Tactical Errors

I knew better. I knew better, I knew better, I knew better. And I told myself not to do it. Several times. I promised myself I wouldn’t. And then I did it anyway. *headdesk*

Got to Open Mat tonight. Only Rubber Guard Guru was there, along with a friend he’d brought and was teaching incorrect armbar technique to. I knew better than to roll with him, and the first time he offered, I said I was still warming up. And I was.

But 20 minutes later, when no one else had shown up and it was obvious that I was long since warmed up, I 1) really wanted to roll and had a brain-lapse wherein I thought rolling with a known Spazzy McSpazzalot was better than not rolling at all, 2) got tongue-tied and couldn’t think of any way out of it, besides leaving, and there was still a window in which someone else might come in, and 3) temporarily forgot that I did not have backup in the form of higher belted and/or larger guys to glare at him and smash him for me later. So I grabbed my mouthguard (at least that part of my brain was still working) and rolled with the douche. Tactical Error #1.

(Tactical Error #1.5 — I didn’t insist on setting a timer. I get so used to rolling with guys like Justin and Will, and I forget that the normal white belt script is to get more and more frustrated the longer you go without a submission or without being able to pass a little girl’s guard.)

First few minutes, he was okay — tense as usual, just on the verge of going full-on spazz, but mostly contained. And then I passed his half-guard multiple times and attempted several Big Poppa chokes. He defended by shoving me off and thinking that was the end of it, but I’d come back in for half-guard or side control. I eventually caught a slick and deep no-arm D’Arce. And that was my second and perhaps biggest mistake. I submitted him, and in front of his friend, too, who he had been trying to impress with his skillz and his name-dropping of all the guys he’s supposedly trained with elsewhere and all the people he’s submitted with gogoplatas. (I kid you not.) And here a girl half his size made him tap. Tactical Error #2.

Cue Spazz Overload. You know, it’s one thing with a completely new guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing; its another with a slightly experienced guy who knows what’s going to really hurt and who is taking full advantage of it. Right, this is more like what I expect from this guy. But, I was hanging in there and defending… until I made Tactical Error #3 — I hung out too close to middle ground under bottom half. He grabbed an approximate D’Arce, but on my face not my neck, and started squeezing.

I remembered to do as Scott had said last week and to close in for Old School. Got the sweep, but he picked me up and slammed me over. He smelled blue blood and revenge. I defended still for another 30 seconds or so while he stopped breathing and squeezed with everything he had on my face and cranked my neck around until my last remaining brain cell reminded me that I can’t get out and that he wouldn’t stop until he broke something. Oh, right. And it did hurt a lot, though there was no choke. So tapped, and then had to find my contact — he’d been rubbing his arm back and forth across my eye while he was squeezing, and it had peeled out.

Went to put my contact back in and checked my phone. The last of the guys I was waiting on had left a message that he wasn’t coming. Could’ve used that about 10 minutes ago. Would’ve saved me from many stupid decisions. Went back out to the mat to get my mouthpiece, said “Goodbye” to the guy, and left. Now I worry that I left too abruptly, and who knows what he’s telling himself is the reason or what he’ll tell people next week (he always talks about who he taps, so we’ll see), but I was only thinking that, since no one else was coming and that since I’d finally remembered he’s a spazz, there was no point in staying.


Class in the morning. Tim should be there, and he says I get him all to myself. Yayness!

Day 2: Choking out Girls

I slept like a log Friday night. It. Was. Awesome. I was even disoriented when I got up in the morning, and it took me a few minutes to figure out where I was and what was going on.

My weight ended up not mattering. There were 2 tiny Intermediate girls (under 113.5!), and then one girl — Krystol — in the weight class above me (so two above my normal class), so she and I were combined into one weight class. She was strong!! This one’s actually on video — Addie noticed my camera sitting on the table, so she recorded my match for me. Thank you! 🙂

I turtled (I know, I know) to prevent her getting the pass points. I did get the half-guard sweep that Justin taught me back in November/December, that I’ve been working to get; nearly had it a second time, too. I remember her going for the arm triangle, and I thought, “Oh, no problem, I’ll just get on top and get out… Er… that’s pretty tight… er… I’m going to pass out… tap! tap! tap!” Barbara told me after the match that Krystol’s go-to submission is the arm triangle. Oh wells.

But none of the other girls signed up for the Intermediate Absolute and couldn’t be talked in to it, so I only got that one. I stuck around the girls’ table, though, and watched and helped. Addie, Jen Flannery, Rachel Demara, Rosie, Marissa, Tracey Goddell — there was some good grappling going on out there.

