Snow again! And Team training

Snow started yesterday. Since temps had actually been cold the previous week — below freezing — the snow stuck quickly. So class was cancelled for last night. I had about 4 inches at my house.

This morning was team training here in Blacksburg. The guys from Salem came down to train with us here; there were over 50 people on that mat!

The training was supposed to be gi and nogi, but at the last minute they decided to make it gi only (far too many people to be trying to change). I had planned ahead, though, and worn my nogi stuff under my clothes so I could toss a gi on and off… but then we just did gi, and I was stuck with extraneous clothes that got me overheated. (Of course, you know if I’d just prepared for gi that we would have had to change. Just how it works…)

The morning started off with promotions, including two long-awaited (and, frankly, quite overdue): Janet to blue and Jaime to purple. Couple of kids’ promotions to yellow and green; blues (Emily, Karl, Travis, Rob); purples (Matt, Ryan, Robert, Big Mike, Big Tommy); and even two browns (Navid and Daniel). There are a few more that I was expecting, though they should come by the next team training, at the latest.

Then we went in to drilling, a pop-up armbar from side control, then eventually adding a far-side armbar and a roll-though to armbar/kimura. That made things interesting with 25 pairs going every-which-way on our mats, lol! At the end, some rolling — half on the mat at a time, which still made for some tight quarters.

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.

It’s official! —

I’m a…

blue belt!

Tim decided to get us all certificates for our belts. He was coming around last night and asking us when we got our belts, and then signing the certificates in class last night. So I am now officially a blue belt! 😉 (Only 3 years later, lol.)

I’m blaming this week on lack of sleep. I started a new video game, and I’ve been staying up for an extra hour… or two… or three each night to keep playing. I nearly fell asleep in the dentist’s chair yesterday. Oops. And I nearly nodded off all day yesterday. Seems my body doesn’t just want 8+ hours of sleep — now it’s starting to demand it.

I almost didn’t go to class last night because I was so tired. In the end, I figured I would go at least for the Fundamentals class in case any of the other ladies came in. Janet came in about halfway through class.

But the highlight of the night was that Adam, who had moved up to northern Virginia and is now training at Fairfax BJJ (with Maggie — as well as Dave Jacobs & Abmar Barbosa), was back in town. So I got a visiting round in with him.

Ze Guillaume et ze bleu

We interrupt this blog silence to report an event long in the coming — Guillaume was promoted to blue tonight. Well deserved, too, as he has been rolling well for a while and really stepping up his game in the last few months. He’s also stuck with training far longer than most guys would without a promotion (three years!), and he’s been a considerate and controlled training partner since the beginning. Congrats to Ze Guillaume!

We passed!

There wasn’t supposed to be an inspection today — we were supposed to be out of luck all week — but someone apparently did come and do an inspection anyway, and we finally passed! We can get in! So tonight was our last night in the current space. Starting tomorrow, the mats will be pulled up, (the old squeaky puzzle mats will go back down), and the mats will go to the new, permanent home. That does, however, mean that there is likely no class for the rest of the week.

Also, Karate College is this week. Renzo isn’t able to come this year, though, and I’ve got something Thursday night and am leaving town on Friday for the weekend, so I won’t be heading over there at all.

Fundamentals, gi

The knee was all sorts of squirmy and painful today. Not fun. I considered not even going to class because of it, but then decided I needed the exertion. Good decision.

So humid. Whew! Warm before you even do anything.

Short warmup. I managed everything (though could only turn out on the side-to-side drills); had to go slowly on the single legs and shoot & sprawls but I did manage to shoot on the left knee without having to reach for the floor to balance myself. Huge progress!

Then partnered up for armbars from the guard. Worked with Brandon. And omg you guys! My knee could push and pivot! It could push and pivot!! Huge, huge, huge progress! Though, heh, pinching my heels down caused some discomfort. (See, it’s been complaining about the normal stuff today and letting me do the problematic stuff.)

Rolling next, two rounds, and Tim let me join tonight. So got a couple of good rolls with little hints of jiu-jitsu popping up from time to time. Is so nice.

Drilling was options for chokes from almost-passed top half guard (they’re hanging on to your ankle for dear life with their legs). Couple more rolls to finish up. There was an odd number, so I sat out the first one. Then Tim had me roll with a kid (12, tops) who had come in with his mom. (Unlike the roll where my knee injured itself, this was billed as a “take it easy and play with him” roll. Kid wanted to be vicious, though, lol.) One more roll to finish up.

Knee did super much better in rolling. It even allowed some butterfly guard position, though no real hooks would work. Minor moments of bridging, though fully turning over isn’t quite back yet.

Eamon has been rolling really well the last few months, and I’ve known he was getting so very close to blue. For the second round tonight, I saw Tim pair Justin with him, and I was hoping that meant he’d get it soon. End of the round, sure enough, he got promoted to blue.

Now I’m off for a(nother) week, and then it’s “Hello, new school!”