Will made it in early today. Huzzah! Free beatings! Trying to remember to bail when my knees get pinched. Well, I did remember that I was supposed to do it, but the bailing didn’t work so well in practice. The few times he let me work from top half or side control, I didn’t have enough pressure to do anything. Meh. I’m not sure he even broke a sweat. Hmm. It’s a good thing I’m not entering the men’s purple, 50-lbs-heavier-than-me division… We stopped eventually when Justin got there. He asked about the tournament this weekend and asked if I was ready. (Am I ever ready? No.) So then he took a turn at trouncing me. He went slow and steady; I did everything wrong. *le sigh* I also had lots of problems with grips, so he gave me a review on breaking grips and using grips in standup, though I still had trouble.

Tim made an announcement before class to make me do extra because of the tournament. Oh, gee, thanks… He was working with some guys on MMA sparring, though, so Justin took class.

Class started with a warmup. !!! Do not want! My gi was limp and heavy, and my pants were too loose now and falling down. Had to hike them up with one hand to keep from tripping, lol. Jogging, knees up, heels back, side-to-side (both sides), two-and-two. On the wall: shrimping, single legs, and alligators. Nothing too crazy, but quads were then shot. Grand…

Then partnered up for a couple rounds of grip fighting. Justin first showed the same grip setups and grip breaking that he’d just been working with me (Yay! Thank you!), and then we went at it. Theresa first and then Jess. I even fought a little more with Theresa and went for my own grips & broke hers rather than let her play as much as usual. She has a strong grip, though! Then with Jess, thinking tournament. Justin told me to, too, and to throw her around.

Drilling was more grip breaking, advancing from breaking a single lapel grip (two-on-one) to setting up the single leg. Justin paired me with Jess so I could have someone my own size.

Rolling eventually, same partner. At some point I felt sorry for her — I was playing much harder and faster than I usually do, though she knew that I have the tournament this weekend and that I wanted a final tuneup. (Not that it really stopped me, but I did feel sorry for her.) Did eventually pull half guard to work from the bottom, though, since she was giving up easy passes on top and letting me get to good positions quickly. Swept her a few times, but didn’t come up to finish; just stayed on the bottom.

Then got paired with another guy who asked, “Is there anything you want to work for the tournament?” I just asked him to not hurt me, since he often nearly does. I think he did try not to, but I still had to be on watchful defense most of the time, especially if there was a sweep or submission involved. Still, probably not a bad round to have had, since the other girls won’t be playing nice, either.

Final round with Scott. He lets me start on top since he wants to work his bottom game, but his rule is that once he sweeps then he can stay on top. That sweep happens fairly quickly with me. So then defending and trying to get off the bottom, though no luck. He laughed at me when I tried to escape side control once using straight-up muscle; I said I’d tried every other way, and he had them all blocked. He told me to keep trying the other ways, and then he pretended that one of his arms wasn’t as tight as it had been a moment ago. Remembered about bailing when my knees were involuntarily mashed together, but again could not actually act when I recognized it. He pointed out that same thing after the round, too.

After class, I had a few more questions for Justin about grips from other positions, so he went over what to do in those situations.

My little admirer finally got up the nerve to talk to me again beyond a cool, “Hey, girl,” and came over after class. He told me that he’s been watching me in class and that I’m getting to be really good at this. I think he saw me murdering Jess. (The day after I first found about him, one of the lead stories in the paper was about a local high school teacher — my age and female — having inappropriate relations [ahem] with a student. No joke. Not that I needed a warning or reminder, but sheesh, talk about timing…!)

(They’re only interested in me when they’re 15 years younger [and illegal] and 15 years older [and my parents’ friends]. Eeep. Where are the guys around my own age?)

Tim is organizing an epic MMA sparring session on Saturday since at least 3 guys have fights coming up, so all the boys will be staying here for that. Extra boys will be coming in for it, too. One white belt boy might come up to the tournament, but other than that, I’ll be listening to my opponent’s coaches and doing the opposite of what they want.

