Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I'm still not totally back to "fighting fit". Felt pretty bleh! on Monday, but went to class anyway.

Dear oh dear, even the warm up felt tough... So I was pretty glad that we started with drills. Was assigned a pretty new white belt and worked through one movement drill he knows but needs to practice. And another drill he didn't know. He has a shortened forearm and a hand with less fingers, so we had to modify some grips.

I've worked with him a couple of times before. He's the nicest guy. Very tense and stiff, like all newbies of course. But I think that if he can stick out the hard yards at the beginning, he will make jiu jitsu work for him. I think it's fantastic that he's giving it a go. I have no experience at all with people who (I'm not sure if this is politically correct to say like this, but here goes...) are shaped different to how I am and I can't know how their shape changes/limits 'normal' movement patterns. So I have asked him to tell me if he has trouble doing what I ask and make suggestions on how we can modify it to achieve the objective. This is a learning curve for him, and for me, too.

Anyway, we worked through two of the drills and he made good progress until I was re-assigned.

I worked with another blue belt. We did some open guard stuff. I say stuff because it wasn't anything specific, it was more concepts and experimenting with positions of feet and knees and complementary grips. Instructor called it the glue that holds things together.

I re-discovered a limitation of strength in my lower back in a certain position and experimented with working around that. Helps to have a good partner!! We had a play with a sweep if our partner pushes forward into us. This I had a few problems with, mainly because I felt flat and the brain wasn't fully engaged. Still, I picked up a lot of valuable stuff, both the open guard options and transitions and the sweep.

And then we were told to roll. Well, well. That was where I really couldn't get my act together. Body said "go away" and brain went on vacation. Damn. In fact, I felt so powerless and unco that I virtually laid back like a limp sausage. I actually caught myself thinking: yeah, do it, get it over with, as he started to put on an armwrap from mount and set up a choke. And then I suddenly thought that wasn't good enough and I ought to be ashamed of myself. So I finally started fighting. And I got out of there. He let me work a little, but not without putting on a fair bit of pressure. No freebies. Still, I regained guard, but he was passing immediately by blocking my foot. I couldn't stop him and was getting pretty annoyed with myself. That's when our instructor stepped in (I hadn't realised he'd been watching). He showed me a really simple way to get the other foot in, on his hip and make space to negate the technique my partner was using to pass my guard. It was SO obvious that I was embarrassed :-(

So we went again. Similar deal, I didn't get a good position, in fact, as he dragged me forward, I bruised my right knee. That's what you get when you are too stupid to move well.... Oh boy. Then it went to switch back side control, where I ended up NOT being able to do the bump and sweep technique. It is one of those things I struggle with. And instead of saying I will learn and I will perfect this technique, I've been saying I can't do it and it's so hard against bigger people. So guess what? I can't do it. And I get caught. At that moment, I could have crawled into the cracks between the mats. Still, we reset and went on.

Ended up defending from bottom of side mount. Generally not a place which is too scary, but this time, I flopped and floundered and uselessly bucked around. Not really blue belt standard, that much was clear. We were stopped again, and the instructor pointed out what I was doing. He didn't call it useless or silly (though it surely was!), but he did a good impression of what my legs were doing... Which was bugger all. By this stage I was beginning to really want to be elsewhere. Then he showed us a really neat way of escaping that very position which I'd never seen before. He explained how it worked and why and then unfortunately, time was up.

Not my brightest day. I apologised to my partner for being useless and not being much of a partner. Oh, and for being a tad.... emotional. Oh, how I hate it when that happens. He told me not to be silly, and reminded me we all have shitty days. He's right, of course. I'm lucky to have nice, level headed people around me.

Well, all I want is for my body to return to normal operating levels, so that I can have fun and feel at least reasonably competent :-) I decided against a double session down at Geelong tonight, as I want to make sure my body recovers and I get back to normal. I'm going to class tomorrow, and we have a guest instructor for a two hour session on Friday night. I want to make sure I'm fit as a fiddle by then. On Saturday, there will be a grading. I'm only helping, but it's usually hard going, so I'd like to be fit for that one, too.

weird week

The whole last week was all over the place, for all sorts of reasons.

The weather varied from stinking hot and dry to wet and cool. Typical spring weather, I suppose. Not quite "four seasons in a day" but close to it. Lots of thunderstorms. Flash flooding. I picked up someone from the airport on Saturday, and on the way there was delayed by water over the road several times. It rained so heavily, at times the traffic on the freeway slowed from 110km/h to 80 or less.

