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.

Day 1: Dress Shopping

Drove down Thursday night to Jennie’s house, west of Richmond. Early Friday morning, we drove about an hour east of Richmond (~2 hr drive) to her fiance’s parents’ house to meet up with them. We ate breakfast with them, then I drove all five of us women — me, Jennie, her future mother-in-law, and her two future sisters-in-law — down to Hampton to the first bridal shop. (Which was, coincidentally, in the same shopping center that Chrissy, Maggie, and I stopped in for Starbucks on the way home last week. As I pulled in, I started thinking, “Hey, wait, this looks familiar…”)

We had an 11 am appointment, but the lady who was supposed to be helping us had apparently booked another appointment at the same time (?) and so didn’t do much for us at all after pointing us at the dresses (goodness, there’s a lot!) — and then gave us a cheery “Thanks for letting me help you today!” as we left. Whatever. Jennie really didn’t have anything specific in mind, so between me and his sisters we picked out a few styles we liked and started trying them on. Jennie did give us the advice to only choose between two at one time — always put back the one you like less of the two and keep the one you like. That actually helped a lot.

We started with short dresses. The three of us are all short, though, so the first “short” dress came down nearly to our ankles! We finally found “the one” among the short dresses, and then Jennie started bringing over long dresses “just to see.” Shortly thereafter, we found “the one” again, long this time, and we all decided that we liked it better than the short one. The wedding is in January, too, so long works a bit better.

Jennie had made another appointment back closer to Richmond, in Williamsburg, so we headed that way. But the interstate was backed up, and then our alternate route was down from four lanes to one because of an accident! (Apparently I am the Jonah when it comes to traffic…) Traffic got moving after that but was still heavy, and we had to avoid the interstate, so we got to the next appointment a little over an hour late. Jennie had called ahead and left a message saying we would be late.

Turned out not to be a problem, though — as we turned on the street for the shop, a road crew was just moving a “Road Closed” barricade off the street. The lady in the shop told us that she had only just been allowed in, that the big storm last night had downed trees, which had taken out power lines. The road had been closed all morning, and the power had been out. So we couldn’t have gotten there any earlier anyway. Jennie said later that if we’d gotten there on time and the road/store had been closed, she would have suggested going home at that point.

This was a much smaller store than the first, which was a large chain with every dress in many colors and sizes. This second was more of a boutique, keeping a small selection and often only 1 of each dress and that in a larger size. So while in the first store, I was picking out 4s to try on (which made me ridiculously happy, btw) and almost fit in 2s (my rib cage was just slightly too big), in this second store the smallest size was generally an 8 or 10. Once you were in the dress, though, the lady had some large clips — which reminded me of jumper cables — that she’d use to pull and hold the fabric in. One of the sisters is a size 0/2, so she didn’t even try anything on here.

We ended up with a long dress very similar in style to the one from the first store, but the quality seemed much better and the fabric was thicker. Price was nearly the same, too.

Stopped for dinner on the way back. I tried to get something small, but ended up with the biggest salad at the table! Ate just a little. After dropping them off, I had a nearly 2-hour drive to Ashland for the tournament weigh-ins. My GPS first decided to get me well and truly lost somewhere on the Colonial Parkway, and then eventually took pity on me and dumped me out on the interstate. I made it to weigh-ins nearly at the end. And I weighed in 5 lbs over my normal walking-around weight. Nearly 7 lbs over the cut off. I was prepared to strip if needed, but there’s no way my shirt and jeans weighed 7 pounds. So, um, yeah…

As I was driving away from the venue, I thought I must have done something wrong. Did I wear my shoes? Maybe my clothes are that heavy… When I got to my aunt’s, I double-checked on their scale. Nope, same. What the…?! I know it’s mostly water retention from sitting and standing and driving so much yesterday and today. Still, not fun.

A little tune-up

Open Mat-ish tonight. Not many of us there. I think the college students are starting to realize that finals and final projects are closing in fast. Though with all the new promotions, we only had 1 white belt there.

I think I injured myself while warming up before class. It might have involved breaking a certain little toe. Again. While doing practically nothing. Again. This level of clumsiness can’t be taught, folks. Raw natural talent, right here. Although, if you’re running a certain tournament that I’m attending this weekend, erm, no, I’m quite fine. Well, whatever’s wrong with me isn’t contagious, at least. 😉

Started out rolling with Buddy. Good warmup roll, and he lets me have space sometimes & lets me work and he doesn’t just crush me. He reminded me many times to keep my elbow locked down under half guard by D’Arcing me when I forgot. And to watch where my arms are by catching several triangles, though he let me work out from one. And to be aware of weird crazy things like no-arm legless triangles (I have no idea how it happened, either), Triple Threats, and some nutso roll thingy, as well as normal things like anacondas, armbars, and RNCs. He turtled for me a few times and even let me hit that turtle reversal once; the other times he did a switch to get out. Something to be aware of. From under turtle myself, I was trying to roll and switch to get out. Even strung several in a row there at one point, though I’m not sure if I ever landed on top; maybe back to guard. And he let me work several pendulum sweeps, and I remembered to overhook that arm and to stretch him out that way first and to bring my hips out further under his upper chest before trying to sweep — and they both worked wonderfully well. Couldn’t hold mount, though, and couldn’t scramble fast enough to get any good positions off it. He also passed my half guard consistently with the same reverse sit-through and pull the leg out. Tried several times to stop that, but came up with nothing that would work.

