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 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.

Jiu-jitsu: Make friends, then make them miserable

Whew, some crazy storms blowing through here! Watched a lightning storm over town on Saturday night, then was woken up at midnight last night by a thunderstorm blowing in. Everyone at work was having a rough time today, as none of us slept much all weekend.

BJJ, Fundamentals

Warmup. Knee will let me do the side-to-side drills facing in (so pushing off that knee) as long as I stay up really high. We had a new girl tonight, Shelby, who I’d met when she stopped in last Friday; helped her with the down-the-mat drills.

Drilling. Review of the bump sweep variation from last week. Then added going to the armbar once you get to mount. Worked with Shelby. She was nervous about putting her full weight on me, but I kept coaching her through how to put her weight on my ribs. She was amused that everything I told her to do was making me more miserable, and that when I couldn’t breathe, those were the times I told her she’d done well. Ah, jiu-jitsu, you so funny.

BJJ, Intermediate/Advanced

Rolling to warmup. Deziree, Buddy, and Big Jon. Lol, Jon choked me with my lapel, but when I tapped and he let go, the lapel didn’t go anywhere; it stayed there choking me.

Drilling was the double-under pass, then a variation for if you were lazy and left your elbows out and they grabbed your sleeve cuffs. Worked with Sara.

Rolling. Deziree pounced on me again, then Dmitri (who accidentally went to Lockdown in half guard and knee-barred the injured knee; I tapped as soon as I realized that I wasn’t getting out, so well before there was any pressure), Trey, and finally Guillaume, as I owed him a complete roll from last week. Thankfully, my knee behaved tonight and I didn’t have to stop.

Meh, weather says we’ll probably get another thunderstorm between midnight and 1am tonight. At least it looks like the wind won’t be so bad.

Home, sweet home

The academy opened in the new location tonight. Larger mats. Two doors, 3 ceiling fans. An office. One bathroom, but room to make changing areas. So nice!

(The only downside to the new location is that it’s in the next town over and on the far side of that town, which makes it impossible for me to get over for morning classes. Oh well.)

Fundamentals Class

Short warmup, though with so many people, kinda crazy. If the guy ahead of you had to pause in his jogging (because someone ahead of him paused), then there was a short pile-up as we ran in to each other. I managed to turn in for side-to-side and push off with the hurt knee!! (It helped that with so many people we had to go super slow anyway.) And I did alligators! Two trips! Still some twinges on things, but the knee sure did do a lot tonight. Wohoo!

Drilling: armbar from guard. Then added a sweep to that, and I had 2 stupid sides for most of it. Fantastic. Knew what to do, have done it before, but just couldn’t get it working.

BJJ, Intermediate/Advanced

The Salem crew came up tonight to help us break in the new place, so the number of folks on the mats increased between classes.

Brandon even came in for a little while. He and his wife had a baby last week, a little girl.

We lined up by rank again and bowed in, and then squished together for an academy picture.

Class started with rolling, though there were far too many of us to roll at once, so we rolled in shifts of 8 pairs. I got out there for 2 rolls.

Drilling was the sickle sweep and passing to side control. Knee was not excessively fond of that one either from attacking or being attacked.

Then I begged Ez from Salem for a roll. They were trying to leave, but he agreed to come out for one roll anyway. Wohoo! Not just because he’s a purple close enough to my size, but mostly because he always gives me lots of good advice about being the smaller person. And he did not disappoint tonight.

Tomorrow night will lead off with a kids’ class, so the adult schedule for the week actually looks the same as before (except that we don’t have to leave early and turn out the lights so the strange people can come in later). This is gonna be pretty awesome.

You put your left hook in, you take your left hook out…

Oh, Friday, I wasn’t sure you were coming this week!

Straight in to rolling to warm up tonight. Remembered my mouthpiece, yay.

In one roll I got stuck with a brand-new guy. Was not happy about that; I would much prefer to have known training partners right now. At least most of them have enough control that they won’t hurt me; the ones that don’t, at least I know what they do have. My normal spiel to folks is, “Yes, I have an injury, but I’ve been training long enough that I know how to protect it and will tap or stop us if I need to. You just roll.” And we go from there and I hope that they can forget about the injury and just roll, and I’ll do my limited thing and sometimes stop the roll if the knee gets stuck at a bad angle and will let them have the pass or sweep or whatever they’d wanted, minus the knee being stuck. But this kid got a longer introduction to my knee and a warning. I do not want to mess around with idiots where this knee is concerned. He promised me that he was new, so I had nothing to worry about. *snort* He did at least limit himself to the one or two techniques he’s been taught in class, so that was actually good, though my knee was still getting plenty of abuse as he tried to muscle everything and dig his elbows in to everything.

Drilling was side control to armbar. Drilled with Janet, then a couple more rolls to finish up. All rolls tonight were me starting to do it the “wrong” way and having to stop myself and try again. That left foot it all eager to be hooking again, but I can’t let it. So it was a lot of starting, stopping, retrying, stalling when I couldn’t figure out how to move the right way.

Wowza, from zero to four days training in one week! That is plenty for now, I think, so I’m going to take tomorrow morning off. Probably just going to sleep! 😮 My body still doesn’t seem to know what has happened to it. 😉