I had visitors, got some work done around the horses and in the garden. Thankfully, with uni stuff over now, I don't have to worry about studying any more :-).

Oh, and my cold is still hanging in there a bit. I thought it was all done and dusted, but Saturday evening my voice went all funny. So in view of that, it's probably a good thing that I couldn't make it to training (because of trip to airport).

However, as I was fine during the week, I went to open mat on Thursday and class on Friday night. I had some stuff on my mind though. On the one hand I found it a bit hard to let go and concentrate, but on the other hand, time on the mat is MY time. And generally, once I step out of the change room with my gi on, the other 'stuff' is forgotten. Which is another reason why I really love BJJ.

Thurday night was another warm and humid night. I had planned on no gi, but a couple of the guys were getting ready to compete on the weekend (in gi), so I rolled in gi. Most of the session, I worked with the young guy. I gave him problems but made sure that he succeeded in his attacks if they were done properly. I tightened up a few loose bits while we ramped up from very light to a bit harder over several rounds. I've since heard that he came second in his division yesterday, so I'm really, really happy for him :-)

The rest of open mat I spent with the killer whale ;-) ... and I sure got killed. We went no gi, which meant that I had a bit more luck escaping, purely by slithering out of armbars and the like. After, he helped me work on armdrags, for which he has a nicer setup than what I was using. Also, I showed him one of my preferred set ups from closed guard, and he had a couple of recommendations. Just by getting a bit more on my side when I've pulled his elbow to the floor and reached around his far shoulder, I can actually threaten a figure four or a rear choke. So far I'd stayed flat on my back and tried for a cutting armbar (and an armbar if they try to pull that arm out). So I have a couple more options from the same starting point.

Friday night's class was huge. I had one of the new white belts. We worked on the defence to the cross lapel choke from guard, but I had to show him the choke first :-) It was really good actually, because I worked out what I'd been doing wrong with my defence. Instead of just putting my hand to my ear, I need to bring my hand to my forehead and then slide it around and towards my ear. The earlier I get my forearm in across his arms and my hand to my forehead, the better. Leaving it until he has both grips in for good makes it a lot harder. I also found that if he tucked his elbows down once he had his grips, I had a lot of trouble getting my arm in.

We also did some guard passing, starting with light resistance and then working up. All of us with coloured belts had to lie down and everyone else had to pass, taking turns. That was fun :-) And at the end, we did a little bit of rolling, too. Again, I had one of the newbies. Big guy. Nice guy, but oh, working soooo hard, breathing hard and groaning. Doesn't mean to be mean, but can't help but use all of his muscles and all of his weight. Bulldozed me over, I escaped. He grabbed my neck in an attempted front choke which I got out of easily, stepped over and wrapped my arm around his neck from north-south for a choke. He said he didn't even see it coming. Oh, I know just how he feels :-) Funny thing for me was that I rarely go to that position, so it's not one of my regular attacks.

I'm happy that I now have several attacks from all positions, without having to pause and think. I'm also happy that I'm consistently having more luck with dealing with the bigger guys.

I still struggle a lot with heavier guys. I don't usually beat myself up over it. If I have to tap to a heavy white belt, I figure there is no shame in that, not even now that I'm wearing a blue belt. When they are brand new to BJJ, I can have my way with them. But as soon as they learn some basic control techniqus and how to use their weight properly, it's so much harder. I get frustrated at times, because I think I ought to do better. I know I'm not the only one who has these problems, there have been a few posts about this in the blogosphere recently. I really, really need to work on my open guard. But overall, I can see a steady improvement in how I deal with strength and weight and I suppose that by the time I get to purple belt, I'll have a lot more answers than I have now. It's all part of the journey.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

back on the mat

Looks like I only had a bit of a cold, not a proper flu. I took it easy and by Wednesday I considered training again as I was feeling pretty good. I wasn't coughing or sneezing so I wasn't worried about spreading germs around the dojo.