No idea how long we rolled; each pair was going at their own pace. Got a bit of a breather, and then Justin was finished rolling, so I went over to ask advice about stopping that half guard pass that Buddy was hitting. He reviewed several different options, including one slick swimming sweep (inside arm stretches behind your head; outside hip comes over and deep to their top hip; rotate over; now you’re in top half) and a Lockdown variation. He let me drill those a few times.

Then, with enough injuries and sore places and aching spots already, I decided I was done with rolling for the night. A few guys continued for a while longer. At some point, I was a grappling dummy. I just stretched out the rest of the time, and then worked out plans for going up to Richmond tomorrow. Two of the guys are coming, too.

I know I’ll be under 130, which is good. But I’m still trying not to eat too much until weigh-ins. It’s funny, neither of the guys are cutting, only I am. So they’re not concerned about getting up to weigh-ins and then eating, but that’s all I have on the brain.

Late update: I’m at 126.4 this morning. That’s nearly 6 pounds lost in a week despite my constant munching. And my toe is normal this morning, so I don’t think anything’s broken. Yay, good!

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.

I got beat by a girl!


I got beat by quite a few girls, actually, both white and blue. (Blue belts — real girl blue belts!) Sweet!

Women’s Open Mat, Richmond BJJ. Girls came from Philly, from Northern Virginia, from Virginia Beach. Alaina Hardie even came from Toronto!

My friend lives west of Richmond, so I left about an hour and a half early to make sure I had enough time to get there. Glad I did: the Richmond high schools were having graduation today at the Siegel Center at VCU, which is right down the block from Richmond BJJ, so there were cops everywhere directing traffic, streets were closed, and there were tons of pedestrians. I kept missing seeing the school because of all the traffic and pedestrians. Drove around for about 30 minutes trying to find the school and then find parking. Finally saw it, got parked about a block away, and walked over.

There was a class from 12 – 2, before the open mat. I had really thought about going, but am also really trying to take my “June = recovery” seriously. So, I got there about 1:30 to watch the end of the class. Eric Burdo was just finishing up teaching; I met Liz and signed in as they started rolling.

I was so nervous! Silly, but I was. My hands were shaking so badly when I signed in. Most of the other girls had gone to the class and were already on the mat. As they got toward the end of class time and rolling, one of the girls, Lisa, asked if I wanted to roll.

She was strong! (They all were. And quick and had tremendous pressure! Holy moly!) Just trying to move and feel her out. Found myself in the first few rolls under side control and mount a lot. Huh. Same place I end up in my classes. Hmm. So, there must be something that I’m doing wrong — especially, probably, when starting off — that backs me up until I let myself be put under side control and mount. Very interesting…

Several rolls — maybe 5 or 6? I lost count — with more girls than I can remember. (So hot in there, though: tired so quickly. But kept going :P). Rolled with one blue, Thea, who showed me a sweep from under scarf hold — set your feet out to the open side and then do a sit-up in to them. Feet out of the way is important; otherwise, you stuff your own situp. And then she showed me a half-guard escape, and by “showed me” I mean she put more shoulder pressure in my jaw than Tim ever has. Whoa. And she was everywhere, fast and tight, and sliding through tiny openings.

Saw a lot of things in my rolling that I need to fix. Some stuff that Tim has pointed out; others, that I’d noticed. Mostly, I seem to have started assuming that I’m going to get steamrolled by the guys and have started playing very passive and really not even trying anything. Haven’t been using any pressure or intensity, because that usually gets a more severe backlash from my partners. … And yet all the girls today were rolling with pressure and intensity and intent. I wanna roll like that. And I bet they didn’t get to there by rolling like I’ve been rolling recently and only rolling up with girls.

But, oh, my goodness, so much fun. Got to talk to a lot of the girls, too. As I’ve learned many times before and learned once again, I’m not unusual; they’re all going through the same things as I am. We talked about tournaments, sandbagging, how to get and keep girls, finding gis that fit, hemp gis, and I forget what else. Lots of girl bonding stuff, which I usually don’t get to do, even outside of class. I had fun. 🙂

And I got a new gi! A black one, which is what I was missing. Chrissy Linzy had a black Lucky gi that had shrunk, so I bought it off her. Fits perfect. 😮 Won’t be able to wear it to class for a while because Justin is still enjoying his new Lucky gi‘s shiny invincibility aura. And the pants are more faded (lovely charcoal!) than the jacket, so I’ll have to start washing the jacket quite a bit to get a uniform color. By the time it’s faded, Justin’s gi may not mind the company.

There’s another Open Mat, co-ed, tomorrow afternoon at Revolution BJJ. Since I now have a clean gi to wear ;), I’m gonna go there before heading home.