Wednesday, November 11, 2009

back to the drawing board

Well, scratch that last program.

I am not in a place where my body will let me go to the gym every morning to do HIIT cardio and left 2-3 times a week, AND train bjj and judo 3 times a week. Not yet.

Hit the wall last Thursday. My lead hand wrist has been really really sore and stiff for a couple of weeks now (no idea why), and I had my knee give out in judo. That (the knee) was my absolute red flag sign: I haven't had knee issues in a LONG time.

The knee seems fine now, the wrist not so much, but what I'm thinking/hoping is the case is that these weren't specific incidents where I will have chronic issues with these joints. I think I was just asking too much from my body at once.

NO coincidence that this philosophy happens to follow in the footsteps of a recent issue of GracieMag that espouses the overall lifestyle that tends to enter the life of anyone who trains in bjj and wants to do so for the rest of their life. Last week I also changed up my diet to restrict carbs (to varying success - man that's a hard habit to break), and last week I didn't get anywhere NEAR enough sleep. And work had me all bent out of shape.

That probably lead to a cumulative inflammatory overreaction in my system. Way more than could be handled by a few fish oil capsules.

So this week I'm making a point to sleep more. Reel back the lifting to days that I'm not training martial arts that evening. Doing intu-flow daily again to nourish the connective tissue and sort of recenter myself. Enough water.

Cautiously approaching today and tomorrow. Bjj private today, might do regular class as well tonight, judo tomorrow night. Not sure how/if my wrist will handle that.

We shall see.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cheating on my husband

Oh how proud my journalism professors would be, using a lead like that.

I used to think of BJJ as a boyfriend that treated me like shit, but I kept chasing after anyways. Well, we've long since gone to couples therapy, and it's more like a marriage now. A good one, not one of those ones you see disintegrate on Jerry Springer.

Lately, though... I've been fooling around with my husband's best friend: judo. And I don't care what the neighbors may think.

Okay, enough metaphor. I'm having an absolute BLAST in judo class (which isn't to say I don't in BJJ), and I think the work of gripfighting and trying to read the momentum of what I'm doing or what my partner is doing is going to translate over well to my work in BJJ. And maybe it already is. I'm really hoping it improves my timing, especially with sweeps since I find myself in a defensive posture the vast majority of the time in bjj.

Maybe it's because I'm encouraged to use strength with my technique. Maybe it's just a natural inclination I have to throw people. Maybe it's just the experience of studying something almost entirely new to me. Whichever, I'm finding myself newly inspired. And that's always something I welcome.

In bjj, I'm toeing the line of going hypercritical on myself, a common derailment that has reared its head in my studies all along. I'm trying very very hard to not get frustrated, to instead try harder to make things work, make things stick (my biggest obstacle), and make things flow (a close 2nd place in the obstacle department). It is my intention to drill more with people, but life keeps getting in the way. And few and far between are the people who will lower themselves to just drilling (read: letting the old rusty broad flop about and try to get the moves down).

ADD is no friend to learning bjj. Last week I had a horrible evening because I couldn't focus. Too many moves, too much rushing about, not enough reps, and nowhere near the attention span I needed. The harder I tried to focus, the more easily distracted I became. Which only made me that much angrier and less capable of focusing. I told a friend later that I wish the drug companies could come up with something akin to an asthma inhaler for ADD. It doesn't derail me like this that often, but when it does, it is horribly infuriating.

dialing back my lifting a bit this week. I'm restricting my lifting days to those day in which I'm not training bjj or judo that night. Doubling up on those days is causing more damage than I can heal from. I'm skirting injury. Probably looking at lifting and cardio intervals 2 mornings a week, the rest will go to cardio intervals only. Rest on the weekends.

I'm frustrated on the nutrient timing angle of this though. I know I need to make more wholesale changes to my regular diet, but can't seem to find 2 sources that agree on the whats and hows of it. Carbs are okay or not? Restrict them after 7pm or allow if post-workout? I hate to waste time with a procedure that isn't going to work, but I also know it generally takes 8-10 weeks of consistency before I can tell if something is or is not working for me.

Maybe this week I will try and go back to protein shakes for dinner. Mostly protein. carbs only from recovery drink. It's hard though, I usually come home pretty hungry. Maybe some fruit/clean carbs in the afternoon before training.

