Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Vietnam holiday

I'm currently visiting friends in Vung Tau, Vietnam. I'm missing my grappling :-)

However, I'll probably be visiting Saigon BJJ on Saturday afternoon before I fly back. I'll report back...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

all geeked out

So I saw a lot of interesting stuff at lca last week, and had a great time of watching geeks in action ;-)

I did attend the morning session with the martial arts geeks. That was pretty cool. Everyone talked about their style for a bit and then did a little demo. Lucky for me, a guy volunteered to be my grappling dummy :-)

After it was done, someone put up a couple of pictures on the lca wiki page. Enjoy. Oh, and no bonus points for identifying the BJJer!

Monday, January 16, 2012

geeks and martial arts

I'm doing the geek thing at present:

Seeing it's right here in Ballarat, I decided to take some time off work and attend some sessions. It started today and runs for the whole week. Certainly, the talks at the miniconfs today were interesting. I went to some sessions regarding women in IT and programming.

As part of the whole thing, which attracts geeks and wannabe geeks (like me) from all over Australia, NZ and other parts of the world, there are lots of little side meetings and get-togethers. Someone is planning a bof (birds of a feather) session for martial artists. Only down side is the starting time: 06:30 on Thursday. Gawd, I don't function well at that time of night 8-)

But I've put down my name. So far, I'm the sole BJJ player.  Would be so cool if another grappling type person turns up. Anyway, should be interesting :-)

Further to the geeks and martial arts theme... I was listening to some talks about the lack of women in technology type jobs, specifically FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) projects, and what could be done to attract and retain more of them. I see a parallel to the lack of women in BJJ. Obviously, totally different sort of thing, but some of the ideas offered at the panel discussion on the subject of attracting and retaining women in IT may also apply to grappling. The ones that struck the greatest chord with me were a couple of points made by one of the presenters:
1. talk to girls early (ie: at a young age)
2. don't tell girls/women that there aren't enough of them, that's like a guilt trip and it won't work. Instead, give them role models, show them women who do it (ie: IT/engineering/technical jobs) well, are respected, are enjoying themselves and are not necessarily trying to emulate men in the process.

Another presenter spoke of the need to make friends and have like a network for support. That is where for BJJ, groups like Australian Girls in Gi come in.

I think this could translate to BJJ/grappling. Food for thought!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Women's BJJ in 2011

For a round-up of women's BJJ in 2011, read this post on the Fightworks Podcast.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

how to from here?

The quiet holiday time is nearly over. We'll be back to our normal weekly BJJ routine starting on Monday. I have missed it, yet I've enjoyed the bit of a quiet time. I've managed to get to 6 open mats in three different schools. Each and every session was good in it's own way and I took something away from it.

I didn't overeat or overindulge in any other way over the holidays, so I have no regrets and nothing to work off. Possibly, my body appreciated a bit of slow time, so I'm feeling great and I'm totally looking forward to get back into the thick of things.

Of course I've had a little bit of time for reflection. I have loads of questions, such as:

? Is it the right approach to try to firstly understand techniques primarily on an intellectual level. By this I mean to deconstruct it, analyse the prerequisites, the necessary steps, the possible finishes and the variations. See where it logically fits into the context of other known positions, attacks, defenses or other moves. Discover the mechanics of it, determine the best use of leverage or weight distribution. See how far from the ideal scenario I can take it and still make it work succesfully.

? Or is the right approach (for me) to investigate how something should feel. Try stuff out in flow rolling and then in live sparring. Only consider the broad approach, not focus on specifics and let the body figure out what to do and when. Like when I flow roll, I find sweeps just happen, I realise that I can shift someone's weight by making some small adjustment to my own position.

? How can I avoid information overload? We are so bombarded with techniques, on lists, on FB, on blogs we read and of course by way of instructionals we buy. Already, I only superficially look at stuff that sounds a bit interesting. The only techniques I look at more closely are those which fit into my game or are similar to things we currently work on in class. And still it is too much. I want depth, not breadth. Yet I watch because some part of me thinks that getting a broader idea of a technique will give me a better understanding (= more depth).

? What is my game? Well, I know what it isn't! But is my game what I do when I play, what I do when under pressure against someone my size and skill level, what I do against someone better, how I roll when with a big spazzy newbie or what I do when competing? It seems like totally different things I need to do to succeed. So what IS my game? Is it maybe what I THINK I should be doing, or what I WANT to do? And what is it I actually want to do in each of those scenarios?

? Where am I going? All I know is that I want to improve and that I want to have fun doing in. Don't mind doing the hard yards, don't mind various levels of discomfort, because learning means I need to know how to lose, how to be in bad positions and how to survive. But should I have specific goals? And if so, what should those be?

