US Grappling Submission Only Richmond, December 1, 2012

Back in tournament action! I haven’t been able to compete since I tore my MCL at the end of March, but I’d decided that, no matter what, I was going to do this one. Today, I feel like I’ve been beat with a baseball bat, especially my upper back and shoulders, but I’m still happy.

The absolute best part of the day: I competed without my cyborg knee braces, and my knee did wonderful. (Of course, my game doesn’t include much bridging at the moment and my hooks are weak because they haven’t been worked much recently, but still.)


  • nogi weight class: 1st
  • nogi absolute: lost first match
  • blue belt weight class: 2nd
  • blue belt absolute: lost first match

Quite a few of my teammates competed in this tournament, too, and both of our instructors came to help coach. The guys did really well, and it was great to have the voices on the sideline telling me what to do and reminding me to relax.

I couldn’t make it down in time for weigh-ins on Friday night, so had to get in early on Saturday to weigh in. I weighed in, fully clothed, at 128lbs; I knew my clothes were 2.5lbs (I’d weighed them, lol); so that means I was actually **1 lb** over the 124.5 limit. In other words, I can totally make that, so no slacking next time.

On the other hand, my division (124.6 – 135.5) was combined with the one below, the one I was aiming for anyway. So I was there either way.

A huge thanks to everyone who videoed my matches for me!

Here’s what you do: right before a tournament, drastically change your hairstyle. In my case, I went from blond highlights to an overall daaaark color. I’ve also been growing my hair out for almost a year, so I look very different on camera than I’ve ever seen myself.

Then go do your tournament and watch the video afterwards. You won’t recognize yourself, so then you can evaluate yourself so much better. It’s weird, but it’s cool at the same time.

Lesson #1: giving up the armbar is not a valid mount escape! Gah. (I know the reason: it’s because I haven’t been able to bridge for months, and it hybridized off of big guys sitting on my ribs trying to pry the arm off and so just giving it to them so I can get with the breathing again. Still, needs to be fixed.)

Intermediate, weight class (113.5-135.5) — 1st place

A round-robin, so had to win 2 for gold.

Match 1 – Colleen

Match 2 – Bethany

Intermediate, absolute

There were 6 women in the division, so 2 women had byes. I didn’t, so I fought in the first round.

Match 1 – Yvette

All my silly finger waving in the beginning was me asking her to remove her bracelets and explaining that I was nervous about small joints getting caught.

Blue belt, weight class (113.5-135.5)

Match 1 – Heidi

Match 2 — Bethany

Watch the match in the background (to the right) starting around 1:50. (And then hear my camera crew — I think that time was Yvette, who I fought in both Absolute matches — say that they got in film for me to watch later, lol.)

End of this match, the ref stopped us because her hand bounced up and tapped my knee, though I knew that she was only coming up to push it off and then changed her mind. But when the ref said, “Stop!”, I stopped. That’s what we’re sitting there talking about. (On the other hand, that’s my armbar, yo. That’s going home with me.)

Blue belt, absolute

Same setup as the Intermediate — 6 women, 2 with byes in the first round. I fought Yvette again.

Match 1 – Yvette

All the dancing in the beginning is me making fun of the ref because we kept standing on the side we wanted, but he’d give us the opposite color and we’d have to switch.

Yes, same girl. Yes, also an armbar. (Guess what I’m gonna work on now?)

Yvette and Kim Rice fought each other four times that day — in both weight classes and closing out both absolutes. And their gi absolute match was a battle. Wow.

Throwing this post up. Heading to my parents’ for dinner, since I have little food in the house right now. Doh.

Women’s Grappling Camp at Fifty/50

Camp! Campcampcampcampcamp!

Oh, wait — no more camp. *sadface*

Seriously, ladies, you should go to camp. There are hardly words to describe the experience and the benefits. (Of course, I’m gonna try anyway πŸ˜‰ )

This camp not only had Emily Kwok and Valerie Worthington, who run the camps, but also Hannette Staack and Michelle Nicolini AND with special guest Sayaka Shioda (2007 ADCC -55kg winner. Also, judo black belt, Sambo black belt, & BJJ black belt):

Hannette, Sayaka, & Michelle


Friday evening I drove up to Maggie’s house, just west of DC. (It is a sign of how much driving I did this weekend that I no longer think of the distance between Maggie’s and the gym as “far.”) We couldn’t make it to the welcome dinner in the city, but we hung out before I had to find a pillow.

Saturday Morning

Color belts everywhere! Many women I know from the Richmond camp, more from tournaments & open mats, and some from online, and many more who I didn’t know. Ladies came in from California, Texas, the Midwest, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and New England.

Saturday morning started bright and early with Hannette in the gi. We started with a takedown, and then moved to defending and passing the spider guard. Then later drilled standing passes against open guard. Throughout, Hannette would have us get in 3 lines for a monkey-in-the-middle review of the drills — middle does forward roll to one side, 3 pushups, then does the technique on the one partner; then the middle turns and does the same to the other partner. 1 min per person. I could only get 2 or 3 reps per technique, but the cheering and the time limit somehow compress the technique better into your brain. (Also, is fun.)

Finished up with specific sparring from the guard, switching top and bottom after a minute. When I got tired, I started pulling guard and playing from there in both rounds. Didn’t realize until afterwards, though. (Guess who is comfortable playing guard, lol?)

Camp picture:

Now here’s a nice problem to have: trying to fit all brown and black belts in one line!

(Also, it’s a little strange for me to be in a room full of people and to take a picture, and for me to NOT automatically be the smallest one.)

Lunch involved a drive to the nearby Whole Foods and me driving in through the Exit. Oi, city driving! I needed an out-of-state license plate!

Saturday Afternoon

Michelle taught the afternoon session, also in the gi — sweeps from spider guard. Hannette and Michelle said they didn’t coordinate their sessions, either.

First, though, Michelle did a warmup with us that included a lot of open guard passing drills, and one of her “warmup” exercises was pure jiu-jitsu magic and the entire room said, “ooohh!”

  • You’re standing in front of their open guard; they have their feet on your hips
  • Grip both their pant cuffs & step around to the side — so far, same as all other drills
  • They start to turn towards you to grab your near leg & attempt a single
  • Before they turn over all the way, swing your free leg around their head all the way to the other side
  • Sit down on the trapped leg’s hip as the opposite elbow goes to the mat in front of their hips
  • Now trap their top arm and/or extend your trapped leg to free it
  • Get over/under and take the back

Magic, I’m telling ya — simple and logical and graceful.

Specific sparring at the end: ten or so on the mat, then the line goes out one at a time to engage. Roll to points or submission. On-the-mat stays for 2 rounds, then joins the line.

Then some 3-min rounds. Got to roll with Emily once, and I tried some of the techniques from her video series. And she laughed, and then returned the favor, but for real this time. Heh.

Saturday Evening

We all grabbed dinner after training on Saturday and headed for Tori’s house for the Round Table Discussion with Hannette and Michelle. They both talked about how they started jiu-jitsu and their journey so far. Sayaka also told her story through an interpreter, Yoko (?), who was a camper who is Japanese.

Sunday Morning

So, during the warmup for the morning session — in the gi with both Hannette & Michelle, scheduled to be a review from Saturday — I started feeling a little woozy. Not breathing well, room felt stuffy, started overheating…. Figured I could just shake it off. Then there were some forward and backward rolls, and then some more warmup drills… and then I almost passed out. Ended up sliding down the wall. Oooo, not cool…

Michelle helped me get my gi off and Val helped me off the mat. I spent most of the morning session sitting in the office, eating my neglected breakfast and drinking as much fluid as I could get my hands on. I seemed stable enough by lunch, so I followed some of the other ladies across the street to a sandwich place. And then while waiting in line, everything started up again. ……….

So we pumped me full of calories and carbs and fluids and waited until I could walk in a straight line again, ducked next door to the 7-11 for portable fluids, and then went back for the afternoon session. I changed for it, but ended up only watching.

Sunday Afternoon

Nogi session; included a crazy relay-race warmup from Emily, which turned in to quite possibly the most intense relay race I’ve ever seen.

Sayaka, with some help from a Japanese girl at campYoko, taught the first nogi session after lunch. First a takedown and then a rolling kneebar from turtle. “Use their foot as a pillow,” she said, to indicate the positioning.

One of my favorite moments of the whole weekend came during this session. At camp, when an instructor wants to indicate a break (say, between instruction and going off to drill), they say, “One, two, three,” and then everyone claps all together. Since Sayaka had taught, it was her responsibility to count, so she did: “Ichi, ni, san,” and we all clapped, and the delight on her face was priceless.

(To bring everyone back together, the instructors use a whistle. Hannette loves the whistle. Be warned, Chicago!)