All the same, I was hoping for a laid back sort of a warmup. Aside from still feeling a little unfit, it was very humid and quite warm. My prayers weren't answered. For the lunchtime class we did a 15 minute warmup including Tabbata intervals. I did last fine, and in fact, did better and moaned and groaned a lot less than some of the guys ;-) In class, we worked through all the basic movement drills and then had a play with two standing guard sweeps. Not a very hard class physically, but we all did sweat buckets because of the weather. I was working with one of the very new guys who couldn't get over how hot it was. I couldn't resist being mean by saying: wait until it gets really hot, then we'll be dripping on one another (like when you're on the bottom and you can see a drop of sweat forming on your partner's nose just above your face...). He wasn't grossed out. Ha, he will be!

Coming back to my condition...  I guess that my base fitness level is such that even if I'm not 100% ok, I'm still good to rock and roll through the average BJJ session. For some reason I'm still in that beginner mindset where before every session I feared whether I would last through. And I always did. It's funny that, because when I'm OK, I easily last for 2 and 3 hour sessions. I know this from experience. The comp training I did in Melbourne earlier this year, and the back to back BJJ classes down in Geelong as well as long open mats back home are proof. Yet, I still doubt myself at times. Yesterday, that was really obvious again. When the lunchtime class was over, I wasn't even tired. So I don't know why I worry.

I had not planned on going to the evening session, meaning to take it easy, and make sure I'm recovered well after the cold. But I pulled up after the lunchtime session so well that I just couldn't resist. And yeah, that went well, too. Basic movement drills, then learned and drilled a new guard pass and finally some rolling, too.

I'm just so glad to be back :-)

Now I'm debating if I'll go to open mat tonight or head on down to Geelong. I heard that Richard Norton is doing the Thursday night classes. That'd be fun, I did a seminar with him about three years ago, and quite enjoyed that. Question is: am I fit enough to last the session?? Haha.

Monday, November 22, 2010

not training tonight

I feel like I might be coming down with a cold. So I restrained myself and gave class a miss tonight. I'm not coughing and spluttering, but I'm a bit achy, with a vaguely sniffy nose. Last night it was a sore throat.

I knew it, I knew it, when I heard all the coughing and sneezing in the exam hall last week!! Anyway, I'm hoping that by taking it easy today, I will be good to go again soon. At least I'm not in bed or anything drastic.

I was visiting friends on Saturday and after dinner we sat around and talked. As often, I played with the cats and the dog, and Greg loves to take photos of all the silly rubbish I get up to. Here is me annoying poor long suffering Lilac.

I was thinking it's pretty hard to choke a cat from back control.

Aside from not being able to either get a proper seat belt grip or get your hooks in, you really have trouble closing your arm around that little neck.

Cats also didn't read the rules about no scratching...

I suppose if Lilac wore a gi, I could try a cross lapel choke ;-) Ever seen a cat tap?

I know, I know. I'm going to have another beer and watch some UFC. Enough sillyness for one day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

exams over :-)

Another week has passed. There is a load off my shoulders... uni exams are finished. The last few weeks have been crazy and it's nice to have that behind me. In the middle of that, two of my mares foaled down (all trouble free, like good girls!), and I had two lots of visitors. Really, I'd just like a quiet week now, thank you :-)

I've decided not to go to the Pan Pacs next weekend. I was going will I? / won't I? / will I? for weeks, but to be honest, I really can't be bothered. I guess it's a case of needing a mental rest. I also haven't particularly prepared for a comp. On the one hand, I'm wrestling well and I'm probably quite fit enough, but on the other hand, I don't have my head around it. I've competed three times this year and while I don't think that means I ought to sit on my laurels, I just don't have the fire for it at present. I'd rather set my sights on the Vics in March next year and do that properly.

The week just gone was mainly devoted to the guys who will be grading in a fortnight. Lots and lots of basic armbars, figure fours, lapel chokes and drills, drills and more basic drills. We've had a fair influx of new guys recently, so most classes there has been at least one guy who needed to be shown the essential stuff. I don't really mind, as I continue to pick up a small thing here and there which will make techniques work better for me. Sometimes, by helping someone troubleshoot a technique, I also get a better understanding of it, like was the case with armbars from mount the other day.

One of the guys is being groomed for blue belt, so he's under the master's eye (and the hammer) a bit lately. But it's good to see he's making real progress at the moment, there is more and more good technique and less reliance on strength. I had a couple of good rolls with him during the week.

Aside from that, I went to an enjoyable open mat on Thursday. Had a long roll with one of the purple belts. I thwarted his attempts to attack me from rubber guard and escaped an omoplata. Also got out of a triangle. So I was pretty happy about that. I attacked him with a D'Arce at some stage but didn't succeed. In the end, we did some complicated rolling maneuver which resulted in a perfect armbar (my arm of course!). Good fun.

