BJJ Grrl

"Be gentle, kind and beautiful, yet firm and strong, both mentally and physically." ~Sensei Keiko Fukuda

Submission Only Richmond, Dec 7, 2013

The absolute highlight of the day — Laurie Porsch tracked me down during the gi divisions to tell me that reading my blog was one of the things that helped her decide to start training BJJ. That is probably the best thing I have ever heard.

While I was at the tournament yesterday, two other significant things happened: my teammates Robert & Kellie got married, and my former teammate Nick Liaskos got his black belt from Ricardo Almeida.


Short version:

  • Nogi, advanced, weight class: 2nd (of 2)
  • Nogi, advanced, absolute: 2nd (of 2)
  • Gi, blue belt, weight class: 1st (of 3)
  • Gi, blue belt, absolute: 2nd (of 3)

Most matches were around 8 minutes or under. My first match in blue belt, though, went about 30 minutes. Yeoooowch!


I. Made. Weight. 124.5 on the nose. (There would have been fewer pounds to cut and/or the whole process would have been easier if I had had fewer slices of the homemade carrot cake during Thanksgiving…. I regret nothing!) I don’t have far to go to reach that; my walking-around weight hovers just under 130 these days (except after Thanksgiving *ahem*), but my body is very resistant to giving anything up. Also I like to eat and do not like being hungry.

Looking back over the results brackets now, though, it likely did not matter. In nogi I was combined up anyway because there were only two of us; in gi, it appears I would have been the lone person in my weight bracket and would have most likely been moved down, as there were fewer women there than the weight class above. Oh well, that’s how it always seems to go — you don’t cut and there’s actually a weight class there (and so you end up with bigger women), or you do cut and get combined up anyway.


US Grappling has a bunch of new things they’re doing on the organization side of the tournament, and it made a HUGE difference yesterday in how the tournament was run. Their Submission Only tournaments always run well, but this was better. There are now minions, and minions with minions, and better communication among staff which makes for better communication to competitors. Everything seemed to be moving along more quickly, even for the hour+ matches (and there was even apparently a 2.5-hr match). And also, this time they got to use an auxiliary gym, which is where they started the kids’ matches and eventually moved some of the adult matches, as well, which gave them an additional 4 mats.


Nogi, Advanced, weight class

Mary Holmes, who I last fought in Greensboro. I knew she liked armbars, so my goal was to not get armbarred. Instead I got head-and-arm choked. She’d set it up a few times and I’d managed to get out, but that last time, I knew I was sunk.

Goodness, I look so slow. And there are dumb things I did or let her do that I know better than to do. Gah.

Nogi, Advanced, absolute

Me and Mary again. Goal was still not to get armbarred. And also to work on all the things that Andrew and Liz had pointed out to me from the first match. We were sent to the auxiliary gym, and since my guys were either competing or coaching in the other gym (same for Mary), there was no one around to tape our match. It was over more quickly, though this time I did fix those things that Andrew and Liz had said, and I avoided her armbar, and I avoided the head-and-arm choke (by virtue of avoiding the position where she was throwing it because Andrew told me to) — and I got off the bottom and in her guard and thought I was doing decently well. And then she triangled me. Doh. (She was working for the armbar on the trapped arm, but it was the triangle that got me.)

Gi, blue belt, weight class

Long wait to gi, at least as far as waiting for women’s matches goes. We always used to finish nogi and then almost immediately get told to check in for gi; now there’s a built-in recovery time (not so much for us, I think, as to give them the mats to start cranking through Beginner and Novice male divisions). I didn’t fully understand the concept at the time, though, and so didn’t rest as much as I could have (every time the loudspeaker came on, I thought I was being called), but I will definitely work with it in later tournaments. They moved all women into the auxiliary gym for gi.

Jen from BETA first. ~30-min match. Holy cats was she ever scrappy! There were so many times I thought I had her done, and she’d buck and twist and just will her way through something. She seemed to get stronger as the match went on. And I heard later that she had already done a very long match in nogi! I did finally secure an armbar. Several times when we stood up during this match, I started getting light-headed. Bad. At the end of the match, I had to lean on the ref; he was good-natured about it, though. And then my forearms were cramping up.

(Video starts a bit late, but we batted around on our feed for a few seconds and then she pulled guard hard.)

{Okay, here’s a funny (Chrissy will laugh) — as I’m watching this video, I’m realizing that we are the same size. All during the match I thought she was so much smaller than I am!}

{Also, why is my butt so high in the air?! C’mon, man! Or stuck to the ground. And you can see me looking at spider guard like “WTF is this?”}

I am so grateful that I had Andrew there to coach me. For one, I would have given up long ago, but he kept telling me to stand up or “do this thing” (and “breathe! breathe!”) and the habits of the academy meant that I did what he said. And two, because my brain stopped knowing jiu-jitsu very shortly in, and he just kept patiently reminding me of what I know until I could finally get it done.

