used to finish nogi and then almost immediately get told to check in for gi; now there’s a built-in recovery time (not so much for us, I think, as to give them the mats to start cranking through Beginner and Novice male divisions). I didn’t fully understand the concept at the time, though, and so didn’t rest as much as I could have (every time the loudspeaker came on, I thought I was being called), but I will definitely work with it in later tournaments. They moved all women into the auxiliary gym for gi.

Jen from BETA first. ~30-min match. Holy cats was she ever scrappy! There were so many times I thought I had her done, and she’d buck and twist and just will her way through something. She seemed to get stronger as the match went on. And I heard later that she had already done a very long match in nogi! I did finally secure an armbar. Several times when we stood up during this match, I started getting light-headed. Bad. At the end of the match, I had to lean on the ref; he was good-natured about it, though. And then my forearms were cramping up.

(Video starts a bit late, but we batted around on our feed for a few seconds and then she pulled guard hard.)

{Okay, here’s a funny (Chrissy will laugh) — as I’m watching this video, I’m realizing that we are the same size. All during the match I thought she was so much smaller than I am!}

{Also, why is my butt so high in the air?! C’mon, man! Or stuck to the ground. And you can see me looking at spider guard like “WTF is this?”}

I am so grateful that I had Andrew there to coach me. For one, I would have given up long ago, but he kept telling me to stand up or “do this thing” (and “breathe! breathe!”) and the habits of the academy meant that I did what he said. And two, because my brain stopped knowing jiu-jitsu very shortly in, and he just kept patiently reminding me of what I know until I could finally get it done.

Chelsea from Team ROC next; I’d last fought her at NC State Championships. She still has that amazing bridge, but she had also had a very long match in nogi. She did not feel tired to me, though! I finally managed to do the things that Andrew was telling me (and it was mostly repeats from the last match, so my brain almost knew what we were doing by now), and finished another armbar.

Match ~5min.

[I may have video of these last three matches later. Someone else filmed them, not on my camera.]

Gi, blue belt, absolute

Three in the division again — me and Chelsea, and one other. (So two from the smallest bracket, and only one from the other two brackets, both of which had at least 3 women. C’mon ladies, do Absolute! The rest of us are dead at this point, too!)

Chelsea first. Same deal as before, though this time I secured a cross-collar choke that Andrew had been trying to talk me in to earlier.

Match went for 8:16.

Colleen next. Andrew was busy coaching one of our purple belts across the room, but I don’t think it would have mattered one bit. After fighting the small girls for so long, I completely failed at what to do with someone so tall. And when she set up the bow-and-arrow, I watched it, knew it was coming, and absolutely could not summon anything to do about it. Also at that point I just wanted to be done with all this and eat. (Although then Chrissy pointed out that if Chelsea beat Colleen, they’d redraw the bracket and we’d all have to go again. That did not happen, and though I am not happy that Chelsea lost, I am happy that I did not have to fight anymore. I might have really passed out.)

Match went for 2:33.

[Edited to add a conclusion so you’re not just hanging out waiting for videos]: I am so sore! Yesterday and still today. Spent yesterday in fuzzy pajamas eating junk food and playing video games. Now I have this week off, the Hillary Williams seminar in Richmond (again) on Saturday, and then only two training days next week before two full weeks off for Christmas/New Year.

US Grappling’s 100th Event – June 22, 2013, Richmond, VA


  • 6 matches. Lost all 6 by submission.
  • Heel-hooked in first Advanced match. Knee popped. The “good” knee.
  • Americano cranked in first gi match. Elbow popped.
  • Weight cutting: no weight lost. Stayed exactly the same. Pfft.
  • “Operation: Be More Assertive” was a no go: I scored 0 points.

Advanced Nogi

Because I’ve been training for over 5 years, I’m now in the Advanced division.

Weight class

Leah from Fifty/50:

The one thing I did not want to happen in the Advanced division was a heel hook. The first thing that happened was… a heel hook. (And yes, I do absolutely see exactly how I just handed it to her. I finally got my sweep, but at what cost?) She didn’t crank it, but I still heard and felt my knee pop before I could tap. That is my right knee, the one that had the LCL sprain a few years ago. This is not an encouraging way to start the day…


Megan from Fifty/50:

I was absolutely not going to let her near my legs. So instead I jumped right in to her triangle. There might be a flaw in this plan… I could only just wiggle the tips of my fingers on the arm that was trapped, so I kind of had to squeeze her leg a few times to tap; the pause at the end is her pulling back to ask if that was a tap, and me saying that it was.