We'll see how less lifting affects things. Judo is my last day of martial arts training for the week, typically. By Friday morning, I'm pretty fatigued. Sore knees, sore wrist, sometimes weak ankles -- I'm hoping those are just signs that I can eradicate by backing off a little on lifting, and getting back on track with my fish oil supplementation.

I guess we'll see by year's end.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Review: Nogi's 2009 product line... copied from my post on sherdog

Hoodie detail just didn't come out like I wanted. The white logo is actually similar to the white kingpin shorts (i.e. -- has the tiny grey o's on them).

The material of the volts is slightly lighter (to me) than the kingpins. Embroidery is insanely nice on all models.

Actually a lot of things to discuss here, so I'm probably going to go at it a piece at a time. We'll start with the hoodie. For those of you who don't know, I'm female, so my opinions on sizing will likely not be as accurate for you fellas. I've got more curves than y'all, but for what it's worth, I'm really short and have pretty stout legs/quads. Wear an A2 gi. Far from frail.

Yes, you need to order up a size for the sherpa lined hoodie. At least one size. If you plan on wearing a thicker top (i.e.-- sweater, fleece, anything much more than a t-shirt or perhaps thermal), maybe 2 sizes up. The sherpa lining is THICK. I normally get large regular hoodies from Nogi, and this actually fits about the same by the time the lining is accounted for.

too a few more shots to try and show the detail on the chest logo, the embroidery on the hood, and the thumbholes for hand warmth.

lowCofG is online now Report Post

also, ipod pocket within the front left pocket is an added bonus. Has a reinforced metal grommet for your headphone wire to poke through. Not sure it'll fit my big video ipod, but certainly ample space for a shuffle or nano.

outer material is heavyweight cotton, don't see it failing anytime soon. Embroidery is absolutely superb. Would LOVE to see color variants on this. Maybe a white outer, red embroidery, grey lining using the black kingpin material? Hell, as long as it ain't pink. lol

gorgeous hoodie. I have zero complaints.

more grey volt shots

front side

front leg embroidery

back side

back leg applique

side shot

side leg embroidery

front closure embroidery

front closure/inside waistband

As a fan of the previous ghosts/phantoms from Nogi, the grey, black, and brown Volts are all wonderful iterations along that forefather design. These run to right at/below my kneecaps (sorry, no pics, I need to shave). Ample leg openings - no kick restrictions whatsoever. To me, the cut of these, especially the seam placements, make for guard-friendly action. Your hips should be plenty free from restriction in these.

closure is solid, the velcro is strong as is its stitching (for those concerned by previous model's velcro being too strong for the stitching, that appears to have been addressed). For you fans of drawstrings, that has also been implemented. While a departure from prior Nogi closure systems, this one is just as good. I've noted no chafing from the wider closure fixture when playing guard or being stacked.

no pockets on this model, so no concerns of getting fingers or toes snagged while playing ground game.

the back leg has a graphic imprint on it -- seems sturdy to me, no breakdown after repeat washings at this point. Plenty of open space for your own sponsors, incidentally.

the embroidery to the side leg and front right leg is fantastic - a hallmark of Nogi. Overall stitching seems solid to me thus far.

material is typical Nogi fare - lightweight but durable, and just as comfy as anything I've encountered on the market today. Moreso, actually. Nogis continue to be my standard for comfort - I wear these as much for hanging out as I do training (although the 2 tend to overlap more and more for me these days).

the 2-sided beanie:

and I mean, it's a beanie. a damned handsome one at that. two, actually.

I find the material on the Kingpins to be thicker than the Volts, but just as comfortable. The graphics are very very sharp. Outstanding embroidery.

this model has a back pocket, incidentally. And it's free-floating - meaning there's a separate pouch for the pocket that isn't 100% fixed to the inside of the short. Typical velcro closure similar to the old Grill shorts.

slight split to leg opening, not that it needed it. As much ornamental as functional I would wager - an appeasement to those who insist on needing a split on the leg opening.

The piping is nice, sturdy.

