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 :-)