Tuesday, November 30, 2010

With knowledge we grow....

Found on the internet, anonymously written...

"We enter this world with nothing: no hate, no fear, no prejudice, no cares or worries, and no hidden demons. Only as we experience life do these things become part of us.

We should aspire to keep them at bay, and to be better today than we were yesterday. The spine which should support us all should consist of love, of self-control, of trust, respect, and of course, honesty.

Without these things we are nothing. Through our experience we learn to choose whether we will be good, or bad, and those choices are reflected in how others see us.

Make those choices wisely, for if you do, you will be loved by others, and comfortable in yourself.

Do not judge, for others may judge you the same. Have an open mind, and a gentle demeanour, for in all things the good in you will shine through, as long as you let it.

Do not pretend to be something you are not. If others cannot accept you for who you really are, they may not be worthy of knowing you anyway.

With Knowledge, We Grow. Live this way and at the right time you may leave this existence at peace with yourself, and the rest of the world."

Be a fly on the wall in his mind...

Ryron Gracie narrates some of his mid-flow-roll thoughts on another episode of Rolling Reflections for BJJWeekly... it's pretty cool!

I like how he says he tries to be present in the moment and observe for little tidbits or details that will improve his game.

Thanks to Francisco at Dstryr-SG for posting this.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Making progress.. one step forward, two back...

But at least I'm in the "one step forward" part of the progression. Funny how I'll go a week or two just feeling miserable-- crying, pouting, having horrible rolls, getting just creamed all over the place, complete ineptitude-- and then poof, have a couple good days in a row. That's been the lately for me.

I've had some really good rolls with upper belts who make me work for everything and then tell me what I did that resulted in success. (I seem to need that affirmative feedback which helps me isolate what part(s) of all my effort was the key part.) I've had a number of good rolls with whitebelts and bluebelts too, in which I play all kinds of experiments and try for the new stuff from my seminars. And yes, I know, I owe you so much-- Jacare, Royler, Zach Lamano. I have been tearing-my-hair-out busy lately with work and training and holiday stuff. Need to finish watching the Gracie Bullyproof set as well and shortly will be posting a short series on Gifts for the BJJ Lover in your life. But anyway-- I also tapped my first fully-resisting adult male purplebelt the other day and it felt so. freaking. good. :)

I am fully recovered from the stomach bug thank goodness. The Christmas tree is up and decorated-- have a few more things to hang around the house but otherwise decorationally I'm all ready for the Christmas party I throw on the 11th. (If you are here in Austin that Saturday night, you are invited. Email me.)

I'm a lot happier than I was a couple weeks ago. Combination of things: jiu jitsu is looking up (but that's a circular thing too) and I'm reaching some peace with big decisions in my life... and that it's the holiday season doesn't hurt. I screwed up one of my big holiday traditions (listening to the Nutcracker while I cook Thanksgiving dinner, but I was too sick to care) but I am back on track with the rest.

I'll finish babbling and let you get back to your Cyber Monday shopping (ahem-- did anyone get that Shoyoroll Batch 8 gi that was out for 12 hours only on Friday???)

So yesterday I did class, it was all on halfguard, some passing techniques I don't usually use but I like them and need to add them to my repertoire. I had a good roll with Dan, a super powerful brownbelt who is smaller than most of the guys and has taken me under his wing to show me how us smaller peeps can make use of our attributes. Really enjoyed that. Then I noticed that we had a female visitor-- the girlfriend of a local blackbelt who came by to train with our head instructor-- and she was sitting on the side of the mat. She's a whitebelt, but has been training a while and recently won her divisions at NAGA so she's good. She told me she wanted to roll with me at the Royler seminar but it was pretty crowded and I had plans afterwards so I couldn't then. Anyway, I invited her to roll yesterday and it was interesting.

She's small, like Rebecca the 4 str blue at my academy, and she seemed fairly timid at the handslap, so I proceeded with kind of a mellow, happy-go-lucky attitude and a decision to play guard and see what she had. After all, she's still a whitebelt, she's a small girl, I probably have 20-22 lbs on her, and there's no need to go apeshit. But she is waaaay stronger than Rebecca, way more aggressive once you get going, and within the first 2-3 minutes, managed to knee me squarely in the mouth. I quickly reassessed my mellow approach and switched to more of a top game, smother-her, tire-her-out strategy. I was irked that she got makeup all over my gi but I suppose it's fair since I bled all over hers. She tried to muscle me into an armbar from guard but she's not strong enough to make that work. She has an amazingly powerful upa and protected her nearside arm very well, but left her farside arm out for too long. I almost americana'd but ended up armbarring her. (I hate when you have someone locked out fully and they have no possible defense, but they make you bridge into them to force the tap. I have complete confidence in my control but still, why force the issue? if they have you dead to rights, tap, move on.)

She tried to kneebar me a few times but left herself open to some knee on belly. She also got snarled up around my leg in some weird twisting kneebar/heelhooky kind of thing. I didn't feel at risk from the position but I also had no faith in her control or judgment, which confirmed my prior view that I don't like it when spazzy whitebelts try for kneebars and heelhooks.

