Saturday, December 31, 2011

holiday stuff

Holidays means less BJJ, but more time for my other passion: playing with horses. So my last post for the year is a horsey one.

All photos by Yvonne Lehey

Mind... you can clearly see that BJJ is never far from my mind :-)

Monday, December 26, 2011

running, holidays

I've started to do a bit of running. Can't stand being cooped up at work for 8 hours straight. Ha, won't do my cardio any harm anyway.

And now that we have the 2 week break over the holidays with no Jiu Jitsu, I need to keep something to keep me sane. So what did I do on Christmas day? I went for a run. Yes, yes. Most folks would count that as insanity...

I went along a trail on a loop we usually do on horseback. I sure felt further on foot :-)  That made me curious about how far it is. So found this handy-dandy website which uses google maps to calculate any distance between two or more points: Google Maps Distance Calculator.

Cool. So I figured I ran 2.7 kms during my lunch break on Tuesday, and 4.5 kms last night. I know, that's not a lot, but I'm just starting out. For me, it is a lot. And the run on Tuesday included hill work. And this morning I'm feeling pretty good, the legs are not killing me. I was a bit tight in the hamstrings after the run, but a good stretch took care of that. Be interesting to see if my calves will cop the delayed onset muscle soreness.

Ah yeah, and I don't really have to miss out on rolling for two whole weeks. I'm meeting some other addicts on Thursday and Friday night, and then more next week :-)

We had a totally awesome last open mat on Friday. I rolled well and despite the rather warm and humid weather, I just kept going and going. After that, we had a barbeque with everyone from the dojo. A great way to finish a good year.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

power output: perceived vs real

I had two sessions today. The lunchtime class was small. There was only three of us. We did a little bit of work on leglocks and then rolled. After a few minutes with one of the light blue belts, I was called over to roll with Sensei. This lasted for just under half an hour and I got thoroughly thrashed.

He said he was rolling a bit lazy as he's recently had some time off due to the flu. Mind, he always rolls slowly, deliberately, with crushing pressure and a game three steps ahead of mine. I consider myself lucky if I manage to nearly get a sweep or nearly threaten a sub. Occasionally he has to take defensive action, but then I just get into deeper shit ;-). Hell, I consider it a good day if I can defend his attacks for a bit and actually escape once or twice before the inevitable tap.

And throughout all that, his energy output was less than mine. Far less. Ok, he's a bit heavier than I, but he shuts me down with technique. He knows exactly when a bit of strength is needed, and he brings that into play, but no more than necessary.

Fast foward to the evening session. One of the blue belts was teaching and I was helping out. At the end of the session, we rolled for a bit.

First, I got one of the newish white belts. He's tall and strong, but he's getting a handle on basic techniques. Pleasing to see, he tries to use what he's learned rather than just smashing his way through. He's actually said he learns most from the light and no-sub flow rolling we sometimes do. Ha, I call that promising.

Next, I had one of the other white belts. I said seeing it's the last roll for the day and I'm stiff and sore from luncthtime (no exaggeration!), let's go a bit easy. No sooner than he had the slightest grip, and as I sat back for some open guard, he smashed my legs aside with all his power and dropped across for a heavy side control. I laughed and said OK, but that's not what this was all about. That I would like him to use 10% power output instead of 100%. He was surprised. HE THOUGHT he was only using 10%. He said he is using way less than what he would have used when he first started. I replied that he still needs to reduce it 90%. We reset and had a more hesitant version of the first roll. I just protected myself and otherwise let him do his stuff. Eventually, he went for a rear choke which was a pure neck crank and I tapped.

I showed him the difference between a correct rear choke and the crank he had applied as well as a way of getting the choke. So that was all cool.

On the way out, he expressed again that he couldn't understand why I thought he was using too much strength. I tried to explain again, but it's hard to explain something I can't really demonstrate. It's a bit like explaining the scent of roses to someone who has never come across a flower.

The problem with using every muscle in the body at the same time and putting all one's power into a move, is that you can't feel what you are doing, or what your partner is doing. I pointed out that with more experience, he will feel for himself that he can use 10% of his current power output and do good technique (and last longer). And that we ALL started of going full bore and not "getting" it until later. Still, he looked disappointed in some way, or at least unconvinced.

I just wish there was a way in which we gain that awareness and control over our power output earlier in our grappling careers. Hell, I know I still try to muscle stuff at times (as if that works..!), and I do know better. In the end though, I think it takes mat time, especially mat time with senior (purple+) people to conquer that learning curve.

2011 gi survey

Check out the Results of the 2011 gi survey, courtesy of Aesopian.

It will be interesting to see the full results.

Meanwhile.... I'm waiting for my Scramble gi. Hope it'll be here soon :-)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

another grading

It seems like the  squillionth grading I've been to without actually grading myself :-) Well, I clocked up three years of BJJ on October 25, so I'm sort of becoming part of the furniture. So it's not really surprising that I've seen a grading or three.

Being a blue belt and (slowly!!) heading for purple, I'm not going to grade myself any time soon, which gives me plenty of time to observe and work with and help the guys which are still in the lead up to blue belt and do gradings relatively often.

At our school, gradings are a pretty casual affair. Yes, the guys have to work, and from fourth stripe white, they have to push the boat out a bit. Their attitude and determination is as much on display as their technical knowledge. But there is no paying for the priviledge, no airs and graces, and coloured belts get handed with the same minimalist outlook on ceremony as stripes. And this in a traditional Karate school. There are no belt whippings, ceremonial throwings or any of that stuff. Just a bit of bowing and lots of handshaking and congratulations from fellow grapplers. I love it, it's great.

So we had a grading. Three guys were promoted to blue belt. Danny, Justin and Mark put in a lot of hard work and so deserved it. Hunter and Glenn got their fourth stripe. All these guys had to do a lot of rounds of rolling in addition to their technical demonstrations, and I had the pleasure to be able to step in and be part of this. They did great. Several more people gained 1st, 2nd and 3rd stripes on their white belts and from what I saw, they all showed great technique.

All round, it was a long, hard but fantastic Friday evening. I really was proud of them all :-)

Friday, November 25, 2011

open guard + half guard

Thats' what I'm working now. Open guard. All flavours.

We recently did a bit of work ont the Z guard. This kind of came in handy, as I found I got to that position a whole lot anyway. But of course I didn't know what do do with it.... So now I have a nifty arm-drag, a sweep and some other stuff. And with that came a better understanding of how to deal with someone else's Z guard.

I've just started playing with the DLR guard as well. That's very much unknown territory, but I figure I have all the time in the world to experiment. I want to get away from just playing closed guard all the time. Sure, that means I'll get passed a lot. But so what.

I've had complaints about my half guard (bottom). I seem to escape from all sorts of positions to half guard. Often, it seems, I totally frustrate people because they work so hard to get past my halfguard, just to find that I've already got it back on them on the other side. Ok, so that's good. But I still felt like I was getting stuck there. Oh sure, bottom half is better than being mounted or having someone on my back. But I didn't seem to be able to capitalise on it much. Still, having spent so much time there, it certainly has given me plenty of time to work with the position.