I had another chance to work on flow rolling with a couple of the two stripe white belts. That's really starting to work now. Interestingly, these guys lasted the whole hour and a half of rolling, whilst a couple of other white belts wore themselves out in less than an hour. I'm not saying that's all my doing :-) And it's not like I was any different when I started. But I intend to keep pushing for going easy and rolling for position only, especially during the warm up part of rolls. And I certainly am quite prepared to pull the guys up mid roll and point out that tight muscles and held breath and bad for rolling light.

For myself, I want training partners who can dose their strength and who will rely on technique rather than muscle to get position and submission. When we do competition style rounds, then we can go hard, and I'll go hard with any of them. But not all the time. And I'll continue to do my best to help the newer guys roll like that. For their AND my benefit :-)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Home Bjj Workout

There is some really good stuff here. It will give me some idea for the summer break, where there won't be classes. And for any other day when I just can't sit still :-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

types of people

I just read this funny post at the The Bat Dojo blog.

It's about the types of people that can be found at dojos. I particularly like the token girl :-) (Not that I can identify in any way, shape or form!!).

But the brick shithouse and the fat guy and the spidery guy - I've met them all!

choke from side control

got my fix... :-)

Due to exams, I missed training on Wednesday night and open mat on Thursday. Grr.

Friday night I was looking forward to class. After driving all the way to town, I found the school closed due to Ballarat Show Day. Double Grrr!

But Saturday afternoon, I finally got my BJJ fix! It wasn't a big class. We worked on D'Arce chokes. First, the simple version from side control when your opponent rolls into you, but also a setup from turtle top.

It was good to see the very big fella back after a few months away :-) I ended up drilling with him, including a more complicated, rolling version of the D'Arce. Have I said before that it's hard to get that choke on BIG guys? Firstly, there is the issue of huge shoulders. Although I'm blessed with long limbs, it's still a challenge to get around his shoulders :-) But I did have more luck with it than in the past. Where I had more issues was to finish it. He simply braced with his arm on the floor which prevented me from getting his top upper arm against his neck. And then he'd start to attack my legs... After consulting with the instructor, he showed a way to clear his arms with my knees to stop him bracing. He also showed us how to adjust if the bottom guy braces with a knee to prevent being rolled from turtle. Lots of technical small stuff.

In any case, I have a much better understanding of how to finish the choke now, regardless of the size of my opponent. Though in a live wrestle, I'd be more likely to use it on someone closer to my size. At least for now.

After that, we rolled, but always starting from turtle, taking turns in who was on top. We swapped partners a few times, but I always got the bigger boys :-) Still, I choked someone with a front choke and I armbarred someone from the high closed guard setup I'm working on. I was very happy about the latter, expecially since it's on a guy who generally busts out of my closed guard.

I did get done with a figure four by someone. Aside from that, I escaped several times from under big guys. That is true progress for me. Once, the big fella did one of his rolling, diving attacks on my legs. And before I could think "oh sh..", I had rolled with him, retracted/rearranged my limbs and came out to his side unscathed. I think that surprised me more than him ;-) It wasn't a conscious move at all, and it felt smooth and flowy. That alone made me happy, and I probably grinned like a fool. Although I did end up back under him, I defended successfully until the round was over.

Afterwards, one of the guys said that after not having a chance to roll with me for a while, he feels a definite improvement. He reckons if I can be such a threat to the bigger fellas, then the people my size had better watc out. Hehe.

So, while I had to wait until Saturday to get my fix, it was a good one :-)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

rolling, awesome rolling

I succeeded in getting several good rolls in during last Thursday's open mat. I managed to convince another one of the newer white belts that rolling for position instead of submission and NOT going balls to the wall is a good thing. It was still a lot more muscly than it should have been, but it was useful to both of us. He had several AHA! moments. So I helped him with triangles afterwards.

I tried out a guardpass I saw on a youtube recently (sorry, escapes me at the moment, I will try and find it!). I showed it to one of the guys and we both had a few practice runs. We think it might work quite well :-)

At the end I had a long roll with one of the purple belts. I'm pleased to report that I feel I'm making progress. I pulled out of a lot of stuff he threw my way and I certainly had a go at a few things. I probably resorted too much to closed guard, but it's my best game, and he is ... well, a purple belt. And I did manage to frustrate him a bit, too. In the end, it wars armbar time for me, as usual. But an excellent roll with lots of opportunity to learn and grow.