Third place match, Leah again:

Andrew had already pointed out that I should not be trying de la Riva and other hook stuff in nogi, so I was trying very hard not to.

Blue Belt

Weight class

Laurie from BETA:

I nod a lot in this match, because I’m hearing what Justin is saying but am half a step behind in the execution, so I’m nodding to say that I’ll do it next time. She had an americano with her legs and bridged hard, which popped my elbow. So I had to sit around with an ice pack (and a handy tourniquet to hold it on that Justin fashioned out of my belt) until the next match.

Melanie from BETA:

She had a death grip on my sleeve in the opening minute, and at one point had stretched my gi so far that my arm, fully extended, was only around the normal elbow point. At the end here, I didn’t actually tap; I was posting in reaction to her kicking me in the head trying to get me over for the omoplata. But the ref thought that I did because I had posted twice in a row. So, yeah…


Michelle from Dave Trader:

I knew what was coming every step along the way, but I could do nothing about it. That was in tight and deep and fast. Lol, air-tapping because I couldn’t think or move fast enough to find a surface to tap on, and the lights were gonna go out fast.

My elbow was stiff & aching since the moment it was popped and kept that up all day. But it seems to be fine and will recover in a week or two. The knee… it felt “off” all day long, and became increasingly stiff, with some areas of pain, as the day went on. I spread on the Tiger Balm after my matches. (Lol, and then as I walked through the venue, I heard people saying, “Dude, what is that smell?!” “Wow, that smells like a lot of Tiger Balm!” Yeah, hi, that’s me.)

I am so very disappointed in myself. I couldn’t even score a single point. I did nothing about takedowns. I couldn’t do anything that even resembled grappling. My brain was only working in half-finished sentences, getting so fixated on the first half of something and completely neglecting the second. Thank goodness Justin and Andrew were there to coach me, or it would have been even uglier than it already was.

And now my other knee might be messed up. Last night I had to sleep with the most restrictive brace on it because any small movement was painful. It’s just so frustrating. I finally get to the point where I’m not worried about training after the first knee and I’m starting to work on being assertive and not just passive, and now this. All I want to do is curl up somewhere and cry.

Well, definitely a week off from all training. Then, we’ll see how the knee is doing and figure out where to go from there.

US Grappling, NC State Championships, March 2, 2013

Short version:

  • Nogi, weight: 2nd (of 4)
  • Nogi, absolute: 2nd (of 4)
  • Gi, weight: 2nd (of 2)
  • Gi, absolute: 3rd (of 4)

My GPS apparently takes a lot of pleasure in the scenic route and in going in circles. I was glad, then, that I had decided to go down early Friday night. I weighed in heavier than I wanted, but I think in the end that actually made the weight classes work out the same or better. *shrug*

Nogi, Intermediate, weight class

First match with Amanda. Won with an armbar:

Second match with Ashley. Lost on points, 6-0, all on takedowns! I kept thinking about them, but just could not pull the trigger and commit to any for myself:

(This is only the second half of the match. I’d asked some kids to help film it, and they missed most of it, it seems. Oh well — it was pretty much the same thing then, too.)

2nd in nogi weight.

Nogi, Intermedite, absolute

First match with Chelsea. Won on a guillotine:

I decided that I was going to do a takedown in this match, and I blasted through that one at the beginning.

Second match with Kim. Lost to a RNC:

2nd in nogi absolute.

Gi, blue belt, weight class

Ashley and I were the only two. Chelsea and another lady were the other, smaller, weight class. I didn’t want to lose on only takedown points again, so this time she beat me on lots of points from everywhere. Oh. That wasn’t quite what I’d meant:

Holy cats, I’m feeling that first takedown this morning!

2nd in gi weight.

Gi, blue belt, absolute

Kim again. Lost to an armbar/wrist twist/this is going to be bad very soon:

Still had a 3rd place match against Chelsea. Won this on points, 25-4, maybe. But look at her bridge, wow!:

3rd in gi weight.

Things I need to work on:

  • bridging! (I want bridges likes Chelsea’s.)
  • pulling the trigger on takedowns

My hair was braided in cornrows for the day, but they didn’t last too long — by the end of nogi, you can see that they’re about half way out. (I had to bum a hair tie off of Ashley, just like at camp, to keep it in place the rest of the day). By the end of gi, they’re about 3/4 out. So not an infallible hairstyle for BJJ.

And then my GPS tried to drive me around in circles again on the way home…

US Grappling Submission Only Richmond, December 1, 2012

Back in tournament action! I haven’t been able to compete since I tore my MCL at the end of March, but I’d decided that, no matter what, I was going to do this one. Today, I feel like I’ve been beat with a baseball bat, especially my upper back and shoulders, but I’m still happy.