I'm imagining that the heft of these shorts comes more from materials being layered atop the black "frame" material -- if you look at the shorts inside out, you see it's not like one piece attached to another piece of material. Don't be deterred by the issue of weight, it isn't cumbersome. The comfort level is certainly not compromised. If anything, it just makes the shorts feel nicer, of higher quality. Being limited editions, I'm sure that's to be expected.

rashguards - speed short sleeves, rank rashguards, and loose-fit.

lower profile neck on the rank rashguards, but the neck of the regular speeds are also lower profile than, say, atama rashguards... otherwise, the speed rashguards are thin, sturdy fare. I've yet to have any degradation of graphics on my nogi rashguards, and expect no different from these. The material is a bit thin, but far from flimsy.

the blue of my long-sleeve guard was lighter and the short sleeve model, but may've just been a coincidence of timing - I did not order both at the same time.

on the ranked rashguards, I especially like that the side seams are offset to run just slightly towards the front and back -- that is, not going perfectly down the sides. I believe this allows for better dispersal of stress to the garment according to specific typical demands. Layman's terms, it ain't gonna tear as easy from strain as it might were it constructed like a typical shirt/rashguard with regards to seam placement.

Generous length, overall -- I never worry about the bottom of the rashguard riding up from my gi pants or shorts.

smooth stitching/seamwork - no chafing that I've noticed.

the loose fit is a thicker lycra than the speeds. minimalist logos. generous sleeve length on the short sleeve model.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

baby steps

that I've not updated in over a month is less a testament to inactivity than it is spare time to do so.

In starting back to more serious training, I reeled back everything else I was doing in terms of exercise. I hit the reset button, and elected to instead pursue bjj practice, and little else, until my body re-acquainted itself to those rigors and demands.

several weeks later, I'm ready to start adding things back in. Some weight training, but chiefly some interval training for cardio. Right now, that's only being paired with my lift days. ~24-30 minutes of HIIT cardio followed by sets of maybe 2-3 exercises per major body part/mechanism to failure. A friend recommended it to me after I whined about my quads crapping out on me/filling with lactic acid - enzymatic training.

Since everything I've tried doesn't seem to elicit the results I want, I'm taking his advice for a few months. Or at least, I'm going to try to. I need to add more HIIT sessions of just cardio, since really my primary goal is weight loss at this point. I'm way too heavy to execute, and it's also impeding my flexibility. And I'm sure it's probably inviting injury as well. I've just been lucky with that.

and aside from recovery drinks/shakes, no carbs after 7pm. This will be hard. It will mean dinner = muscle milk or some similar derivative for the foreseeable future. Evenings that I am training bjj/etc I rarely get home before 830pm. But carb restriction is also something I've yet to try, so I'm certainly not going to pass judgment on it until I have at least given it its fair shot.

I would like to be able to do HIIT in the mornings, but I'm not precisely sure whether that means getting up doubly early to go to the gym for cardio machines, or if maybe I'll do something along the ilk of CST/flow-fit/bodyweight activities. Or even going downstairs to do some bas rutten thai boxing on the heavy bag.

I'm also going to have to figure out a means of getting to sleep faster on my bjj nights. None of this will be as effective if I don't get rest.

ON A MORE BJJ RELATED RANT... training has been going okay. I'm still a little overwhelmed really with all of the material, and last week was derailed by a family emergency that feels as though it lasted weeks in terms of interrupting my training. But hopefully all will get back on track soon. I'm hoping to get to start attending the judo class followed perhaps by muay thai, since I'm never really certain if/when I'll train bjj on weekends.

Trying to do private lessons at least every other week, and I think it is helping, but it's just difficult to see sometimes. With so many people intent on going full bore (when they are already stronger than me), that nullifies some of my new technique. I don't want to stoop to she-hulking my way through things, but the temptation to do so is always there.

with injury usually lurking close behind it.

that said, time to suit up and go do HIIT and pick some new upper/mid back lifts to torture myself with.

Friday, July 10, 2009

change is very, very good.

In between work and overtraining, I've not taken the time to blog. Which should not at all be taken to mean I've had nothing worth blogging about.

Quite the contrary.

My first couple of weeks back, I plodded through the first hour of class, maybe a little over, but nothing resembling rolling. Took the other nights off to go do hamster wheel cardio or what not.

Then it kicked back in. Two nights a week quickly turned back into as many nights as available, which quickly turned into sore knee joints, troubled shoulders, and a host of gis drying from every doorframe.

I'm sure the local water company is elated.

I'm learning so much, not absorbing enough. I want more drill time, but need more rest time. My notebook is filling up, but I insist on researching one more move and detailing it.

Ah yes, welcome back to the obsession. How I missed it.

But now I'm realizing that while the will may be strong, the flesh is weak. I can't train every night. Not yet. I'm in no shape for it. And there's no sense pouting about it, it is what it is.

So I'm trying to figure out how to maximize my ground work time while minimizing the effects of overtraining. Sadly, I think I'm going to have to give up the tuesday/friday MMA class. While I love doing it, it isn't bringing my ground game to anyplace I really need to take it. I'm not going to be cage fighting any time soon. And my stand up is okay. As okay as it needs to be really. And I'm not sure that the class isn't causing undue wear and tear on my already beleaguered joints.

I have a lot of ground to make up (no pun intended), and I really shouldn't donate training time to something that isn't maximizing my improvement.

but dammit, I like hitting things sometimes.

I believe I'll resolve to occasionally take the class on fridays, when I know I'm not going to be training on saturday. I've got to recover. There are only so many pills from GNC to take, so many pain reliefs gels and creams to paint myself in, before I simply have to acknowledge that I'm pushing too hard.

As for bjj study, I've had ah-ha moments involving s-mount, half open guard, guard passing, open guard, omoplatas, diamond guard, armbars, triangles, hell... more than I can count. And my notebook is filling up so fast it's unamusing. And by unamusing I mean completely awesome.

change, for me, has been exceptionally good. I hope this continues for a long, long time.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

first full week back at it

Accomplished three days of training this week - two of bjj, one of beginner's mma.

While I have plenty of improvement to make, I'll celebrate the tiny victories of NOT gassing out after the first hour, the hallmark of my other scattered visits this month.

For bjj, I'm looking at reprogramming a lot of moves/positions. Granted, this happens all the time over the course of anyone's bjj practice, but damned if it didn't initially make me wonder what the sam hell I've been doing/learning/half-assing up until now. But I've trained with so many different gyms/schools/people to know that there is NO definitive armbar, guard pass, or scarf hold. And every time I think I've found the new ultimate variant, I'm proven wrong.

But that's cool. Refinement is key.

And I surely won't be getting bored anytime soon, not that that's much of a threat with bjj. I have plenty of refinements to make. How I set in kesa getame (and how my school's theories on it compare with the new Kesting vid I've been watching on it). Utilizing the cross grips when applying the armbar from guard (maybe I'm lazy, maybe it's my short arms, but I tend to rely more on applying an armbar via leg/hip mobility - a trend that pervades probably the vast majority of my techniques... damn I need to work on shoulder instability so I can grow some balls about my arm strength). Utilizing pants grips.

MMA class is mostly for ego gratification. I'll admit it. I came from stand up, and it's something that I'm not necessarily wanting to focus on full time, but it's something I can feel some degree of aptitude at and have less reason to be critical of myself. I say that now, but I'm sure I'll find a way to start tearing apart my stand up in due time.

I haven't had my boxing gloves on in probably the better part of a year. I didn't expect to last long at all. I managed a round on the mitts, five on the heavy bag, and another round doing ground and pound on a grounded bag. Sure, my biceps are a little sore today, handwriting has been tough, and the spread across my back from shoulder to shoulder is fatigued, but other than that, all is well. I'd forgotten how much fun it was.

We also worked on some throws that I'm assuming were judo based, but I recognized more from my study of Gracie self defense. Those were fun as well, especially with the advantage of having a crash pad to land/throw on. Takes the apprehension out of being tossed. Well, it did until my partner misjudged the distance and plopped me down on the floor.

I finished my first full 4x7 protocol this week as well. I will certainly stick to this idea when I can, although I really can't control the intensity of bjj/mma training. I can, however, control the supplemental training, and maybe that will do. I've not yet started a new 4x7 but I plan to soon. I'm just trying to suss out what aspects of CST I will encorporate this go round.

the first protocol was a bodyweight exercised based one for fat loss. Being that I ballooned up 10-15 lbs. on prednisone in the middle of the protocol, I have no idea what the effectiveness was. I'm nearing my pre-prednisone weight now, so I can surely attribute the protocol's work to that. However, I honestly felt as though I could've been doing more this whole time. Maybe not on the low and no intensity days, but on the moderate and high intensity days, I felt as though I should've been doing more.

The next protocol will involve weight-bearing exercises for sure. That may only be clubbell work, or it may be clubbells and going back to doing some lifting at the regular gym. I'm also abandoning hamster wheel cardio. LSD cardio isn't doing much for me besides burning calories in a slow and boring manner. I will, however, try to shift to interval cardio. I know the ArcTrainer has a dandy interval program or two, but the elliptical machine does not. I may alternate the arctrainer with rowing or the airdyne for intervals and see how that goes.

I'm also re-reading John Berardi's Precision Nutrition. I did some cleaning up of my basic diet a year or so ago, and the few (very few) changes I made yielded great results-- consistently lower cholesterol, and just feeling better overall. Clearly I have more work to do. Being that my new job will keep me in a controlled setting, that means I can better control what I'm consuming. I need to figure out what the smart things to pack in my lunch pail to graze on all day are.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

other training/suck it up.

So I'm kinda thinking that I may as well document my "side" training in CST - circular strength training - as well since it's quite aligned with my bjj training.

Last week I started my first dedicated attempt at a 4x7 protocol on intensity cycling that I really think may be of benefit to me, since it keeps me from redlining all the time. You're basically starting on a moderate day, then a high intensity day, then NO intensity, low intensity, then repeat.

Note: rest is forced. I need this in my world. I am an idiot and will go go go until I mess up a knee, shoulder, spleen, whatever. This was a fine procedure to follow back when I was in high school, and maybe through my 20s, but those days, sadly, are long over.

The hilarity I'm finding in this 4x7 thing is that I have the most difficulty out of my low intensity days. Those are reserved for prasara yoga flows and maybe some intu-flow sequences. But mostly, it's the yoga. And yoga is kicking my ass.

Yoga isn't hard in the conventional sense, but it has brought a new humiliating factor to training for me. It's like going from playing an overdriven electric guitar to a 6-string acoustic. All of your sloppiness is going to be blatantly obvious, if not amplified by the lack of noise to cover it up. You cannot force your way through yoga, there is no muscling through it, nor rushing. You do either, you're probably going to eff yourself up nicely.

and then you're going to feel ultra stupid explaining that no, you can't roll or whatever because you hurt yourself doing yoga. you've spent the prior 3 days doing jumping squats, spinal rocks, leg swoops, clubbell swings, etc. but NO, you hurt yourself trying to hold a pose for a few breaths. You wiped out, pranged your wrist or tweaked an elbow and now you're all zen injured. idiot.

it's been a long while since yoga was a regular part of my training, and I know why now. because it doesn't have that immediate gratification of say lifting, or swinging clubbells or kettlebells, or ripping off 400 calories in 20 minutes on the cybex machine, etc. you don't necessarily emerge from yoga with your shirt discolored with sweat, in a pattern that says "I can pick up really heavy things and crush them in my mighty hands" and if there's a high five involved, you're giving it to yourself internally. such celebration might seem, I don't know, brutish and eff up everyone's chakra. or something.

but here's the thing: yoga forces your lazy ass to be present in the moment of what you're doing. It forces you to see what parts of your structure are faulty, and no amount of muscle is going to fix it for you. you're just going to have to deal with it, work around it, and work up to it.

because it is giving me this much grief, maybe that's my sign to work a little harder on it. and so I will.

in other quasi-related blabbering, I think I will go back to bjj this week. my burnout isn't getting any better sitting at home. I didn't use to structure bjj around whatever was going on in my life. it WAS my life, and things got scheduled around bjj. I'm making myself more bummed out staying away than I could possibly feel going back.

I've spent all weekend reading updates on the world championships in CA this weekend, so clearly the interest is still there. I finally plowed through that Gracie mag, too. All good signs. :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

burnout/lost muse

while it's far from the first time I've experienced it, I'm amidst one of those horrid burned out phases.

and the timing sucks. I'm starting to go to a whole `nuther gym to train at. Plenty of new people to roll with, new things to learn, etc. and I can't seem to generate the usual compulsive level of interest for training. A new Gracie Mag showed up in my mailbox today, and all I can think is "Gee, I haven't even finished the last two issues."

Normally I tear through those the day they arrive. I leafed through mine a little while, but then sat it down.

It's still the reason I drag myself onto a hamster wheel cardio machine at the gym for boring half hours upon half hours. Why I lift heavy things and put them back down until my body whines for me to stop, and then do it a few more times. Why I subsidize several supplement companies with my purchases. Why I keep looking into new means of improvement to flexibility, recovery rates, endurance, stamina, functional strength. Why I have no room for regular clothes. Why my truck windows are littered with bjj/mma stickers until it looks like a Nascar contender. Why I no longer bruise easily (and rarely care when I do).

It breaks my heart when these phases come into my life. Sure, they've always passed, but damn, never quickly enough.

It's ridiculous. For as many nagging "why don't you just quit" thoughts, there are just a few more "you can't stop now" ones.

hmm. Tarsis Humphreys does look triumphant on that cover, though. Maybe I'll just check out a few more pages of Gracie Mag.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Necessary Items: Cryogel

When I first started training in any sort of combat sport, I thought Tiger Balm was the endgame for pain relief. Joint pain, muscular pain, bruising, anything at all, I was smearing Tiger Balm on it. And while it clears the sinuses nicely, and the heat may feel kinda nice at times, I've since moved on to better things - both in terms of olfactory irritation and actual treatment of pain.

I present, for your consideration, Cryogel.

I first tried Cryogel when a fellow on the Sherdog gear and equipment forums offered to send samples out to anyone who wanted to try the stuff. Hell, no risk there-- it's a no brainer! A few days later, I received a padded envelope with a fistful of sample size packets-- two of each "flavor" of cryogel.

Cryogel is interesting in that it clearly works off of a cooling effect, which makes a little more sense given most ailments from combat sports training is coming from a place of inflammation. Why would you add heat to something that was already inflamed?

However, in my own usage at least, I notice a weird numbing almost heat feel to it as well, as it sinks in. Whatever it is, it's highly soothing. Great for those random bruises you get in training. DOMS too. And there were many times when I was experiencing knee pain that Cryogel allowed me to keep training (since, you know, it was intelligent to keep training on bum joints).

Fortunately, I train a little smarter now, so I don't need to use Cryogel as much, but you best believe I don't allow myself to run low on it. I keep a tube or roll-on of it in my gym bag, and several lying about the house.

Cryogel is available in either squeeze-it-out tubes or roll-on (like deodorant). I use both, but tend to favor the roll-ons since there's less chance for a mess in the gym bag. Three scents are available : original blue (which I'm hearing has been re-tooled to smell a little less medicinal), Island Rain green (my favorite, as it's the least offensive/noticable), and Lavender purple (which also smells nice, but is more noticable. has a slight patchouli/pothead smell that reminds me of college).

You can normally find Cryogel for around ten bucks (USD) apiece. Plenty of other vendors available - you don't have to go direct. However, I also endorse some of the other products available from Cryogel's direct site -- inflamax forte and baldrian plus, both of which I've used for more advanced pain management. All natural, which is also, to me, a preference.

training notes, April 28th - passing open guard

I can't say I was at all enthused about having everyone learn open guard passes, since I love playing open guard. No, I kid: having a group of people who know how to foil my go-to guard position means I either develop a new guard game, or I improve my existing one. And that's win-win stuff right there.

Pass 1: Push away at their hips -- keep your elbows in, NOT flared out; place one knee in their tailbone (as a position, not Pride rules striking) and the other knee opens up to the side; sit back and twist your hips -- their guard should open up/fall apart.

Pass 2: Place both of your hands up into their armpits; scoot your hips back as you push them away. This clearly requires some reach, and as such, I didn't find much success with it this go-round.

Pass 3: Hands placed in their armpits; stand and wedge your knee in at their tailbone; sit back down over that same knee, sliding the opponent down your shin-- should bust apart their guard.

{After the fact, I'm wondering if maybe I would've seen a little better success with these 2 passes by instead placing my hands at belt/hip level and shoving away? If I reached up to my training partners' armpits, my balance was way off, as I was having to over-extend to reach that high. Or maybe I even could have underhooked the legs and grabbed some pants cloth?}

Pass 4: Smash pass. Control their hips. Raise one of your legs, planting the sole of your foot well beyond their reach. Raise your hips, placing one hand on their inside knee, the other hand stays on their hip. Press their leg down to the floor using the inside knee grip. Underhook their other leg. Reach across with that grip to secure a cross-collar grip on opponent. Once you've secured that cross-grip, tripod yourself up to place considerable/all weight on your opponent. Rotate (slowly, if you feel like being a bastard about it), smashing your opponent over into side control.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

brief gushing over anything Stephan Kesting

Okay, so I unabashedly adore the dvds and work of Stephan Kesting over at

So it should come as no huge surprise that as soon as I read the email about his new dvd series, Unorthodox Positions, was ready for ordering, I quickly requested that it be sent my direction, ASAP.

I've often compared bjj instructors to math teachers, in that if they don't present the material in a manner that the student can easily consume and assimilate it, well they're both probably doomed to a lot of frustration. Kesting has been one such instructor from whom I feel confident in learning the calculus of this at times difficult art.

I can be accused of having a larger library of materials than is evident by my skills, but at least it's there for whenever I'm ready for it. I own a few materials by Kesting that I've not yet been able to absorb. All in due time, though.

And whenever this new dvd reaches my doorstep, I may watch it and think, "pfft. I'll never use any of this!" I may be right at the time. But some day, it may come around again, and suddenly it may become my bread & butter go-to move.

just a short note. more to come when I can slow down a bit.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

open guard intro....

(to be updated)

discussed some basic concepts of open guard, a longtime favorite of mine. I was most taken with the 75/100% concept for grips (i.e.-- have no fewer than three grips at all points in time, all four being the goal).

more later

okay, and it's finally later. Expanding on the 75%/100% "rule"-- Feet need to be jammed in the opponent's bicep, hip, or hooked under the knees (note: obviously there are more options, but this is basic intro type stuff).

With bicep placement, your feet should be angling more towards the elbows, not the shoulders. Force your feet/legs wide to force the opponent to come down, and also to compromise their balance and control a little more. We did a foot placement drill, alternating which of the three areas our individual feet were in, maintaining three/four points of contact.

We maintained sleeve control for our hand positions, but there are plenty of other options there as well. One we briefly explored involved taking your foot from the bicep position, wrapping it out and around to trap their arm a little more snugly.

We also drilled the "hitching a ride" concept involved with the open guard position of having your feet hooked at the opponent's knees. Emphasized strong hook placement on the side your opponent is trying to rotate towards-- their motion will pull you along with them, provided your hook is placed solidly.

Another side control escape: before your opponent settles into side control, shrimp out and sweep your leg up and over their back, clamping down on their spine. Bring yourself parallel to opponent, then pull your other leg through to either replace full guard, or at least achieve a butterfly hook. Achieving a knee-across-hip position is also acceptable.

Replacing guard when your opponent smashes your legs down from butterfly guard:

Option 1. Push your upper leg out, swoop it over the opponent's head, clear, and replace guard.

Option 2. Kick your top leg straight through their legs, replace guard.

Option 3. Opponent hooks under your leg-- wrap/rotate your leg back out to replace guard.

And lastly, we worked on upper body/head control from the "seated" jiu jitsu stand up position, using our non-posted hand/arm to control the opponent's head and direct them, switching hips if necessary.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009 - open mat

some decidedly sparse notes on some things I'm working on... very much preliminary at this point:

  • straight armlocks/overhooking the arm as a point of control/contact... wrapping up opponent's arm above the elbow from guard (open or closed), from top side control, and from a failed triangle position

I've always been a fan of wrapping up an arm just because it's an easier grip for me, and because it's especially snug in gi work. Got the option of securing it using your own/their lapel. The opponent can armlock themselves rather easily if they're not paying attention/spazzing; but more importantly, it's a quick move for me.

I normally preferred using this when in guard, opening guard and then using my insteps to take the opponent's knees/base out from under them. I liked wrapping the arm when in top side control as well, but acknowledge that this gives up a little bit of control in terms of keeping them pinned. If going for the armlock from here, it has to be fast. I don't know that it's a high percentage move, since it opens the door for them to escape when you raise up/remove the pressure to move into the armlock by stepping over, or by sitting up with the shin planted in their armpit. Some things to work on, for sure.

I won't pretend to have more lofty ambitions than to study butterfly guard in order to later move into studying x guard. I think x guard is something that I could get into, being of similar (short, stocky legs) build as Garcia, and admittedly preferring an open guard/leg strength/flexibility based approach. However, some folks in class have mentioned an interest in butterfly guard, seem to have a natural tendency to end up with one or two butterfly hooks in when trying to shrimp escape from mount, so maybe this is an option to look into for their sake.

or maybe they need to work harder on shrimp escapes towards the end goal of replacing full guard. who knows?

