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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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 โ€“ 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.


Large class tonight, lot of new guys. I did my drills on the side again. Tried balancing on the crash pad again, but the knee would only do 1 set. I also threw in 3 x 10 Russian twist/pushup superset, and followed up with 2 x 1 min prone cobra. Evil! Especially after the pushups; my shoulders weren’t happy.

I took the medicine ball and balanced my weight on it with my hands, then worked on sliding it backwards until I was kneeling. Most of my weight was on the ball or my left leg, but I did get into a full kneel. Whoot! I slowly eased some weight over to the right; didn’t take too long for it to hurt, though it was in my calf and not in the LCL region. So did some calf stretches, too.

The little girl had her TKD class tonight, so she didn’t do ours. She watched, though, and Justin pulled her in to drill the guard pass. I talked to her toward the end of class for a little while. She’s so cute! And fearless. That’s how I would describe her in one word: Fearless. She’ll go after anything; she doesn’t care how big the guys are or how they’re playing.

And I realized as I was talking to her that I didn’t want to say anything to take that away. I didn’t want to tell her to be careful who she rolled with. I didn’t want to say anything that would plant the idea that there was something here to be afraid of. I even caught myself earlier in the week, when she asked about my knee, trying hard not to say who did it or to imply that it could happen to her. I want her to retain that innocence and not to worry.

Because I do that in plenty for the both of us. I see her on the mat attacking the spazzy guys, and I realize that I want to do that, too, but I’m afraid. Of injury, mostly; I’m all too aware that my joints are fragile and that my face doesn’t like getting pummeled. I’m overly cautious usually, playing defensively and guarding against injury, because I worry over things like LCL sprains. And even though I know better, I play a might could game in my head and so stay away from anything even remotely frightening. This is also something that has been cropping up outside of the gym, too.

(I had a more in-depth chatter here, but my internet cut out and it didn’t save. Bah.)

Not that I want to be reckless, but I don’t want to be so afraid and so preoccupied with what might happen that I ignore what is happening. So “Be Fearless” is going on top of my goals list for this next year.

On a Tournament Game

If you want to read actual intelligent posts on tournaments & game plans (instead of my blathering):

This has been bouncing around in my head for the last few weeks. Just babbling for now. Might refine it later. Much better to focus on than unintelligent insurance companies…

In a tournament, the goal is to win. Experience is good, yadda yadda yadda, but the real point and goal and reason for being of a tournament is to win. Can your jiu-jitsu beat someone else’s jiu-jitsu? And since this is jiu-jitsu, by submission is preferred. Points are a necessary evil of timed matches and reflect the hierarchy of positions (assuming this were a fight and you could punch). But by submission is better because then you know that you won, you made someone give up and acknowledge the defeat.

Class time is mostly for practicing all the little parts of jiu-jitsu, for repetition and body mechanics, for learning the inches that make or break the technique, for experimenting and trying to recall techniques. But a tournament game should be the most stripped-down and effective set of techniques that you know. A “signature move” or series, a go-to submission. Doesn’t have to be something itself simple, but rather something that you yourself can do easily and often. For examples, Roger Gracie: pass, mount, choke. Ryan Hall: Inverted where-did-that-come-from triangle. Both those guys know a lot more jiu-jitsu than what they use to win tournaments, but they use only a small, refined subset to win.

(Tangent #1: I’ve seen the forum debate about whether you’d do better with a coach who competes or with one who only used to or never has. Setting aside John Danaher as the ultimate answer for the latter —-

[Tangent #2: I’ve also seen forum debate about New Zealand John. While I have no direct experience with him, Renzo himself calls John one of the best instructors and best black belts. Renzo has no problem calling things as he sees them (smiling the whole time, so you love him anyway, but he does not sugarcoat anything). And he tells stories of how world champions show up at his gym, fresh from Brazil: “Hey, Renzo, can I warm up?” Renzo says, “Of course, my friend. Go roll with John.” World champion gets tapped multiple times and hardly looks like he knows what he’s doing on the mat. World champion comes back to Renzo. “I’m a 3-time world champion. I can do nothing. Who is this guy? Nobody knows.” I trust Renzo. Do you?

Also, Scott got to train one day with him over the summer, and said the guy is just freaky smart.

{Tangent #3: Tim has his own New Zealand John story. After Paul Creighton moved up to New York and started training with Renzo, he called Tim and told him that he absolutely had to come up and train with Renzo, he’s the best. So Tim goes up to stay a while and train there. First day, nogi. Paul tells Tim, “Hey, go roll with John.” At the time, Tim is ~220, late blue/early purple, I think, and a powerlifter and good wrestler. He looks at John and thinks, “Yeah, this isn’t gonna be hard.” They slap hands. John grabs Tim’s wrist. Tim suddenly realizes that that limb was no longer his to control. Moments later, tap. Start again. Tap. Says he’s never experienced anything like that, that John had complete control the entire time.}]

— (resume Tangent #1) a coach who doesn’t compete may have a wider game to show because he’s not focused on what wins tournaments for him. Everything doesn’t revolve around, say, getting to spider guard or finding triangles everywhere. He may not be the best coach if you want to compete at an international level, but he isn’t going to be less of a good coach just because he doesn’t compete. —

[Tangent #4: I think it was Dave Jacobs who started/answered a few threads and said he doesn’t like to compete because, if he loses, the other people generally plaster his name up everywhere and use it as a marketing ploy. “Our guy beat him, so our school is better, blah blah blah.” You can’t just assume that someone doesn’t compete because they’re bad at jiu-jitsu. Another black belt (can’t remember who now) stopped competing due to a major injury. (Probably several in that category.) Tim used to compete a lot, but to get black belt matches, he’d usually have to go to larger tournaments, which is a lot of time to drive, a lot of money to enter, a long time standing in line to weigh-in, a long time sitting around, and then maybe one fight. Especially with his family, that’s time and money he has better use for.]