Kaila (I finally know how to spell his name for reals) was going on the mat next to us, so I darted over there to yell for him. I don’t think he won a match, but he was also competing in Intermediate for the first time. He’s trained long enough to be in that division, though he did take a nearly 2-year break in between. Once his nogi divisions were finished, he left.

Kaila (left)

Cheryl took over running the women’s table. Right after I started helping her with the brown belt women’s (2 brown belt womenses!), Andrew came over and pulled all blue belt women over to a mat on the far side. So I didn’t get to see any of the other women’s matches. *sad*

There were 4 girls in my weight class (well, it was combined again, with the next class up), so I reminded myself that I had to win at least 1 fight to get a medal. That was my goal — just win one.

I don’t have any pictures or video from these because my camera battery was dying and my iPod suddenly wasn’t charged. *boo*

First fight was against Missi from Richmond BJJ. She came to Grapple Camp on Monday only, I think, and I didn’t roll with her then, so I didn’t know what to expect. I don’t remember much of how the match went except that I got my current go-to open guard sweep (similar to a push version of a scissor sweep), and wound up on top and in good positions a few times and thinking, “Whoa, hey, how I’d get here?” I didn’t have anyone to corner me, so I was listening to her coach. She fell into my guard with one arm in and one arm out. Her coach yelled, “Watch the triangle!” And my lightning-fast mind said, “Duh…. what? Oh!” At least my body knows the mechanics of that one without me having to think too much. Wowzers, I won a match!

Second fight was against Krystol again. Alright, note to self: do not let her get that arm triangle! I did turtle again (I know, I know), and she did try for it again, but I think I got myself in a better position first before coming on top and escaping this time. Dear goodness but 6 minutes feels like a long time! Again, I was getting lots of positions and passes and pressure — even attempting submissions! — and thinking, “Who is this grappling here? I like her!” But honestly, for some reason I thought I was down on points; I think I thought I wasn’t getting good enough control or something to get the points, and she seemed to be sweeping and getting out a lot.

Had a double lapel choke right as time expired and was thinking, “Must… finish… to… win…” But she held out and defended. When time was called, I got a look at the scorecard: 17-2. And somehow, I thought her score was on the left. It wasn’t until Elyse flipped us around that I finally realized that that was my score on the left. I won a match. I won a finals match. Squeee!

There were also four girls listed for the blue belt absolute, so again, goal was to win at least 1 to get a medal. The table wanted to start the blue belt absolute right away, but I was listed first on that bracket and definitely needed a break. I told them I needed a few minutes, so they went ahead with the other match in the bracket — Jessy and Maria — while I rested and tried to massage my forearms into relaxing. No go. But while I was waiting, Liz came up and said she had to drop out of the absolute because she’d tweaked her hurt knee in her weight division match. So we let the other two girls rest (I think they started another division on the mat) while the bracket was redrawn, though the result of the first match was kept.

Eventually Maria and I were called for the second match. She was little and squirmy. Argh! Grappling little people is hard! (Yes, I know, I’m often the little person that everyone’s complaining about, lol.) I remember her coach calling out that she was ahead in points, so I fought for a sweep or pass — probably my favorite open guard sweep — and landed in mount. She might have gotten out, and then I had to do it again. Or not; I can’t remember. Not sure how the points ended up, though I think I was ahead, when I got to mount and slid around to technical mount and really started digging for her arm. I got it out, jerked toward her head to break her grip, and sat back. She tapped. Whoa, I won another one! What’s going on here?! I dunno, but I like it. 😛

Another break, though I really couldn’t feel my forearms at that point. Energy level = non-existent. Lovely. Finally got out there again to face Jessy. I knew she was tough, though I’d never rolled with her before, but OMG she’s also very strong. From standing, she started with some grips that I could not break. She kept trying to throw me. I think I butt-flopped to avoid being thrown. (I figured it would hurt, more than anything!) But then I spent the rest of the round not stopping her from passing, not stopping her from taking my back, not stopping her from just about anything. At one point, she had a body triangle from the back/side and was trying a bow-and-arrow choke; she also had a grip on my top pant leg and was driving it in to the other. So my legs were pinned, my hips were immobilized, and both hands were fighting that choke. I really couldn’t move at all. Elyse came around in front of me and said she needed me to move so she knew I hadn’t passed out. I waved, lol.

Then Jessy finally switched to mount and sat on my ribs. Owie, my poor ribs. I think they might be bruised from the body triangle. I was trying everything to not have to tap to pressure, and just barely resisted. She eventually isolated my arm and did the same armbar that Chrissy showed me at Addie’s Open Mat! Hey! I tried getting my arm out and couldn’t, and her weight was still on my ribs; I knew I was done, and really didn’t want her to feel the need to force that tap, so verbally tapped since the other hand was pinned.

