Saturday, June 18, 2011

does your dog grapple?

My best friend Yvonne has a black German Shepherd dog who goes by the name of Nemo. He comes and visits and plays with my dog Vito. Yvonne got Nemo as a pup and we've been watching him grow. Firstly, he was tiny and Vito used to just put his paw on the fluffy little black thing and pin him down. Then time went by and Nemo grew, and grew. He is now a big black dog. Fast and sleek. And still just as precocious as he was when he was a little pup.

Here are some dogwrestling pictures with a very young Nemo and my Vito, taken last August. Feast your eye on black and white action scenes!

(All pictures by Yvonne Lehey)

Whenever I go and have dinner with Yvonne and her husband Greg, Nemo brings his toys and wants to play. I've often played roughhouse with him, and as a rough sort of a youngster, he's always thought that was great fun. Last week, I got down on the floor with him and we had a roll :-)

Now I wouldn't do that with every dog, and I wouldn't recommend that anyone else tries with with their friend's dog. Nemo is surprisingly controlled, he doesn't bite or go stupid. If he accidentally meets some part of your anatomy with his open mouth, it's just by accident. He's what's called soft mouthed. The worst danger I'm in is a long hot tongue in the ear, or across the face. Eeew. Dogslobber...

So much to the amusement of the onlookers, Nemo and I had a good wrestle. He thought it was great fun until I grabbed him in a headlock, haha. Anyway, here is photographic evidence of the shenanigans....

Hey Nemo, wanna wrestle? Cool, sure!

I pull guard, but Nemo is fast and passes straight away!

.. but I regain guard and start breaking down his posture.

.... and now Nemo is in trouble, because I've got high guard and I'm looking for a submission!

But shortly after, he escaped :-)

Another attempt, this time a choke after I get his back:

(Photos by Greg Lehey)

And what's worse, tonight I was over there and we had another wrestle. I haven't seen Greg's photos yet, but I shudder to think what he captured this time :-)

Ah yeah, and I we had a great class this morning. It was a grading, and the guys did really well. One got his fourth stripe, there were a couple who got their third and a few who got their first. I was impressed with how they applied themselves and how well they did. Good work by all!

Interesting for me was one roll where I pulled off a picture book omoplata. Not bad for a hopeless old girl who until recently couldn't move the hips enough to hit that submission during no resistance drills :-) I see it as a sign though that all the information which was filled into my brain over the last 2+ year is still there. As my brain is knitting the hitherto seeminly unrelated bits together, I'm seeing things from places where I didn't see them before. And the movements I studied but thought I couldn't do are right there. That's amazing. But very encouraging :-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I finally got around to taking photos of the patches I put on two of my gis.

The blue SYR only has the one patch on the front. The white Zero G has one on the front and one one the back. Doesn't it look pretty with the blue of the Zero G shoulder patches?? Awww :-)

Anyway, I reckon they came up looking arrrright!

What else is new?

I'm half way through my exams. I should be studying, not playing with this blog...

I missed out on training today because of exams, but I had an awesome no-gi session on Monday night. Well, two more exams tomorrow, then it's over. And tomorrow night, I'll be rolling for sure :-)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

John Will seminar

On Friday night, we had had John Will for a seminar. It's been a while since he's been to the Ballarat Dojo. With work and studies I haven't had much of a chance to go down to Geelong to train with him recently, either. In fact, I haven't seen him since about January this year.

We spent some time on a single leg takedown. John broke the technique down so that we could drill specific parts of it, then we added to it. Finally, he showed us a way to break a wrist grip, progress to a two on one hold which we then use to unbalance our opponent to get the foot position we want to get that single leg. And we drilled that some more.

We looked at two ways to stall guard passes. In the first scenario, our opponent has stepped back, grabbed our pants and is pinning our feet to the floor while walking around our legs. The technique in essence is to block his cross shoulder while bracing. Moving our butt, we get a relatively stable position while denying the pass and then we switch hands, still blocking his shoulder. The free hand now goes for an armdrag. Depending on how quick this armdrag is, the size of your opponent and how quick he is, this will result in him turtling or faceplanting :-). Either way, I can get the back nice and easy.

The second scenario was a low hugging guard pass. Both our legs are trapped, and he's trying to flatten us out while coming around and holding the legs. Before I get flattened out, I reach under his near arm, over his head and clasp my hands together. Then I need to move my lower body a bit away from him before I can bridge. This, if all the angles are right (and it took me a few goes to achieve that), will lead to a sweep sort of over my head. Keeping my grip, I walk around to his front, from where I'm perfectly set up to go for a D'Arce choke. We followed that up with a few reps of the choke, after being shown how to do it.

Finally, we looked at side control escapes. John has some interesting and pretty useful views on improving one's situation by 5% when in a bad spot, and then another five and so on, until the balance is tipped in our favour. He has just written a post about that very subject, so have a read of that to get it straight from the horse's mouth :-).

At the end of it all, we had pizza and sat around for a bit. John told some tales from his travels in the US.