Finally, I just smashed her from mount and then pulled off the mounted triangle transition I learned in the Jacare seminar to one of the sweetest ever, most satisfyingest triangle finishes I've ever had the pleasure to savor.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Thanksgiving report.

The first time I cooked a full Thanksgiving meal by myself, I was nine years old. My mom and dad were divorced when I was six, and my mom worked in a hospital. She had to work that day, and I made Rock Cornish game hens with a wild rice stuffing, brussels sprouts, and a spice cake for dessert. It was a decent start! The next time I made Thanksgiving I was 20, and I've been doing it ever since, minus a year or two when I had the holiday with family. In 1994, I lived in the Chi Phi fraternity (an apartment complex to be honest) and actually used my neighbors' ovens as well as my own. Never had any major disasters like raw turkey or whatever, thank goodness. Anyway-

I started writing down my "party plan" in minute-by-minute detail a couple years ago when the number of guests and dishes exceeded my IQ x the number of ovens at my disposal. The holiday has become a fairly smooth-running process for me, adjusting a little every year according to the potluck offerings. It's a good thing too, because this year I got sick.

The day before Thanksgiving is usually prep day for me-- chopping, sauteeing, making the start of the gravy, etc. I thought the light over the chopped celery was beautiful-

I made cranberry sauce with jalapenos:

but still, no one eats more than a spoonful or so. It's silly that I keep making the stuff, I don't even like it! But it seems like less of a Thanksgiving without it.

This year, I helped a good friend make some homemade desserts for his family's shindig.. my first ever cheesecake (a pumpkin one) with caramel sauce and a spice cake with cream cheese frosting. I had a really good time cooking for him, though I admit, the thought of making my first ever cheesecake, for an unknown audience, and not being able to taste it or check it and make sure it was okay before I sent it off to be consumed, at a big event like a family Thanksgiving-- that's pretty bold. So I was mighty nervous! Especially considering the leak...

Yeah, the leak. So, to bake a cheesecake without it cracking, you have to cook it in a hot water bath. It helps equalize the temperature all around the cake. You wrap the springform cake pan in aluminum foil, then set the pan in a bigger roasting pan full of simmering water and put the whole thing in the oven. Because water transmits heat differently than air, it helps the baking cheesecake heat more evenly and then no cracks. Well, when I took the (admittedly gorgeous looking) cheesecake out of the hot water bath, and unwrapped the cake pan, there was water on the inside of the foil. If the springform pan is really tight, there's a chance no water got inside to spoil the crust.. but if water gets in, then who knows, it might be a soggy mess. I was really concerned, but by then, it was too late, so I chalked it up to experience. But if I can figure out how to get the pictures he sent me from my phone into this blog, you will see it came out great :)

Then I went to jiu jitsu, where in rolling with a 230 lb monster blue belt, I got my shoulder cranked good (he kind of laid down on me, when both my arms were on one side of my body. This is something one should never do in jiu jitsu, obviously.) And then I went home and did all the chopping, prepping, and so on I would have done during the day. I was all happy about the coming holiday until about 11pm, when I suddenly had a very unsettling and unhappy feeling in my tum.

1am: Deathly sick. Sitting on the toilet, with a trashcan in my lap, throwing up with a velocity and violence heretofore unseen. By the way-- I've always been told, and had experienced, that if you don't look down when throwing up, it won't go up your nose. Well, when you throw up THIS hard, no matter where you look it's going to wash out your sinuses like a firehose. It sucked. I broke out into a cold sweat, showered, and went back to bed.

Repeated the process at 3am and 4am and 5am. Woke up with my alarm at 6am (for jiu jitsu of course) and said screw it, I can't even move! Dragged out of bed at 8 and got Thanksgiving going. I tell you, if I wasn't so practiced at doing the whole turkey and such, I would have ordered pizzas. But I had a plan all written out, for example:

9:10- oven to 425 and sweet potatoes into cold oven 30 min
9:30- turkey in oven 45 min 425
9:40- Take foil off sw potatoes, put back in another 15-25 min
10:00- make dressing; check sw potatoes- brush with glaze, flip, glaze again
10:20- take sw pot out of oven, flip turkey; oven to 325- turkey in 1-1.5hrs
10:45- put stuffing in crock pot on high 60 min
11:00- assemble green bean casserole
11:30- check turkey doneness; when turkey is done, deglaze pan, finish gravy
11:45- turn dressing in crockpot on low for 4 hours and stir
12:00- set table

so I was pretty much on autopilot. In between everything I laid on the couch and tried to sleep. I drank a quart of apple juice throughout the morning and managed to have everything clean and tidy and beautiful when my first guests showed up an hour early at 2pm.

The flowers came out really nicely-- some kind of exotic thing, plus snapdragons and seeded eucalyptus.

The turkey took an extra hour (WHY? HOW? especially when last year's was an hour FAST! I don't get it... like how my body doesn't do math when it comes to calories and losing/gaining weight... I just don't get it.)