So that gave me 2nd in the women’s blue belt absolute.

After some post-match rehydration, protein shake, and text messaging, I settled back in at the mat I’d just competed on and helped run the table for the rest of the day. I wish my camera had been working and I could’ve gotten a picture of Elyse reffing the men’s blue belt 188.5 – 215: really big boys, really little ref.

Rosie (top) and Tracey
Addie (left), Keith (center), Marissa (right) — and Klint in the foreground doing… something…
Rachel (top) and Tracey

Bonus Sunday Training

I think some of us must be certifiably insane.

All Saturday night, my neck was so stiff. I had trouble falling asleep, too, because I just couldn’t get comfortable. (Not the air mattress’ fault — all the bumps and bruises and aches and pains.) I think I finally dozed off around 3 or so. Woke up a little later, and my neck was still stiff.

But, I headed out with Chrissy and Elyse to Yamasaki Training Center to meet TheMikeByrd and Rosie for some post-tournament rolling. I figured my neck would loosen up as I rolled, and it did eventually. I rolled with everyone there, then changed and drove home.

Take it easy

Medium-sized class tonight. Easy warmup, around the mat drills then circled up for a few more. Couple of short rolls with Theresa and Sarah. With Sarah, I went down immediately to let her start from side control. She chased after my legs and tried to wrestle them down… … Reminded her to relax several times.

Drilling was D’Arce from side control. Reach your top arm over top of their face, and then reach back under their neck and grab the inside of your own knee. Other hand comes around and pushes their leg, their hip, their back — as you walk around their head with your hips, using your hips to push their arm across. Then dive your head behind their back, to keep them from rolling, as you continue walking around, pushing on their shoulder and even against that top arm, if needed, to make it go in place. Finish the D’Arce.

Justin also showed an alternative setup for the D’Arce itself — instead of using your top arm over their head to pull it in, put it under their head and pull forward and up, so then both of your arms are doing the same motion. Your elbows also stay tighter to your body the whole time that way.

Drilled with Theresa. Two more short rolls. With Will, and I remembered to ask him not to attack my legs. My knee is still a little achy. Bleh. Then Theresa again.

I’ll trade you a submission for an escape

Sometimes I read the “search engine terms” that WordPress gives me — a list of things people searched for and then clicked on a link to me from — and I wonder 1) who was looking for that, 2) how’d it direct to me, and 3) what else did they find?!

Not too many of us there today, and the first four were already paired up and going when I got there. So I just warmed up and stretched until Buddy #1 got there and was ready to go. Got to roll with him twice (really, once with a ~5 min break in the middle), and both times for a good long while, maybe 45 minutes total. We played! Fast-paced and fun. I had some good escapes and passes in there, and some good moments of getting to top and even sprawling well. Also got caught in a lot of D’Arces, among other things (triangles, arm triangles, a RNC). But he said at one point that he’d just really gotten the D’Arce down and so was taking every opportunity to work it.

I was still underneath a lot, but I was really, really working my escapes, mostly turning in for the single leg, which he was giving up for the chance at the D’Arce. He turtled for me several times; I kept trying to work the Peruvian necktie, I don’t know why, but never really had it well enough to try to finish. Should ought to have tried to take his back, but didn’t think of it. And I even had a couple of pretty good elevator sweeps, though he wasn’t defending them too hard. Oo, and I fixed a hole in my basic guard passes that I’d noticed the other night, finally getting my head in the right place. Lots of little things that I was very happy with.

Also worked the von Flue guillotine defense. He caught that guillotine tight, though his guard wasn’t quite closed, so I thought, Well, I can at least practice the defense for a second or two until he finishes it. I could get my arm around to his back, but my shoulder was nowhere near his neck: my elbow was just over his shoulder; but I went through the motions anyway. And then he let me out and we went on until he caught me in something else. When we reset, he said that had been a good guillotine defense; I asked if it had really worked, because I was so far away from his neck that it seemed as if I had no pressure. He said that yes, that all that pressure had been in one spot on his chest and had kept him from being able to finish. (Unspoken: without resorting to extra strength.) So, add that back in the arsenal. I’d set it aside for cases in which my shoulder would reach their neck, but now it appears to work without that. Not that I’m gonna go around looking for guillotines to stick my neck into to practice…

Just a really fun “this is why I do jiu-jitsu” kind of day. Yay!

The night someone dropped a piano during class

New guys. Nutso warmup. I was last, and Tim was calling me out on it. What’s this energy stuff? Trying hard to keep up, but left behind every time. Long, too, with extra circle-up drills.