I had an interesting discussion about this with Sensei. I mentioned that I feel I get there easy enough, and I'm happy about that, BUT that I can't do much with it. He said that in addition to learning attacks and sweeps from there, I need to change the way I look at it. Rather than saying "I ended up there", I should say "That's what I want" and "see, I got it!" and "now I'm attacking". We've already been working a fair bit on the deep half, which has helped me a lot. I am having a fair bit of success with it now.

I know that with a lot of the stuff I try, I fail because I don't commit, because I don't really believe I can do it. Same same for bottom half and entry to deep half. Once I can get around to viewing it as a starting point rather than a stalling point, I will be able to capitalise on it much more. BJJ is such a mental game. I sometimes wonder if it pushes the physical boundaries more or the mental ones. Either way, I'm forced to step outside my comfort zone remarkably often, and that is a good thing.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

GTA comp

A quick and late report from the GTA comp in Melbourne on October 29....

It was only the second tounament organised by GTA. The first one was no gi (which I missed). This one was gi. It was well organised and well run. The five of us from Ballarat who competed had a lot of fun, and we all brought home some shiny stuff.

I only had one fight. I think there were only about 4 or 5 blue belt women there on the day. I competed against another senior in about my weight bracket. Not much to report, I pulled guard and avoided her attempts to get past my guard while still open. Once I had closed guard, I tried for the cross lapel choke, armbar. Had no problems controlling her posture. Maybe should have looked for other opportunities, but she really protected her arms well. And then I went for the armbar again and made the mistake of not cutting down hard enough with the top leg. So I lost it and she passed. There was less than a minute left to go, and I was on my way to escape side control, but I ran out of time and lost on points.

The guys did pretty good and all had a great time. One of them had had about 2 months off because of a broken kneecap, and decided to make his comeback at the comp. He didn't win, and he was down on himself, but we assured him that while it was maybe a little stoooopid to do what he did, but he wrestled well all the same. He's been to another comp since, and done really well.

I declined going to the Pan Pacs and the Melbourne Open because I had a hell of a load of work due for uni, and exams (which I have now finished). 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

WBJJL comp in Qld

Just a quick report from the comp I went to on 8th October... It was at Nerang in Qld, and organised by the Women's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu League (there is a problem with their website, so I won't link to it at this stage).

It was a small comp only. Sadly, the same weekend saw a couple of clinics with visiting overseas BJJ big names, so the turnout was smaller than last year.

I won my first gi fight by armbar (from guard). Then I lost the two fights in open gi, one one points (and I was a few seconds short of finishing a choke from guard when the bell rang), the other by choke. In the weight no-gi I lost by back choke again and the single fight in the open no-gi on points. As in my second fight, I was actually back to guard and attacking, but I'd left my run too late and didn't get the submission. So result-wise it was a bit of a mixed bag. I was happy with some stuff I did, not so happy with other bits.

I did suffer a bit from the high humidity and the slightly higher temperatures, and somehow I felt very flat. The comp only ran for the afternoon and was all wrapped up within three hours or so. Which means a lot of fights in a short time. That, coupled with the fact that I wasn't feeling top shelf, meant that I really was suffering. I was sooo tired in my third and forth fights. But then I got a second wind, which did show up in how I fought. And I'm not too upset that I lost the last one on points, because I finished strong and I played my game for the second half of it.

The girls I competed against were all from NSW and Qld, and it was nice to meet some new faces. They made me feel very welcome and I was very glad I went up.

Here are some pictures:

I had a fantastic weekend, during which I caught up with my friends Elyane and Rupen. They were kind enough to take me from their place to Nerang, and they stopped by and watched the comp for a bit. Rupen took all the photos (and a bit of video footage) for me.

Despite being worn out and tire, I wasn't too tired for some silly stuff:

Oh, and I must mention that Elyane is a FANTASTIC Naturopath. So if you are ever in Sydney or in Murwillumbah, and looking for some advice on health matters, DO go and see her.

After such a great weekend, I think I know what I'll be doing the same time next year :-)

not keeping up...

It's that time of year with uni. I just can't keep up with this blog while I'm up to my teeth in assignments and getting ready for exams.

I just entered for another comp though, the Australian Jiu-Jitsu Classic. That's on Saturday. It's only the second event of that kind. I didn't go to the last one, but decided I should really check it out. On the one hand I have a guilty conscience because I feel I ought to be studying. Also, I'm not that fussed about competing anyway. On the other hand, it does sound like a good event with excellent prizes, and I think it should be supported. And well, I can't study all day, every day, can I??

I rolled really well most of last week and did well against guys who are senior to me and/or considerably stronger and bigger. Then, tonight, I had that awful feeling of being unable to move again. I nearly chickened out on entering. It was only because I had (wisely?) told several people that I intended to compete, so I wasn't willing to publicly admit to being a coward. Oh, how fragile the ego ;-) So, here I come.

Part of me looks forward to competing, and another part goes bah! Though I've entered as senior, I'll probably be competing against adults, as there still aren't that many entries in the women's divisions. And yeah, I've rolled with young blue belts. I don't have the speed, sadly. And to work my cardio up to the level of some of the competitive blue belt girls takes a lot of doing. But I'm not making excuses, I'm doing it for the experience, and the chance to try myself. If I win, it's a nice bonus. Funnily, there is current discussion on Sherdog, where some guys say they feel too old to compete. And the oldest one of them is about 5 years younger than I. Sometimes I do wonder if it's worth competing. Am I just too pig headed to be sensible or is it a good thing. Honestly, I don't know. There is no pressure from my school to compete, it is something entirely up to me.

My 48th birthday is creeping closer. So I surely won't be competing for many more years. Which is another reason why it's good to get in a few more now. The Classic will be my third one for this year. And then I'll just see how it all pans out for next year.

I'll let you know how I go on Saturday :-)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I'm back

It's been too long since I've posted anything here. I blame it on my quiet lifestyle and my ample spare time (as if..).

I competed at the WBJJL tournament at Nerang in Qld on the weekend. I'll write about that in another post though. And I do have photos this time :-)

Training is going pretty well, I just dont' have time to write about it. But I'll make more of an effort in that direction in the future. Aside from training, I've been continuing to teach the Wednesday classes, which has been interesting. Both interesting as in: challenging and as in: fun and excitement. More about that later though.

I got some new gear, and I've been meaning to write about that, too. My latest acquisition is a Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood rashie from Tatami Fightwear. Very happy with that one. Will post some photos when I get a chance.

I finally indulged myself and joined MGInAction. Due to study and being away, I really haven't spent a lot of time on the site as yet. But what I have seen so far looks awesome. It certainly will be a great resource to me, both in terms of stuff useful for my game, and stuff useful for teaching the guys. If you want to try it out, you can get a week's free trial HERE. That is a referral link, and if you join, I get some money off my renewal :-)

Friday, September 23, 2011

stuck or lazy?

