BJJ Grrl

"Be gentle, kind and beautiful, yet firm and strong, both mentally and physically." ~Sensei Keiko Fukuda

More, because it’s still bothering me

I hate being little and weak. I hate not being able to take care of my own problems on the mat. I hate having to be the damsel in distress. I hate not even being able to be semi-competent against new guys. I hate that my jiu-jitsu isn’t good enough. I hate that my guys have to always watch out for me when they’re supposed to be rolling. I hate that I’m fragile and small and easily injured. I hate that I get scared that guys are going to break me. I hate that I can’t be the little enforcer all on my own. I hate feeling useless and worthless. And I really hate that I get so upset by this.

I feel like I should be able to handle new guys, but I usually can’t do it well, if at all. I feel like I should be able to at least defend and sweep them a few times, if they’re significantly larger or have some experience, and do better than that otherwise. And I usually can’t. I can scarcely keep them from passing my guard; I can scarcely do more than peel grabby hands off every surface as they try to keep me from moving. I should at least be able to move around against them, shouldn’t I? But they can easily hold me down. Even with the newer guys who I surprisingly can do something against, there’s only a small window where that’s possible. Give them a week or two, depending on their natural athletic ability, and suddenly they’re out of my league. I feel like other guys are starting to write me off as a viable training partner because I fail so much, while they can joke about how “he thinks he’s strong” and “I was starting to run out of submissions to try!” (while I think, “But he is strong” or “I was too busy defending him trying to twist my arm off to try any”).

And I feel like every other girl out there is doing all these things that I can’t do, and I feel like the biggest idiot, as if I’ve somehow missed a key piece to jiu-jitsu along the way and ended up with a stunted and malformed version of it. (Yet then I go to a Women’s Open Mat or a tournament, and I don’t suck too much and I even have bits of jiu-jitsu work that never work. But they’re usually gone by the time I get home, and I quickly forget how for a moment I knew what I was doing and it was working.)

How do I deal with these guys? these feelings? Is there any answer besides, “Man up!” My coach’s answer is to assign me to roll with these guys more, but this ends up with me frustrated, scared, angry, pissed, and even feeling almost betrayed sometimes. I don’t want to be the whiney little girl (that role already taken anyway) who only rolls with safe, comfortable guys and other women. It’s not even the physical side of it that’s bothering me so much — though the extra bruises, scratches, and joint pain isn’t so much fun — as it is the mental and emotional side. I’m a wreck after having to work with these guys, mostly because I can only see how badly I sucked.

Now I’m just rambling, and now it’s late. But I’m still throwing that out there. (And now I have to figure out how to sleep.)

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In which I have to call for backup

This is the pissed-off face. I wore it all night. Someone tripped the Gorgon button right before class, and I was still trying to shake it off when class started. (And the new guy who keeps calling me “brother” and “dude” did not help matters. Although, he did tell me that I nearly choked him unconscious the other day, and that made me happy. Oh, dear, I’m in one of those moods tonight…)

Rolling to start. Justin reminded us that this is a warmup roll, so go easy. There was a new guy standing next to him, and somehow I ended up with him. A bit unassuming looking. Bigger than me, of course; they all are. As I walked over to partner with him, I heard Justin ask, “Have you ever grappled before?” I didn’t hear the answer.

I introduced myself and we sat down. He looked around at everyone else, who had already started, and asked, “So what are we doing?” I said, “We’re grappling. Have you ever grappled before?” He said, “No, it’s my first night here.” He added a particular emphasis on that word.

…Wait a minute, “here”? *Warning bell.*

So I asked the follow-up question: “Have you ever wrestled or done anything else?”

“Oh, sure,” he said. “I wrestled and I’ve done some MMA.”

Lovely. But at least I have a better idea of what to expect: this ain’t gonna be no warmup roll.

And it wasn’t. He came out at 300%. I mean, guys come out hard sometimes, and I’ll call that 110%, but this dude came out hard and fast and pounced on anything that moved. Thankfully, he has about the worst technique on the planet. And somehow thought he could submit me from inside my guard. So I could at least defend, though only just barely sometimes because he was tossing me around everywhere. Did think he was going to break my arm a time or two, just from grabbing it and bending.

After several minutes of this muscle-sharking crapfest, we got to a semi-neutral position. I was pissed. Pissed at him for being an idiot, pissed at him for going so hard, pissed at whoever taught him this crap, and mostly pissed at myself because I couldn’t do much more than survive. (He was possibly pissed, too, because he couldn’t get any of his crapola to work.) I said, trying to keep my voice from sounding too grumpy (whiney?), “So, I guess you missed the part where he said this is a warmup roll, huh?”

He says, “Wha–?”

“Right…. Just checking. Supposed to be warming up, not going as hard as you can.”

“Do you want to start on top?”

Deep breath. “Never mind. Keep going.”