Rolling. With good guys all night, but it was all the same. Trying to work half guard sweeps, trying to shrimp and play open guard, trying to roll like Rachel. They worked passes. They succeeded. Couldn’t seem to keep my elbows tight enough to my body; always space for the D’Arce. A finger in the eye at one point; Tim thought I was frustrated and crying and reamed me. Nearly was after that. Tried to turtle and hit the switch; did actually get out and past, but they stepped away and I couldn’t control anything. Wanted to actually try to work something, anything, but on defense nearly the whole time; no chance to try. One fast tap on a leg lock attempt because I had no idea what to do next. Ribs still hurt a lot; knee-on-belly and side control are painful and nearly press the wind out of me. Apparently I looked pained even though I kept rolling (even did manage a few things that got me a momentary “Good!” from Tim); Tim finally asked if something was wrong, so I had to admit to it. Thankfully, he didn’t kick me out of class as he usually does when I fess up to rolling with an injury.

Two techniques tonight, and my brain keeps changing its mind about which was first…

First, knee-on-belly escape. Timely. Elbows in, brace on their riding leg/knee. Bridge up. Muy importante, this bridge. (All my knee-on-belly escapes earlier failed from lack of bridging. I saw this then.) Then hip escape away from them. Started with that, and then added attacking the now-grounded knee.

Second drill was switch to back to side control. Also timely, as I’d screwed it up several times right before. You shoot for the single from underneath; they sprawl. On the side they have overhooked, base out that leg and post underneath on the opposite elbow. Swing the other leg under and straight through, as if you’re sliding in to base, with your leg laying out beside theirs. (Second place I was screwing up earlier; was going out sideways and so couldn’t turn back fast enough to control. First was trying to chicken-wing their overhook. Somehow, I’d caught that as a correct detail from when we drilled the switch a while back. But tonight it was wrong.)

Bring your posted knee around and over top their calf and pinch down. (Watch out for the rolling kneebar from here! Keep your leg angled along theirs so there’s no space for them to get in there and catch your knee. Also, pressure your hips in to theirs to keep them from being able to go there.) Take the free foot and thread the foot over their calf, between your knee and theirs. Control around their waist, pinching your elbows in. You need them stretching forward, so bait going for the near-side arm. [Last night’s technique was a sweep to back from here after dragging that near arm in. These two work well together here. Sadly, I don’t know that sweep yet.] Dive your head under their stomach and roll, lifting up with the hook you inserted as they come past you. Replace hook with bottom-side arm and come up to side control.

Worked with Sundance, who had wrapped his hand, then taped it, and then was wearing a purple boxing glove. So it was safe from me accidentally hitting it. We were goofing around a little bit during the knee-on-belly drill, though we were both being nice and keeping the knee low. He got on top and grabbed behind my head and behind one knee and started pulling for that position; had to say, “Tap, stop, ow!” because my ribs did not like that so much. Meh.

More rolling eventually. Good guys again. Nearly did cry during one roll, too, because it was the same as before; no matter what I tried, everything was pried up, pulled out, pinned down. Pressure on the ribs wasn’t helping, either. Very much like before, except Justin submitted me with lots of other things in addition to the D’Arce.

One, I didn’t even recognize what he’d done; it was uncomfortable, but I thought I had some room. And then I heard a noise as if someone had just dropped a piano. Or banged on all the keys at once. Loud. And strange. I thought, “Who just dropped a piano?” And then I thought, “Wait, there aren’t any pianos. Um… … I think I might be passing out. Oh. I should tap. … … … Um, where’s my hand?” Signals finally reached my hand, and I tapped. And then when he let go and all the blood rushed back to my head, I nearly passed out again.

On the wall after rolling. Single leg, single leg/sprawl, single leg, single leg/sprawl. Repeat, repeat, repeat because the new guys weren’t doing it right. I will not stop. I will keep going. I will go hard. Much slower than everyone else, but I did not stop. Even jogged back after every; no walking. Great heaving, squeaking breaths.

Circled up. Mountain climbers/pushups. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 20 knees-to-chest. Done.

Backed up against the wall, sat down, and fought the tears. Hurt. Tired. No air. That’s all. Did stop them then, though they’ve resurfaced every few minutes since then. Still fighting. Never surrender.

Tim banned me from coming in tomorrow for Open Mat. Said I need to rest. *sigh* But I need to work more.

Update: I meant to add this last night and completely forgot — I rolled with my new custom mouthguard last night. I like it muchly. No gag reflex. It stayed in without my having to think about it; it stayed on my top teeth even when I was gasping. I could breath. All very nice. Didn’t get hit in the face (they were creaming me, but they were the good guys), though this seems as if it will at least keep me from chipping teeth again. It’s a little more difficult to get out (not actually difficult, but slightly more work than just spitting out the other one) because it conforms to my teeth so well. So, yeah.