Lately, repeatedly, I've been getting stuck in bottom half guard. Actually, that's not correct, that goes back a lot longer. Just somehow, it's become a bigger problem. Or maybe it's just become more obvious to me.

I find it relatively easy to convert mount bottom or back control to half guard. That's the good bit. Strong defense, to the point where it frustrates purple and brown belts. Very happy with that bit.

Only then I don't capitalize on the position. Somehow I allow myself to get flattened, as I stay defensive, and as a result, eventually I get passed or submitted from there. The feedback I've been getting is that everybody gets trapped by my halfguard. And then as they say "oh, crap", and expect bother, it doesn't happen, so they have all the time in the world and few distractions to proceed to some attack. Interestingly, if I get half guard top, I also go "oh, crap", but before I get a chance to manage an attack, they get the hell out or I end up back in full guard. As my instructor pointed out the other day, I'm defensive, regardless of whether I'm in halfguard top or bottom. Why?? Why not attack.

And since I end up in half guard bottom a lot more often, that's what I've been working on. I spent a fair bit of time with Ben last night, looking at ways to get to a low half guard early. There, not only can I protect my neck and arms, but I can position myself to set up sweeps. We drilled a couple of specific techniques, and then we sort of flow rolled to get the setup for half guard sweeps. That helped a lot, made me realise two very important things:
  • if they are keeping low, go at deep as possible right away, fight for underhooks, go deeep half if possible, trap a leg and work for a sweep
  • if they sit up and threaten my arm, sit up and into them, glue my head to their middle, then when I rock back (or rather, to one hip), the sweep is easy
I didn't get a lot of chance to work on that tonight in open mat. But I did succeed in getting deep half on a decent sized guy once, and yes, there was a sweep. Hoorah!

Anyway, I did ponder the why for a bit. Why do I get so stuck in bottom half. What I was told on Thursday was neither rocket science, nor anything new. It's all stuff I've been told before, principles I know and techniques I've been shown before.

All I can think is that I fell into that old mind trap again. The little voice that says: "well, no point trying, you just can't do this!". That leads to half-arsed attempts, which fail because they are half-arsed. And then the little voice says: "see, told you so!". And there I was thinking I had completely overcome such silly notions, ditched the "I can't do it" attitude. Evidently, not quite...

Believe me, it's embarrassing when you swear black and blue that you CAN'T DO IT. And you have two senior guys say: yes, you can! And they make you try again until you do it right. And then you just have to admit that you were wrong |-) But it's still a liberating feeling, throwing another "CAN'T" in the bin and adding a little bit more to the growing pile of faith in your own ability.

I do wonder if some of this "I CAN'T" attitude is just lazyness. It is easier to sit back and say naw, can't than to put in the effort to fight to make it work. It ends up an excuse. But what good is formulating an exucuse for shitty technique, when I could spend the same amount of mental energy on figureing on how to fix it?

I really need to learn to recognise these mental ruts, before they get so deep that I need someone else to point out that I'm stuck without the need to be there. I need to get off my lazy backside instead of flopping around like a beached whale while complaining that I'm stuck. Ha, looks like I have a bit of work on.... '

another comp!

Yes, yes, I entered the WBJJL comp, and my flights are booked :-)

I'm flying to the Gold Coast on the Friday, will get picked up on arrival Friday afternoon we'll take it easy and visit the horses. Saturday we'll leasurely drive up to Nerang. I'll compete and I'll try and talk my friends into staying and taking some video footage. And provide cheer squad support!

Sunday will be another day of leasure, maybe go horseriding. And catch up on the events of the last couple of years. There will be good food and much merriment.

Then, I'm due to fly back to Melbourne early on Monday morning. I might make it back in time for my lectures at lunchtime. Or maybe I'll just go home and recover from the strenuous weekend ;-)

It's a mini-holiday with my three favourite activities: BJJ, horseriding and eating good food.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

another comp?

Hmm, very seriously thinking of entering this one:

It's in Queensland, and I would need to fly up. BUT... I have a good friend who lives pretty close to Nerang, so I could visit her on the same occasion. Now THAT would be fantastic! I'm looking into flights :-)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Gathering and other weekend stuff

The complete set of results is on the Will/Machado BJJ Australia site.

I had a mixed weekend. I actually had a fair bit of fun and overall, I felt that I went well. Numbers were down this year, so there weren't very many women. Only one other blue belt, so I competed against her in the 16-29 / over 74kg division. And got beat up :-) Placing: 2nd out of two. Woopee...

To give us girls a bit more fun and to have something for a visiting NZ purple belt lady to compete, they put on a mixed women's division at short notice. This was actually held just before the other one. There were the two blue belts, the purple belt and one senior white belt from NZ. I drew the white belt for the first round. It was interesting in that I had a chance to play my game against a very technical opponent of my size. She pulled guard and went straight for an armbar. But I passed her guard and it went from there. As so often though, I couldn't get anything from side control and eventually, things ended up such that she was in my guard. From there, I launched my usual attacks. Almost succeeded in getting her back. Couldn't finish anything off though and finally won on points.

The next (final) round was against the purple belt lady who had won her fight over the blue belt. This was a fun fight. I spent most of it defending. Eventually, I got armbarred. Really technical she was, and it was great. Even the grip fight at the start was good. I'm hoping that someone took footage of that one! Compared to other women I've competed against, she used technique, not grindy, nasty stuff.

So that was a 2nd place out of four.

Nothing to set the world on fire, but I found the right mix of being competitive and laid back and generally just enjoyed the day. What was also great was the chance to see most of my team-mates on the mat. They all did really well. Most brought home some shiny medals. But whether they won or lost, they all showed some awesome technique. And I think they all had a good day as well.

Sunday morning was the seminar with Rigan Machado at Dominance in Richmond. It revolved around d'Arce chokes and a bit of deep half guard entry to sweeps. Really good stuff.

On the way home, I got stuck in a traffic snare just before the Westgate Bridge, which resulted in an extra 3/4 hour I had to spend in the car. By the time I arrived home, I was nicely stiff and pretty worn out.

Another fantastic thing about the weekend: I finally (after 15 years or so) caught up with a good friend of mine. We used to go to agricultural college together back in 1982-85. Ha, yes, there was a bit of reminiscing.

And today, the post-weekend effects: sore shoulders, some matburn, still a bit tired and a messy house :-) But, more importantly, the memory of a great weekend and a lot of food for thought for weeks and months to come. I'd call it a success.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Gathering looms

I'm finally getting my head above water after another couple of intensive week of studies, tests, assignments, work and working horses. So I haven't had too much time to concentrate on The Gathering. Which may be good or it may be not so good :-)

I will admit that I haven't really spent much time or effort on preparing for this competition. Aside from being pretty, oh, absorbed (???) with other parts of my life, I'm just not that fanatical about it. I do BJJ primarily for fun and enjoyment. I don't mind competing, but it's not my reason for doing BJJ. So it suits me that our school doesn't put that much emphasis on it. But certainly, Sensei Glenn will be there on Saturday to support THE TEAM. Which is fantastic.

