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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

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.

Green Light! Red Light…

My home internet has been ditzy all week. Meh.

So I finally got around to going to a Thursday class. And it was not of the expected variety. Felt rather normal, tell the truth.

Justin and Andrew have a new judo throwing dummy. They amused themselves before class by tossing it on its head.


Short warmup, then rolling. With Emily (a new girl who started coming a few weeks ago, yay!), Buddy, and Adam. My squirrelly guard was alive and well and that made me happy, though I was sputtering on standing guard passes and that made me sad face.

Then drilling was omoplata to kneebar, which was a tad bit complicated, though Emily felt better when I said that I’d never done it, either.

Open Mat

Tim called for rolls. I was paired with a new teenager whose dad brought him in. I think this was his 2nd class.

Red Light

Back in the land of stupid injuries: while rolling with the kid, I’d purposely gotten bottom half — I was feeling kind of bad for tooling him so much and was going to work something. My left knee was on top, across like a knee shield, and relaxed; he had no pressure or weight on it at all (I think he was looking at it, and looking about the bottom leg that was hooked, and thinking, “WTF do I do now?”). Then the left knee suddenly went, “Ka-POW!!!” and exploded in pain.

The kid looked up at me and said, “What was that?!” I said that it was my knee. He pointed to the right one, which was in a brace as usual. “That one?” I pointed to the other. “Nope, this one. The good one.” He asked if I was alright; I said I was and we kept going.

The pain went away for the remaining few minutes, but it came back with a vengeance once we stopped rolling. I had it on ice as soon as I got home. This morning, there’s some swelling in the area and it still hurts; the whole knee is stiff, but I can walk without too much hobbling, though I’m going slow just in case. (Stairs, however, require some work because of the stiffness in the whole knee.) The real pain is on the inside of the knee and is much, much worse if I do anything that turns my knee; sitting down, weirdly, causes the most pain, as apparently I don’t sit down straight but rotate at the knees as I sit. The knee will bend without real pain, until I get to the far ranges of motion.

For now, I’m sitting on the couch at work with it propped up on a pillow. (They’re almost used to me doing silly things like this by now.) I’ve got 2 ice packs in the freezer and I’m even wearing a skirt so I can get ice packs on it more easily. Ibuprofen is, of course, my friend. Guess this means no class for me tonight or tomorrow, so guess I’ll have to wait until next week to beat up some more kids. ๐Ÿ˜‰ If it’s not better by Monday, I may go to the doctor. Meh.

Missing the signs

Whoa, 3 nights off from BJJ? In a row? Feels like I’ve stumbled in to someone else’s life.

Went to get my hair done last night. My stylist wanted to do blonde highlights. However, my last color was a copper, and some of the color was still hanging around. So my hair turned pink…. Dude, not cool. She put a darker all-over color on it to cover the pink, though it also colored the blonde that was in. She said that the overall color will fade out in the next few weeks and the highlights should show through properly. Also, I’m leaning very strongly towards growing my hair out, so she actually didn’t cut anything, just styled it differently. I really like it this way; now I just have to remember how she did it!

Sent Andrew a text last night that I would miss morning class. Was a good thing, too, as another storm rolled in and battered my windows. I knew there was another reason I needed to miss the morning class, but couldn’t remember what it was. Found out when I got to work — 9am meeting. Oh. Crap. And I’m late…

Fundamentals Class, nogi

Several new guys: the guy I grappled last Friday, a guy who came a few times several months ago, and a brand-new guy — as well as one guy who just watched the whole class. They came in all at once, so I didn’t notice who came in with whom. (This will be important later.) A larger number of regulars for a Friday, too. Short warmup, then to drilling. A step-around guard pass, then added to knee-on-belly to north/south kimura, then added transitioning to the far-side tuck-knee armbar.

Drilled initially with Guillaume, then with the brand-new guy, who was wearing a “UFC” shirt. Maybe it was the shirt that first put me off, but my brain decided to assume that he had no training. And then when he did some things wrong in the drilling — like no pressure in KoB and going straight to the can-opener from KoB even though that’s not what we’re drilling — my brain decided to take these as further proof that he had no mat experience. (The can opener should have been my second clue that I was, in fact, quite wrong. The first was who he came with.) Drilled for the whole class.

Open Mat

Open Mat was actually structured tonight, with timed rounds & rest and most partners being picked (largely for the 3 new guys).

I was paired with the new guy I had drilled with. I sat down ready for maybe 50%, maybe 70%, intensity. (I don’t know why, exactly — I had gotten up to the right mindset last week when I knew nothing about the guy. Possibly because I wasn’t in as much pain as last week [whereas then I knew I would have to work hard to defend the injured parts], and possibly because I’d had those 3 nights off [and so thought I had a lot of energy to spare].) We slapped hands and he went for a fist bump. Some part of my brain started frantically trying to get my attention with that detail. But then he asked how did we start, from guard or from just wherever. (More brain frantically trying to get my attention. He said “Guard!” He knows guard! All ahead full! All ahead full!) I said, “Just wherever.” Then, because he’s asked a basic question about how to begin a round, my intensity & engagement with the upcoming round plummeted, despite all the warning bells.

(I know better, of course. New guys do not like having to roll with the girl first thing. I know this. I’ve lived this several times before. New guys who know nothing go bananas when seated across from a tiny girl. New guys who sneakily do know something come out 210% with all their cheap tricks.)

As I later found out, he trained with the guy I grappled last week. (At least he didn’t just learn it from watching UFC, as I for some reason began to fear during the round. Now that would have been embarrassing.) His game was different — a tighter top game and some knowledge of half guard and of leg attacks — and far more difficult to deal with, especially as I was also trying frantically to roust all the intensity-related pathways to come back online. (Although, like his friend, he does some basic things terribly wrong, as they’ve never been taught quite right. This, folks, is the difference a real Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor makes.) So the round was mostly me scrambling to catch up to this athletic guy (though going for far more submissions and sweeps than I ever used to against such a fellow).

