I’m ready, coach, put me in!

Steeled myself to spar this morning. Took both sets of gloves (boxing and MMA); took shorts and a rashguard. And… they didn’t need me for that. Or, rather, they did and would have if they’d done like last week, but they didn’t.

Instead, they put one guy through four different types of rounds: sparring (no ground ‘n’ pound), takedowns (against Big Jon, so really it’s a round of just defending takedowns), full MMA, and wall drill (someone holds you down in a padded corner of the room, and all you have to do is stand up). There were four guys to take those rounds.

The second time through, though, right as the guy was starting to really get tired, Tim called me out to do a 2-minute grappling round with the guy. I know he was tired, and I was really trying to push the pace, but there were actual moments when I almost did exactly what I’d wanted to. Working to start, I sprawled, but of course he can still reach my legs; he finally just lifted me up to pull my legs and fall in to side control. I worked away, trying to keep the intensity up. Got almost to guard, and could see I was a step or two away from a triangle; couldn’t get near it, though. To full guard; he was trying to break it, I was trying to figure out something to attack — tried bump sweep and guillotine several times, but my arms aren’t quite long enough to get all the way around to make it work. Adam was telling me to let go my guard and attack, but I couldn’t see where to go next — and this guy was postured up good and I couldn’t get him down — so I just held on. Probably should’ve at least ried, though.

They did one more set of rounds, though mostly ground ‘n’ pound, with him.

A few more guys had shown up by then for class. Tim, Adam, Big John, and Joe wanted to work wrestling takedowns (Big John and Joe both wrestled). The other four of us got our gis on — blerg, so hot! — and rolled a little bit.

Started with Will and his tricksy open guard. But he was letting me around so we could work other stuff. Tried several half-guard passes; I think one did work and I got to mount. Couldn’t control that for too long, though, and he wasn’t leaving anything open. Even remembered a few times that knee-on-belly exists (!!) and worked that, trying for either the baseball choke or the spinning armbar, but he didn’t give anything up there, either. He was making me work to keep side control, too, when he let me around to there; was keeping his near elbow in deep and I couldn’t get any space around it. Ended up moving to north/south a lot, but couldn’t get anything there, either. He even turtled at one point to let me work attacking that, but I couldn’t get anything in; did remember, though, that it’s legal to switch to the other side (*snort*) and did that several times; still no space, though. Then for a while we switched and I was defending under side control, mount, and half guard. Got caught many times in there to armbars and triangles; I’d know they were coming but couldn’t seem to do anything right to stop them. Meh.

Don’t know how long we rolled. We finally stopped, though, to get water, and then switched with the other two guys.

I got Big Tom. (Note to self: no spider guard on Big Tommy. His arms are longer than your legs, so it no work good.) He let me play on top, too, to start with, though I was again having trouble passing half guard. I ended under mount at one point, and he was trying to get the armbar while I was trying the scrape escape; I got my one leg out, so it was in front of his shin, and then as he tried to sit back, I got the other knee up behind his knee, so I could kind of scissor my legs and keep him from being able to sit back. He tried to escape that for a while and couldn’t, and even said that Yoshi had just done something similar to him. So we stopped to consider the position and see what he could do.

And then, I saw it — instead of trying to sit back, drive that knee to the mat on the far side, trapping both their legs (since they’ve committed both legs to stopping your one), and leaving you almost in mount; now drive your weight up on their arm, which you should still have; step the free leg over and behind your own trapped leg, sliding in to also trap their legs (so your legs are crossed at this point); now slide your trapped leg out from between their legs; come up to side control, and you’re in position to take the spinning armbar. I mean, I saw it. I knew what to do. Yay, lightbulb moment! It seems like something we’ve worked, but I don’t know where to find it right now. So we tried that a few times, and it actually worked (yay for a working lightbulb moment!). Tom even pulled it off a few minutes later from a similar position and passed right around.

Later, too, he was seemingly going for the far-side americano from side control, except he hadn’t trapped my near arm so I could turn in to it and relieve the pressure. I stopped to mention that, and he said that he often goes for that far arm just so he can pass, that he thinks of passing far more than of looking for submissions, and that he didn’t think he had a good enough position there to finish anything. So I showed him real quick what to do (everyone does it on me when they want an easy tap, so I’m real familiar with what it looks like from the bottom).

We rolled a little longer. He caught an armbar from mount; was real light on me, as he usually is, until right at the last moment as he swung around — all 220 lbs landed on my ribs, which got a big “Ooorrmph!” from me. He stopped to make sure I was okay; I said I was, so he finished the armbar. We got to talking, and he apologized for sitting on me. I said it was fine and there was no where else for his weight to go there, and that I really appreciate that he doesn’t use all his weight on me when we roll (else I’d be squished every time). He said he uses rolling with me to work on his speed and technique, which is possibly something I’m useful for.