Every year we get less formal. I've gone from the wedding china, family silver and crystal, and handmade lace tablecloths to serving buffet-style in the kitchen and normal plates and flatware. What really counts is having my family of choice around me (and yes, ease of cleanup.)

I have so much to be grateful for-- first, my husband for totally picking up the slack for me yesterday-- friends who've been around forever, and new friends... good food and (today) the appetite to eat it-- jiu jitsu....

Thanks for reading my blog, too. I'm glad you're here with me!

So today is a busy one-- Black Friday means $1 poinsettias at Home Despot, and jiu jitsu twice today.. putting up the Christmas tree. Hopefully this weekend I watch all the Gracie Bullyproof DVDs and I am planning a series on "Gifts for the BJJ Lover in Your Life."

Hope you are enjoying your post-turkey lull!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving is close...

Tonight after competition class I have to raid the grocery store. I'm going to be cooking all day tomorrow. Have about 10 people coming over for dinner on Thursday, and even though it's potluck-style, I will still be cooking a majority of the food (which is fine by me.)

I'm making turkey, gravy, stuffing with sausage, apples and pecans... brown sugar-glazed roasted sweet potatoes, cranberry-jalapeno relish, traditional green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes. Other people are bringing a broccoli cheese casserole, bread, desserts, and wine. Should be good times. Oh, and tomorrow I have a treat-- one of my training partners is coming over for kind of a cooking lesson, kind of to have me make desserts for his contribution to his fam's dinner. LOL-- I love to cook, so it's no biggie, but it does kind of make me chuckle. It's pressure, too, and I really hope my pumpkin cheesecake doesn't crack.

Here's a little treat courtesy of Francisco over at DstryrSG... highlights of Shaolin Ribeiro v. Leo Vieira..

And if you like techno-house or electronic music... dude, this guy's dancing cracks me UP. It's fun stuff :)


Saturday, November 20, 2010

A bottle of wine...

I owe you several things-- seminar reviews of Jacare, Zach Lamano, and Royler, plus a gi review of the Ouano women's fit. Also I just received Gracie Bullyproof and it's HUGE! 11 DVDs! so I'm ditching gardening today and watching that, plus class, plus tonight BJ v Matt on UFC... it's a busy one! My husband has an exam on Monday so I need to keep myself occupied while he studies.

Anyway, all that preparatory to saying I haven't had time to do a decent post so instead I'm sharing a cool video and then this story my cousin sent me.

Here's Oli Geddes showing an omoplata from half...

And, the funny:

A woman and a man are involved in a car accident on a snowy, cold Sunday morning; it's a bad one.

Both of their cars are totally demolished, but amazingly neither of them is hurt. God works in mysterious ways. After they crawl out of their cars, the man is yelling about women drivers.
The woman says, 'Wow, just look at our cars! There's nothing left, but we're unhurt. This must be a sign from God.'

Flattered, the man replies, 'I agree completely, this must be a sign from God! But you're still at fault...women shouldn't be allowed to drive.'

The woman continues, 'And look at this, here's another miracle. My car is completely demolished but this bottle of wine didn't break. Surely God wants us to drink this wine and celebrate our good fortune. She hands the bottle to the man.

The man nods his head in agreement, opens it and drinks half the bottle and then hands it back to the woman.

The woman takes the bottle, puts the cork back in and hands it back to the man.

The man asks, 'Aren't you having any?'

The woman replies, 'No. I think I'll just wait for the police...'

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is this on your Thanksgiving table?

Read about the Turcakey here.

Leaving my ego at the door.

I'm too competitive when I roll and it's getting in the way of my learning. Allie just wrote a great blog post dealing with perfectionism and its impact on training, which prompted a LOT of reflection and self-analysis on my part.

I've never been a girly-girl in the sense of being intimidated by close physical proximity. I say that because if I had, I think a little extra smashiness would be acceptable from me (even worth encouraging) just to compensate.

But I stepped onto a slippery slope a while back and just realized how far down I've tumbled.

I don't have a good enough anything to merit compliment, except for maybe my crossface. But I am easily motivated by praise. (I'd rather let a pack of wild dogs eat me alive than run more than a few miles, but if you tell me I'm a good girl, I'll keep running, and running, and running..) So, a while back (months ago) during a roll here and there with some people known for their rough, smashy, even rude style, I know there were times I got pissed off by their crossface, their wristlock, their overall smashy style. So I tried to smash them back-- and they said "good girl." A monster was born.

I couldn't hold people down or make them give up what I wanted, but I discovered a blend of pain compliance, legit pressure, and roughness that seemed to help make up for my lack of real size or strength. I passed halfguard without getting swept as much, I had more time to work for arms and necks in cross sides, I got free from attacks. This positively reinforced my roughness.. and then I started getting these rueful, bantering comments and smiles about my mean crossface and my incredible pressure. Well, that's just like watermelon on a hot day...quite the reward.

But now I'm finding out that I don't have the body type to be a legit smashy player (especially against my guy teammates) AND when push comes to shove and people get irked by things I do which hurt, they don't want to roll with me as much. Or when they do, they go a little harder, a little heavier. And then a cycle is born. I go harder in response, but I don't have the same physical attributes or skill set, so when they win, we're probably BOTH upset and frustrated; I blame it on being muscled, I push harder next time, rinse, repeat.