I had a truly shit session on Monday night. Not so sure why. I guess we all just have days when for whatever reason, the mind is not quite online and the body is sluggish. Well, that was me on Monday. I took the warm-up, and I must admit I was puffed at the end of it. Doh. But it wasn't a very hard warm-up and I could see no reason why I should feel like I did. In hindsight, I didn't eat well during the day. Not enough, and not the right stuff. Too much running around between lectures, and for other reasons.

Anyway, so I grappled like crap (I think it was Leslie who coined the term "crappling", which would have been a good description for my performance on Monday. The white belts ran rings around me. The rounds killed me. I was a sorry sight. So I was a bit upset, and hey, it's not the best way to be in the lead up to a comp. How can you get in a positive frame of mind??

Sensei reminded me that competition wins aren't his measurement of our progress. And that aside from that, the main goal of going to the comp is to have fun and learn. Winning is merely a bonus.

Words of wisdom.

Still am undecided if I'll go to the Pan Pacs the following weekend.

I taught a class on Wednesday, and I didn't get any rolling in. But I didn't mind so much. I was very pleased because I think I successfully taught two very new guys and at the same time two very experienced whites. I found I had something to give to all of them. New concepts and techniques for the new guys, tweaks and improvements for known techniques for the other two. All using the same techniques: have closed guard, break down the opponent, cross lapel choke. Transition to armbar. If they pull out and expose the other arm, go to omoplata. And if they posture ouf of that, triangle. So, so much there....

Tonight (my last session before Saturday's comp) was rolling but from specific positions. I found some Jiu Jitsu again :-) Or maybe it found me! I had one slight lapse of reason early in the night. I started rolling with Ben when in short order, I was on the bottom. And just as my brain was going to kick into neutral, turning me into an uncoordinated bundle of clueless strugglemania, I despairingly said: I'm HERE AGAIN!! Someone kindly pointed out that I WAS rolling with a purple belt. So maybe, just maybe, there ought to be no reason to lament. So I shut my stupid mouth, came to my senses. And from there onwards, I enjoyed myself again. Ben is just the best to roll with. And in the end, I got ample chance to work on getting the back and attacking from there. Oh, and sweeps.

After that, I had a couple of other partners. At times we went fairly hard, but never silly. And though I was a bit tired, I did pretty good. In the end I helped one of the guys troubleshoot getting from a low single to a good position. That also helped me, because I could see what worked or didn't work for him while at the same time learning more on how to defend someone doing it to me. It was a multi-layered learning experience, so to speak. Good stuff. But the main thing is that I'm pretty sure it helped him.

So, that little "blip" on Monday aside, I think I'm pretty positive heading into the comp. I'm actually looking forward to it now. And of course, on Sunday, we'll have the Rigan Machado seminar:

Last year's was the first one I went to, and it was fantastic. All in all, I have a great weekend coming up. Comp on Saturday, spend Saturday night with an old time friend (from waaaaayy back when we went to Dookie Ag.College together). I haven't seen her for years, so that will be great. And we're going out for dinner at a Persian restaurant. And then on Sunday, the seminar.

The toughest job tomorrow will be to decide on which gi I'll wear at the comp :-) Oh yeah, and pack my bag for an early start on Saturday...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

what a week!

That was rather a long week, last week...

After training every day (including a Tuesday double of no-gi and MMA), I spent Sunday at the Girls in Gi camp in Melbourne. That was a really good day. I had lots of fun, lots of rolls and learned some stuff as well.

Unfortunately, I'm flat out with assignments for uni and studying for two tests this week. So I don't really have time to write about it (yet). But meanwhile, have a look at Laura's post about the camp. It includes a few photos and a short write up.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday work-out

I live on a (small) farm, with lots of horses. After a long, wet winter, we finally had a few nice days. So instead of working out in the gym, I worked out. Outside, that is :-)

- over an hour of pushing a heavy duty mower across rough/boggy ground to mow tall woody bracken fern under fence lines
- trimmed some hooves on a semi-cooperative stallion

- rolled out some fencing wire and did sundry fence repairs
- dug some small trenches to drain water from horse yards
- hung up horse rugs to dry

and finally...
- went out riding

The sunshine is lovely My body and soul appreciate it.  I'm so glad that spring is coming!

And it was so nice to finally go riding again. We had such a long, cold, wet winter, and with work and uni I didn't have a lot of time anyway. It seemed to always rain on weekends when I did have time. But spring is on it's way, there will be long and warm evenings. Which means sitting outside on the verandah watching the sun go down or going for rides on a good horse.

It also means no more cold feet at the beginning of BJJ classes. Some of the guys have been wearing socks. But that just looks too silly ;-)

Friday, August 19, 2011

on a roll...

I had another great session tonight. Just open mat. Worked on some of the deep half guard stuff we've been doing in class during the week. Also worked back control, which is my current goto position.

Things have been going well. Not too long before the two comps in September. I'm feeling very positive and I'm getting in enough tough classes that I know I'll be fit enough to compete.

With MMA classes starting up in town, I had my first standup session in over two years. Ah yes, a few things came back, about footwork. I still remember the differences between a jab, cross, hook and uppercut :-) And I still know how to turn the heel for a roundhouse kick. But yes, it's all a bit rusty.

That was a tough night on Tuesday. After an hour long BJJ session (which in itself was quite a challenge with a solid warm up, drilling and plenty of timed rounds of rolling), we did a bunch of striking/kicking drills and then ended with one minute rounds. These alternated between the hanging bags, the ground&pound bags and some Thai clinch work.

I sure slept soundly that night!

The Saturday before, there were Karate black belt trials at the dojo. A couple of us BJJ types were invited to come in and help, as the school has grappling as part of the Karate curriculum. So in order to make sure there were plenty of people for all the candidates to roll with, we were asked if we wanted to come in. Sure we did :-) And we all had fun.

What else is new.. Oh yes, I'm teaching all the Wednesday day classes until at least the end of the semester. I'm taking that in my stride now. It has become routine so I no longer stress about it. I do my best to pass on some knowledge to the guys, even if I sometimes don't feel totally adequate for the task. But wiser people than me said that if we wait with teaching until we are perfect, then we'll never teach. So I just do my best. And we all have fun.

The Girls in Gis day camp is next weekend. It seems like they got 30 girls/women and it's now closed. I just received my info pack (which is pretty comprehensive and the whole thing seems to be pretty well planned and pre-organised). According to the organisers, about half the attendees are white belts, there are ten or so blue belts and a couple of purples and one brown. And ages range from 17 to 47. Haha, guess who's the oldest ;-)

Anyway, I'll report back on that. It will be rather strange to roll with women ;-) But it might be a good prep for the comps. In any case, a day long BJJ event sounds awesome, and the chance to roll with people I don't know is fantastic. I'm really looking forward to it!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

new instructionals

I just bought Ginastica Natural with Alvaro Romano, as well ans Ginastica Natural For Fighters (Vol.1 + 2).