I have an early morning meeting tomorrow and an end-of-business deadline, so I won’t be going to class in the morning. Tonight was 9 days straight of training, too, so I think an extra class in the morning is probably not the brightest idea. I will be in class tomorrow night for one last nogi tuneup, and then will have Thursday and Friday completely off. On Friday, I have to help my best friend with bridesmaid dress shopping, so come Saturday, I’ll probably be more than ready to choke any females with arm’s reach.

Girls’ Grappling Mini-Camp, RVA 2010, Part 1

I took my camera, my video camera, my notebook, and my computer, and fully intended to record absolutely everything. But very quickly I found I needed all my attention to focus and to do, so the secretarial duties were abandoned. Now to see what this brain retained…


I got the Karate College schedule late Thursday night. Both Renzo and Matt Serra were scheduled for Friday morning. Sweet! But, since I didn’t have the schedule before, I hadn’t planned to go and still needed to pack for Grapple Camp. If I’d known earlier, I’d’ve packed most things the night I was home nursing my toe. Instead, I spent the morning packing and then drove over later in the morning while they were still teaching. Unfortunately, Matt had issues with his flight and couldn’t make it, but Renzo, Paul Creighton, and Bob Gracie were there, so I got to hang out with them for a little while.

While I was manning the merchandise table so Paul could get a break, Chrissy texted me to let me know that there would be training at 4:30 if I could make it there in time. Sweet again! So when Renzo finished his last seminar at 1, I hung around for a few minutes more and then split for Richmond. However, I’d forgotten that Radford is an extra 15 minutes south, but I’d planned my departure for the cutting-it-close time from my own house, which, combined with vehicles overheating and slowing down traffice because the shoulders were closed from construction, meant that I got there about 15 minutes late. Chrissy, Alaina, Val, and Klint were already rolling, and Mike was waiting.

Once I got changed and ready and started trying to limber up (three straight hours in the car!), they switched up partners and set the timer for 5-minute rounds (I think). Got to roll with Val first. That was fun. She let me flail around ineffectually for a minute or two before effortlessly taking my back and choking me. I want to feel like that some day, where it’s just “Oh, hey, yeah, so we’re doing some jiu-jitsu and I’m just gonna float around here and then drop OMG pressure!” *snort* I am amused when people can easily control me like that, where I seem to do their bidding, where slight movements put me in really really bad spots. I think I’m amused mostly because I see the possibility of one day being like that.

Then with… er… everyone else, in some order. A lot of the same, actually, where no one seemed to have much trouble getting me to do whatever they wanted. Klint did some Jedi-mind-tricking and Force-levitating stuff. Mike as usual was really excited to show me something, though I don’t remember what it was. (Rats. I do have vague recollections of possibly working it during the weekend, though. — Wait, I remembered: half guard to omoplata, going underneath. Justin and Will had worked this on me last week.) Also don’t remember what Alaina did to me. Remember small bits of practicing my “mean crossface” on Chrissy, from on top in half guard, and her commenting that it was indeed mean (yay! and “Sorry!”).

We girls piled back to Chrissy’s house to get clean and presentable, and then met quite a few of the other campers at a Japanese steakhouse. Tori was there, and I didn’t have to crash my car into hers to talk to her, lol. Dinner was the start of meeting people who I only knew before by their online personas, including Val (though our first meeting was actually me getting choked earlier, lol), Susan, and Ashley (Girls in Gis).


Saturday started bright and early at 8:30 a.m. with a Crossfit class run by Val. I, of course, am too stubborn to believe that I might need to sit out from something like this, so I taped the heck out of my toe and jumped right in. The class started with Val showing some Crossfit movements and discussing some of the philosophy behind Crossfit and why she does it (which, of course, only makes you want to do it more).

Then we did two WODs. The first was a Tabata (20 seconds on, 10 seconds off; 4 minutes total) of jump squats. I did have to do regular squats as the toe was still unhappy about having to push off of anything. Val is relentless as she calls out the time, but she also manages to convince you that you can in fact continue, even when your legs are burning. Second WOD was 21-15-9 of dip press (?) and situps, for time. For the first, hold dumbbells at shoulder level; drop your level a little bit and then explode up, catching the weights at the top. The trick is to use your legs, not your arms. Since it was the first day and we were all eager, about half of us did the Crossfit workouts.

Emily started off the first gi session with a jogging warmup that involved “getting to know you” games — find someone with a different haircut than you & ask them why they came to camp; find someone of a different belt color & ask them one interesting fact about themselves; make a group of 5 (our group of four shamelessly pinched Susan away from her group of 4, causing them to run and steal two more from another) — and some relay races. Warm, happy, talking, laughing, cheering: a good start.

Then Val and Emily wanted to roll with everyone at camp between the two of them. We rolled amongst ourselves, too. There were 22 campers that morning, though I think we ended up with an extra round or two. 3- or 4-minute rounds. I got to roll with Tori then for the first time ever. Chrissy also paid me back for my mean crossface from yesterday with an inescapable mount, lol. Also with Ashley, the purple belt from Texas who runs Girls in Gis — that was awesome. She’s quick and precise and persistent. Lots of rolling with lots of girls; don’t remember a whole lot. I was trying sometimes to work getting to deep half, that deep half sweep Will showed me last Saturday, and the half-passed position and sweep.

(P.S. Richmond is very humid. Walking outside felt like pressing through a viscous wall of air. Bleh. Inside wasn’t too much cooler. All weekend we were hot and soggy.)

Next was some technique. What was cool here was that Val would show something and then Emily would add to it, or vice-versa. I should be able to remember most of these since we also drilled them as part of the warmup the next day…

Started with grip-breaking and grip-fighting techniques. Which way to grab, which way to turn. A few rounds of grip fighting.

Taking the back. Bow-and-arrow choke from there.
I think we started this one from them being on their side and you at their back. Maybe. Bottom hand goes under their head, top hand comes under their top arm and in front of their face; grab the bottom hand. Lift them up first, to get them completely on their side. Top leg pivots to be parallel to their back. Now drag them over to take their back.

Choke: Top hand reaches back for the near lapel; pull it out and rotate it inward. Other hand now grabs, with the flat part of the lapel going neatly down the center of your hand; much tighter grip. Let them fall toward the gripping hand, kicking the leg out of the way and using the free hand to grab their pants.

Half-guard pass using the head.
In top half, underhook the far arm and overhook the near arm. Place your head on the mat next to their head on the near side. Now look around and up, toward where the top of their head is pointing. This drives your head into them and moves their head out of line with their spine. Now pass. (This is the same principle that Adam’s been working with me in half-guard pressure, but I think this may work better for me based on the relative size of partners.)

Head and arm choke. Head and arm choke escape.
(I think the choke may have been in the afternoon. Escape probably definitely was. Maybe.)

Choke: From side control, use your head to root around their armpit and control their arm. (Truffles!) Knee-on-belly switch to the far side, or mount then dismount. Set the choke in at about 60% intensity, so you can keep a constant pressure without burning out your arms. Now think, “Finish,” and wait for the tap. They pointed out that this choke is a slow choke and that people will try to fight it for a while, so you may have to wait for a little while until they concede. The thinking also helps you settle down and put pressure on them, rather than relying on your arms to squeeze it out. (The alternate and tournament-appropriate phrase is “Die, b****, die.”)

Escape: As they’re switching across, answer the phone to buy some space. You need to separate your near shoulder from your neck. Next bring your inside knee up toward your nose and shoot both hands out to grab behind your knee. Kick forward with that knee while hipping away from them to release the pressure and create space. You can often come up to take their back from there.

We might have had some open mat time before lunch, but I can’t remember for sure. If we did, I rolled.

Break for lunch. The poor man at the wrap shop — he had just sent his helper home, and then 10 or more of us walked in.

To be continued….


Hamstrings sore! Ow! Crazy kettlebell swings. I had to stand up at my desk most of the day because sitting wasn’t comfortable.

Another decently large class tonight, again mostly white belts. One entire lap of duck walks tossed in there. Knee not happy, so I was limping through them a bit. Then on the wall. Usually we do a drill down and jog back, so you get a (very little) breather, but several tonight were down with something different back. Alligators + squat jumps was last, and that was neither pleasant nor fast, and I found myself on my last run of squat jumps with everyone waiting on me. Meh.