I crested that cycle the other day when a good friend got mad at me. I was going for a farside armbar from cross side and I "stabbed them in the heart" (as instructed) with my hipside elbow as I rotated around. Apparently I got right into some tender cartilage and they yelped... and then they got mad because they had sensed my tension (frustration at not winning!) and interpreted the move as retaliation.

Well, nothing tells you that you have a problem quite like a friend thinking you'd do something to hurt them on purpose out of childish anger. I've done a lot of soul searching since, and another friend and training partner told me that yes, several of my favorite people feel like I am pretty rough.. not that I do it on purpose to cause pain, but it is painful.

I was crushed. What I want above ALL else in jiu jitsu is smooth elegant fluid effortless jits. I want to work WITH my partner and my attributes. I would love, someday, for someone to say that they simply couldn't do anything I didn't allow, that they had only one option for movement, but that I seemed to use no force or energy to accomplish it. And I want to have joy on the mats in the meantime. Joy with my friends and eagerness to train together. I don't want to be a meathead. It doesn't matter that I'm short, soft and small-- my knuckles still hurt and my gi can still smother. And training isn't a tournament.

Aside from all that, I want to be happy while I'm training. So maybe I need the whole self-talk about learning is more important than winning, and no matter how hard I try I can't "make" myself learn any faster or do any better just by pushing harder.

I need help backing off of the competitiveness that has been a part of my psyche since forever. I want to keep on loving jiu jitsu without being sad and frustrated and mad.

So, open apology to my training partners for those times you thought to yourself that I was being extra rough. It wasn't intentional, I was just being ignorant, too hard on myself, and too accepting of sloppy, imprecise bullshit. Call me on it please, so I can learn how to be different.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Make your last [edit: NEXT] rep your best one.

Donald lectured us last night and I really took it to heart.

He's the kind of instructor and leader that you count yourself blessed to have exposure to. If this were the military, I'd walk through machine gun fire for him. (Shit, if I thought it would make me a better jits fighter, I'd do it anyway, military or not.)  He doesn't shout or denigrate with cutting words, but his quiet patience and (sometimes) disappointment are far more moving, inspiring, motivating.

I didn't feel like class was particularly sloppy, chatty or lazy, but I guess he perceived some of these qualities in our movement and sat us down twice (TWICE!) for a talking-to. He emphasized the importance of quality drilling with attention to detail, urging us to demand the very best effort from ourselves. I don't recall his exact words, but I'll use quotes anyway, for effect:

"This is competition class, people. You're here because you want to be competitors, or because you want to get something more out of your training than you did in another class. So don't just put in your two minutes of whatever the drill is and then expect to get better by osmosis. You don't get better by training with better people-- you get better by training better. Make your last rep your best one.  Escaping something in finals of a big tournament might depend on you putting in ten quality reps, not three and then jacking around.  And you can't just come here, do it here, and forget about it for another week.  You have to be drilling this outside of class.  These situations don't just spontaneously come up in regular rolling.  Make them happen, and practice with devotion.

Jiu jitsu should bring joy to your life.  If you're having personal issues, if you feel you're not improving, then train differently or don't train at all.  You are spending money to come here and learn and if you're unhappy here, don't come.  And if you're here, be fully here.  Get mad at yourself or do whatever it takes if you keep making the same mistakes over again-- but really make quality and technicality your goals."

He could have been speaking straight to me.  I don't think I could have listened to that lecture without weeping a week ago, but I've been doing better the last couple days and so I was able to hear what he said and take it constructively.  I felt guilty for apparently wasting his time (though I didn't think I'd been too talkative or lazy, I did realize I wasn't always fully present or trying my hardest to maximize the number of reps, the quality of my movement etc.)  I know he's super busy with work and rarely has time to train himself, much less give to us all... so I was warmed by the thought of his generosity to us and motivated to go out and do battle in his name.  (Geez, crusade much anyone?  It's the Catholic in me coming out!)

After class, a couple of us were standing around and we all individually thought he had been speaking straight to each of us.  Me because I know I've been down in the dumps a bit lately; one person because they had been texting Donald with their self-criticisms and doubts, another because of their drag-tail demeanor when they started class.  In a way it was maybe like the horoscope-- appropriate in a general way at all times, and useful regardless of timing-- but I do think Donald has that rare gift of sensitivity that avoids maudlin sentimentality.  He knows when to push and when to pull. 

Oh, and one other thing he said that I liked... when you're in a tough spot-- tell yourself "I am the best in the world at escaping this, and when I get out, I'm going to f*ck you up."

And yeah-- I want to be head and shoulders better than everyone I fight.  Sure, I started late in life, I'm short and less than naturally gifted, I don't have the right mindset all the time... but I can devote myself to this art and chase it with everything I've got.  I don't mind.  It's worth it.

Lastly... happy birthday Daddy. You'd be 91 today.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Recent updates...

Oh! Look-- there's new posts on that BJJ Anonymous site.