Chelsea from Team ROC next; I’d last fought her at NC State Championships. She still has that amazing bridge, but she had also had a very long match in nogi. She did not feel tired to me, though! I finally managed to do the things that Andrew was telling me (and it was mostly repeats from the last match, so my brain almost knew what we were doing by now), and finished another armbar.

Match ~5min.

[I may have video of these last three matches later. Someone else filmed them, not on my camera.]

Gi, blue belt, absolute

Three in the division again — me and Chelsea, and one other. (So two from the smallest bracket, and only one from the other two brackets, both of which had at least 3 women. C’mon ladies, do Absolute! The rest of us are dead at this point, too!)

Chelsea first. Same deal as before, though this time I secured a cross-collar choke that Andrew had been trying to talk me in to earlier.

Match went for 8:16.

Colleen next. Andrew was busy coaching one of our purple belts across the room, but I don’t think it would have mattered one bit. After fighting the small girls for so long, I completely failed at what to do with someone so tall. And when she set up the bow-and-arrow, I watched it, knew it was coming, and absolutely could not summon anything to do about it. Also at that point I just wanted to be done with all this and eat. (Although then Chrissy pointed out that if Chelsea beat Colleen, they’d redraw the bracket and we’d all have to go again. That did not happen, and though I am not happy that Chelsea lost, I am happy that I did not have to fight anymore. I might have really passed out.)

Match went for 2:33.


[Edited to add a conclusion so you’re not just hanging out waiting for videos]: I am so sore! Yesterday and still today. Spent yesterday in fuzzy pajamas eating junk food and playing video games. Now I have this week off, the Hillary Williams seminar in Richmond (again) on Saturday, and then only two training days next week before two full weeks off for Christmas/New Year.

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US Grappling’s 100th Event – June 22, 2013, Richmond, VA

Summary

  • 6 matches. Lost all 6 by submission.
  • Heel-hooked in first Advanced match. Knee popped. The “good” knee.
  • Americano cranked in first gi match. Elbow popped.
  • Weight cutting: no weight lost. Stayed exactly the same. Pfft.
  • “Operation: Be More Assertive” was a no go: I scored 0 points.

Advanced Nogi

Because I’ve been training for over 5 years, I’m now in the Advanced division.

Weight class

Leah from Fifty/50:

The one thing I did not want to happen in the Advanced division was a heel hook. The first thing that happened was… a heel hook. (And yes, I do absolutely see exactly how I just handed it to her. I finally got my sweep, but at what cost?) She didn’t crank it, but I still heard and felt my knee pop before I could tap. That is my right knee, the one that had the LCL sprain a few years ago. This is not an encouraging way to start the day…

Absolute

Megan from Fifty/50:

I was absolutely not going to let her near my legs. So instead I jumped right in to her triangle. There might be a flaw in this plan… I could only just wiggle the tips of my fingers on the arm that was trapped, so I kind of had to squeeze her leg a few times to tap; the pause at the end is her pulling back to ask if that was a tap, and me saying that it was.

Third place match, Leah again:

Andrew had already pointed out that I should not be trying de la Riva and other hook stuff in nogi, so I was trying very hard not to.

Blue Belt

Weight class

Laurie from BETA:

I nod a lot in this match, because I’m hearing what Justin is saying but am half a step behind in the execution, so I’m nodding to say that I’ll do it next time. She had an americano with her legs and bridged hard, which popped my elbow. So I had to sit around with an ice pack (and a handy tourniquet to hold it on that Justin fashioned out of my belt) until the next match.

Melanie from BETA:

She had a death grip on my sleeve in the opening minute, and at one point had stretched my gi so far that my arm, fully extended, was only around the normal elbow point. At the end here, I didn’t actually tap; I was posting in reaction to her kicking me in the head trying to get me over for the omoplata. But the ref thought that I did because I had posted twice in a row. So, yeah…

Absolute

Michelle from Dave Trader:

I knew what was coming every step along the way, but I could do nothing about it. That was in tight and deep and fast. Lol, air-tapping because I couldn’t think or move fast enough to find a surface to tap on, and the lights were gonna go out fast.


My elbow was stiff & aching since the moment it was popped and kept that up all day. But it seems to be fine and will recover in a week or two. The knee… it felt “off” all day long, and became increasingly stiff, with some areas of pain, as the day went on. I spread on the Tiger Balm after my matches. (Lol, and then as I walked through the venue, I heard people saying, “Dude, what is that smell?!” “Wow, that smells like a lot of Tiger Balm!” Yeah, hi, that’s me.)