Then Michelle taught a toe hold and another kneebar, both starting from inside the guard.

They rolled again, but I still needed to be smart (especially since I was driving and so couldn’t just pass out in the car). I even went and changed in to my street clothes because the desire to get out there and train anyway nearly overwhelmed me. *sigh*

Sunday Evening

Sunday, we drove in to DC and ate at Old Ebbitt Grill, about a block from the White House. Then, since there were so many tourists among us, we did a short walk around the Mall, starting at the White House and looping out to the Washington Monument

Monday Morning

Monday morning’s session was a “Troubleshooting” session — gi and nogi; you could roll or drill or ask questions of the black belts. Whatever you wanted. I tried to do a little of everything. Got some good & fun rolls in, including one with Hannette, and also watched & listened to Emily as ladies asked her questions ranging from technique to her own story in jiu-jitsu.

Hannette & Michelle were going to run a co-ed seminar in the afternoon, but I needed to get home. So, reluctantly, after a final lunch with some of the other women, I packed up my car and headed out. (Good thing, too, as apparently a big storm hit all along the second half of my trip after I had passed through.)

I’m still a little nauseated, so have been drinking as much fluid & electrolytes as I can stand since I got home. I even called in from work today as well so that I could sleep and eat and drink and recover.

Camp was everything I needed it to be, and then some. If you get a chance to go, I would highly, highly recommend it.

Softly, softly

Camp Camp Camp Camp!

Two more days! *cue the bouncing*

Might be just a little excited…

I’m leaving Friday to head up. Then camp is Saturday and Sunday. There’s an Open Mat on Monday morning, too, that I’ll likely stay for. And there’s a co-ed seminar on Monday afternoon, but I will probably (force myself to) be smart and come home before then, as I will likely be a limp puddle of sweat by that time and will be good for nothing on the mat.

The last time I went to camp, I got turf toe right before and so was hampered by a giant wrapped-up appendage all weekend. I was determined that such a thing would not happen again, so last week and more importantly this week I’ve been taking it e.a.s.y. during sparring. I also did my best to only roll with good training partners, though that wasn’t always up to me. Rolling with guys I trust & who are just playing around (“keeping it playful” was tossed around at one point, lol), we could have a little fun and I still knew I was safe. But rolling with the spazzes, I focused on being just intense enough to defend myself. I’ve tapped early and often, and most especially if my knee ever started getting pressure.

Tonight we had an extra surprise — Rob’s sister (who trained with us at the beginning of the semester, but her classes conflict with all our class times) works for the on-campus, student-run TV station, and she & her crew came in tonight to interview Tim and to film some of our class for their next show. When she saw me there, she asked if they could interview me as well to “get a woman’s perspective.” So tonight I did an impromptu on-camera interview on what BJJ is, why it’s good for women to train, and what it’s like to train with bigger guys all the time. Meep!


Hi, Sasha’s friend ;)

Sasha mentioned tonight that one of her friends reads this blog and asked her if she trained with me. So everyone say “Hi, Sasha’s friend!”

You know, we seem to have so many women training now — 10, maybe? — and Ez said there are 2 more now besides Janet in Salem — but we all seem to train on different schedules. Maybe we need to have a Team Mannon Women’s Open Mat to all train with each other, lol. πŸ˜› Unfortunately, few of the other women seem to be on the same schedule as I am; it’s been several weeks since I rolled with another woman. (I got to drill & roll with Ez tonight, which was weird because he’s small while most of the other guys are at least 30lbs bigger than me.)

After several weeks of getting crushed by everyone and rolling with lots of big guys and starting to feel yet again like I don’t know anything at all, tonight the guys were feeling generous and seemed content to let me play around a lot. Which is nice, because I had moments that actually felt like jiu-jitsu, and those have been lacking for a while. And it was fun, which I always like.

My knee seems to be around 95%… 95% of the time, lol. It’s finally a bit better on side-to-side drills and some other warmup stuff (though of course now my thumbs & wrists are presenting me with new issues, sigh). Bridging/shrimping is still the missing 5%. But on Wednesday it was giving me enough issues that I had to tell the white belts that I may tap when they weren’t actually doing anything because of my knee (so please stop, because I do mean it). (With the blue belts, I know they’ll stop, so I don’t have to tell them.)