I can't say I'm going all deep end into this specific guard, but it is an inadequacy. May as well address it in my own pursuits and learn something about butterfly guard, even if what I learn is "wow, my butterfly guard isn't a bread and butter position for me right now"

Looked at probably twice or three times the volume of stuff I'd normally like to for a simple open mat session. Didn't drill enough, either. Really more of an academic effort than anything else, and that's fine. Incubating ideas is just as important as executing them, I suppose.

but for now, happy to just look at and apply the basics. I can see a host of bad habits to remove/not allow to solidify.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

class notes 4/07/09

was fortunate enough to have some brethren from our parent school come down to work with our small group last night. The theme: mount escapes.

shrimp drills are omnipresent in our warm-ups, but strangely absent from the toolbox once folks start rolling. And I am certainly not bragging, I get sat upon as much as the next person, and find it just as annoying when it's my partner's sole offensive. Jiu Sitsu, as I've come to call it.

Nothing earth-shatteringly new on this basic shrimp escape, aside from several details that have likely either not been brought to everyone's attention, or have been neglected in favor of an easier/sloppier form.

  • framing position with the arms/elbows-- digging the floorside elbow either against or underneath your mounted opponent's knee to create distance/relieve weight pressure; your other forearm bracing against the opponent's pelvic girdle firmly -- failing to post this arm past their centerpoint could encourage your mounted opponent to proceed to taking your back when you shrimp up to your side

The other two variations involved shrimping out to half guard, rather than replacing full guard. In the first variation, once you've shrimped up to one side, you extend your lower (i.e.-- closest to the floor) leg alongside your opponent's outer leg or hook. You then reach across with your other leg to capture their foot, drag it across your own extended leg, rolling over into half guard.

In the second variation, you instead reach under their foot with your own, hooking it before rolling over into half guard.

The importance of staying tucked in, securing your underhook, and being prepared to sweep, submit, or reset to guard from this bottom half guard position was discussed as well.

from these basics, I can see us expanding out into sweeps and subs from half guard, half guard escapes, and in the longer term, opening the door to introducing butterfly guard concepts (since sometimes as you escape mount, maybe you don't get full guard or even half guard, but you have a butterfly hook (or two) in).

Half guard is a bit of a favorite for me, personally, provided that it's used for more than just stalling, or applying the lockdown (to no accompanying progressive move), or in lieu of working on replacing full guard.

I've taken a large amount of my half guard game from Stephan Kesting's Dynamic Half Guard DVD, which I am certain I will review at some point here. In brief, though, I can't give Kesting's work enough praise. I've found all of his DVDs to be exceptional, and his web site is a boon to any grappler.

I'd encourage anyone who has somehow come across this blog before Kesting's site to do themselves the favor of checking out

Monday, April 6, 2009

An introduction of sorts...

I've no idea where this will go, but my initial intentions for this blog are the following:
  • Random thoughts and observations on Brazilian jiu jitsu
  • techniques I like, techniques that are eluding me, techniques that I keep getting caught with
  • product reviews for grappling/mma gear I've tried
  • and not getting derailed too terribly often (no promises)

As of this posting, I am a one-stripe blue belt. I am a female in my thirties. I've been studying BJJ for several years now (probably around five or more years, but with several interruptions to consistent training), and intend to do so for as long as my mind and body will let me. I've not yet competed, but I don't know that I never will.

I started at a Royce Gracie school, and that is where I was last ranked, and so I feel a bit of loyalty to that network of academies. I may not be black-out drunk on the so-called Gracie koolaid, but you can certainly smell it on my breath.

Presently, I train with a small group of mostly beginners. It's a slow rebuilding process with a new affiliation/school. "Slow and steady wins the race" my grandmother used to say. At this point, I am content and actually refreshed at the instruction we're now receiving: getting the basics down, solidly, before moving on too far ahead.

As for the review end of this blog-- I am a confessed and unabashed gear whore. I love trying out new grappling shorts, rashguards, gis... and will readily extol the virtues (or reveal the shortcomings) of whatever I've bought. So maybe whoever is reading this might either save or confidently blow their hard-earned cash...

This is my first real attempt at blogging. I certainly welcome useful comments, especially as postings pile up and I start questioning techniques. I believe open dialogue is one of the crucial means of improving in this art, and that is probably my largest wish for this blog.

oh, and disclaimer: I won't always be this formal and on task.