The absolute best part of the day: I competed without my cyborg knee braces, and my knee did wonderful. (Of course, my game doesn’t include much bridging at the moment and my hooks are weak because they haven’t been worked much recently, but still.)


  • nogi weight class: 1st
  • nogi absolute: lost first match
  • blue belt weight class: 2nd
  • blue belt absolute: lost first match

Quite a few of my teammates competed in this tournament, too, and both of our instructors came to help coach. The guys did really well, and it was great to have the voices on the sideline telling me what to do and reminding me to relax.

I couldn’t make it down in time for weigh-ins on Friday night, so had to get in early on Saturday to weigh in. I weighed in, fully clothed, at 128lbs; I knew my clothes were 2.5lbs (I’d weighed them, lol); so that means I was actually **1 lb** over the 124.5 limit. In other words, I can totally make that, so no slacking next time.

On the other hand, my division (124.6 – 135.5) was combined with the one below, the one I was aiming for anyway. So I was there either way.

A huge thanks to everyone who videoed my matches for me!

Here’s what you do: right before a tournament, drastically change your hairstyle. In my case, I went from blond highlights to an overall daaaark color. I’ve also been growing my hair out for almost a year, so I look very different on camera than I’ve ever seen myself.

Then go do your tournament and watch the video afterwards. You won’t recognize yourself, so then you can evaluate yourself so much better. It’s weird, but it’s cool at the same time.

Lesson #1: giving up the armbar is not a valid mount escape! Gah. (I know the reason: it’s because I haven’t been able to bridge for months, and it hybridized off of big guys sitting on my ribs trying to pry the arm off and so just giving it to them so I can get with the breathing again. Still, needs to be fixed.)

Intermediate, weight class (113.5-135.5) — 1st place

A round-robin, so had to win 2 for gold.

Match 1 – Colleen

Match 2 – Bethany

Intermediate, absolute

There were 6 women in the division, so 2 women had byes. I didn’t, so I fought in the first round.

Match 1 – Yvette

All my silly finger waving in the beginning was me asking her to remove her bracelets and explaining that I was nervous about small joints getting caught.

Blue belt, weight class (113.5-135.5)

Match 1 – Heidi

Match 2 — Bethany

Watch the match in the background (to the right) starting around 1:50. (And then hear my camera crew — I think that time was Yvette, who I fought in both Absolute matches — say that they got in film for me to watch later, lol.)

End of this match, the ref stopped us because her hand bounced up and tapped my knee, though I knew that she was only coming up to push it off and then changed her mind. But when the ref said, “Stop!”, I stopped. That’s what we’re sitting there talking about. (On the other hand, that’s my armbar, yo. That’s going home with me.)

Blue belt, absolute

Same setup as the Intermediate — 6 women, 2 with byes in the first round. I fought Yvette again.

Match 1 – Yvette

All the dancing in the beginning is me making fun of the ref because we kept standing on the side we wanted, but he’d give us the opposite color and we’d have to switch.

Yes, same girl. Yes, also an armbar. (Guess what I’m gonna work on now?)

Yvette and Kim Rice fought each other four times that day — in both weight classes and closing out both absolutes. And their gi absolute match was a battle. Wow.

Throwing this post up. Heading to my parents’ for dinner, since I have little food in the house right now. Doh.

Tournaments & Tabatas

Last week’s BJJ training focused on tournament prep for those going, so there was much rolling and conditioning. My knee was not a fan.

I did go to the tournament in Richmond, though I mostly worked tables and didn’t see many of my teammates compete. We had 3 women competing — Sara, Aubrey, and Janet — and I saw some of their matches. Some really good women there this weekend, and I was very sad that I didn’t get the chance to get trounced by them.

Then there was a game of Munchkin that started at 11pm (I think that must be a secret rule — all games must start at 11pm).

But, I’ve finally done something about this slow-recovering joint: I joined a nearby gym (0.7 miles from my house!). I met with the trainer on Friday. Today was my first day — group class at 6am.

I did actually make it on time, which if you know me in the mornings is just about a miracle. The gym has a cycle of 18 workouts (6 days a week, so 3 weeks worth); today was #14: warmup, push press, tabata hell (8 tabata [20s on/10s rest] of inverted row, air squats, situps, rowing, & pushups), then RDL x 20. My forearms were lost after inverted rows, my quads were done after squats; couldn’t walk again after rowing; weakest pushup attempts you’ve ever seen.

All day long I’ve been a pile of mush. My body is all bewildered at what I did to it. Yeah, tonight’s BJJ class is gonna be a blast…