BJJ Grrl

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

US Grappling Greensboro, February 18, 2012

Summary:

  • lost 5 matches (4 to the same person, and 3 to her same armbar!), won 1
  • Did not have any matches go over 10 minutes (yay!)
  • Got a gnarly black eye from one of my matches
  • refereed for beginner & novice nogi and white belts for several hours
  • got to roll with Josh and meet his wife Jen. Josh also helped coach me in some matches and gave me a huge list of things to work on. 😉 Thanks a ton.
  • followed — or ignored — my GPS as it routed me up and down the backsides of mountains between here and Greensboro

So I tried cutting weight last week, in the hope that there would be other women in my weight class. But instead of losing the 3 pounds like I asked, however, my body decided to gain 3 pounds. W. T. H. Bad, body, bad. Since I knew I couldn’t lose that much on Thursday & Friday alone, I ate normally those two days. In the end, though, it didn’t matter, as I weighed in fully clothed and was still the smallest blue belt female.

Friday: Conspiracy!

I left work early since Google Maps told me it would take 3 hours to get to the far side of Greensboro. When I plugged the address in to my GPS, though, it only said 2 hours, so I didn’t know who to trust. As I was leaving town, my GPS kept trying to route me east and down the back roads. I wanted to stay on the interstates, though, so I ignored the GPS and headed down the interstate.

I didn’t get far before I got stopped by an accident up ahead. According to the signs, I was 10 miles back from it, and traffic wasn’t moving. Spent 20-30 minutes creeping forward to the next exit. My GPS tried to make me turn around so it could send me east again, but I ignored it again. I’ll just take this other route that will take me around the accident and get me back on the interstate further down. Apparently everyone else knew about that way, though, as there were tractor trailers converging from three directions, and traffic had stopped moving that way, too, since it wasn’t intended to handle that much traffic. Plus it was now after 5pm, and the post-work traffic was tangled in that, too.

So I finally listened to my GPS and let it route me back around and down the back roads. I lost an hour and a half (!!) trying to get out of my own county. Ree-diculous, I tell you. So I finally really left just as it was getting dark. My GPS took great delight in sending me careening down some switchbacking mountain roads (which I’m sure if I drove in the daylight would scare the pants off me — but since it was dark, I couldn’t see how close to a sheer drop I actually was), making me switch roads every few miles, and not showing me that the road ahead forks and that my road is not the one that continues straight. She would announce, “Recalculating,” in that smug voice and send me scrambling to figure out how to turn around. And the few times I finally was on the right road and doing good, I’d end up behind someone who was going 5-10mph under the speed limit.

It’s a conspiracy!

Called Chrissy when I got to the Greensboro city limits to tell her that my GPS claimed I would be 5 minutes late for weigh-ins. (Which is just silly because I left 3.5 hours ago for a 2-hour drive!!! Anyway.) I was 10 minutes late with all the traffic lights (and another “Recalculating” misstep). They waited for me, and then she told me to just take my shoes off and weigh. Came in at 133.x, and she said I was still the smallest blue belt female.

Saturday: My matches

Woke up early Saturday and could not get back to sleep. Later, couldn’t eat a lot for breakfast. Bundle of nerves had taken up residence in my gut. It’s not usually that bad, and was further weird because I had no reason to stress over this tournament. It was Submission Only, for one, but I also knew my preparation had been lacking (all the work travel, plus stupid injuries [I’m talking to you, toenail] and not being able to resurrect my “intensity” mindset recently in training), so I knew it wouldn’t be the most brilliant day. But my gut didn’t want to listen to all the logical reasons it shouldn’t be nervous, and instead made my morning miserable by dancing and being weird. *le sigh*

At the venue, I met Josh and Jen. Later Josh and I rolled to warm up, and then he had some advice for me. Seems I’m still leaving a limb behind in some positions and doing nothing to get it back.

The whole tournament experience was great overall. Wins are great, but then I think it’s too easy to assume you know what you did right in them; in losses, though, you know you did something wrong and so will look for it and try to fix it. But maybe the best thing was that I was trying to use what Josh had just told me, plus he also had feedback for me from the matches he saw, so I was able to start working those in immediately.

Also, he pointed that I need to hit the weight room. Which is going to mean finding time to go disassemble and move my power rack from my parents’ house and set it up in my basement.

And at the end of the day, I have two new friends in North Carolina and an invitation to come down for Women’s Open Mats down their way.

Nogi, weight class

There were 3 of us for Intermediate We actually did the absolute first, which oddly enough just had me and Mary, though we were the same weight class, and then Barbara did the weight class division.

Barbara and her husband were kind enough to record all of my matches, too, so that I didn’t have to find someone to use my iPod to do it. 😛

First match, me against Mary Holmes from Team ROC. She finally got me in guard and locked on to my wrist; I knew I was in trouble, and then she armbarred me with this armbar that included a little twist in it, so that I couldn’t get my weight back down as that put pressure on the outside (I think) of my elbow. She said it was from Dave Camarillo, so I’ll later have to pore through Submit Everyone, which has a giant chapter on armbars, and see if I can’t find it. Match went 6:58.

Nogi, absolute

First match with Barbara, a friend from Richmond, Team Yamasaki. She also caught an armbar at one point that I seriously considered tapping to — and I apparently raised my hand in preparation — but then she shifted and I thought I had an escape so drove my raised tapping hand out to post at the same time that she shifted again and pulled me back over. My hand hit her knee (I know I thought it was the mat), but the referee decided that I’d tapped and stopped the match. I didn’t see much point in arguing, plus Barb and I both had more matches ahead of us, so just let it go. Match went 3:53.

Watching the match on video, I do see what the ref saw and I understand why he made that call. I still don’t agree with it, of course, because I was not tapping, but he doesn’t have access to my internal dialog. I think he also should have considered the fact that we were both changing directions at the time it happened, making it far more likely to be incidental contact. And he had no way to know — nor should I expect him to know — that I always always always also SAY “Tap” in tournaments, so that there’s never any question about whether I tapped or not. (Also, generally the opponent lets go immediately, which is nice as that takes the pressure off.)

Especially after I’d reffed later, I understand how sometimes hand movements are ambiguous: I had a guy who was apparently fanning himself with his hand, which looks exactly like tapping air; I called the tap, he protested that he hadn’t tapped, and his opponent hadn’t let go (because he hadn’t felt a tap), so I let them continue. Fan boy was tapping for reals within 10s anyway. I also had several false alarms where I’d dart in to stop the match but both guys continued as if nothing had happened, so I assumed that nothing had.

Anyway. Second match in nogi absolute was against Mary again. She armbarred me with the same armbar!!!, only much faster this time. 2:37.

Maybe if I didn’t have arms I would be doing much better right now, hmm…

Gi, weight class

There were 4 of us going blue belt gi. (One of the girls, Brittany, doesn’t train nogi.)

Yeah, Mary again. Yeah, Armbar again. I’m sensing a pattern here… *shifty eyes* 4:52.

Oh, yes, this was the one with the takedown that didn’t work out quite as well as she expected, lol.

Gi, absolute

My first match here was against Brittany. I pulled guard, and almost immediately the arch in my left foot completely cramped and locked up. When I exclaimed and grabbed it, Brittany was nice enough to give me space and let me massage it out (which involved punching the bottom of my foot until it released). (P.S. Owwww!!!!) I assumed I would be disqualified on that, but she said she didn’t mind if we started again. Very generous of her, and I appreciated that very much.

Somewhere in the match, she got me with a nice knee to the eye, and I’ve got a black eye to show for it.

Actually won this match with a RNC. I remember that as soon as my arm slid in, I knew it had clicked perfectly in to place, I heard her coach say, “You’re okay, Brittany.” Sorry, coach, but that one was in tight and I knew it. Match went 7:02.

Second match was… dun dun dun!… Mary again. It was over quickly, as I expected her to feed for the armbar as she had been doing, and I was so focused on defending the armbar that I ignored all other possible submissions from technical mount — and she snatched up the bow-and-arrow. Doh. 1:11.

Teammates

My teammate Robert came down to compete, as well, though I didn’t see much of his matches as I was either competing or reffing at the same time. His daughter told me he got 3rd in his gi division, though.

And Neal, who trains with us some Saturdays, also came down and competed in nogi divisions. He helped me warm up before one of my nogi matches. I didn’t hear how he did.

Saturday: A new angle

After I’d had some time to change, eat, and rest, Andrew sent me over to relieve Josh as referee so that he could go compete in his purple belt division. And they called purple belts right in the middle of a match, so I just crept out there and took his place. And then generally had to act as if I knew exactly what I was doing. Holy cats! I think I was more nervous for this than I was for my own matches.

Thankfully it’s all Submission Only, so I didn’t have to track points. I’m not sure that I could have done that many things at once! I did try to practice later, as the guys got tired and didn’t scramble as much, and silently counted out the points for sweeps, guard passes, and mount.