Partnered up for double-leg takedowns. Worked with the little TKD girl. These were supposed to be just an extension of the warmup, but too many guys needed to learn it, so we did this for a long while. Then several rounds of grip fighting, with shots and other takedown setups allowed. (Weren’t doing the actual takedowns, for safety with so many people, but a few times one would just land so perfectly and down someone would go.) I worked 2 rounds with her, then a round each with Steve, Guillaume, and Sherman. Hey, and I actually went for some of my own! Most of the time was defensive, though, because their grips were much stronger and hard to break.

Rolling. Went with the little girl. She goes for armbars from everywhere, all the time, so tonight I thought to make her troubleshoot when they stack. First, though, she did the spider guard armbar — and swept me over when I stacked just a little and finished it. Also got her under side control so she could work the escape from there.

Longish round, though Tim had said it would be. Then end of the round, he hollers and I hear someone getting smacked — Steve got his blue belt. Good for him; he was ripe for a color change.

On the wall for gi drags. Ha! The best thing about having the little girl in class is that I get her for these. So easy compared to dragging the guys I usually work with, who weigh twice as much as she does. Then she dragged me.

Class was over then, and most everyone headed out. Sherman asked if I wanted to stick around and roll. My knee was feeling okay by then, so I agreed. I worked largely from guard at first, and then from mount once I swept him. I have no attacks from mount and can only hold it to a point. We went from there to a scramble that ended with me in knee on belly, followed by another scramble that found me alone with his arm and (gaping a little myself) stepping over to an armbar. Found a choke later, too, because he wasn’t defending his neck much; he’s new to gi and so was letting me have his lapels. We talked about that when we finished.

Guillaume was still hanging around, and he came over to roll with me after that. Again on top a lot. Funny, I try for months and months to focus on getting to the top every time, and I get nowhere; I finally stop focusing on that so much and start thinking, instead, of attacking, and now I get on top. And have little clue of what to do. Oh well. More chokes. I suddenly seem to be finding chokes, and I’m not even particularly looking for them. (Of course, as soon as I do start looking, they’ll vanish again. Bah.)

I’m finding myself recently both attacking more and being more patient, and I find that they work well together. Mostly, I suppose, working on the timing of attacking, i.e., not going for something as soon as I see/think of it but rather waiting and creating the right moment to do it using pressure. The right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing. I like this balance.

As far as I know, tomorrow may still have several girls, so I’ll go and see if I can (hold myself back and) go light and/or just work with the girls.

The calm continues. And dizziness returns.

Tim wasn’t at class tonight. I know, I’m being a non-confrontational sissy and am waiting for him to show up rather than scheduling an appointment with him. Baby steps, folks, baby steps. (This coming from the girl who has a near panic attack about answering the phone. I kid you not.)

Large class, even more than usual for Tuesday gi. All the regulars, plus most of the additions from last night. Academy was hot. (Temperature outside has been below freezing every morning this week.)

Warmup, not so great, but not as bad as usual. Maybe because there weren’t any alligators… Was actually not last on single leg/sprawl, but about 4 guys bailed on their last run. Only one run on squat jumps, though.

Then partnered up for two rounds of standup grip-fighting and -breaking. Oh, goody, more practice. Just trading grabbing deep grips and letting your partner break them. I worked with Steve for the first round; got some good back and forth. Then worked with Guillaume, so a lot of it was me coaching him how to break grips.

Then we worked an uchi mata fake to single-leg takedown. Justin taught me this one back in July. Step in and set up as if you were going to throw an uchi mata (which I really only have a vague notion of how to do — which is okay, because we’re not really throwing it here), even lifting the leg back to off-balance them. If they react by stepping back with their lifted leg, turn completely in to them and toward their front leg. The leg that was going to throw them circles around behind the calf of their front leg. Hands drop to control their waist. Now drop your weight down along their front leg to take them down.