He maybe dropped it to 299% for a moment, but then ramped it right back up to 300% again. (And now I was even more pissed at myself for saying anything and letting him know that he had me rattled. Bah!) Again with the kimura attempts from inside my guard. Perhaps he finally figured out that it wasn’t going to work, because he wrestled my other arm across my throat and grabbed it from around behind my head. And then put his fist in my throat and tried to choke me with that.

Alright, now I’m super pissed. Sadly, I could do nothing about it but squirm and stew. He couldn’t finish it, though, because I was keeping my feet on his hips to keep his weight off, although he was doing his best to finish with just his arms. After a while of this, his fist slipped off and I stopped him again.

“Seriously, do you think that’s going to work on anyone bigger than me?”

He sat there stunned for a second. “Well, yeah.”

“Wait, what?”

He said, “Yeah, it works on the time.”

“On who? Anyone with any experience at all?” Because I know for a fact that it won’t work on any of my guys.

He said, “I use it all the time back home.”

I asked where he trained and he told me. I just shook my head. I haven’t heard of it, and I won’t name it, but if he’s any indication of what their training is like, it’s definitely a place to avoid. (And I was pissed at myself for stopping again. Seriously, didn’t I learn the first time? I look like a little wuss who interrupts people when they’re getting close to anything. Bah!!!)

Round finally finished. I immediately looked around and found who I wanted. “Hey, John, come roll with this guy next.” I walked toward John as he walked over and whispered, “He’s wrestled and done MMA.” John just nodded.

I ended up with Theresa, which was okay because, I admit, I wanted to watch. And John delivered for me. He out-wrestled the guy, out-jiu-jitsu’ed him, out-speeded him, and just plain smoked him. The guy spent most of the round looking stunned.

I just wish that I could do that to guys instead of needing to have someone else do it. *le sigh*

At the water break, John veered over to me. “Was he giving you a hard time?” he asked. I nodded and said, “Yes. Thank you.” He said, “No problem.”

Drilling was elevator sweep, both the standard and the variation for when they manage to pummel the underhook back. Drilled with Theresa. Then one more roll, and everyone turned to their drilling partners. I had hoped to warn whoever got that kid next, but it turned out not to be a problem — he was rolling with Gumby, who has the most flexible joints of anyone, so none of that crap would work on him.

That was the end of class. I moved over and sat along one of the walls. Andrew came over a few minutes later and said I looked pissed. I’m sure I did. I responded that haven’t had a good roll all week. He said, “Well, then, let’s go.” We were just getting in to a good pace when the kickboxing class came and took over the mat. *le sigh* At least I finally broke a sweat…

No class for me tomorrow. (The guys are already talking about sticking around after yoga to get some rolling in.) I have the company Christmas party, which was snowed/iced out back in December. I also have another round of house-hunting tomorrow. There are two choices on my list right; we’ll go see those and a new one that just came up.

Then Saturday is Open Mat and then Women’s Class.


Randomly, fun with science: Professor Breeds Bomb Detecting Plants

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Mess

I got a shiny new phone today. It’s not a smart phone, but it is less dumb than my old one. Slide out keyboard and threaded texts — fancy stuff! But the machine that moves your contacts from one phone to the other wasn’t working right, so I’m having to manually add people. At least I don’t have too many.


It started snowing sometime today.

Tim met me at 5:30 to roll. We did talk for a minute first about working out a way to let me drill this year, so that should work out. Short roll, though; we stopped when more other guys started getting there. He did tell me to look for more submissions and/or ways to make my opponent uncomfortable when doing things like passing the guard. He was doing it to me the whole time. Just little things — tweak an arm here, grab a foot there — but they suddenly require your full attention. And most of the time he had me tapping on those.

A short roll a while later with Andrew. He’s still getting better. Then a long time later, a short roll with Will. He stopped when he saw that I was getting frustrated and couldn’t control it well. He asked what was causing it, but I couldn’t really answer. Inability to do even the most basic things correctly with anyone. Feeling like an absolute idiot most of the time. Being small and weak and having to tap to things that no guy ever would. Feeling slow and pathetic and like I’m not worth anyone’s time to roll with. And feeling like everyone feels the same way and avoids getting near me for fear of infection and/or wishes I wasn’t there. Half is the first few, and half is the last one. I suddenly feel… tolerated, but not actually wanted. That’s just hard to get used to again.

By the time we left, the roads were covered with snow.

Those of us who want to train jiu-jitsu are showing up early on Saturdays from now on to get some rolling in before the MMA class, which is going to be at our old Saturday time. Then tomorrow I hopefully have appointments to go see three houses; I’m finally starting to seriously look at moving out on my own.