And I did tap on a guard pass that put quick pressure on the MCL and another time when the knee got twisted, even though I knew he wouldn’t do anything to it; I just couldn’t see an immediate safe way to get out. Well, that’s what happens when you train with an injury that limits your jiu-jitsu — you have to be an intelligent and mature grappler and do what needs doing in order to keep yourself safe, even if it’s not what your ego would like to do.

I’ve trained with and through so many injuries, and my thinking about how to train with them has evolved through that time. I used to tell partners that something was hurt so please avoid it, or would tuck an arm in my belt, or would ask them to go light. (And I will certainly respect the wishes of a partner who says any of the above to me [though I have a silent snort when they use the limb they said was hurt or pull the arm out when they need it or themselves go hard].)

Now, however, I believe that it is completely up to me to defend the injury; if I can’t defend myself properly, then I shouldn’t be rolling at all. It isn’t my partner’s responsibility to babysit my injury. And sometimes “defending myself” means letting them have something if defending it will cause pain. The most I will do now is tell a partner that I have an injury and that I may tap when they don’t expect it — but that I totally do mean it — but that otherwise they should roll however they want and that I’ve been training long enough to know when I need to tap. (And if they seem to be hesitant anyway, I’ll start putting more pressure on them to get them moving.) When they get worried that they’re hurting me, I promise them that I will tap if I need to.

The giant brace (actually 2 braces) on the knee does highlight the injury, and most guys will stop as soon as they realize they’re doing a leg attack on that leg (and usually transition to the other leg, if they can, which I’ll generally even let them set up, since it’s only fair — they’re being a good partner, so I’ll be one in return). If they don’t let go, then I just tap. Being able to walk is more important than assuaging my ego.

I guess what I’ve come to realize is that it’s only practice. If I tap, the world doesn’t end. As long as I can learn something and come out in one piece, then I call it a win.

“All the advantages, none of the crap”


The new location is having a lot of delays. The building wasn’t up to the current code (and possibly the previous tenant left things and/or did things that were not allowed, but which we now have to fix), and it seems as if there’s always something new that pops up. So as of right now, we don’t know when we’ll be in the new place; classes are still at the current location and on the same schedule.

Women’s Self Defense Seminar

On Wednesday night, Tim again helped out a women’s self-defense seminar. He also brought several of us in to help. The same lady from last time spoke about her sister’s domestic violence murder. (The story can be seen in the Dateline “Beauty and the Beast” episode.)

Justin showed two techniques, both against wrist-grabbing scenarios. He asked after the first one if anyone had any questions. A lady asked if it would work with a large height difference (since Justin was demonstrating on Tim, and they’re about the same height). So he had Andrew stand up — Andrew is quite a bit taller — and then, to really make the point, Justin knelt down. And still did it, lol.

Most of the women did not seem terribly interested in practicing the techniques many times. Two, three, four times — yeah, we got it. But they were very curious about jiu-jitsu and “what do you do if–?”

Vitamin D

There was an article on Mark’s Daily Apple last week about the benefits of working outside. Then this week’s post was “How to Work Outside Even if You’re a Desk Jockey”, and I was so tired of looking at beautiful summer days through the plate glass that I packed up my laptop and went to sit outside on the grass yesterday. When I came back in (because my battery was dying), my manager asked if I’d done that because of Mark’s post; when I said yes, he said he may start trying it, too. Heh.


Went in tonight. Short warmup. Still no side-to-sides for me while pushing off that leg, but I did do a trip on the alligators (just very slowly and carefully, just in case).

Drilling was a reverse kimura off Shawn Williams’ guard, or, as Justin introduced it, “All of the advantages, none of the crap” of rubber guard. (And the reason for SW over RG is that in RG, yeah, sure, they can’t move… but neither can you; you lock your hips in place in order to lock them down. But in SW guard, because your hips have moved out first, you get the same control and yet keep your mobility. Also, no twisting of the knees. Huzzah!)

Then the class moved on to rolling. I was prepared to sit out, but Justin decided to sit out and keep time, so then there was an odd number, so I jumped in. Yeah, booooy! Got a couple of good rolls. (Also, Holy Cats! I don’t have any cardio, lol!) Still no bridging. Having people on my back sucks because I can’t really use my legs to get out. No butterfly guard, either. But, hey, it’s rolling. It’s moving. It’s almost jiu-jitsu. I’ll take it. πŸ™‚

Moving Day

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but Aubrey will be moving in to my spare bedroom tomorrow.

It’s here!!!

It Starts With Food.

My weekend is spoken for. πŸ™‚