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.


Today’s temperature was around 86 degrees and humid. It was overcast, so it looked like it might be cool. I took a walk at lunch but had to turn around because it was just miserable out there. After lunch, though, for some reason the heat came on in our office! It’s usually freezing in there — I have been known to wear a sweater during the summer (or even put a sweater on over another sweater in the winter) — but suddenly I started getting warm and feeling as if I was out in that stuff again. Ugh. Thankfully the HVAC company has an office actually in our building, so they were able to fix the problem quickly.

I feel like a jalopy crawling down the road, black smoke streaming from the hood, sputtering coming from the engine, random parts falling off, a bumper hanging halfway off and dragging. My knee was uncooperative with everything tonight, my neck is stiff, there’s a knot just under one shoulder blade — and then during Open Mat, I twisted the knee again and then later somehow strained the hip on that same side so badly that I can hardly bend it now. Also, sometime tonight I got a giant bruise on the top of one foot.

Also, why is it that when people say, “Let’s go light,” what they really mean is, “You go light, and I’ll go hard”?

BJJ Fundamentals

Warmup. Knee did not like. Then drilled side control escape back to guard for the rest of class.


Rolling to warmup. I drew Giant White Belt then Steve, and then was the odd one out.

Drilling was an Ezekiel from top half guard. Drilled for the rest of class.

Open Mat

Tim called out that we all needed at least 3 five-minute rounds before we could leave. Buddy first and we both played around. Then Guillaume, and it was here that I injured my knee while trying some spinning rolly twisty thing to take his back while he was rolling and spinning away. Then I tried to finish the round with one leg, and that’s still no fun. I sucked it up for one more round, though, and somewhere in there strained the same-side hip (hip flexor, maybe?) something terrible. No idea how. Too bad no one makes full-body ice packs yet…

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!”

Double Rainbow What Does It Mean??

Wow, hit the 70s yesterday and the 80s today! Of course, then we got a thunderstorm right behind that to cool things down. And when I got home tonight after work, I saw a double rainbow out the back door:

It’s not very clear in the picture because my camera sucks, but in real life both were really clear.


Academy was hot and muggy. Ugga. (At least I’d expected it again and worn my ultra light gi.)

Rolling to warm up, with Tyler and Sara. Drilling first reviewed the choke from last night (which left my throat sore all day long). Then drilled a diving loop choke variation for if you can’t quite get the first. Drilled with Guillaume.

Open Mat

An easy roll with Guillaume. Tried out some fun and/or crazy stuff. My elbow wasn’t hurting today, so I’d forgotten all about tucking that arm tonight. Oh, well. It seemed to come out alright. Today the wrist was giving me some grief, as was the shoulder. Ack.

I have nearly 2 weeks off of being made to feel guilty over missing morning classes, as Andrew is off on business trips for the rest of the month. Then I’ll decide if I want to go in the mornings again. Right now I’m thinking of only going 1 or 2 mornings.

Easy in, easy back out

Wow, I haven’t been on the mat in nearly a week! And I actually haven’t been panicked over it. Last Friday was a school friend’s father’s funeral, and I didn’t get away in time for class (but some times, other things are more important). Then on Saturday, my parents and I went up to my grandmother’s semi-surprise 80th birthday party in Richmond. A normal surprise party is probably not a good idea for an eighty-year-old woman, so instead she just wasn’t told the guest list so everyone who came was a new surprise.

Fundamentals Class, BJJ

Some warming up (two and a half new guys). Then to drilling: a clock choke. Drilled with Aubrey for a while, then we all switched up and I worked with Rob. He was choking me mostly before he even sat through! I apologized for not being able to let him do the whole thing, but he said he was enjoying my discomfort. (Hey, wait a minute…!)

Then armbars from the guard, 5/side. Rob and I got through 2 rounds each. During this, my left (hurting) elbow popped loud. Rob started apologizing, but I said that whatever he’d done had actually loosened it up. Then more drilling, a clock choke.


All rolls. First with Rob, and somewhere in there he did the inverse of whatever he’d done earlier to my elbow, and now it hurts again. *sad face* I somehow ended up out for the next round (*sad face* again, though my elbow was relieved). Then with Buddy, and anytime I’d try to brace with my wrist or elbow — both injured ones are on the same arm — they would both hurt more. Pfffft. Next two rounds with Aubrey (we did try to switch for the second, but everyone scattered. Pffft.), and I remembered to tuck the injured arm into my belt, so rolled one-handed those two and the next with Guillaume. That helped. It also pointed out how much I rely on having two arms, so probably good to tuck one in even if it weren’t injured.