Next weekend was supposed to be a wedding weekend — the weekend before the wedding — but Jennie has decided not to do anything big then. So instead, I’ll be going up on Friday to catch a class at Yamasaki Mechanicsville with Chrissy & Co. and Women’s Open Mat on Saturday. Then head out to Jennie’s that night and stay and help with any last minute details for the wedding. The week after that, I’m taking off from jiu-jitsu — Jennie has asked if there could please be no visible bruises in her wedding pictures, lol. 😛 She’s the only person I would do this for; I didn’t even take off before my sister’s wedding!


Perry was taking pictures on Wednesday. Here’s me with the kids who were there:

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If not for the rain…

…would we ever be thankful for the sun?

Icky weather, rainy and foggy. Icky practice, gripping and squeezing.

The testers we hired at work continue to change the tests to match what they heard, rather than mark the test as “fail” and submit it. And except that several tests failed colossally and they had to submit tickets on them, we wouldn’t have known; they had tried to alter one of those first. Also, they did most of their testing on the previous iteration of the system, which means most of them [should have] failed since the bugs that were being tested were not fixed until the current iteration. *headdesk*

We just rolled for one hour and fifteen minutes. Same partner. Didn’t even get a warmup phase, just immediate grabbing sleeves and forcing me into a triangle. He did get several of those; I don’t have the strength to resist, and I can’t break his grips. My knee up means nothing. My other shoulder in means nothing. Didn’t even start sweating until long in to the round, since being locked down isn’t much of a workout. My grips were worthless. All my weight counted for nothing; I got picked up from every position and tossed elsewhere. I apparently had no pressure, as he’d just do whatever he wanted. He tried to long-distance armbar and triangle me multiple times (as in, he barely had my arm, and sometimes my elbow could even be below his hips, and he’d just squeeze and pull), and he still nearly finished several of those as well. Everything he shouldn’t have been able to do, he did. Everything I should have been able to do, I couldn’t.

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My best isn’t good enough

So. Got kicked out of class. Again.

Slightly larger class than usual for Saturdays. No one is happy to see the kid who knocked out the girl. (I’ve decided to nickname him Cannonball here, mostly off of “loose cannon.” Easier that way, I think.) Everyone’s gunning for him. I have good guys.

Rolling to warmup. Will first. He was playing catch-and-release and sometimes with both hands tucked in his belt. I was just trying to move. Funny, I came to class prepared to tap a lot, to break that stupid mental block that’s been growing again, and then Will just wanted to play. He finally let me around his open guard so I could play some half guard, side control, and north/south. He even let me try some spider guard, though I couldn’t keep pressure well and he passed easily. Even remembered to break grips like Justin had shown me last week. Just flowing around. Kind of slow round, but still hard work.

Then Scott. He did catch a few so I could practice tapping. Again attempting to get around his open guard a lot. Wanted to ask him after class about that, but didn’t get the chance. Under side control and mount a few times. Did have one single-leg sweep when he let me have his leg, though got swept right away. Also tried some spider guard, though he would stand up and pass. Broke a few more grips, too; he nods when I do those right. Afterward, he said my pressure had been good and I’d been moving my hips well; he was having to use more weight to control me. Pace was also a little slower, but that’s also how Scott has always rolled with me so he can really focus on his technique.

Drilling. From half guard through x-guard to the back. Start in bottom half. Shrimp backwards a bit and hook the top leg inside their knee. Shoot under their other leg with your bottom arm; use the hook to elevate them a bit and come under to x-guard. If they stand at this point and you find yourself without the far ankle, then swim your front arm behind their near hamstring; pop your head through to the other side. Reach up with the other hand and grab their belt (or pants or whatever you can get), then bring the other hand up to grab, too. Transition your top foot (the one you hooked with) over to their other leg; this looks like a backwards butterfly guard. Pull down and/or back with your arms a little while kicking out with your shins on the backs of their knees. They fall on their butt in front of you; take the back.

I worked with Scott, which was amusing because his legs are long and mine are short. Scott had me pushing out wider when I kicked so that he didn’t land on my legs. Adam showed me that you can bring your foot behind their knees and push there for more leverage.

Up to this point, I’m fine. I’ve rolled with Will and Scott, and been beat on technique lots and lots. I’m still remembering that I need to tap when I’m in trouble instead of being stubborn and fighting. I’m remembering that I need to keep moving and need to get off the bottom.

I paired up with a guy I like to roll with for the next round. Tried to start with some spider guard/open guard of my own, since that’s where most of the guys start. He locked up an ankle and pulled me up by that leg. Causes problems. Have to figure out what to do now. Got dumped on my back and then passed.

And then Tim stopped us. Said you aren’t aggressive enough, stop being so emotional, need to push the pace, every time I look over you’re on the bottom, gotta fight to get off the bottom, not aggressive enough, need to attack more, didn’t give you that belt so you can just lay there, pull guard at least and work from there, too slow, not even shrimping, you’re better than that, you’re better than him, start over, go harder.

So we reset. I stayed on my knees, grabbed inside the collar and one sleeve, thinking to either drive forward and work a sweep, depending on what he did. He bulldozed me. Oh. Now I end up on the bottom. And got passed. He was controlling my hips and laying across my head and arms. Tried to bump, tried to bridge, tried to turn in, always my first thought now. No good. Trying to wedge my elbows back in; still no good.

Tim stopped us again. I couldn’t hear him because my partner was laying on my ear, with the other smashed to the mat. Again, didn’t give you that belt so you can lay there, you aren’t being aggressive, you’re always on the bottom, stop being so emotional. Start over.

We reset. Partner started in open guard. Great. A hand on either pant leg by the ankle; tried to pull his legs out a bit and pin them to pass. Couldn’t budge his legs. He grabbed a sleeve, kicked out my ankle, dragged me over. Turned in, shrimped; he let me get to guard. Tried to keep his posture down. No good. Tried to break his arms down. Still no good. Tried the scissor breakdown (turn in over one arm). He sprawled on both legs, wrapped them up in one arm, and passed. I heard Tim make a comment from the side, but I couldn’t hear the words.

Turned in and over, going for the single leg. He sprawled. Legs out of reach. He shot in for the D’Arce. Tried the switch: leg posted, arm posted. Head got ground into the mat. Leg came back in reach, though. Grabbed it. He sprawled again. Almost lost it, but kept fighting forward. Pulled it in and posted for the sweep. He sprawled again. Leg gone. Arm shot in again for D’Arce. This time he locked it in and rolled me. I fought the tap, though I knew it was rightfully his. Finally had to. Tim on the side again, telling me to stop giving up like that.

Now I really was upset and trying not to cry as I roll. I can’t do anything right. The rest of the roll is hazy. I tried to fight harder, to fight to top, to sweep, to calm down. Wasn’t tired, or at least didn’t feel it. Tried pulling guard again. The guy wrapped up both legs again. Tried to stay upright, push on his head, scissor my legs open to get them back. He swept me, easily and gently. He was feeling sorry for me, I could tell, but he had to keep pushing, too. He left a leg out, though, and I snagged that half guard. Immediately flattened. Trying to bump in, trying to wedge an underhook. He tried to pull me in for a D’Arce. Bumped back out. Wedged in the x-guard hook, wanting to lift and sweep though couldn’t quite remember the sweep. He passed. Bumped to my side. He was laying on my head and had both legs wrapped up with his arm. Tried using arms to brace and get some space. Nothing doing. Couldn’t free my legs, either. He finally tried moving; got my hips to chase and snag half guard. Flattened again.

There was more of me getting passed, and flattened, and sat on, and swept, but I don’t remember. Nothing I could do about any of it. Tried to shrimp, tried to bump, tried to roll. Couldn’t escape anything; he was tight, as he should be. He had other submission attempts; I tried to explode out of all of them; nothing else seemed as if it would satisfy. Tried to be more intense, more aggressive, even so far as imagining my last tournament rolls. And as far as I could tell, that’s the level I was at during this roll. Which apparently did nothing. Actually was a real emotional wreck by the end.

Time was finally called. Tim called me over. Told me to go get my stuff and go home. Said that whatever problems I’m having outside of class (there are none), I can’t bring them in to class; I have to come in ready to work, with a good attitude and energy (was completely fabulously great coming in this morning). Said I do this every class (I do not). Trying to defend myself, explain it’s none of that; said all the wrong things. He said he wasn’t the kind of coach to not tell you when you have a problem, just trying to make you all better. More about not giving me that belt so I could roll like that.

I know that, and I want to be better, and I do appreciate when he points things out. I just wish sometimes it wouldn’t come with such a guilt trip — that’s when I lose it.

But if I was giving what felt like my best for that one roll, and he says it’s not good enough, then I don’t know what to do.

I know I accept the bottom position easily, and I do want to work on that. I know my reversals need work.

Have I looked better in class? Yes, either with a soft new guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing or with an advanced guy who wanted to play at a fast pace. Then I feel as if I know jiu-jitsu. With any other guy who’s battling hard? No. Then it’s pressure, stay tight, defend.

Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe new blue belt girls are supposed to be able to own all the white belt boys, regardless of size and skill. (The one today should have gotten his blue before me, except he got injured and has been out.) Maybe I’ve been fooling myself and making excuses this whole time. Maybe I’m supposed to be gunning for everyone on every roll. Maybe I’m just a colossal screw-up of a jiu-jitsu player.

Maybe I should learn to knit instead.

Don’t mind me. I’m still upset and embarrassed at being kicked out again and a little angry. I’ll be okay by Monday and will be right back in class. I know, it sounds like I should take a break, and you’ll all recommend it, and part of me wants to — but another part of me is very afraid that if I don’t get back in there right away that I won’t go back at all.

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