I am so very disappointed in myself. I couldn’t even score a single point. I did nothing about takedowns. I couldn’t do anything that even resembled grappling. My brain was only working in half-finished sentences, getting so fixated on the first half of something and completely neglecting the second. Thank goodness Justin and Andrew were there to coach me, or it would have been even uglier than it already was.

And now my other knee might be messed up. Last night I had to sleep with the most restrictive brace on it because any small movement was painful. It’s just so frustrating. I finally get to the point where I’m not worried about training after the first knee and I’m starting to work on being assertive and not just passive, and now this. All I want to do is curl up somewhere and cry.

Well, definitely a week off from all training. Then, we’ll see how the knee is doing and figure out where to go from there.

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Tournaments & Tabatas

Last week’s BJJ training focused on tournament prep for those going, so there was much rolling and conditioning. My knee was not a fan.

I did go to the tournament in Richmond, though I mostly worked tables and didn’t see many of my teammates compete. We had 3 women competing — Sara, Aubrey, and Janet — and I saw some of their matches. Some really good women there this weekend, and I was very sad that I didn’t get the chance to get trounced by them.

Then there was a game of Munchkin that started at 11pm (I think that must be a secret rule — all games must start at 11pm).


But, I’ve finally done something about this slow-recovering joint: I joined a nearby gym (0.7 miles from my house!). I met with the trainer on Friday. Today was my first day — group class at 6am.

I did actually make it on time, which if you know me in the mornings is just about a miracle. The gym has a cycle of 18 workouts (6 days a week, so 3 weeks worth); today was #14: warmup, push press, tabata hell (8 tabata [20s on/10s rest] of inverted row, air squats, situps, rowing, & pushups), then RDL x 20. My forearms were lost after inverted rows, my quads were done after squats; couldn’t walk again after rowing; weakest pushup attempts you’ve ever seen.

All day long I’ve been a pile of mush. My body is all bewildered at what I did to it. Yeah, tonight’s BJJ class is gonna be a blast…

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Homework Assignment: The Perfect Tournament Round

My homework assignment from Kintanon was to create a “perfect” tournament round. Good assignment — small, concrete, and still useful.

  1. Clinch: Sleeve & collar control
  2. Takedown:
    1. backwards trip (does this have a name?); land in side control
    2. single leg-wrap takedown (does this have a name? where you wrap your own leg around theirs and then drop straight down for the takedown); land in top half guard; pass to side control
  3. Position: knee-on-belly
  4. Finish:
    1. baseball bat choke
    2. to mount and armbar
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Day 2: Choking out Girls

I slept like a log Friday night. It. Was. Awesome. I was even disoriented when I got up in the morning, and it took me a few minutes to figure out where I was and what was going on.

My weight ended up not mattering. There were 2 tiny Intermediate girls (under 113.5!), and then one girl — Krystol — in the weight class above me (so two above my normal class), so she and I were combined into one weight class. She was strong!! This one’s actually on video — Addie noticed my camera sitting on the table, so she recorded my match for me. Thank you! 🙂

I turtled (I know, I know) to prevent her getting the pass points. I did get the half-guard sweep that Justin taught me back in November/December, that I’ve been working to get; nearly had it a second time, too. I remember her going for the arm triangle, and I thought, “Oh, no problem, I’ll just get on top and get out… Er… that’s pretty tight… er… I’m going to pass out… tap! tap! tap!” Barbara told me after the match that Krystol’s go-to submission is the arm triangle. Oh wells.

But none of the other girls signed up for the Intermediate Absolute and couldn’t be talked in to it, so I only got that one. I stuck around the girls’ table, though, and watched and helped. Addie, Jen Flannery, Rachel Demara, Rosie, Marissa, Tracey Goddell — there was some good grappling going on out there.

Kaila (I finally know how to spell his name for reals) was going on the mat next to us, so I darted over there to yell for him. I don’t think he won a match, but he was also competing in Intermediate for the first time. He’s trained long enough to be in that division, though he did take a nearly 2-year break in between. Once his nogi divisions were finished, he left.

Kaila (left)

Cheryl took over running the women’s table. Right after I started helping her with the brown belt women’s (2 brown belt womenses!), Andrew came over and pulled all blue belt women over to a mat on the far side. So I didn’t get to see any of the other women’s matches. *sad*

There were 4 girls in my weight class (well, it was combined again, with the next class up), so I reminded myself that I had to win at least 1 fight to get a medal. That was my goal — just win one.

I don’t have any pictures or video from these because my camera battery was dying and my iPod suddenly wasn’t charged. *boo*

First fight was against Missi from Richmond BJJ. She came to Grapple Camp on Monday only, I think, and I didn’t roll with her then, so I didn’t know what to expect. I don’t remember much of how the match went except that I got my current go-to open guard sweep (similar to a push version of a scissor sweep), and wound up on top and in good positions a few times and thinking, “Whoa, hey, how I’d get here?” I didn’t have anyone to corner me, so I was listening to her coach. She fell into my guard with one arm in and one arm out. Her coach yelled, “Watch the triangle!” And my lightning-fast mind said, “Duh…. what? Oh!” At least my body knows the mechanics of that one without me having to think too much. Wowzers, I won a match!