I've been interested in that set for a while, after watching a few youtubes. But I haven't had a chance to watch any of them yet. When I do, I'll report back.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

a complicated relationship

It's kind of hard to articulate how I'm going at the moment. There are a lot of conflicting signals.

We all have highs and lows (and days inbetween). Overall, I'm feeling settled in bluebelt-dom. I've finally put behind me the need to justify to myself and others why I should be wearing that belt. Some days I dish it out, some days I'm on the receiving end. That's the way it's meant to be. I feel that I am improving and generally heading in the right direction. Never mind those odd days when I feel my gi is better at BJJ than I am ;-)

I recently had a few days off due to a mild flu. While I was back on the mat with not too much time off (didn't cough, sneeze and splutter), it did take it out on me more than I thought. I didn't realise just how much it knocked me back, but even the following week I was feeling sluggish and stiff. On top of that, one of the first sessions back was a full on no-gi class. Lots of take-downs, high intensity rolling etc. I was wrecked. It was the first time in a long time that I really was gassed. On top of that, my right knee was feeling pretty unhappy. So for the first time sort of ever (that I can remember), I had to stop and sit out. I didn't quit, I rolled again after. But I had to concede defeat to un-technical, cranky front chokes because I was too stuffed to defend properly. But what mostly pissed me off was that I felt I let my training partner down during the drilling part of the class.

At that point in time I felt that I was going backwards big time, with an injury hanging over my head. With 3 comps coming up, not a good way to be.

At the same time, rolling in my gi classes was going pretty good. I was actually kicking some butt, as long as I was being a bit careful with my right knee. What I figured out though is that I can roll for very long times now because I preserve so much energy. My cardio is only average, but it doesn't matter because at the level of intensity I usually roll. With my energy-preserving skills, it's well untruly enough. So on one hand I'm happy, to have that sort of fuel economy :-)

On the other hand, it won't do for the comps. Totally different intensity. So I do need to crank it up. What I need to work out is which line to walk in terms of the time I have left to prepare and keeping the knee happy.

I was driving myself batty about the issue of letting people down in training. I was doing ok in the gi classes, but in the no-gi classes, where the intensity and the amount of take-downs are being stepped up for the comps, I felt like I wasn't holding my own. Worse, that I was adversely affecting others. I missed several classes due to procrastination. And then I decided to ask. I was prepared to let it go until after the comp and then go back to training there when they are back to normal. But the answer I got was a resounding NO. That I am part of the team, am holding back nobody and to get my arse over there and train.

I did. And it felt good. My cardio isn't as bad as I thought. He's finding takedowns that won't tax my dodgy knee so much. It's all good. But I had to ask.

You see, all things aside, it's still a matter of pride. I know it shouldn't be. But I'm the only woman in both schools. I do NOT want to be the weakest link. I'm a realist and I know I can't be the best (what is good/better/best anyway??), for all sorts of reasons. But my little ego is not happy about being the weakest/worst team member. I am not going to be the one the others shun as partner because I'm perceived to be weak/wussy. Don't get me wrong, I don't need to tap people out all over the show. And I don't mind getting tapped out. But I do need to feel that I am giving everyone problems when rolling. I need to be good enough to challenge my training partners, same as I want them to challenge me (in a positive sense).

I think if it got to the stage where I don't feel I'm giving enough, then I'd rather not be there, rather than being carried by everyone. That is probably an ego thing. Oh well.

On the positive side, I'm making progress in several areas: holding mount, transitions from/to back, attacks from the back, attacks from the closed guard. And sweeps. Yes, sweeps are starting to happen. All in all, I'm going to be able to go into my first blue belt comp with an actual game plan. So in a way, I'm actually really looking forward to the comps. If nothing else, to test it out against people my size :-)

So that's where I'm standing at the moment. It's complicated, my relationship with BJJ!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

more teaching

Looks like I've scored the Wednesday lunchtime classes for the next few months at least.

Cool. Should be fun.

sadistic bitch ?!

So we were working on armbars from mount. A tight, slow version, where you use your posting arm against their neck, to make them a bit uncomfortable. My partner's comment: you do that really well! (the grindy forearm on his throat, that it..). My pleasure.

So then we were drilling cross lapel chokes from mount... Next thing, he tells me I'm a sadistic bitch. Wo-hooo!!

And there I was, thinking I was being "gentle", trying NOT to grab skin. But hey, it's BJJ :-)) Anyway, it was said in jest, and we both laughed.

Someone suggested I should use it for a gi patch :-)

Friday, July 29, 2011

my excuse

I've been thinking about getting a new gi. Do I really need an excuse? Ha!

But I did make a deal with myself (as before). I would only get a new one if I would manage to finish the semester at uni with the results I really wanted. Sort of as a reward :-) Does that sound like a good enough excuse?

Anyway, I did get the results and I did get the new gi.

I spent quite some time looking and was torn between several really good options. The exchange rate is good for buying stuff overseas at the moment, but the killer is the postage. $50 per gi is just just a large cost on top of the item, that it has to be a really, really good deal OR something I reallly, really want and can't get in Australia.

My criteria were good fit and blue and long enough knee patches. After realizing that I still only have a couple of gis which really fit me well (and thus deciding to sell on a couple of the others), I decided that I don't want to experiment this time. Every brand is different with their sizing, and it's not just the absolute size, but also the cut which makes a difference.

My best fitting gi top is still the SYR, but the whole gi isn't holding up well at all.  Also I didn't want to wait until they make a blue one and that whole - preorder and pray you get one in the mad rush - kind of rubbish annoys me. The Tatami Zero G fits well, too, but it's not available in blue. I'm not a great fan of the pants, either.

The Koral Light gi I picked up a few months ago (second hand) isn't a bad fit, though I don't fancy the ripstop jacket material. One of the guys at our school has a navy blue Koral MKM, which I really fancy, but I checked them out everywhere (in Australia and overseas) and can't get one for less than $300. And somehow, I baulk at that, especially as the colour isn't comp legal from what I understand.

So in the end, I looked at the blue Koral Classic in A2. And I found them to be on special at for $220(AUD). They also have the Fuji pants in blue which I wanted to replace the SYR pants. So I ordered the Koral Classic and the Fuji pants.

I've only worn the KC once. It's a tad bigger than what I like. They are supposed to be pre-shrunk, but I do expect it to shrink a whisker, so we should be about right. I'm hoping to give it a good work-out this week. But my first impressions are good. I love the fit of the pants. I could wear these all day :-) I may need to take up the sleeves a little, but that aside it feels pretty good. It looks nice as well, the badging isn't over the top.