Refereeing is hard work, even for Submission Only. Your brain is telling you either to passively watch the pretty grappling (or, in my case, a lot of cringe-worthy grappling, as I had lighter weight novice, beginner, and white belt divisions, lol) or to coach one or both competitors because you know exactly what they need to do. So, I was fighting against that and trying to run around the match and keep focused on the hand that would probably be the one to tap. Even then, I was still out of position for several taps as I couldn’t get around to that side quickly enough.

There’s also keeping an eye on other rings, both so that they don’t crash on top of your fighters and that you don’t crash on theirs. And the edges of your mat — I had a corner mat, so I had two edges that the competitors seemed to gravitate towards. (Part of it was, I think, because of the divisions I had; lots of wildness involved.) I was very unsure about stopping and restarting my fighters, especially because so many things in jiu-jitsu are action/reaction, and I didn’t want to mess up someone’s grappling momentum if I could help it. I probably should have stopped several matches in quite a few more places and moved them back to center, as they’d tend to explode suddenly and end up off the mat. One guy even had a locked-in submission, but as his competitor bridged, they tumbled off the mats. (But it was the only direction the escapee could have bridged to escape, so it wasn’t fleeing the mats.)

I had one kid suddenly flee the mat to go throw up. I had no idea what to do then, and neither did my table worker, but thankfully Andrew was coming by just then and helped out.

Had a novice kid who had a little victory celebration when he won. He slapped the mat and crowed, “That’s what I’m talkin’ bout!”

Suddenly had 2 junveniles competing in a single adult division on my mat. Both fought adults for the first round. The rule is that even though they’re in an adult division, kid tapping rules apply: if I think they’re in a dangerous submission and are not tapping because they’re stubborn, I have the responsibility to tap for them. I was most terrified in these two matches, in case I should forget or accidentally let something go too long. (Interestingly, both juveniles won their matches. Then, to speed things up, Jarrett took the first place match with the kids to another match, which made me feel a whole lot better.)

Had only 1 competitor who questioned a call — well, a lack thereof. He had an armbar set up, but the arm wasn’t quite extended and the other guy had some room to move his head up. So the armbaree tried to stand (my brain was pointing out how that was actually valid here) and (in my opinion) inadvertently lifted the armbarer a few inches off the mat; then his brain did a “Whoa, he’s heavy,” his body staggered under the weight, and he dropped his opponent. Opponent immediately cried, “That was a slam, ref! That’s a DQ!” I didn’t see it that way, and I told the guy so. He frowned, but continued. (And then he lost, and I felt bad, in case I’d missed an obvious violation. Crap, second guessing all the way.)

As I was refereeing, an actual fight broke out on the next mat over when a ref stopped a match & said a guy tapped, and the guy claimed he didn’t.

Saturday: Aftereffects

We were cleaned up and out of the gym by 9:30 or so. We all stopped for dinner — and me for coffee — and then I headed back up the mountains (sticking to straighter roads this time) because the forecast up here was for 6-12 inches of snow. None had materialized by the time I got back, though this morning it started up. Now there’s probably 6 inches out there, more falling, and the roads are covered. Looks like someone’s working from home tomorrow…

Oh, and this morning I’m so sore! Everywhere hurts.

Also saw in the paper this morning that my high school wrestling team just won their 11th state title, and by a landslide.


Grappling again with US Grappling next weekend in Richmond.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Guess who should have taken one more night off? This girl. Guess who didn’t? Yeah, same girl.

By Thursday of last week, I’d picked up some sort of a cold and so skipped class on Friday and Saturday, and even skipped the home football game Saturday night (which was a nail-biter! Won in the last minute!). Still haven’t quite shaken it by today; I’ve been living on cough drops all day. Ugh.

I did skip the morning class, though found out later that Andrew’s out of town for the rest of the week, so no morning classes the rest of the week.


First of all, a huge squeal and congrats to Buddy, who got his purple belt on Saturday! Stupid cold, making me miss that. Grr. But he was here tonight, so I got to do the squeal and jump and hug anyway.

Fundamentals Class, BJJ

Started with armbars from guard. 10/side, 3 rounds. Worked with Guillaume. Tired after half a set! Rats. Then Tim showed a control/transition around there, if for some reason you can’t get quite through the full armbar to start.

BJJ

I was feeling pretty good at this point, though tired. Hadn’t been coughing, so I thought I was all right to continue.