Second fight was against Krystol again. Alright, note to self: do not let her get that arm triangle! I did turtle again (I know, I know), and she did try for it again, but I think I got myself in a better position first before coming on top and escaping this time. Dear goodness but 6 minutes feels like a long time! Again, I was getting lots of positions and passes and pressure — even attempting submissions! — and thinking, “Who is this grappling here? I like her!” But honestly, for some reason I thought I was down on points; I think I thought I wasn’t getting good enough control or something to get the points, and she seemed to be sweeping and getting out a lot.

Had a double lapel choke right as time expired and was thinking, “Must… finish… to… win…” But she held out and defended. When time was called, I got a look at the scorecard: 17-2. And somehow, I thought her score was on the left. It wasn’t until Elyse flipped us around that I finally realized that that was my score on the left. I won a match. I won a finals match. Squeee!

There were also four girls listed for the blue belt absolute, so again, goal was to win at least 1 to get a medal. The table wanted to start the blue belt absolute right away, but I was listed first on that bracket and definitely needed a break. I told them I needed a few minutes, so they went ahead with the other match in the bracket — Jessy and Maria — while I rested and tried to massage my forearms into relaxing. No go. But while I was waiting, Liz came up and said she had to drop out of the absolute because she’d tweaked her hurt knee in her weight division match. So we let the other two girls rest (I think they started another division on the mat) while the bracket was redrawn, though the result of the first match was kept.

Eventually Maria and I were called for the second match. She was little and squirmy. Argh! Grappling little people is hard! (Yes, I know, I’m often the little person that everyone’s complaining about, lol.) I remember her coach calling out that she was ahead in points, so I fought for a sweep or pass — probably my favorite open guard sweep — and landed in mount. She might have gotten out, and then I had to do it again. Or not; I can’t remember. Not sure how the points ended up, though I think I was ahead, when I got to mount and slid around to technical mount and really started digging for her arm. I got it out, jerked toward her head to break her grip, and sat back. She tapped. Whoa, I won another one! What’s going on here?! I dunno, but I like it. 😛

Another break, though I really couldn’t feel my forearms at that point. Energy level = non-existent. Lovely. Finally got out there again to face Jessy. I knew she was tough, though I’d never rolled with her before, but OMG she’s also very strong. From standing, she started with some grips that I could not break. She kept trying to throw me. I think I butt-flopped to avoid being thrown. (I figured it would hurt, more than anything!) But then I spent the rest of the round not stopping her from passing, not stopping her from taking my back, not stopping her from just about anything. At one point, she had a body triangle from the back/side and was trying a bow-and-arrow choke; she also had a grip on my top pant leg and was driving it in to the other. So my legs were pinned, my hips were immobilized, and both hands were fighting that choke. I really couldn’t move at all. Elyse came around in front of me and said she needed me to move so she knew I hadn’t passed out. I waved, lol.

Then Jessy finally switched to mount and sat on my ribs. Owie, my poor ribs. I think they might be bruised from the body triangle. I was trying everything to not have to tap to pressure, and just barely resisted. She eventually isolated my arm and did the same armbar that Chrissy showed me at Addie’s Open Mat! Hey! I tried getting my arm out and couldn’t, and her weight was still on my ribs; I knew I was done, and really didn’t want her to feel the need to force that tap, so verbally tapped since the other hand was pinned.

So that gave me 2nd in the women’s blue belt absolute.

After some post-match rehydration, protein shake, and text messaging, I settled back in at the mat I’d just competed on and helped run the table for the rest of the day. I wish my camera had been working and I could’ve gotten a picture of Elyse reffing the men’s blue belt 188.5 – 215: really big boys, really little ref.

Rosie (top) and Tracey
Addie (left), Keith (center), Marissa (right) — and Klint in the foreground doing… something…
Rachel (top) and Tracey

Bonus Sunday Training

I think some of us must be certifiably insane.

All Saturday night, my neck was so stiff. I had trouble falling asleep, too, because I just couldn’t get comfortable. (Not the air mattress’ fault — all the bumps and bruises and aches and pains.) I think I finally dozed off around 3 or so. Woke up a little later, and my neck was still stiff.

But, I headed out with Chrissy and Elyse to Yamasaki Training Center to meet TheMikeByrd and Rosie for some post-tournament rolling. I figured my neck would loosen up as I rolled, and it did eventually. I rolled with everyone there, then changed and drove home.

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