So there, the inner gi-whore is once again satisfied. At least for now... Doesn't mean, of course, that I won't be keeping my eye open for bargains or amazingly cool looking gis in faraway lands ;-)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

another favourite brekkie

This doesn't look as cool as the purple porridge, but it's another one of my favourites.

Semolina. Yeah, I know that's no longer fashionable. But who cares.

Add semolina to boiling milk. Stir while doing this to avoid lumps, until it goes thick. Turn off the heat. Add more milk if needed and sugar (or honey to taste) and a pinch of salt if you want. And now the best bit: add a whole egg. Make sure you stir it in right away, unless you want chunky white and yellow bits in your semolina! I use a whisk to stir the semolina and the same whisk makes sure the egg is well mixed in, too.

I love the taste of semolina, so I often eat it just like it is. But you can improve on it with canned apricots, peaches, mandarins or mangoes. As a kid, I used to always have a bowl of semolina with an upturned tinned peach, to make it look like a fried egg :-) Of course, you can always team a bowl of warm semolina with banana or fresh berries or stonefruit. In the picture, I've added tinned mangoes and some juice.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

things that go!

A couple of weeks ago, I tore my gi pants. Pretty much trashed them, in fact:

Yes, that's the Shoyoroll pants, belonging to the gi which I've only started using in the middle of last September. This gi has been used in a rotation with several other gis, so it has had a maximum of two training sessions per week for less than 10 months. Frankly, I'm pretty pissed off about that.

I always questioned the wisdom of knee reinforcements which end right under where my knee usually touches the mat when I'm kneeling. For all of the hoo-ha about using the pearl weave material on the knees, what good is that, if the material doesn't totally cover the zone of the most wear? So, the pants ripped right on the sewing line where the knee patch ends. The other side is nearly worn through as well.

I emailed SYR. I didn't whine about it, I didn't ask for replacements, I just let them know it happened and that I'm a little disappointed. No answer. Oh well.

I think I'll attempt a repair, and use them for spares. Meanwhile, I've bought a pair of blue Fuji A2 pants. I've swapped the material drawstring with the nice rope drawstring from the torn pants.

But it's not just the SYR gi pants that are showing premature wear. The collar is rubbing through in several places. There is an obvious wear spot at the back of the neck on one side, and I can see another one starting on the opposite side. In addition, there are wear marks at the bottom of the lapels.

What pisses me off twice over is that this is my favourite gi in terms of fit and comfort. I recently put a big school patch on the front of it, hoping to use it in the comps coming up in September. Well, I can forget that :-(

I bought the Fuji pants because I had a plain Fuji gi for a while. Only thing I didn't like about it was that the A3 I had was just too big. The pants were well constructed and I liked the feel of the material. That's why I got myself a pair of A2 pants in blue, to go with the SYR top (while it lasts...). After one wash at 40 degrees C, they have shrunk a touch and look like they'll fit perfectly. In fact, they fit better than the SYR pants did.


Update - June 27:

Firstly, here is a picture of the collar of the gi (note that the hole on the right hand side is only just starting to appear).

Secondly, here is the answer from SYR, after I contacted them about the gi:
Hello Chris,
Thank you for your feedback. I apologize for the delay, as I've been out of the office due a death in the family. We definitely appreciate it. Yes, we have modified our pants and the knee pads come down longer below the knee. 

Thank you for supporting Shoyoroll.

Best Regards,

This it is the message I sent to SYR:

Subject: SYR gi

Message Body:
Hi guys,

I've got the blue Superlite Batch 6 gi in size A2. I love this gi, it's the one which fits met the best and I like the feel of it.

Sadly, the pants ripped a couple of weeks ago. There is a big rip below the reinforcement on the left leg, and the right side is about to rip in the same spot. Also, the collar is starting to wear through near the top and at the bottom, near the SYR patch. I only started to wear this gi in September 2010 (wasn't allowed to wear a blue gi until I got my blue belt..). 

It's in a rotation with a couple of other gis, and it is worn no more than twice a week. I recently put a school patch on the gi top, because I wanted to wear it to my next comps in September '11. However, the pants are now finished and I don't know if the top will be legal with worn collar.

I was hoping to get at least a couple of years of normal use out of the gi, so it's a little disappointing that this has happened after only 10 months of moderate usage. Mostly I'm upset that I won't be able to use my favourite gi at the comps.

I would love to get another SYR gi, but until I see that the leg reinforcement comes further down the leg to well below my knee, I don't think there is any point. 

Anyway, while it's not all positive, I thought you might appreciate the feedback. In case you are interested, I have photos of the torn pants.


Update: 7 August

After only about half a dozen more wears and washes, the collar is noticeably more worn through:

I guess that means it won't be good for the comps :-(((

Sunday, July 17, 2011

yikes, I'm getting behind...

I just realised that my last (real) post was back in the middle of June. Time is just running away on me...

I finished all my work and all my exams for uni. Got my results and I'm quite happy :-) Since then, I've had a house full of visitors and I'm still working, so I haven't really had holidays. I've just had time off from uni, haha. And I'm due to go back on August 1. But I'm not complaining, I'm having a lot of fun.

The only thing which I'm not happy about is the dreadful weather. It's cold, wet, windy and generally miserable and grey. Not many opportunities to go and ride horses or enjoy any other outdoors activities. And cold toes at the beginning of every BJJ class. That does tend to pass though ;-)

Due to a wedding today, I didn't get a chance to go to the small comp in Melbourne yesterday. But there are two big ones coming up in September. There is The Gathering on September 10 and the Pan Pacs the weekend after.

I've been working on a few things lately, and I think I finally have some kind of game plan I can call my own. So it will be very interesting to see how that will affect my grappling at the comps. So far, I just went with the flow in the comps I've been to.

Strangely, back control is crystallizing out as one of my got-to positions, and I'm having more and more luck with not only getting there, but actually holding it. And I get submissions, too. In addition, I have learned to transition to other positions, like closed guard or technical mount, if I feel I'm losing back control, and from eithe of those, I can get the back again. That is making an enormous amount of difference.

I continue to fall into the trap of thinking I'm hopeless (will never be a grappler's armpit, blah blah..), and then I surprise myself with getting submissions from unexpected places. Or hearing from people that they will give up positions, just so they don't end up in my guard (or with me on their back), because it's a horribly dangerous place to be. Then I go: Oh! Maybe I AM doing something right. Aw, BJJ is just as much a mental game as it is a physical one :-)

I've booked in for the girls grappling day in late August. It will be very interesting to roll with a bunch of women. As I only have guys in my school, I absolutely have no idea how I stack up against female blue belts. I have rolled with a couple of female blues at John Will's school late last year, and did well. But of course, friendly rolls are a different ballgame to comps. So it will be very constructive for me to actually roll with women in the lead up to the two comps in September.