Last weekend was just jam packed. I attended the Romero "Jacare" Cavalcanti seminar up in Ft. Worth on Saturday and will be posting a review probably tomorrow. I also attended a Zach Lamano wrestling seminar on Sunday (ditto on the review.) Spent a lot of time with friends, which was restorative and cheering. Didn't get enough sleep, but whatever, sleep when I'm dead. Work is still beating me up, and I have an idea for a blog post on tournaments which I will try to pop up this afternoon. Just received the complete Gracie Bullyproof DVD series from Rener Gracie and I will be watching and reviewing it soon, so you parents can put in Santa requests as need be.

The Gaslamp Killer show sucked :( GLK and Daedalus were cool to listen to during the sound check, but the actual show started at 10pm (Sunday night) with an opening DJ, Samiyam, who suckled scrotal sack. I was too tired to stay much later so I bailed before GLK and Daedalus actually got on stage.

Bonobo (Simon Green) is coming to Austin this Thursday night with Tokimonsta.

Mitch has been acclimating to his new job but burning the candle at both ends because he's also in school full time and it's getting towards finals. Seems like we never see each other but in passing. Hopefully we can take a moment or two off this weekend.

Oh, and there's a GREAT op-ed piece over on the Washington Post today...

"Faces of a deadly habit

Richard Cohen
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

With apologies to Jonathan Swift, I have a modest proposal of my own. Instead of the government requiring cigarette packs and cartons to feature large warning labels designed to shock, sicken and otherwise make the point that smoking can kill - a toe tag on a corpse, for instance - a photo of Louis C. Camilleri would do quite nicely. He is the chairman and chief executive of Philip Morris International. Louis, stand up and take a bow.

You, too, Richard Burrows, chairman of British American Tobacco, and Daniel M. Delen, chief executive of R.J. Reynolds. You gentlemen should also be known and celebrated for your genius at selling a product that sickens and kills. It is not anyone who can do that - indomitably selling and marketing when your customer base is huddled in doorways or too young to realize that a puff here and a puff there, and inevitably you are sharing a smoke with the grim reaper. These men do not get half the attention they deserve.

I have always wondered how anyone can work in the tobacco game. It's not that all the studies are not in and the verdict has not come down: Tobacco kills. Lung cancer will take about 157,000 American lives this year - good people, nice people, people like me, in fact, who started smoking to be cool and then found themselves addicted. I still miss the stuff, the rush, the virtually sexual release from lighting up, the nicotine triggering an onset of dopamine - focusing the mind, twittering the senses, occupying the hands, soothing, comforting, assuring. My friend. My loyal friend. My cigarettes. I fear you will betray me yet.

Now these gentlemen who suckered me into subsidizing a disease that might still kill - there is no statute of limitation on such foolishness - are out colonizing the rest of the world. The New York Times tells us that in Indonesia "cigarette ads run on TV and before movies; billboards dot the highways; companies appeal to children through concerts and sports events; cartoon characters adorn packages; and stores sell to children." Indonesia collects about $2.5 billion in annual revenue from Philip Morris International alone.

There is no good reason why the people responsible for selling the product should not be better known. When they visit their children's schools, kids ought to be able to point them out and say, "There's Mr. Pellegrini [Matteo Pellegrini, Philip Morris's president for Asia.]. He sells cigarettes to children." Or, "There's Mr. Orlowsky [Martin L. Orlowsky, CEO of Lorillard]. He makes cigarettes, which kill lots and lots of people." All these fellows ought to be recognizable at the mall and the club and, especially, when they are visiting anyone at the hospital for almost any disease. Heart, lung, stomach . . . even possibly Alzheimer's - there is almost no part of the body that cigarettes don't affect.

It is said that "behind every great fortune there is a crime." This is not always true nor is it always true that lying is essential to capitalism. It is merely useful and ordinary, so when a businessman touts his product as the very, very best, we forgive him his little lie or don't even notice it. The creeping, insidious amorality of conducting business might explain why we don't demand that cigarette executives account for what they do. After all, they sell the only legal product known to mankind that, if used as directed, might have you spitting blood in the long term and out of wind in the short. For this, they are well paid.

We former smokers are an intolerant lot. We are motivated by regret and rage. We have been suckered and sucker-punched, lied to repeatedly and fooled in our juvenile years into taking a course that we can only partly remedy. The lies of the cigarette industry are legion, and it thrives today because its customers are addicted. The industry should hold its board meetings in an alley.

So what do you have to say for yourself, Murray S. Kessler, president of Lorillard, and Paul Adams, chief executive of British American Tobacco, and Walton T. Carpenter, senior vice president for R.J. Reynolds? Why not have your faces on the cigarette packs so you can be identified, acknowledged, pointed out for what you do and how you make a living - so your kids can ask you why they see your picture when some fool teenager lights up in the back of the schoolyard? Gentlemen, say cheese - and put your face where you make your money."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gaslamp Killer!

Check this... GLK is coming to Austin and I'm going to his show with some friends Sunday night!

I totally dig that he starts out with stuff from the Art of Noise, which I was crazy about when I was just a baby...

Why blogging is hard...