Friday, June 10, 2011

nose in books

That's me at the moment, my nose is in books - or rather computers. I have uni exams next week. Until last week, I was flat out getting assignments done. I barely kept my training diary up to date, let alone the blog... Well, another week, and it will be done :-)

Of course I've been training. I missed a couple of sessions due to my uni workload (and I'm working part-time, too), but I've been able to get in nearly six sessions per week all the same, so I can't complain.

We did a fair bit of work on cutting armbars, spread over several sessions. How to get them from closed guard and from side control. The latter in two flavours: either with the opponent flat on the back, and we do a KOB and crawl over, if they've made the mistake of putting their farm arm around our neck. The other flavour is served up if they hip out away from us (which means they are facing us), and we can grab an underhook on the far/top arm.

Then we did a few sessions on closed guard attacks. Firstly, an arbar that works just by trapping an arm across our middle, controlling the head so the arm is trapped. Then get a good angle, use our elbow over their trapped forearm, lift the hip under their elbow and... tap. That ties in beautifully with the cutting armbar from closed guard.

Then we spent time on grips. How to get a fantastic deep cross collar grip right on the back of their collar, and then bring our elbow down for a very controlling grip. This can be used to pull and push, and it can control the spine enough that we can open our guard to get angles for attacks, set up sweeps or whatever. Depending on where their arms end up, it is a perfect setup for everything from figure fours to chokes. And of course, sweeps.

The last session we spent on the cross lapel choke from that setup. This is the version where we already have that deep grip, we've got their upper body pushed to the side of the arm that has the collar grip. Pushing up and down, we can make a little gap at the back of the collar and get the thumb of the other hand in. Then comes some wriggling until we can get our body across (unless, of course, they push that way to straighten up!), the forearm slides across the back of the head and there is the cross lapel choke. And this one is tight!

We did a fair bit of situational sparring, starting from closed guard. That's my world anyway, so I was happy for the practice :-) I am appalled though at how easy it is to be broken down. On the other hand, I have trouble breaking down people. Actually, that's not quite true, I do succeed with most of them, but there is this one tall Blue Belt... When I was utterly frustrated, he did show me what he does.

What came out of all that closed guard stuff is that I need to be more inventive. I need to be prepared to switch from one thing to another. Or more specifically, attack with one thing, knowing what they will do to defend and then use that to launch the next attack. Somehow I still can't get that happening. I have so many attacks from closed guard, and yet I seem to get stuck in one place or another. I simply can't see what other options I have.

On the other hand, there are techniques, like omoplata for example, which I've always struggled with. For some unknown reason, those are coming to the surface. Have we recently worked on omoplatas? No. But somehow my brain is making a connection there, and CLICK, out comes the technique.

I quite honestly don't know why my brain works the way it does :-)

Another example: We spend a session working on something. I start off like a klutz, be it a new technique, or one I know but never had any luck with. Then we go over it, drill it and I get my head around it. I might get quite fluent with it, and even have some luck in situational rolling that day. I think "I GOT this!!". But then, next session, we revisit that technique. I'm all excited, because, after all, I GOT it last time, and I'm keen to get more reps in. But to my horror, though I remember the steps, my body had lost all it's feel for it, and I'm back to feeling like an utter klutz. This has happened to me lots of times. If we spend more time on that technique, it comes back again, and overall, I have improved.  But it's weird to make such a huge leap forward in the first session, to then lose most of that.

Not sure if it's just the way it is, ie: a natural, common way to learn. Or if it is something ridiculously stupid just limited to my overanalytical brain. I do spend a lot of time going over what we learn in class. Not just to try an memorize it, but to see where it fits in with other things I know. I'm always trying to work out if I could use a technique from other, similar setups.

I don't know :-)

Anyway, it's not just my brain which is having a hard time lately. My left ear had a dodgy, squishy spot in it, and that required a bit of draining. Nothing like sticking pointy things in your ears late at night, when sensible folks just have their slippers on and sit in front of the TV, or are asleep in bed. Oh, and the knees are having a fun time lately. After my right knee made an abysmal noise a few weeks back, it's been behaving well. Only, last Monday, when I was rolling in the no-gi class, the left knee made exactly the same damn noise. A loud CLANK which made everyone stop in their tracks. We weren't going terribly hard, either. It felt fine after, and I did go to my gi class after. Though I was glad we only drilled moves.

Same as the right one, there is no pain, a vague bit of stiffness the day after it happened and no swelling or other problems. This is the knee I damaged many moons ago, first by a fall with a horse on a road, then again by stepping on a rock which rolled out from under my foot... Well, I can only hope that I won't have further issues. One of the guys at our school has been out for weeks because of damaged ligaments in his knee. He is much younger than I am. I'd go silly if I couldn't do BJJ...

John Will is coming for a seminar to our school tonight. That should be good fun. I shall report :-)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

random stuff

I'm studying for my uni exams next week. In my readings about software engineering and UML, I came across this quote:

Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.—Jim Horning 

Well, I'll eat my hat if that doesn't perfectly apply to BJJ!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


After a couple of us had a bit of a discussion about belts, their meaning and the stresses they can cause, it was fitting that I cam across Georgette's blogpost on that subject. So instead of me elaborating on it, read her post There's always time to fill in the holes. She, and the people who commented wrote so much good stuff, that I really have nothing to add. Other than: thank you Georgette :-)