I had a good learning experience the other day. For the first time in a little while, I ended up rolling with a very new white belt, considerably bigger and stronger than myself. For the first time since starting BJJ, I didn't spend the whole roll worrying about his strength and being defensive. That in itself is a huge leap forward. He wasn't spazzing too much, but he just poured out a huge amount of force. Tried to choke me from within my guard, etc etc. This time, instead of pretty much panicking, I started attacking him. Sometime in the process, I ended up in mount on him and started on my latest favourite technique (cross lapel choke from mount). Got rolled in the end, but had the grips in deep and choked him from within my guard. I can't say how much of a difference that made, knowing that this is possible. I have spent so much time just whining about the size/strength of the guys, defending and staying in under and eventually getting squashed or muscled into submission by some sloppy technique. The watershed in this piece of mental progress was letting go and moving. For example, insteading of hanging on to a close guard which was about to get stacked or passed, I can now open, put feet on hips and push to get distance or transition or attack. I guess it's all part of the overall learning curve. Took me long enough!!

Due to our instructor being away, I've been teaching a couple of classes most weeks. That is a good learning experience, too. It's hard to troubleshoot problems for people with vastly different body shapes. It's also hard to teach new white belt guys how to rolls light :-)) But it's happening!

purple porridge

One of my favourite breakfasts is porridge with honey and berries. Especially on cold mornings :-)

So you start with a rolled oats, cover them with milk and microwave that for a couple of minutes. Stir and give it another minute. Then stir in a generous teaspoon or more of honey. Add more milk if needed and stir. Add a handful of berries. I like either mixed forest berries (fresh or frozen) or blueberries. With blueberries, it looks like this:

Then, stir the berries in and give it another thirty seconds or so in the microwave.

Now it looks like this:

Purple porridge :-)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

First Australian Female Only BJJ Day Camp

I just found out about this. So for all you girls in Oz, take note!!

Seeing it's on a Sunday, I guess I should be able to make it. I have only ever been to one women only BJJ class, so a female only day camp will be a new experience indeed :-)

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 :-)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

discovery and transformation

Oh yes, Roy Dean doesn't just make excellent videos, he writes so much good stuff, too. He just wrote a piece on the meaning of "Discovery who you are", which is the guiding theme throughout all his videos. Read and enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

evil armbars and upside down triangles

I ended up only training three times last week. The knee took it well. But on Saturday, I couldn't make it anyway. I had to stay home because the horse-dentist came. He did six of our horses. Nice guy, and finally a guy who knows what he's doing. A real horseman (they are getting rarer these days, I swear!).

Anyway, it was probably be good to take it steady last week. This week, I've been training every day. The easy week has given my body a chance to recover a bit. Yes, I think I had been overdoing it recently... Sigh. So the question is whether the knee was a result of overtraining or unrelated. Anyway, it made me ease off a bit and I feel better for it all around. And finally by tonight, I didn't even think about the knee.

It's been an interesting week. On Monday, we did cutting armbars. I think I might have finally understood what makes them work. So far, I can only say I've got close. But now I know why I couldn't finish them off, and I think they'll make a handy addition to my arsenal. We looked at cutting armbars from guard and from side control. Whichever starting position, the key to it is to pin his upper arm against me, get a gable grip and slide that along until I get to the sweet spot near his elbow. Ideally, I will rotate his arm while I do that, just with the pressure of my gable grip. And if all goes well, his lower arm and hand will be lined up perfectly between my neck and shoulder. But the main part is the starting pressure. At the end of drilling and experimenting with it, I really could feel that pressure.

Tuesday night was no-gi. First time back since "the knee", so I was hoping to get a training partner with a degree of ahem... sense. I got lucky. Small class, uneven numbers, so I scored John as the drilling partner. We did a little bit of warming up getting x-guard. Then we drilled an open guard pass to knee on belly. As he hips out and rolls towards me to escape the knee, I step over his head and spin my legs back to get behind him. I need to get an underhook on his top arm from the rear. Then I sit up, rock back and take his back. The latter part is exactly how Ryan Hall describes a version of a back take. So it was great to be able to rep that out a few times.

We finished that class with about 20 minutes of rolling. I stayed with John. I was still very mindful of my knee (and so was he), so it was pretty light. But still, it was interesting stuff (most of which finished with my "destruction"). But the good part was that my hips were working and I managed some good escapes. Even got positions to launch a some submissions. I didn't stay for extra open mat, but it was a really good night.

John also showed me how to finish a weird upside down triangle, which I sometimes get, but could never finish. I tried to pull it on him, but failed yet again. Now that I know the finish, I think I might be doing some good with it. I catch people from bottom side control with this :-)

Yesterday's lunchtime class was very small: just myself. So Sensei Glenn decided that I should be his guinea pig for some new stuff he's been working on. And the other half of the class was mine. My choice was to work on the armbar from hell. I have been getting the high guard, with one knee over my opponent's shoulder, quite regularly. From there, I hunt for that armbar. But something was missing and I couldn't figure it out, so I've been going for a sweep, or a cutting armbar instead. Or sometimes I let them push their shoulder through, but keep their arm across, and then take the back.

However, after seeing what I've been doing, Glenn made a couple of suggestions. One was to square my hips back up. Hard to explain, but I know how it should feel. That gives me a much better angle for the armbar. Second suggestion was to have a much better grip on the arm. Even hold it with both my hands instead of using my left hand to push on his head to get my leg over. After some back and forth, and my usual non-faith in my own abilities and him giving me a bollocking for not even trying, I got the hang of it. And he was right, I do not need to let go of the arm, all I need is correct hip alignment and the will to do it. He let me drill it then, against increasing resistance. And at long last, it looks like I've nailed that technique..

He then reminded me how close to that are the related triangle and omoplata, depending on how one of my "victims" reacts. :-) Hehe.

We rolled for a bit after that. I got figure foured a few times. No surprise there, it's his favourite technique. But I defended a couple of those and somewhere along the lines, I threatened one of his arms, another time I regained guard and started going for the high guard. And as he said after: he didn't want to be there, that's now dangerous territory. He gave me some other valuable feedback. So all in all, a great session.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

BJJ and age

Cane Prevost has posted a great piece called The Gift of Age on his blog The Gentle Art.

Highly recommended!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

knee is behaving

After giving myself a break on Monday and Tuesday, I went back to training today. The knee is feeling pretty good. No soreness, no swelling.

Warmup went well, but there was one move where I could feel a slight instability, so I gave that a miss. Otherwise, all good.

We worked on the "holy trinity" of closed guard attacks: triangle, omoplata and armbar. Yeah! I think I've finally figured out why I have so much trouble with armbars from guard. Some of my transitions from one to the other are smoother now, I guess that's all part of my hip-brain connection :-)

Afterwards, we did a bit of rolling. I had Danny as partner. He's lighter than I am and very controlled in how he rolls. He felt guilty, as it was he who I rolled with on Saturday when my knee went. I assured him it wasn't his fault, but I did ask to go reasonably light. That we did, and he was very considerate to my leg. He let stuff go and so did I, but we both did some really good technical stuff. At the end, when I was getting his back for the third time, and the class was nearly out, I threatened to choke him with my belt, which had come undone :-) Sadly, it was time out. It was BJJ how it should be: good flow, minimum strength application, and all around great fun for both of us.