A while back Dev said he was done blogging. I felt for him, sometimes after you write a really good post (hypothetically I mean) then later you're like, whoa, how can I measure up?

I mean, sometimes I think I don't really write ANY outstanding posts, but one or two will touch a nerve or explore some common ground and people will tell me "yeah! exactly!" So that's pretty much as close as I get to a good one. At least I feel like I have accomplished my goal, which is to connect with someone out there and feel a little less alone on the only path of jiu jitsu and life (mine apparently) that doesn't seem to be bursting with success and rainbow sparkles

and chocolate all the time.

I realized part of why I might be feeling so blue lately is that I stopped my daily read of The God Of Cake. So I went back to reread it, and sure as shizzle, I laughed aloud, and had to recite along with the little girl

with my little girl cakevoice... "Cake. Caaake. Cake cake cake." ad nauseum until the guy whose office is next to mine walked by my open door and asked if I had a cold.
Apparently my little girl cakevoice sounds like coughing or a hairball or something.. Anyways...

So the blogger who wrote The God of Cake wrote about the difficulties of blogging. And I felt a kinship with her. Except, alas, I have NO RUM IN MY OFFICE. And no drawing skills.

So I'll go to lunch open mat and get choked a bit. After all I didn't get choked enough this morning.


Loop choke from half guard.

Another good solid basic from Oli Geddes and Black Eagle...

And a tai otoshi :)

And for my report of the moment...

I feel like I am slogging through quicksand. Did morning training with mixed results. Rolled exclusively with bluebelt Phil and my read of the rolls was very different from his. I felt like I was completely dominated, although I was rather happy with most of my attempts at passing. I also almost nailed a cross collar choke while he was passing my guard, but I let up when I felt him lift his head because I thought he was going for the armbar (but it was because the choke was so tight he was freaking out, he says.) I got tired pretty quickly, perhaps due to 4th night in a row of crappy notsleeping, perhaps due to 3 days straight of 3-a-days. He said I was doing really well, but I personally think he's just trying to be encouraging and kind. Oh well, either way, it was still fun, and it was MORE fun when I thought about it later, especially the choke.

Emotionally I'm no better than I was before and maybe a little worse. But I am going to keep my chin up, dammit.

Here's a funny:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Floating hips.

Butterfly sweeps are kind of fun to try to counter, because you try (I try) to do this flippy-hippy thing, to float over them and try to dodge my hips over, around, between their hooks.  Preposition hips, one might say.

I feel better today, despite having gotten another night of crappy, disturbed, unrestful sleep. I keep trying to align my heart with my head and mostly it's successful.  The issues, ideas, facts etc that have been disturbing my wa (Japanese term for harmony) are poking up at me in a lot of different ways, kind of like how hooks follow your legs in butterfly.  (Yeah, yeah, you didn't think the two paragraphs were connected, didja..)  So, I'm trying to do emotional jiu jitsu to counter all this CRAP that I allow to make me unhappy.  I'm trying to adjust my approach, my expectations, my metaphysical base to beat those hooks.

Good classes... morning, worked some nice guard passes with my buddy Jack who showed me a Rickson guard break.  Lunch, learned a new variation on the bow and arrow choke which blackbelt Phil called the compound bow, and rolled in a round robin that I felt really good about.  Only bluebelt Phil tapped me too, so that was awesome.  Then night, worked on a scissor halfguard pass, beating Donald's halfguard pass, the Relson sweep series, and sit up guard.  Had a great roll with Anthony, too.

So, I'm hanging in.  Thanks to all of you peeps with your friendly support.. it means a lot to me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Usually jiu jitsu is so all-consuming that when I do it, I don't think of anything else.  I can't keep a good song in my head, can't hear music that's playing, don't stress about work or anything else in my life-- all I see, hear, smell, feel, think is posture, pressure, position.

In fact, it's such a good painkiller, muscle relaxant, and all around nerve-tonic that I can escape into jiu jitsu the same way I would dive into a good novel.

But on a rare occasion, something external will bug me to such an extent that it comes with me onto the mats, and then I am torn.  Should I not train, so that I don't poison the experience? don't punish training partners by being a less-than-fully-present opponent ?  Or would not training make it worse?

Well, I went to lunch class today and it was miserable in a cyclic fashion.  I started out miserable for external reasons, then grappled like flattened dogsh*t, which made me more miserable, and then I added on some self-loathing for allowing XYZ to affect my grappling and felt even worse.  I kept trying to tell myself that it was okay to have a shitty jits day and it was just my turn and that I had brought it on myself for blogging the other day about bringing it to two friends of mine.

You ever hear of someone throwing up into their mouth?  (NOOOOO I DIDN'T!)   Well, I cried into my eyes.  I was so flooded with emotions, mainly related to my external issues but some from crappling, that I had several moments of crying while rolling/drilling where (fortunately) the tears did not spill over.. where they just rose to the surface and hung out until they were reabsorbed or evaporated.

I just couldn't do anything right, I was feeling sorry for myself, and I accidentally kneed a friend in the eye trying to control him from top cross-side.  I spent the rest of class being sorry for myself, then rolled for 15 min with a friend from out of town who nicely made me feel like a complete noob.

