Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
I think the emotional attachment also helped me to learn and remember the technique. It stood out in my mind. I watched the video 4 times over the course of a couple of days, I practiced it 3-4 times, and I saw Gary teach it to others. I was able to understand the fundamentals that the technique builds on, which also helps to fit the pieces together into my existing framework. The move begins with setting up the scissor sweep guard from closed guard, and the ultimate goal is the triangle. Carlson talks about the scissor sweep guard as a great guard that is very difficult to pass. I never thought of the scissor sweep setup as a 'guard,' so that was helpful in my thinking. It put a positive light on a move that I was told nearly impossible for me to execute with my 'bjj chronic size difference syndrome.' I now have a more effective tool than I thought. In terms of the triangle ('big finish,') another neat trick clicked. Grabbing onto my own shin is not just for a quick way to lock the legs. Holding onto the shin can keep the person in position even while moving around and battling for the submission. So Simple. So Awesome. It means the game's not over, even if things don't go my way right away. Gary has huge shoulders that give me trouble. This made a big difference!
Monday, August 8, 2011
If I'd seen the book on a store shelf, I would have glazed right by it, but luckily, it was presented to me as a must-study for my practice. The book really emphasizes process; from the very first day on the mat. I took a step back and read through the introduction. It is 43 pages of advice. Rodrigo Gracie basically sets up a mindset about training and progress, including warnings about injury and reasons why people quit along the way. He talks about the beginnings of feeling discouraged when techniques fail (been there.) He talks about learning how certain techniques will fit you better than others (figured that one out the hard way). He runs through the learning process, which is what I have been focusing on lately for myself. I knew that practicing was important, and hearing in black and white that repetition of each move without putting it into action is so crucial, has deflated any excuses I ever made about grappling not affording me this type of practice. Rodrigo says that white belts should not be focusing on grappling, but on learning each move. He also, of course, emphasizes connections. I jotted down one overall reminder about thinking systematically, in my BJJournal, "It's extremely important that, along with understanding the techniques, counters, transitions and links, (I) understand what each position involves - (I) need to know the objectives of each major position, what (I) need to prepare for and what (I) need to be thinking about in regard to each of the major positions (PTTBB 19)."
In teaching student success, I would always emphasize how important it is to actually say "I," rather than the safer way of deflecting by making general statements with "one" or "you." Here was my chance to practice taking ownership over my own training and learning. If I want to change, I commit to action.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
This week, I have had a few more moments when I've felt things coming together, and where I've been remembering some long-lost moves. Really, I guess it's the process of my brain recognizing a position I'm in, and searching the filing cabinet for what to do. (and by filing cabinet.. i mean that my brain is probably more like a box that just gets papers shoved into it at random) A friend posted this video on facebook because it's hilarious, but it is also very good basic Jiu-Jitsu. I subscribed to Kurt Osiander's 'Move of the Week,' so I am committing to a way to focus. My commitment to myself and my jiu-jitsu practice is to keep watching each week's video 2-3 days throughout the week.
Here's the video:
Kurt Osiander move of the week - escape from side control
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
At this seminar, I trained with a black belt (mostly because we were the two partner-less people after everyone else paired up). I still have the 'awe factor,' but as I meet more black belts, the interaction feels more comfortable. I switched partners for one move that was harder with a height difference, and didn't know until the car ride home that I was with the master instructor of our school (we're at a satellite). I don't think i did/said anything embarrassing :-)
From the very beginning, I've been so spoiled, getting to train with upper belts. I try not to impose too much on their training time, but I think this is one of the reasons that I have stuck with it. They have a general heir of calmness and sincerity that I truly appreciate and aspire toward. Especially at this bjjym, I am noticing that many of the white belts don't have that same spirit of respect and artfulness. Everything seems like a threat and a reason to prove themselves... instead of self-betterment and an outlook on life. One theory - the people who stick with it are the ones who have that attitude of a long personal journey. I don't know if it's something that you can grow into, or if some folks who just come to "fight" and to "win" against others quit after a while. In general, I am fascinated by what may motivate different people to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu... and to stay with it.
I asked my instructor this question one day. He said that, when he was a kid, he was smaller, and play fighting with friends, others' size and strength brought great advantage. Someone showed him a Japanese Jiu-Jitsu move or two, and he liked that he could find an angle to lessen their advantage. He stuck with it because he is generally a pretty hyper personality, and the days he trains Jiu-Jitsu, he notices a greater sense of calm and self-control.
What brought you to the mat? and what keeps you here?