Don’t know how long that roll was, either, but then I was done. Thankfully, everyone else was, too. I’d meant to do some squats or deadlifts or something, but was too tired to even remember that.

I liked the pace we were rolling at today. Mostly in class, most everyone is still going Abu Dhabi — maybe opening round speed instead of finals, but still more intense, more competitive, and more wild than I like to roll. (Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t like getting kneed and elbowed because someone can’t bother to slow down enough to do his technique right and thinks speed and power is all he needs.) These were slower rounds with a few bursts, but we were still tight and working and attacking space and going for submissions. Just without all that extra that usually comes in during the week.

Strikeforce tonight: Carano v. Cyborg. While I’d like to see Gina win, I think Cyborg will just keep coming. I’m predicting Cyborg, TKO. Either way, though, I really want it to be a good slugfest and/or grapplefest and show that women can fight and can fight good.

MMA in the morning

Slept in this morning, rolled out of bed, grabbed a gi, and went over to watch the guys spar before class.

Only, most of the guys weren’t there. They were one man short. So I had to get some gloves and get in for 2 3-minute rounds. Against a guy more than a foot taller than me, and nearly 100 lbs heavier. Yeah, that did not go so well for me.

MMA first thing in the morning will wake you up real fast, though.

And since it was MMA rounds, he could take me down, bellyflop on my ribs, and punch me in the face until Tim stood us back up. Did get to guard a few times, though I could not reach him to break his posture or punch him, while he could hit me at will. Every takedown was a pretty good slam, too, and all right on the same spot in my lower back. Much. Pain.

The funny thing about that is I had run in to one of my friends from TKD earlier in the week. He’d asked if I could come help with sparring at testing, since they have 3 testing for conditional black belt. I said no, that I hadn’t sparred in a while so it wouldn’t be pretty. And then here I go and spar this weekend anyway. *headshake*

Class was open mat after that. I rolled with Will for a good while, probably 30 minutes. Nice and slow, technique round. Got a lot of work on trying to pass his open guard; only made it around a few times when he let me, and then he was working on getting back to guard so I didn’t stay in long. He did a sweep at one point that dumped me on the same spot I’d been slammed during the MMA rounds. Ouchness. Paused to let me recover my wits, and then we continued.

At work all week, our printer hasn’t been working. We tried turning off the power — there are 2 power buttons, for some reason — and turning it back on. We tried everything else we could think of. Nada.

So a repairman from the printer company came yesterday to check it out. He flipped the secret power switch (3rd) on the bottom side corner, et voila!, it works.

Collective *facepalm*.

Seriously, though, 3 power switches for one printer? We asked him if there was a super secret power switch we needed to know about for next time. But he said that if there were, even he didn’t know about it.

Open Mat and TKD

Went to Open Mat last night. Got there early since I hit 40 billable hrs sometime on Thursday (thanks, road trip). A few guys showed up eventually. I rolled with Nick for about 30 minutes. Made bunches of silly mistakes — I know to keep my elbows in, to keep my head on the outside, and all that — and he’d catch whatever was available (D’Arce, armbar, kimura, guillotine, triangle, RNC). Did have one triangle escape. Tried the guillotine escape from last night, but my arms aren’t long enough to get far enough over his back to prevent him from arching.

Changed and headed over to TKD. Did get lots of reaction from the TKD kids’ parents with my shiny new belt; most of them assumed I just did BJJ and didn’t realize I already have a black belt in TKD. (I admit it, I wore the belt out on purpose just to see if I’d get a reaction.)

TKD testing

We had 1/3 of one of the gyms, divided by a huge curtain. But it was so loud! Basketball and indoor soccer games going on at the same time. More incentive for the testers to yell louder, though. And a very cool echo when they all yelled together. I was late getting there, but still made it during the first group’s test. We had the space until 11:45 pm, and we took every second of that.

They looked good, and I was glad to see so many of the gold belts from last semester coming back.

There were two black belt candidates. I came in as a fourth for the first one’s sparring. (We do one 4-minute round, with a new person joining every minute. So the final minute, you’re fighting 4 people. You get surrounded and overwhelmed. You can handle 3 surprisingly well — keep them all in front and pivot toward one side. But that fourth can get around the back and cause trouble. Second degree test, there’s two of those rounds.)

I was timekeeper for the other round. The guy was knocked down and almost looked like he was going to pull out. (He has this habit of getting hit with what he thinks is too much contact [sorry, dude, contact for this test is heavy] or in an illegal area [oh, yeah, sorry, we do miss sometimes] and then looking at the instructor/examiner as if to say, “Did you see that? Aren’t you going to stop it?” When he did that this time, he got drilled by Battle’s side kick. And Battle wasn’t playing too nice because the guy had been grabbing the gi of one of the other black belts — which isn’t allowed — and then pulling her around as a shield. Do illegal things, we might not stop it, but we will hit you harder.) The time: 3:59.16. Fourteen one-hundredths of a second between him and his black belt, and he nearly pulled out. We didn’t tell him the time; we just waited. He did continue, though with a little limping fanfare. I should’ve asked if the examiner wanted more time but didn’t think of it until later. So they reset, said “Go!”, and almost immediately I was saying “Time!”