So, heeding the advice of many wiser than me, I hied myself out the back door and up a small hill, sat down and just wept.  Opened the faucets in my eyes and cried into my eyes and out of them again, making a wet place on the sidewalk stoop.  Got it out of my system for about 10 minutes and came inside, sorted myself out, showered, and left.

At least night class was better.

EDIT:  My good friend Josh recommended this video to me in his comment.  I dig it.

Half guard sweeps plus dessert.

Check out this half guard sweep by Oli Geddes. Oli is a brown belt under Roger with a lot of competition success under his belt. It's a pretty standard sweep, I believe we call it the Old School, but I notice I'm not lifting their heel the way he does, so I'm going to try it today at lunch with that tidbit. By the way-- what do you think of the filming style? I dig it....

Slightly different entry than what I'm used to using, but I learned this alternative from my purple belt "wing" Scott Reis. It's good when they are accustomed to the Old School and drive into you to counter it... you just dive under and go with it. (See, flow!) And sorry-- while I love Hillary, I'm not a big Joanne fan. But I didn't feel like jacking around on youtube hunting for a non-Joanne version of this one.

And for dessert, here's a popover choke by Hillary. Hillary taught this move in a seminar in Dallas to our Girls in Gis group, but she didn't add the scissor sweep fake to our setup. I'm glad I saw this and not just because Joanne's the one getting choked. *simpering giggle*

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


I cried two kinds of tears tonight.

Hot, angry, resentful... squeezed out between panting breaths and a completely useless attempt at mount...

Cold, sad, full of self-pity... rolling down my cheeks as I walked under a lonely moon in the dark.

I wish I was a better person. I have so many regrets.

p.s. Sorry for the maudlin excess this evening... you are, in some ways, my diary, so at times you just need to bear with the non-Celso Vinicius, the non-Donald-is-amazing, the non-recipe crap.


The other night in competition class, Donald showed me what REAL flow rolling is. I have seen youtube clips of flow rolling but I didn't connect that it is rolling without resisting. Whatever they give, you take.. and whatever they push for, you give. Shama and I tried to flow roll before nogi worlds and before I knew what Donald meant, and it was ugly. I resisted everything. Then Donald rolled with her and it was a beautiful dance! And then he rolled with me, and I was halfway getting it. I felt like I intruded on the rhythm and the grace of it when I thought about what to do next, but if I just went with everything, things clicked effortlessly. And I bounded up from the mat with an ecstatic smile on my face afterwards, feeling like choirs of angels were singing and rainbows were falling out of my gi, because THAT is how jiu jitsu should feel. If they're stiff or resisting in one aspect, there WILL be another place that they're giving you something, so don't bother with your original plan-- just be water and flow into any crevice that's open.

I spent some time playing around with a friend yesterday, working on the rules of open guard (femur-torso angle never greater than 90 degrees; femur-femur angle never less than 90 degrees; one foot on either side of their body always; 3 points of control always). Then this morning I tried to combine those rules with the flow rolling concept (but haha, it doesn't work so well when your partner is going for the gold.)

Just now, read this useful bit on Dave Thomas' blog Jits Happens.

"The slow march towards mastery includes moments where your growth, energy, and motivation are at their greatest. Coincidentally with my discussions on this topic, [Daniel] Pink calls this "flow." He equates flow with play, in that the labors and efforts of the work you are engaged in become effervescent and lost in the moment of unconscious progress you enjoy in flow. How can you find your flow and how can you make this a means to accelerate growth and enjoyment? How do we work to get lost in the moment? Translated as a Zen kōan, we should concentrate maximum effort to release effortless play. The more you flow, the more you grow, and the more fun you have on the path. Having fun is a great counter balance to the pain of training hard."

The whole 'maximum effort to release effortless play' pretty much sums up my addiction to jits.

This weekend was pretty cool, because we had the NoGi Worlds on at my house and a few training partners came over for spaghetti and shouting at the screen. Wooo, our teammate Daniel Moraes took silver in middle heavy! Here's what GracieMag had to say:

"Pablo “Weapon X” Popovitch, of the newly-formed and very successful Avengers team, defeated Daniel Moraes of Relson Gracie on points, 6-0. Popovitch finessed and muscled his way to a big win to become 2010′s medium heavyweight no-gi world champion."

Speaking of which, check out some killer pictures from the NoGi Worlds here.

Mitch's first day at his new job was yesterday and it went well. He's still in school full time also, so he's incredibly busy. This weekend he'll be in Dallas for the Dallas Salsa Congress, and I'll be training a bunch, gardening a bunch, and cooking a bunch. You know those soft white frosted sugar cookies available at a lot of bakeries, called Lofthouse cookies? Found a recipe to make them at home which I'd like to try:

2 cups Jiffy baking mix
2/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup milk
5 tbsp Crisco Shortening
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix, drop on parchment paper lined pan, bake for 8-10 minutes and remove to cool.

My stupid toe is still jacked but it's not stopping me from getting some good training in.

Hope you're doing well!!!! :)

Friday, November 05, 2010

On fire!

One of our purple belts said some very nice things to me after lunch class yesterday. He's been pushing me to be more aggressive, which is good, and I'm definitely giving it my best effort. Then during night time open mat, I happily brought it to two bluebelt friends of mine who are male, bigger, heavier, and stronger than me. It's not like I didn't get passed, swept or submitted (I did) but I did feel like I held my own and then some. I passed some guards really well-- I did some sweeping-- took some backs-- barred some arms. :) It was really, really good and I was on cloud nine for a few hours afterwards.

Such a relief
that for all the times I feel like I'm falling behind, not getting it, not executing, without a plan, flailing and the like... there are glimmers of light through the clouds. Intermittent reinforcement leads to learning that is more resistant to extinction (forgetting.) Well, my successes are intermittent enough to give me hope :)

Here's the 2009 World Pro BJJ Cup Under 75kg Final: Marcelo Garcia vs. Michael Langhi....

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Think outside the box.

This morning I rolled nogi with two purple belts who are very patient with my attempts.

I think it's funny that I'm often told I am technical, because really, if I had strength, I'd be using it! In the absence of comparable strength, we (girls, smaller/weaker people) experience true Darwinism of technique-- the only things that ever work are technical things. I always *feel* like I'm hauling on stuff, pushing, pulling, heaving, working, so it doesn't always seem technical per se, but I guess my feeble strivings come across that way by comparison. Whatever, I don't care, I just like to have fun.

And I did. I lay beneath Bentley in a semi-half guard, semi-had-his-back kind of thing, with my arms pretzeled around his and his shoulderblade in some couldn't-recreate-it-for-love-or-money kind of way, and he laughed that I always do these unorthodox things he doesn't expect that impede his progress in a move. I replied it's solely due to me not having a clue... I don't even know what the box is much less have it, so I can't think in or out of it. I just play.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Reverse engineering, I said!

La la la la, I love Cane Prevost's way of teaching.

*ahem-- it'sremarkablylikehowDonaldteaches--*

Check out the new addition to the Gentle Art here... how to escape cross side...

It comes complete with video! and breakdown! and lists! for the reverse engineers in the crowd.. like me :)

Controlling the hips... essay and videos

Just found a post this summer by Small Axe BJJ on how to effectively control the hips. I haven't watched the videos yet... but wanted to share.

Here's a sampling:

"Combat Mount, High-Side, or “Rickson” (whatever you want to call it)- this position is a great strategy to employ on an opponent determined to elbow escape from your mount. Again, the secret to making the High-Side a valuable position is controlling your opponent’s hip movement. Watch how I demonstrate a method to tighten down your high-side."

Whatcha think?

NoGi Worlds....

My purple belt teammate Shama Ko leaves tomorrow to compete in the 2010 Worlds Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championships. Her matches are on Sunday but it starts Saturday and it will be amazing. You can look through the brackets here.

In the black belt lightweight division JT Torres and Lucas Lepri will certainly meet again. Torres submitted Lepri at 2010 Brazilian Nationals, while Lepri beat JT in finals at both the 2009 Pan No-Gi and 2009 World No-Gi. This past 2010 Pan No-Gi, the two champs won separate weight classes (JT in light; Lepri in middle).

Here's their match at the Brazilian Nationals this year:

And for grins, here's Lepri v. Mike Fowler, JT's teammate, at (I believe) the NY BJJ Open...

Keep an eye out for Leticia Ribeiro (Gracie Humaita) and Sofia Amarante (the Avengers) who are in the same division. Here they are in last year's NoGi Worlds finals:

And Leticia Ribeiro v. Michelle Nicolini, last year's Worlds (in gi):

Ana Claudia Dantas v. Michelle Tavares, Brazil ADCC trials last year:

Budovideos will be broadcasting live, so pony up the $10 and watch it.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Why didn't I compete?

This past weekend our sister affiliate in San Antonio hosted the Gracie Grappling Cup. My teammates competed, of course, and brought home lots of bling. I did not compete. Why not?

I'm just not in the mood, I guess. I feel like I'm a squirrel, madly gathering nuts for winter-- I have so much technique to learn and add to my collection, and I'm just not ready to put it on the line. If I competed now I feel like I wouldn't have any of the holes (exposed by prior comps) filled yet. So what's the point?

It was a nice tournament, though small, and Relson Gracie was there which is always special. It was great to see old friends and make new ones (there's yet ANOTHER new jiu jitsu school in Austin, with a new-to-me female blue belt I'm eager to see at a Girls in Gis someday) but I'm happy to just have been a scorer.

Royler is coming to our academy for a seminar on November 18, and Kathy Brothers (America's second female black belt) will be attending, so I'm keen on that. It's only $85 for three hours, so if you're interested, go to this page to preregister.

Some eye candy for your Monday...

Oceane Talvard x Angélica Ferreira, black belt, Brazil Nationals this summer... I dig the passing, the back take, and the triangle transition...

Luana Alzuguir (one braid) v. Ana Maria India (two braids), Brazil, ADCC trials, 2009...