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
I grew up with older brothers, so this is the type of BJJ interaction that I have found most comfortable. It is actually the women; stronger, aggressive, white belt women, who I fear most. But if there was an upper belt female who was supportive and wanted to help me... I think that would be awesome! I have never been to a women-only seminar, or been taught by a woman, so I can't say for sure, but I really feel that the female empowerment aspect is important. Generally speaking, it is women who know what it is like to feel vulnerable, ignored, pushed aside, belittled, trivialized, condescended toward, taken advantage of and/or disrespected on a regular basis. These are aspects of gender that may not directly occur on the mat, but that may be coming onto the mat with someone. I tried out a gym that had a huge locker room with showers for men... and literally a closet for women. There are lots of ways to say women don't belong, this isn't really for you. I shopped around for a bicycle for over a year, and nothing felt quite right. It wasn't until I found a line of Giant bikes that are made for women, by women, that riding a bike was actually comfortable. For BJJ, I bought one of the very few Gi's designed for women and it made a HUGE difference. I have a BreakPoint and it's great. Next, I want to buy a Fenom Gi because I like their organizational mission. This is also something that I only learned about through the female blogging community. Thanks, Ladies. I guess, overall, my hunch is that the women who come to the mat and stick around are the ones who have already had enough positive experiences with men in their lives to work through any uncomfortable or frightening feelings. I think that the mat is an excellent experience for younger girls (and boys) to learn about respect and to internalize the confidence for life.
BJJ technique has always been stressed to me, of course, because I will not be forcing anything in a fight. But I am now being coached a bit on aggression. If I use my 100 pounds just right in one spot, and find my timing and power... I may get somewhere dominant. Sounds like the stars aligning, ay.
Being easy going is great, but in BJJ and in pursuing life's goals, a little 'go getter' is necessary. The fight is within.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
In preparing to go to class, I had my two new bjj friends mad and anxious weighing on my chest from the day before. I got to the school and was greeted by the hug which was lovely. And then the class was about chokes and triangles... finally, I felt like I had a base and was building on it. I was able to focus on new adjustments, and learning a couple of new things. In the white belt session (30 min before class, 2x per week), from the guard, we practiced 3 X Choke variations, a loop choke and the Ezekiel. Then 4 collar chokes from the back. The loop choke was new for me. It was grabbing the collar and starting with the forearm across the throat, then the other arm loops around the head to lock it, and shrimping out to tighten. Similar concept to Ezekiel, but I didn't realize that at the time.
Guard and having someone's back are two positions where I feel most stable, so I can envision myself in a position to work these. From mount, I try a thing or two, but usually just end up getting flipped right back to guard.
For the triangle (I like the triangle), I learned another detail for when everything is locked in tight, but no choking is occurring. To grab the other arm and shrimp out to the side a little. Gary said I'd been shown that before, but i guess there's only so many details I can absorb at a time. grab shin NOT foot. raise hips. arm across. head down. knees in. toes up. ... now move body sideways. got it. We also learned two defenses which were great and new for me. I'd only been told to 'posture up'... like it's so easy. and then wonder why i don't triumph successfully :-) i guess that's why this is a lifetime's pursuit.
BJJ is not actually 'fun' for me, so there is no general level of excitement or pleasant anticipation for training days, but I do think about it. I think about it in terms of self improvement and emotional strength building. I also will admit that I like thinking about how cute our little BJJ family will be :-) That was what added to the warm feeling at our old 'bjjym.' Everyone brought their kids and the coach's baby was there most every day and his wife trained with us. The coach also set the tone for making fun of each other, but it was always about love and support. He is tough and energetic like a real team coach, and is quick to greet you like a friend with hugs and kisses. I like hugs. I think it was my first hug at the new school that set my mind to have a better day than the last. Walking in, it was the owner of the Tai Kwon Do school where we have class that showed me and Gary the warm kindness that I was unknowingly craving.
Everyone at the bjjym is nice and willing to help, and I know I really shouldn't compare myself to others because this is my journey, but 1. everyone seems better than me. and 2. there is a new girl that is kicking my butt a little bit. She is picking everything up so quickly. I may not have won many competitions in my life, but dead last is not a spot i'm used to. There was one other time when I felt like the slow kid in class. As a graduate student in Intercultural Communication, I took a color theory class in the design school for fun. I ended up really enjoying it, but each day, we would bring our work in, and mine was so basic. I worked hard to end up with the bare minimum when the undergrad art majors would bring in these complicated art pieces that were applications of the color theories. I had a square and a circle, and next to me was a fish tessellation. It seemed amazing and unrealistic to me, but I plugged away, one project after the next.
I know. I need to study. Gary hates it when I say anything that is even a distant cousin to self-pitty.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
The week didn't start out quite so peachy, though. We've been on a Monday/Wednesday schedule. I was sick for a week, and then Monday was memorial day, so no class. Back at class on Wednesday, already feeling a bit anxious about not feeling comfortable at the new school and not feeling comfortable with my two stripes. I had never learned a Kimura, somehow, and now in the white belt basics session, I learned to go for it from when someone defends the hip bump sweep. learned to defend it from that position by grabbing your own leg and passing. Kimura reversal from bottom by pushing the persons arm to their stomach and fliping them over. (that last part Gary helped me to remember because I never really understood the situation). I felt like it was my first week and I wasn't even able to visualize the position where I would be to do this... never mind remembering how to do it if I ever got the opportunity. This led into the regular class where the instructor showed 3 other variations, and I couldn't even focus to pay attention. 'practicing' it was a disaster. The people were nice, but I was always turning the wrong direction and having zero idea of what to do at any given moment. All the while being judged on how little I seem to know for the degrees I've acquired.
At this point, already feeling flustered and distant, the instructor was about to set up drills. I must have looked confused and unsure, because he said something about cross-body escapes, and I had never heard that before, so I was translating it into what must mean the same as escaping from side control. At that moment, the instructor looked at me and said, "well, i'm just judging by the stripes you walked in with. do you know two cross-body escapes?." I said yes, but the thing is, at this point, I've "learned" a great deal more than I "know." I can in no way recall, and actually use everything I've been taught, which was beginning to feel quite awkward having so many of these moments. There are also a lot of names that are unfamiliar, which adds to my unsure facial expressions.
Somehow, during this drill, my toe got hurt and something around my finger didn't feel quite right. I kept going, but now I was starting to get mad and upset. My shoulders have been a bit messed up because of all this new Kimura business, and this was just piling on top. I was mad at myself for getting hurt. Mad at Jiu-Jitsu, the instructor, the school environment. I gave into pressures to push myself too hard to try to 'prove' my rank... which was clearly not going so well, anyway. The expectations of me turned out to be higher than I had anticipated. I thought that with my little white belt, it would be no big deal going to a new school.
At the end of class, I rolled with Gary, and I was on the brink of tears. He kept pushing me to persevere and find my fighting spirit. This was all too much to handle at the moment. There I was after class, not so successfully holding back the tears, Someone I didn't know asking me if I was okay... It was all quite embarrassing and leaving me feeling defeated physically and emotionally.
... The next day, I woke up still mad. That was a first for me. Later in the day, I felt okay, but right then I decided that I had to go back today, and not wait. This could be my defining moment in moving forward. To say to myself and everyone else, that, Yes, I had a rough day... but I'm not here to be a quitter. I went by myself. Me, my purple little toe and strained shoulders showed up and had a good class. No excuses.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
We did a lot of new drills, which, once I learn the moves, will be great for agility and movement. As a little person, I definitely could use the added speed to my advantage. I also liked that the instructor stressed gaining muscle memory for the movements. I felt like it was a good learning environment.
And now.. On to a new chapter of my BJJ adventure...
Monday, May 9, 2011
In terms of style, I noticed a difference, but Gary was able to tell more. With one blue belt that was pretty easy going, I was able to make adjustments to my game based on his reactions, which I was quite proud of myself for :-) When I went to pass his guard, he caught me in half guard. After a couple of times, I was able to be proactive and control the one leg with the knee-threw pass, but I also paid attention to controlling the other leg with my arm to get by. I did learn that detail of grabbing the pant as a step, but now I will remember it because I experienced the reason behind it.
Another blue belt had great use of technique. I am sensitive to the difference between technique and strength, because I have been muscled around many a time. (not surprising, of course, since 99% of my training partners have been much stronger than I am). While we were rolling, his foot got stuck in a sweep. Even though he was in control, I saw that he might be in a bad position. I asked, "is your foot okay?" He laughed and said, "thanks for noticing. you have good body awareness." That was a nice thing to hear. We stopped and started again. It felt like the truest sense of the word, 'training.' nothing was a big deal. no ego. it didn't matter who had advantage. it was clear, though, that not getting hurt for silly reasons is very important. I like to think that if I tap out today, I'll survive to train another day.
After class, I talked to this same guy, and mentioned that I noticed his consistent use of technique. Turns out, he had some training experience at a gym with really big guys. I know that concept well.. combat strength with technique, or give up right then. I told him about when I first started and had to just figure out basic survival. Nothing else happens if I can't survive. I would think to myself, "Don't get crushed. Turn to the side! turn to the side!" I told him that "Pancakes are only for breakfast!" He liked that one.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I tap out pretty easily, because in my mind, it's practical. Training is practice, and I'd really like to stay calm and not get so frustrated that I get mad... or get hurt. I'm not sure if this dampens my 'fighting spirit,' but I'd say I'm still the tiny and tough one at the gym, but i'm not violent. Some of these new white belts are so wild and forceful, it's a little scary. One is testing my un-pancakeness, but i'm doing okay. Pancakes Are Still Only For Breakfast. haha. sounds like my movie sequel.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Gary taught a kids class this week, which was pretty funny. He kept 35 wild kids engaged and on task. They're so little, it's so cute. I showed the technique with him, and I helped in training... since i'm the size of some of these 12-year old girls, anyway.
Since I started training BJJ, I liked the idea of mentoring young women to feel more confident and less vulnerable, both physically and emotionally. I truly believe that they go together. In a world that is still made for men, but says superficially that women are equal, I think it is even more important for women to know that being trivialized, pushed aside or taken advantage of is not okay.
We showed the shrimp escape (mount to guard), and one kid asked if it works if the person is heavier than you, so I had Gary get on mount, and I did the technique. They thought it was neat. What I didn't say, but some figured out during rolling, is just how difficult it is when the heavier person on top isn't giving you space for the escape. haha. just like any technique, there are 600 ways for it not to work. I suppose that this is how I incorporate failure into my life.