Monday night's class also involved a lot of rolling. First I was fed a small whitebelt. So I practiced my attacks, and I let some stuff go and experimented a bit. Then I was fed a bigger boy. So I practiced my defence :-) Sorry, he's mucho bigger than I and mucho stronger, and if he's learned one thing it's how to use his weight effectively. Good for him, bad for me. I want the little one back again!!

Then they gave me a purple belt. This time I practiced being a ping-pong ball on top of a wave :-) We had the best and longest roll. One position after the next. He has perfected shoulder rolls and every time you think you get position on him, he's rolled away and all you have is legs in the damn way. Lots of new problems. But lots of chance to experiment. My brightest moment might have been when he picked me up for a standing guard pass, but I let go and went for a takedown :-) Instructor stood nearby and laughed. So we rolled and rolled and he pointed out a few things to me. Instructor walked past and saved us from tumbling into a wall. And commented "keep going, I like what I see". Whoa ho! It didn't just feel good, it must have looked good!!

What can I say. It was awesome.

And it was exactly the kind of diversion I needed. I've been flat out studying for uni exams. I really needed something to destress me :-) Anyway, first exam is out of the road, three more to go.

Monday, November 8, 2010


There are several of us taking turns teaching the Wednesday evening class at present. I've known for weeks that I'd be taking the class last Wednesday.

The weird thing is that I stressed over that. Why?

I've had to take other classes at short notice and it wasn't an issue at all. So why would I worry? Is it just my weird mind or is that a normal thing? Ok, don't answer that. ;-)

Anyway, it wasn't helped by the fact that I got there to find two guys more senior to me as well as a bunch of white belts. But they are my mates, and they were most helpful, but without interfering. So there were jokes and it was all cool. We did some of the basic drills, I showed the cross lapel choke from mount, and how to finish it off from guard if they roll. Then I went over a few general things relating to defending arms and neck when on the bottom, pointed out that it's bad to get flattened and that sort of thing.

Finished off with rolling. Got choked by one of the two stripers, who set it up beautifully! Then had a round with one of the bigger two stripers. Got flattened but got out, regained guard and then raced the clock to choke him before time was called. Had fun!

oh-oh omoplata

Last week we worked on omoplatas. Now there's a technique I'll not be owning for a while :-(

I just don't seem to get it. Firstly, my brain refuses to "chunk" stuff together, so I need to think and think about the setup every time. So I never get the feel right and I'm always starting from square 1. One day, I will "get it". But that day hasn't arrived yet. All the drilling last Wednesday didn't help. Ironically, I could assist the new white belt guy I worked with, but as far as getting it right myself? Fail.

Later on in the week, we did more, and though I was paired with a purple belt, I continued to feel and act like a klutz. We were looking at securing the omoplata, or what to do if they roll out of it, or try. So there was a sweep, or a forward roll to finish it off. For me: fail.

When safely out of the school, I vented my frustrations.  :-(

But I promise: I will own omoplatas some day. Not tomorrow, not the day after, maybe not this year. But I will!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

the rest of October

As time got away from me again, here are just some brief notes...

On the 28th October, I went to John Will's school in Geelong again. I went with one of the guys from our school and we joined John's advanced class. We worked on front chokes from open guard. If we can't get the second hand in to finish the choke because he blocks with his arm, we can threaten him with a sweep. That way, either he keeps his hand in and we get the sweep or  he braces with that arm and we get the grip for the choke. We also looked at an alternative where we sweep and then finishe the choke from the top.

We stayed on for the intermediate class as well, which was mainly on breakfalls and throws.

Got in lots of rounds of rolling with white, blue and purple belts. I felt good, with lots of movement happening. Even pulled off some subs with a couple of the blue belts. But then got dominated by a couple of the larger whitebelts :-)

The following Saturday, I took class as our instructor had an injury. It was basically going through the guard passing drill for the mostly newer white belts, but we also covered the simple sweep and a couple of chokes from guard. After that, I let them enjoy themselves with free guard passing but allowed the sweep and chokes we had just practiced. Aside from the white belts, we had a purple belt visitor. He kindly helped with the newer guys, and at the end he and I had a couple of fun rolls.