It was great to be back. My knee feels fantastic and I'll be rolling again tomorrow!

my hips are joined to my brain

No, my brain and hips aren't directly physically joined. :-)

But I made an interesting observation in class the other day. It was a repeat of the same thing happening under slightly different circumstances the week before. Only it didn't strike me the first time.

We were doing something which involved step one (do X), then step 2:  hip out, then step three: something else etc. I found that I automatically did the hip out step while I did step one. It was like my hips were on autopilot, and knew where they had to be for the next move. I can't recall what we did, but I remember that it was a known patten. So knowing where I needed to be, I automatically lined up for the next move in the progression. Step 2, the hipping out, happened without conscious thought.

The week before, we did some X-guard entries in our no-gi class. The guy I drilled the moves with is fairly new. He's young and strong (plays footy), and found all the moves no particular challenge. However, he had to make a deliberate effort to add in the hipping out step, which was critical to being lined up properly. I had trouble getting my old achy body doing some of the moves, BUT I automatically did the hipping out as part of the move before, because I/my body KNEW where it had to be to do the next move.

I only realised the significance of that on Saturday, when it happened the second time (well, the second time I took notice of it).

I have recently made a special effort to use my hips more, especially in escapes. As a result, I've noticed that when we drill hip escapes, they are becoming more powerful and more effortless. And concurrently, I have more luck regaining guard. That makes sense. Most intesting though is what I'm calling the brain-hip connection. My brain is starting to be on autopilot when I move, telling the hips to do their stuff. The result of that is more efficient movement and more "spare" brainpower to deal with other grappling problems.

Is that progress or what??  :-)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Blue =/= the blues, but the knee clonked

My training is going ok. I've had lots of awesome sessions. And I've had a few where I feel like handing my blue belt back over... Yes, yes, I kow that's a common enough thing.

I had a chat about it all with Sensei the other day. It was a talk about expectations, dealing with frustration, being too hard on oneself and learning ways to put negative thoughts aside in favour of positive thoughts.

I suppose that part of the problem is my general work/uni workload at the moment. I just feel a bit worn out. I've been cutting back a touch on my training. Believe it or not, sitting in front of a computer or in a lecture theatre all day, can be physically as well as mentally draining. Some nights, I just want to get home. Oh, and there is such a lot of assignment work due that I really can't be training every night (as I would like to) anyway.  So, I suppose my overall stress levels are affecting my rolling :-(

Certainly though, rolling is stil the best way to get balance back into my life. Without BJJ, I'd go insane!

I think I just need to get it into my thick skull that there are NO pressures to perform "well" (whatever that is) on the mat. It can be my recreation, my stress release, my pure enjoyment. So why do I have such problems to just let go and enjoy? Why do I have to keep on stressing myself by expecting to be "good" or "better" (whatever level that might be..)? I got to the point where I felt embarrassed when they guys said (jokingly or seriously) that they are respect my grappling skills. I need to just be happy about that. And I need to accept without argument when a higher belt tells me I did something well.

I need to go back to just rolling for fun and tap to every damn white belt who sets foot on the mat. Really.

I hope that I've finally figured it, and the talk the other day did help in that respect. And hopefully, I'll get over the blues. I need not feel weighed down by my blue belt, it wasn't given to me to beat myself up with it.

But all is not lost, I had a couple of terrific rolls, too. Including some with Sensei (first one in ages). Sure I had to tap, but I made him work a bit. And as he said after: he got the white belts with his newer techniques. To get me, he had to resort to his old bread and butter stuff. And I sure don't feel bad about getting tapped by a brown belt with his "good" techniques.

Still, the week did bite me in the butt in the end. During a pretty laid back roll on Saturday, I tweaked my right knee. It suddenly said "clonk!" quite loudly. My partner stopped, I stopped, we looked at each other and then disentangled. I carefully moved it but it felt ok and was fine for the rest of the roll. I was slightly puffy and stiff the following day. I used the usual ice/iboprofen/rest/horse liniment strategy over the weekend. I can report that it feels pretty good now. Gave training a miss last night and tonight, just to be on the safe side, but I think I can go and roll tomorrow. Maybe I'll stick on a knee brace. At least that will remind me to be careful with it...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

never a dull moment

I managed to get my uni assignments done on time. Currently have a couple of weeks off from uni, but I'm still working. I'm settling in to whole days in front of a computer, but it's hard going. Thank goodness for the opportunity to do something physically demanding at the end of every day. Without BJJ, I'd be going nuts.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the studies and the job, but it's soooo much sitting down. And as we are heading into the winter months, the days are getting too short do do anything with horses when I get home.

The way things have panned out, I can train at least once every day except Sunday, and work finishes in time for me to get to classes easily. So no complaints there.

Last Friday, we were treated to a three hour seminar with Scott "Einstein" Epstein at the 10th Planet school here in Ballarat. That was pretty good. The seminar was well attended, and I think that most of us would be keen to go to anothe seminar with Scott. We didn't do anything relating to rubber guard or twisters, but we learned another whole lot of interesting stuff. Some new techniques and some tweaks to well known techniques, such as the rear choke. At the end of the seminar he asked for a technique people wanted to work on, and as most of the group wanted the d'Arce choke, that's what we worked on.

My training has been going well as a whole. Some days I feel like a klutz, some days I feel awesome. But lately, I feel I'm moving better. I guess I have to, some of they guys who are now 3 and four stripe white belts are getting pretty good. They make me work :-)

I have finished the book "Talent is overrated" by Geoffrey Colvin. That was interesting, as it goes into what makes people really good at what they do. While the book seems to be aimed at making people and teams better in a work/corporate environment, I found a lot of the info pretty relevant to not only work and study, but also to BJJ. Interesting was the comment that it takes about ten years to become "good" at something. Which is roughly equivalent to the time to get a BB in BJJ. It also ties in my with my personal observations in other areas.

I've worn my fancy new grappling tights to training. When I rocked up with them under my black Hayabusa shorts, I got a few smiles. Don't get me wrong, I love black. But when everyone in the nogi class wears mainly black, a bit of grey and white and otherwise there are only minuscule dashes of colour, then it's time for MORE colour :-). The instructor laughed. Otherwise I nary got a response. However, when I went back the next day, sans brightly coloured tights, they wanted to know why I wasn't wearing them. And it transpired that some admiring comments were made. 

I guess they think I'm crazy enough as it is, to be the only female in a nogi/mma gym, being at least twice as old as most of them to boot. Crazy old birds can get away with wearing almost anything, even on the mat :-) I'm an introvert, really, but the older I get, the more crazy stuff I do...

And what are they like to wear? Nice! I was worried they'd be too hot. But not so. I've even worn them under gi pants and that was fine, too. So when the colder weather comes, I think they'll be great. So I can only recommend them.