Cinder block breaking was excellent, though. Both of them broke with their downward palm heel, and then the first guy broke it with his side kick, which no one has been able to do for over 10 years. (Part of it is the set up: two people hold the block, pushing forward on it only. Two people hold up those people’s hands; these are actually supporting the weight of the block. Two people brace the block holders. So there’s a lot of give behind the block.) His first two kicks nearly knocked me over, and I was one of the bracers. His third kick, I didn’t feel anything — and couldn’t see anything — so I didn’t even know he’d kicked until everyone started yelling.

Home after midnight; shower and bed. Off to watch my guys spar this morning and then class afterward.

Where’d everybody go?

Small class again tonight. Only two college guys. Maybe they all have their first tests?

On the heavy bags to warm up. One round hitting them, then one round of sit-up/elbows. Next a round of bag hangs. And guess what? It’s so much easier to hang on a bag when you can get your arms and legs completely around!! Picked one in the middle this time, and it was smaller than the one I’d used last week, and I could actually get my arms and legs locked up. Huge difference — made it the whole time, and could’ve stayed on longer. That bag is mine now for bag hangs. End of the round, we were supposed to pull ourselves around the bag with one pull. Right. Sure. I tried and moved a few inches… and then slid down the bag. Doh. Well, at least I have something to work on now that I’ve figured out how to make bag hangs work. Then we repeated the sequence — combinations, then sit-up/elbows, then bag hangs. Moving around the bags again; me sliding off again.

On the mat for the exercise ball sprawl drill we did last week. But last week we used the 8-lbs balls; tonight we used the 10-lbs ones. Ugh. Got the guy who’s always on his first night. We were doing alright and getting in a groove, and then he zoned out and forgot to come up again after a sprawl, but I’d already thrown the ball and nearly hit his head.

Partnered up for a large part of class to do light sparring. Wow, just a few weeks of not sparring, and I’m slow, flat-footed, and not moving my head again. All the bad habits I’d been correcting came back. I could see them, and I knew I was doing it wrong, but I couldn’t seem to make it work right. Pleh. Sparring’s something I can’t really take a break in, else I lose it fast. Always noticed that in TKD, too. But if I keep at it, I do get better. The year before my black belt test, I sparred a lot, since it’s a significant part of the test, and I got a whole, whole lot better — possibly even good. But I dislocated my elbow that summer and didn’t spar again for a long time after that.

Worked with Justin in one of those rounds, and he tried to kick me in the head!

Also worked with the guy on his first night (again), and he wouldn’t hit me. At. All. Air punches the whole time. Slooooow kicks that barely tapped. I mean, we’re going light contact, but that’s less than light. And if I went after him, he’d just back up until he was against the wall and wouldn’t move. Look, man, I know my sparring’s rusty right now so you might think of taking it easy on me, but it ain’t that bad. Work! I tried hitting him harder so he’d hit back, but he wouldn’t. More frustrated with him not working than anything the whole night. Actually had to work with him for a second round, too, which went exactly like the first. Dude, I’d rather get hit in the face than put up with this…

Then did a few MMA rounds (clinch, takedowns, ground ‘n’ pound) in the ring. Usually while one pair is in the ring, the rest of us are working on the mat, but tonight we were just supposed to watch. Did almost want the first-night guy so I could really hit him, but instead got in the last round with Adam, and I saw even more how my sparring has deteriorated. Rats. Might have to start going back to kickboxing class. (It was getting better when I was doing that Fridays & Saturdays. It’s not hitting pads that I need; it’s getting hit back that I need — even though I don’t much like it.)

9 months of BJJ, but no rolling

Today is 9 months since I started BJJ. Okay, so the last month was mostly not rolling, with vacation and holidays, but still, nine months. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

Just a few of us there today. Since so many guys have been gone, Tim hasn’t gotten to spar much, so that’s what he wanted to do. I even got in for two rounds, once with Justin and once with Adam. Still lots to work on, but I felt much more relaxed and was even trying to hit them. (I think my arms are shorter than I thought they were, though; not connecting as much as I wanted to.) Really winded after just the second round, too.

Happy New Year!

My family, ever the exciting bunch, ushered in the year by working a puzzle until 3 a.m.

Fightworks Podcast Blog of the Year Contest

Go vote! Voting ends January 5th (they changed it!), and the winners are announced on January 11th.

Finalists are: