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 😉 )

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.

Getting the power back

Oi, vey! Hard to get back in the rhythm of going to class. So used to having nights that would be free so I’m used to scheduling errands and such. Then Aubrey’s parents & another couple came in to town on Thursday; I had dinner with them, then she headed off with them for a motorcycle ride to Michigan. And suddenly it was Friday and I hadn’t trained since Monday. Meh.

When I walked in last night, Tim asked me where I’d been and started listing the days I’d missed. He said “Wednesday?” I said that I don’t like getting punched in the face (since Wednesday is MMA class). He said, “6:30?” I said, “Huh?” Then he told me that there’s a new gi class on Wednesday nights after MMA. *Squee!!!* The more the gi, the more there’s a merrier me!

Nogi Fundamentals

I’m still slow on the warmups, but at least I can do them all. (Somehow, my right-shoulder forward rolls have broken. Like, awful. I dunno what that’s all about…). Straight in to drilling — bump sweep variation, then taking the back as an alternative. Drilled with Janet. (Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am for similarly-sized training partners? Seriously.)

While drilling the bump sweep variation, somewhere near the end of that time, I pushed and turned off my left knee and it screamed at me. Did it all sorts of wrong, apparently. So I stopped for a short while to stretch and massage it out. Mostly fine during the other one, though I was already smart enough not to push off it.

Fundamentals class wound down on drilling.

Nogi Intermediate/Advanced

Another warmup, though blessedly short as most of us were still warm from the last class. I was starting to run on fumes in the cardio department. I’ve been too long away from the mats; I got nothing. Then to drilling, nogi spider guard and then a nogi spider guard sweep (Justin’s favorite sweep — as soon as he said “nogi spider guard,” I knew we would end up at that sweep). Drilled with Janet again.

Then some rolling. First with Janet, then started with Guillaume. But while going to mount — to mount, for goodness’ sake! — I wrenched the knee again and had to pull out. I was tempted to ignore it and keep rolling anyway, but I’m trying to be less stupid. *le sigh*

But sitting means you get to people-watch, and I watched as one new guy got choked, then sat up rubbing his neck. When his partner asked if he was okay, he said, “Yeah, but I think you got my neck.” *gigglesnort*

The lights started flickering last night, and I looked out to see dark clouds heading for us and the trees blowing in the wind. I mentioned to my brother that we were about to get a bad storm; he looked it up online and announced, “Winds up to 75 miles per hour” — and blam!, the winds hit the house the next moment.

I asked him to turn them off, but he couldn’t.

No rain, really, just lots and lots and lots of high velocity wind. Knocked the power out around 9pm. We stayed up listening to the storm and playing chess by candlelight. The wind finally died down around midnight, but the power stayed out until this morning around 10. It’s back now, though, and I’m actually relived for the air conditioning — temperatures are supposed to get into the high 90s today.

“There’s too many of you people now”

Tim had the team over for a cookout last night. Andrew told me there that we have a new girl, a blue belt about my size. Awesomeness. I asked her name, but he was fuzzy; he said, “There’s too many of you people [girls] now to remember names.” *snort*

Then tonight I got to meet her. Her name is Jen, and she used to train in Georgia (I think here, because I remembered “Ethan” and “Roberto Traven” and “north of Atlanta”, and that’s the first Google result), but hasn’t trained in over a year. She’d gone back to her school recently and trained, then realized how much she missed it, so she found us.

And tonight we had 5 girls on the mat, which was pretty cool, and which we were all excited about. Big class overall. (And hot and humid!)


Warmup, could do most of it. Janet’s back issue means she has to walk instead of jog, so I jogged along behind her and waved everyone else around us. Her walking speed was faster than my jogging speed… yeah…. Had to step out on a few things because I would have held everyone up, but jumped back in for bear crawls (I can do those!). Then on the wall for shrimping (I only used the functional leg to push) and then single-legs. I did the latter on the little side part of the mat because I had to go soooooo sloooooow.

Drilling started with basic armbar from the guard because we had a couple of new guys. Then on to armbar from spider guard. Knee did not particularly like either side in this. Something always seemed to be tweaking it. Bah.

Open Mat

Rolled with Aubrey and Janet. Trying to find out what the knee would do; getting annoyed when I couldn’t play my annoying hook game. Gah. So many things that aren’t available to me anymore. Meh. I intend to play on the weak side, but I’m so used to going to the strong side that I do that before I think about it, and then I can’t do anything else because that all requires the non-functional leg. Then the knee was done, so I had to call it a night.

A taste of summer

The weather decided to randomly shoot up to around 70 degrees today, which is just totally nuts for March. And the mats were packed again tonight (double-parking all over the lot), so the academy got a little toasty. At least I was smart enough to bring my ultra-light gi

A full warmup, then on to drilling. First a review of last night, and then a continuation to a sweep to knee-on-belly. Drilled with Janet. The whole class was drilling. My wrists and elbows are now chafed from all the spider guarding.

Then in Open Mat, rolled with Janet, Dmitri, Eman (yay for controlled big guys — he totally could have spiked me on my head, but instead managed to do it slowly), and Andrew. Dmitri, a blue belt, hasn’t trained in 2.5-3 years (sometime before I got my blue belt) because of school, but has recently found time and is getting back in. He commented several times that I’ve gotten a lot better since we last rolled. (External validation! Much needed.) Andrew wanted to take my feet home, but I couldn’t seem to muster any interest in attacking his in return.

My left shoulder has been doing its aching thing again the last few days. No tingling yet, though. I’m trying to keep it iced and stretched, but so far it just seems to be getting worse. Meh. My wrist at least is mostly better; it sometimes still twinges as if it might spasm, so I’m taping it when I roll to keep it from bending too much. The spams seem to happen at the edges of its range of motion.

I have a meeting in the morning, so I can’t be shanghaied into class. (I’m still undecided about morning classes in general right now. Maybe it’s too much training…) Then tomorrow night, my friend and I are going to see John Carter (which I already know is ruined in places, but maybe they didn’t kill the whole thing), so I won’t be lifting this week. And then Saturday is my grandmother’s surprise birthday party in Richmond, so I’ll miss class then, too.

And I lost my afternoon to this site: Fashion It so, a blog that discusses not only Star Trek TNG episodes but also the fashion fails. Some language is NSFW, but holy cats, the hilarity! P.S. You’re welcome.

Post-Spring Break madness

Man, those were some packed mats tonight! The parking lot was full even before Andrew got there to open up.

Classes flowed right in to each other.

Had a new girl, Emily. She’d been given a gi jacket and a white belt before class started but was struggling to tie the belt. One of the guys tried to help her, but then admitted that he didn’t really know how to tie his belt, either. Doh. So I stepped in and helped her, though missed the first few laps of the warmup. (She ended up without the belt for the rest of class, though; no clue what happened there.)

On the wall for more drills. There were a couple of new guys, too, so if Andrew or Justin was busy helping them with the down-the-mat drills, I stopped to help Emily. Then we went to armbars from the guard; I worked with Emily and taught her how to do them.

One live roll next, and Emily looked a little reluctant, so Tim jumped in to roll with me (whoot!) while she watched the class. He was practicing some of those chokes that Draculino showed at his seminar. I could see them coming by the setup, but could do nothing to stop them.

Then drilling. Setting up spider guard to Lasso Leg. Drilled with Aubrey.

Then partnered up for positional rolling, sweep vs. pass, with Open Guard only. I did a set with Sara, then Aubrey and Emily did a set.

One more roll, with Aubrey, to finish things off.

Rolling Notes: Seriously and for reals, no more turtling. I don’t know why that started again, but you’re doing nothing useful with it and are only getting your back taken or otherwise choked. Find a real escape!