Couple more rounds, with Guillaume (who had been mocking my new hair style all night and so was due for a beating), Eamon, and Rob. Hit that pass from Emily on all three at least once. Eamon was tricksy tonight, though, opting for an active open guard, which made finding that sweet spot a little more difficult.

Anyway, was relieved at the end of class to see that this new guy and the one from last week had come together. So that means that he does have training time. And from the round, probably plenty. Okay, good, I did not just nearly get my clock cleaned by an “I train UFC”er. He actually does have some experience.


Been steaming for a few days over a couple of “women in BJJ” forum posts. So to distract me from the scathing replies I’ve written (and deleted), here’s a couple of women-related BJJ stories:

  • While rolling with Laura at the Open Mat last week, she asked me how much I weighed and commented to Chrissy that I was so little. Of course, I was thinking, “Awesome, a girl who’s just my size!” Apparently not. Seriously, I think my eyes + brain is broke….
  • Aubrey and I had lunch earlier this week. She said that she actually had had no idea what BJJ was before she started. She had asked me if class “would be awkward.” I replied that yes, it sometimes can be, but that really it’s only as awkward as you make it. She let it go at that, and said she told herself that since I did this, it couldn’t be too bad. Then when she got to class that first night, she said she almost freaked out at what BJJ turned out to be. That whole first week she kept thinking, “OMG! Leslie does this?!!” Seems her version of “awkward” was based on the two TKD classes she had gone to in college, in which everyone had to stand up and introduce themselves and then “perform” what they learned at the end of the night. My version of “awkward” was something entirely different!

I’m not in college anymore…

…so a late night of video games does not a pleasant early morning make.

Actually, it probably never made a pleasant morning when I was in college, either, but back then I could’ve just slept through the morning. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Mornings are definitely more pleasant when you get to sleep during them.

But Aubrey had promised to come today and show off her spiffy new Fenom gi, so I couldn’t skip out.

I’ve got a large bruised area on my right ribs, towards the back, from Monday night. Reaching for things on that side is painful.

Four of us this morning: me, Aubrey, Rob, and Andrew. Short warmup, then to drilling. Repeated The Pedro Sauer Pass from Monday. Then added the quick side control choke. Then added a spinning kneebar (!) for if you can’t finish the pass.

Then a quick roll to finish up. With Rob. He has discovered the D’Arce and its variations and is gleefully throwing them from every position possible.

I was more woken up by the end of class, but this gray and rainy day is not helping me stay that way, meh.

Did you know that Burpees are on Facebook? ๐Ÿ˜›

And random: it seems that Google has finally listened to everyone complaining about the horrid new look they’ve given everything — now you can change the Display Density to kill the idiotic white space they threw in randomly everywhere. I’d still like more delineation between things (these faint, nearly white lines are no fun), but this is much better than the bloated-looking monstrosity of before.

Monday, er, Tuesday, er — What day is it?

So I took Friday off to clean the house, then Monday was a holiday so there was neither work nor evening class. Also it started raining late Sunday — remnants of Tropical Storm Lee that got pushed this far inland — and rained all Monday and Tuesday (with tornado warnings on Monday night; not cool), so every day has looked the same: gray and bleak. This week so far, I’m having to constantly remind myself what day it is. I’m still forgetting, though…

Tuesday night


My first Tuesday back in a month. (Another reason why my days are confused.)

Big Mike is back for school; he’s been training at Tony Passos BJJ for the summer. He’s even bigger, methinks. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Short warmup. How does jogging make my arms tired?! Oh dear. Then partnered up for grip-fighting rounds. With Adam, Ethan, Brandon, and Ratcliffe.

Drilling was a guard pass that we worked in a morning class this summer. Drilled with Ray first. Tim switched us around about halfway through, so finished with Guillaume.

Open Mat

Rolled with Ethan first. Man, is he ever good (bad?) for my ego. Two months in, and he destroys me with technique! (He doesn’t know many techniques yet, but what he knows, he uses well. Four or five times with that pass from tonight alone. And the kneebar from a few weeks ago, which he hit so nicely — and without cranking! — that I didn’t bother to mention that white belts can’t do leg attacks yet.) And he comes up with creative uses for the gi. And doesn’t crank submissions; instead, he adjusts his position by degrees until he has it. And transitions and sets up combos and it’s just ridiculous and I wish I had a single drop of that talent. Man.

Then a shorter roll with Buddy. He, of course, tried to triangle me from everywhere. I think I’m safe, and then suddenly he’s separated one arm from the rest of me and is shooting in that triangle.

When my brother got home last night, he was in the mood to talk books, so we stayed up far past my bedtime discussing what we’re reading and trading suggestions. We are actually getting along fairly well; he doesn’t eat my food unless I offer, and he’s been good about cleaning up after himself. The getting along is helped by the fact that I’m usually gone before he gets moving, and he comes in when I’m heading to bed, lol.

Wednesday morning

Warmup was quick armbars from guard. Then the pass from last night, finishing with one of the three armbars from Monday morning. One rep each, then switch, to keep moving. Did that for quite a bit, which I actually liked. (Linking things together? Concept!) Then drilled the second part from last night, coming around to north/south kimura. Then the highlight reel escape to armbar from the north/south kimura. We spent quite a bit of time just working individually on the swing around and up movement. (And then I’d go to do it with a partner, and my brain couldn’t fathom which side was which. *le sigh*)

One quick roll with Trey.