? I feel I'm been overtaken by guys who started after I did. I know we all have our own journeys, and on an intellectual level, I understand that. But on another level, I'm disappointed. For all the fact that I'm pretty easy-going, there is a fiercely competitive streak in there somewhere, and it's not at all happy. That part of me wants to know if I'm just lacking drive or dedication or understanding, which are things I can improve on. Maybe I'm pushing against boundaries I can't shift, such as age, physical ability, ability to concentrate and absorb more knowledge. Honestly, I don't know, so I can't tell my competitive self whether I'm doing well under the circumstances, or whether I'm just a slack-arse who needs to step up a gear and stop complaining about how tough it is.

Soooo.... Not only am I unclear about where I'm going, but I also don't know how to go about going there :-) Methinks I have a lot more thinking to do. But then I wonder if I should spend so much time in intellectual self-debate, or whether I should just pull my finger out and get to work. Or in other words, just shut up and train...

? Hmmm..... !

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Women who grapple

I've had my share of frustrations lately. The whole box and dice of thinking I suck. Seeing guys who started later than I doing 'better' than I. Being stuck in a 99% defensive game. Wondering if I'll ever improve. Scratching my head about the need/want to compete. Generally questioning at times whether I 'have it', it being the necessary drive, agression, pushiness to ever develop any sort of successful game.

It's been good to talk to a few other women lately. A lot of what goes around my head is echoed by others. I absolutely see the need to train with other women if I want to compete.

If my goal is to roll at the school and generally improve, it doesn't matter. Though this will continue to emphasise the development of my defensive part of my BJJ skillset. At the very least, I have several male training partners who are close to my weight, which is a bonus. Another bonus are the senior guys who freely share their experiences and help me get better. I love rolling 'at home', and the guys are like family. Every one of them, no matter the experience, size or type of game they play, is good value hand helps me become a better grappler.

On the other hand, to do well in competition, I need to do two things: train with women and compete more. Competing more isn't so difficult, we now have several decent comps in Melbourne every year, and nothing stops me from travelling further for more. Regular training with women is another story. It is simply too difficult and time consuming (considering my job, uni and the farm) to travel to Melbourne a lot. I'm very fortunate that I've met Jess, Jody and several of the other ladies who train in Melbourne. I wish I could train with them weekly, but that's not going to happen.

On the same subject, there is a decent thread on Sherdog, titled strength in womens grappling. It is (so far) devoid of the usual meathead remarks which wreck most open discussions involving women in any grappling sport. Hillary Williams has contributed some lengthy posts which are quite interesting. Several others are discussing mental and physical aspects of grappling in an intelligent and interesting way. Quite useful.

Monday, January 2, 2012

first roll for 2012

I couldn't resist the temptation of an open mat on New Years Day. How could I?

So on the invitation of Deon and a bit bit of urging on from Jess, I headed over to Perkins Jiu Jitsu in Ringwood (on the eastern side of Melbourne). Deon and his partner Jodie own and run PJJ. I met them and Jess Fraser at the Australian Girls in Gi day camp. Jess is the brains behind AGIG.

It was a stinker of a hot day, and despite A/C in the car, it was a long 2.5 hr trip from home. It was hot in the gym, too. But despite that, I had several rolls with Jodie and Jess, who are both blue belts.

I don't get a lot of chances to roll with other women, so it was a great opportunity for me. I understand that both of them are heading for the ADCC qualifiers in Sydney in February, so they are training as much as they can. Therefore, female grappling partners are very welcome.

Interesting to see our very different games. I was the only real guard player of the three. But I was encouraged to see that my guard was fairly effective against these two very competitive ladies. However, I seemed to still get caught in a lot of chokes :-)

It was very hot, and it was tough to keep up the wet stuff. But I'm taking the heat very well this year, so I'm pleased with that.

After we agreed to meet again and keep in touch by way of the usual social media, I departed the small but very friendly school.

While in Melbourne, I caught up with my sister and her family. I stayed the night and went for a nice ride with my sister in the morning, before it became too hot again. So the two days made a nice change from my usual routine. Now I'm back home and getting organised for work in the morning.

Our usual BJJ classes will resume on the 9th January, until then we are planning to have open mat most nights.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

happy new year!

Only five minutes left to go of 2011. And what a year it was!!

Lots and lots of stuff happened, both in BJJ and outside. A busy year, and a good year. Three cheers to a great year drawing to a close.

I went to three open mats since Christmas. Small affairs, but fun. I'm lucky to know some really nice people through BJJ. We share the same passion and we all couldn't wait until classes resume in early January :-)

Tomorrow, I might go to Melbourne. I heard there is an open mat going at Perkins Jiu Jitsu in Ringwood, and a few people I know are attending. So I might use the opportunity to start of the new year with some good BJJ, and catch up with my sister afterwards.

Should be great. Anyway, midnight is now, so wishing you all a fantastic 2012!!