Issues, issues. And dizziness. Phooey. I don’t think I ate or drank enough today. Usually have a protein shake before class, but couldn’t today because I was so worked up about talking to Tim… and then he didn’t even show. Guillaume was concerned about me, but I was okay, just needed an extra second to breathe deep after every rep.

Drilled for a long time. All parts of this need lots more work — the uchi mata setup and entry, the turning in, the coming down. Bah. Did not get it today. Will practice more.

Rolling finally. Started with Guillaume. Not dizzy, but for some reason suddenly very exhausted. Was not aggressive, I admit it. Did get to X-guard (wohoo!), though he mashed me down and I couldn’t get the sweep; came out the back instead, I think. He tried to catch me in a reverse triangle, only I’d seen Justin and Scott working a defense for that right before class; didn’t work as smoothly for me as it did for them — I had to rely more on patience — but he eventually toppled me over, at which point I got enough room to completely escape. Under turtle a fair bit and in his guard; couldn’t break the guard, though. Did hit two single-legs from under turtle, though didn’t maintain top for too long afterwards. Tried several switches from under turtle, too, but they did not work so good. He is very flexible and was playing a bit of inverted guard.

Then with Big Jesse. Who also wanted to play inverted guard. What happened to open guard? Silly boys. Whole round, felt like a little kitten being played with by a big cat. He was totally playing, but there’s also that side of, yeah, he could completely crush me if he wanted to. He caught a couple of triangles, one that I dropped myself in while trying the single-under pass and one that he caught after I escaped something else (very slick catch, too — I remember, I’d done a decent, though flawed, “scoop” escape from the back; didn’t get all the details right, though, and he had the triangle even as I turned in). Normally I try to fight for every second, but tonight decided, eh, just tap and keep rolling. Oh, okay. And no problems with it, either. Nearly had some real passes; don’t remember if one, I actually did or if he let me, but saw moments at side control and north/south before he flipped me over. I was trying to work to the top in all three of these last rounds, especially. Few and far between, though, except for half-guard; that was abundant.

Scott next. Asked before we started if he’d work open guard passes with me after class because I knew that’s where we were heading. Sure enough… Crawled in to half guard sometimes. I had a push off in butterfly from being totally flattened out (hey!), and I was even playing spider at one point. He stood up to break that, and I went for X-guard (whoa!). He sat down and back to negate it, but, hey, I got there for a millisecond. Squee! Scott tried the kimura from bottom half-guard; I locked up to counter with my own (found it — Jiu-Jitsu University, “14-0 Kimura Escape from Half Guard”), but he pulled his arm out. Not many sweeps for either of us, if I remember right (but I’m not remembering too well right now) except maybe when I off-balanced trying to pass half guard and he took me right over. He said it was good rolling. Okay, if you say so.

Buddy asked to roll with me next. More open guard passing attempts. Er, bleh. But he has a good open guard. Trying half-guard passes and getting swept again. Great, something else I need to work on. 😛 Under turtle a lot, and my legs would hardly support me. Hey, youse guys, I need you; no slacking. Tried pinching down on the arms he fed through and rolling; first few, not so good, but did eventually get to side control on one. Hey! There are moments when it almost seems as if I might have actually learned a thing or two. They fade quickly, but they were there. He had a slick turtle attack that got him my back and my neck neatly gift-wrapped for the choking; maybe some kind of Ezekiel or bow-and-arrow, I dunno. I left my leg out later, ripe to be kneebarred or ankle locked; he took it and tried to… and somehow my brain worked out the defense for it, the one Buddy and Justin had been working on a few weeks ago. Only, our legs were more tangled, so I couldn’t actually pull out, but I did manage to defend it. (Well, he could have just gripped it and ripped it, but he’s too nice to try that; if he can’t get it on me with pure technique, he won’t try it.) He also said it was good rolling.

After class, Scott and Buddy helped me with my open guard passes, both with specific passes and with strategy. For strategy, one was to get an upright knee in and between their legs, just like you do for a regular guard pass. For specifics, if you can’t pin their legs down with their pant leg because they just lift their legs or pull them in a bit, then actually let them start pulling their legs away and then follow their legs until your hips are in and keeping pressure on them. Then, when they try to push out, as they invariably will, take their legs to one side and let their momentum do the work for you. Oooo. Nice. Me likes.