Short warmup disabused me of that notion rather quickly, but by then I was too wrapped up in class to think intelligently. *le sigh*

Started with seoi nage (I think — except instead of the back hand coming through under the far armpit, we stepped in, reached around, and grabbed the belt first. So is that something different? I can’t find the variation — though from the judo videos I’ve watched, they don’t seem to change grips often…) O goshi. (Thanks, Andrew!)

I love this this quick judo primer. Makes me giggle every time.

Was paired with the same guy from last week, despite positioning myself on the other side of the mat and immediately turning to someone else. *le sigh* Once he got the movement down, he followed it up with a pile-driving knee. Oh, thanks.

Then drilled a loop choke, with a backup option for if they want to be stubborn. Same partner as before. He tried to tough it out a few times, so Option 2 was used to good effect. He was having trouble with it, though, so Tim worked with him, using me, for quite a while until I was gagging (and had a sizable gi burn on my neck); then he called Steve and Adam over to serve as grappling dummies so I could recover. Unfortunately for me, once I started coughing, my irritated throat took over and kept it up for the rest of class. Rats.

Rolling. I’d decided before class at least to sit out during rolling, but of course I forgot by then. *le sigh* Same partner. Took a hard finger to the eye early on, so settled in to just defending myself for the rest of the round. And then I remembered that I’d meant to sit out. Too late… Started coughing, too, which sucked.

One more roll with Guillaume. Still coughing. No energy, no nothing. (Though there was one fabulous back-take when he overcommitted, though we had to scramble away as another pair came crashing down almost on top of us.)

So none of my rolling tonight; mostly just defense and surviving. Gagging and coughing again afterwards. Gonna live on cough drops for the rest of the night again and see if I can’t get this thing kicked out. Meh.


I’m sure you’ve seen at least some of the backlash to Manto’s tasteless comment and post from the weekend. (If not, see Megan’s blog post here.) While I don’t buy Manto’s explanation that they didn’t know what was going on with the photoshoot (and then didn’t have enough brand control to stop it when they did know? Somebody needs a talking to, if that is even true.), I was irritated that they posted it to their Facebook Wall and made a crude comment about the one picture. (Also, just because someone “doesn’t get” your “joke”, it doesn’t mean they “don’t have a sense of humor.” Sometimes it just means that it wasn’t funny.) Irritated, but I would normally just ignore pictures like that (such as those Internet posters of the two models in bikinis “grappling”) even with the immature comment, except for one more thing, and that’s that the models are doing everything all wrong. That suggests to me that the people who put this ad together don’t take women in grappling seriously. Not just that they thought that women grappling together nearly naked would catch men’s attention sell more stuff, but that women grappling have no idea what they’re doing and are only on the mats to be dumb and get attention. The secondary message seemed to be: “Silly girls, MMA/grappling is for boys.”

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Fraying

Argh! Client sent a complaint to be researched at 4:59PM!! Didn’t take too long, but still put me behind. Thankfully, class was small tonight, and they were still waiting to start when I got there.

Fundamentals Class, BJJ
Three of us plus Andrew to start, though more guys trickled in as the class went on. Short warmup, then drilled the same sweep and then armbar from this morning. Drilled with Guillaume.

Then Tim had us do a set of sweep/submit vs. passing from the guard. With Guillaume. My legs and grips were fried afterwards. Meh. And still one class left.

At the end of class, I noticed that my TKD blue belt is starting to unravel. Meh. So I might have to break down and actually order a real jiu-jitsu belt. Which brand comes with superpowers installed?

BJJ

Not a very large class, so mostly rolling. Brandon, Robert x2, Buddy. Then partnered up to do spinning armbar from knee-on-belly. 5 minutes of spinning armbars. Worked with Nick, a new guy who is a purple belt under Pedro Sauer (though I think he said his school was Gracie Barra? I don’t know; didn’t hear most of it as he came in during drilling in the last class). For some reason, I had the absolute worst time with these; I either wasn’t rotating far enough or was losing my balance. Meh. Then rolled with Nick and Buddy to finish.

Felt like there were a couple of moments that could have been interpreted as being actual jiu-jitsu. Sometimes, there’s the small hope that there might be progress.

Didn’t get to roll with Fred any of the nights he was here, which is a bummer. (But I did get him to almost promise to bring his girlfriend Rachel next time. 😉 She’s a good purple brown! belt.)

Buddy just got a new black Fleur-de-Lis Lucky Gi, one of the Bamboo fabric line, and wore it tonight. (Georgette reviewed the “Rude Boy” and has lots of information on the fabric.) By the end of the night, it had turned my and Big Mike’s white gis a lovely charcoal color (doh!) since we both rolled with him more than once, though that’s to be expected with a new colored gi. However, the collar was fraying already, with the interior showing through.