— (resume Tangent #1) … … though now I forgot where I was going with that. I think what I meant to say was that I don’t think it generally matters if your instructor competes or not. They can know how to without actually doing it. I think it’s more important to have an instructor who really knows his jiu-jitsu and can improve on yours, to find a good and high-ranked instructor when possible. If your instructor is a blue belt, he can help you a lot even, but there’s a limit to his knowledge that’s much lower than a black belt’s. He can only help you improve to his level. Even if he’s a world champion blue belt, there’s a reason he’s still a blue belt. An instructor should bring your technique up to their level and expand your range of techniques with theirs, but they’re not the one who has to get out on the mat and actually compete.

[Tangent #5: One of the reasons you should absolutely never have a white belt as an instructor. There is one in our town (a TKD school looking for extra bucks.) Since the instructor will always be a white belt, the students will always, ultimately, be white belts.]

(end Tangent #1, because I got so far off-track that I forgot what the original point was ๐Ÿ˜› )

Anyway, back to my tournament game idea. Not even a move for every position, because that’s still impossible. I think, instead, something far simpler. Use Roger Gracie’s pass-mount-choke as an example. In order to pass, he has to be on top or standing or whatever, but in something of a higher position relative to his opponent. I’m calling that “on top”, just because I can:

  1. Get on top.
    1. Can’t. Invalid. Get on top.
    2. Yes. Continue.
  2. Pass.
    1. Can’t. Invalid. Pass.
    2. Yes. Continue.
  3. Mount.
    1. Can’t. Invalid. Mount.
    2. Yes. Continue.
  4. Choke.
    1. Can’t. Invalid. Choke.
    2. Yes. Continue.
  5. Win.

The actual “how” of accomplishing each step is arbitrary, but the position goals drive the whole thing. If not on top, then get on top, etc. Know where you need to be to effect the finish you want. I’ve done this before with self-defense scenarios — start with the end and work backwards. You can do that with the Roger game plan above by starting at the bottom. Goal: Win. By: Choke. From: Mount. How there? Pass guard. From: Top.

Even what I broke out, I’m sure, is too detailed. (But I’m silly and over analyze everything.) And I’m not saying to throw out reacting or to bypass opportunities, when someone leaves a submission hanging out there just begging to be taken (or her coach tells her to triangle herself). Take those, sure. But to impose a quick-win game on someone, you need a quick and simple plan.

There are also insertion points along the path. Say you’re working for top, wind up in a scramble, and somehow end up in mount. Continue from there.

Not that all simple plans work out so well. I think it’s on Val’s blog somewhere, she tells a story of a student who insisted on only learning leg attacks, against his instructor’s advice. Then in his first tournament, he faced a double-leg amputee! (Also a lesson on not learning leg attacks, and another on listening to your instructor.)

Tournament game is more than just your “A” game, too — it’s the super-elite A game. Your A game is your whole bag of tricks; tournament game, though, is the best of the best of your best.

That’s as far as my brain has gone for now…

*snort* Now everyone’s talking Roger’s gameplan: Combat Base North East Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Feb 22, Homework.

Goals 2010

This post is going to have all the goals, mini-goals, ideas, etc., that I want to work on in 2010 (even though I’m starting in December 09). Before, I’ve made small lists and abandoned them when I decide something else is more pressing. But this time, this one post will hold everything I come up with, even the ones I’m not currently working on.

Continue reading

June 2009 – Recovery

Jiu-Jitsu Goals for June:

  1. Smooth
  2. Position
  3. Control

June is for taking it easy. At least, that’s the plan.

Feeling worn out, worn down, and just generally bleh about my training and myself right now. So for June, I want to relax a bit, both on the time I spend in intense training and on the stranglehold/mental hang-up/whatever I have about “must be on mat.” I think I feel so far behind most of the time anyway, and I’m afraid that if I miss any mat time that I’ll get even further behind.

I’ve tried the “more is better” approach — telling myself that it’s okay to be tired because I’ll just be more likely to work technique (which is not true; I just end up flopping around). I feel as if I’ve run myself into the ground. Tired as soon as I wake up; tired no matter how long I sleep; tired no matter how much coffee I drink. Lots of injuries, hurts, and aches that aren’t healing. Bursts of energy that fizzle quickly. Not good.

So, for June, here’s what I plan to do:

  • three days of full jiu-jitsu training: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday/Saturday (Saturday is more Open Mat at the moment, which is why both)
  • extra working out after class on Monday and Wednesday (Monday: legs; Wednesday: arms), as well as any insanity on Saturday that the guys do
  • two days of only drilling: Tuesday and Thursday
  • tracking food and sleep

Also wanting to get my maintainable weight down a bit more (possibly doing the US Grappling Submission Only in Richmond in July, so aiming for the 119-lb bracket), and for that I know I need a lot more recovery. Found out I don’t need to lose any for the tournaments. Will eat better, though.

Just take it easy for a month. One month, that’s all. There are 11 more for me to run myself down again. Let’s do this “Less is More” thing for a month and see how it goes.