Also, I complained that I don’t weigh enough to get pressure on that pin to hold them down. Scott pointed out that I was keeping my weight back on my heels. He also let me practice that correctly against resistance, and oh, hey, there is enough weight there. Hrrrmm. Okay. Will fix, too.

Good class. Tomorrow off, back Thursday.


Had my post title all ready to go, and then slideyfoot mentioned that I talk a lot about being frustrated. Doh. So I had to think about what expectations I have that keep being thwarted in class:

I want to be as good as our blue & purple belts are now, able to throw nearly anything they want whenever they want, all technique, who know they can submit you whenever they want so they don’t and instead they just let you work. … … Well… that explains that. I’ve only been doing this for five and a half months; they’ve been doing it for 2-6 years. Slight experience difference. So my expectations there, about how good I think I should be now, are possibly set just a bit too high for what I’m probably able to accomplish given my current experience.

I know that technique can trump brute strength, but I haven’t been able to do it. I just get smashed down and cranked around by the newer guys. I think, This should work, but then it doesn’t. I do assume that the problem is first of all mine: wasn’t tight enough, wasn’t quite in position, wasn’t fast enough. And I try to fix it, but then I still can’t get it to work. So I expect that I should be able to do the techniques I’ve learned, especially on new guys. Somewhere in there, too, is the expectation that all my rolls will be like my rolls with the blues and purples, but then most of my rolls are with the new guys. … … So I’m expecting new guys to roll like the advanced belts… Yeah, about that…

So it seems I’m measuring my expectations of what I should be able to do against the guys who have done this for years and against the guys who don’t want to play the technique game and just want to smash. It’s no surprise that I’m frustrated — me being like the purple belts right now or me overcoming the other guys’ strength advantage or the new guys knowing how to roll without hurting me, none is a reasonable expectation at the moment.

Seems I need new expectations…

Everyone had a gi tonight. Several of the guys had to buy their gis right before class, but they had them. Medium-ish size class; about half the class is actually with the judo class that’s after ours, but their instructor wasn’t going to be there tonight so they came early and joined us. Which meant lots of new guys.

Warmup was good. Actually harder than last night’s advanced class warmup, which gassed me, but I was nailing this one. Until we got to partner drills that involved picking up your partner. I tried for Justin, but someone else had him first, so I went with the next-smallest guy I could find… who was quite a big jump. (Why don’t we have more small guys??) Couldn’t lift him at all, though. Could drag him for the second drill, a grip drill. Grab your partner’s lapels and haul him to the end of the mat, then drag him back. Third drill was pullups on their lapels; they stood over you, you reached up for a deep cross grip, and then you did pullups. He nearly dragged me down on his turn, though!

Then some knee-on-belly drills and eventually a choke that turns into an armbar from there. Then we rolled. We had our 3 regular purple belts (Adam, Justin, and Nick) and then a ton of new white belts. Yay, fun for me. (If fun = knees/elbows to the face without an apology… Seriously, though, if you knock someone in the face, say you’re sorry. Acknowledge that you know you accidently hurt them. Takes no time and keeps their annoyance level with you down. You don’t have to stop; just mumble “Sorry” and keep going.) I kept trying to get in with the purple belts, but Tim was pairing them with the judo guys.

So lots of smashing on me for a few rounds. My last roll was with a new guy. It’s his second night. His first night was about 3 months ago. So… At some point, he started trying to “teach” me the armbar from guard. Except it wasn’t right. I was trying to do it right because I’d had problems with it in the previous roll. He kept “correcting” me, finally going so far as to move my arms and legs where he thought they should be. Which did two things: 1) put him in a great position to pass my guard and 2) put me in a fabulous position to side kick him in the face. I resisted #2, but just barely.

Very much cranky at the end of the night, so I was very glad to see the end of class and run away to TKD. Played the Name Game with the beginners, since there are a bunch of them, and then taught random things to the next two classes. Waiting on my gi to get through the wash now. It’s not something that you can leave until tomorrow…