I soaked my gi and then washed it. It’s still dingy looking. But I’ve recently noticed lots of spots fraying on that gi — the pink-patched Atama, my first gi, even — and a rip in the crotch of the pants. (Note to self: get that fixed!) So it might not be long for the mats. Sadness.

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Beltless

I’ve lost my belt. I have no clue where it is. I’ve turned the house upside down and inside out, and no sign. I asked around the academy tonight, and no one had picked one up. Grr. Maybe someone from the other martial arts classes picked it up and put it somewhere; I’ll have to ask. So my gi flopped around all night because I had nothing to hold it closed. Well, at least I finally figured out the whole point of that thing. Tim offered to bust me back down to white belt. I was all for it, but it turned out he was only joking. Pooh.

If I can’t find it, I guess I’ll have to roust out my old TKD blue belt. I think it’s the same brand, even, as the other. Or I could follow Seymour and get the World’s Most Expensive Blue Belt. 😉

Fundamentals Class, BJJ

Short warmup. Winded fast. Crap. I thought this taking-a-couple-nights-off stuff was supposed to help with this. Instead I was tired and sucking air. Same on Monday, though I thought that was from eating too much at my grandmother’s birthday party. Apparently not…

Then partnered up to work inside and outside leg takedowns. 10 per leg. Worked with Bobby. We were the Beltless Pair, as he doesn’t have a white belt yet. Moving slow, and I could feel a touch of dizziness when I changed levels. (Thanks to this article by Dr. Eades, I now know that’s most likely postural hypotension, due to dehydration and not enough sodium. I also know that I’ve experienced this all my life: I’ve always stood up quickly and had to sit back down. I’ve been careful to eat more sodium and drink more water and actually haven’t had problems with takedowns for a few weeks; I’m probably off-balance somewhere, though, what with the birthday bingeing and the days off.)

Same partner, armbars from mount, as many as you could do in 5 minutes. … …5 minutes is a long time to rep armbars as fast as you can! Then started in back mount, hooks only (no hand grips); person in front could only defend their neck, person in the back had to choke any way possible. Did a set of that with Bobby and then with Sara. And I think that rounded out the class.

BJJ

Started with rolling since it was all the same peeps as the first class, so we were already warmed up. With Bobby and Buddy.

Drilling was an X-guard sweep to kneebar. Drilled again with Bobby.

Then on the wall. Alligators, single/sprawl, squat jumps, squat jump/sprawl (evil!), and then gi drags. (At least I got Bobby, though I’m starting to think he isn’t as small as I thought. Also, he dragged me so fast I had a green streak on my pants where the blue and yellow mats mixed!)

I noticed tonight that Bobby is actually an inch or two taller than me. So he probably weighs more than I think. *le sigh* I’m starting to think that this is how I must actually compare with everyone else in the world:

dating fails - The Odd Couple

*I* think I’m the same size as everyone, but really it’s about this much difference. (Seems that she’s my height, too, so that is about how I’d look standing next to Shaq. Minus, well, all of her.)


In more serious matters…

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Fade to Blue

One of our client’s Facilities department conducted a fire drill over the weekend (the “please walk do not run to the nearest exit” type). They apparently have some software that they run during fire drills & actual emergencies, and they forgot to check the “This is only a drill” box. So the software acted as if this were a real emergency and shut down all the entire data center. Somehow in this shutdown process, 10 servers got fried, including of course the ones that hosted our IVR. folks were busy around the clock this weekend trying to get it back up. Thankfully I didn’t have to participate 😮

Fundamentals Class, BJJ

No newbies tonight, so we started with rolling. With Tim (and then Buddy for the last 20s of that round, lol) and Jess.

Drilling was a knee-on-belly escape. Drilled with Ray.

Then a round of rolling with your drilling partner. Then finished class up with armbars from mount with the same partner.

BJJ

Started with drilling, an entrance to X-guard from butterfly and then taking the back. Drilled with Sara and Jess. Eventually we added the bow-and-arrow choke from the back.

Two more rolls, with Sara and Rob. Toward the end of the roll with Sara, she suddenly stopped and pointed. Tim was hovering around white belt Adam and pulling out a blue belt. That whipping sounded painful!! 😮 About stinking time, too — I was starting to wonder if Tim would just leave him as a white belt until he was ready for purple, lol!


Sixth Minute

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