Saturday, November 12, 2011

Awesome takedown

Where have I been the past few weeks? 

Well, for one, getting a black eye while I'm on vacation.
 Ignore the hideously unplucked eyebrows.  It actually developed a little more under my eye the next day, and it looked like I had some funky eyeshadow going on, but it really wasn't that bad.  Note to self: Do NOT allow the edge of your eye to come in contact with your instructor's cro-magnon forehead. 

Also, I've had my family visiting for the first time since I came to Tennessee!
Family + Smoky Mountains
It was nice having them come, and I finally got to introduce them to my friends and BJJ family. 

Also, I've been ultrasounding stingrays and metal-scanning penguins, among other fun things!

So, you ask: where on Earth have I been finding time for BJJ?  I've managed to squeeze it in here and there, and this morning was definitely worth it.  It was just me for the women's class, so I rolled/gossiped with Jess for awhile, then she showed me a cool takedown.  Maybe not suitable for people way huger than me, but still awesome nonetheless.  A new girl, Briana, came to the open class.  She's a blue belt from Memphis, and a sophomore at UT, AND close to my size!  It was really nice to finally find someone who is my rank and my size, and we had a really good roll.  I pointed out all the cool people for her to roll with, which was especially important today because we had some visiting students, which included some white belts who I didn't know at all.

Also, I've joined Fitocracy.  Maybe I've been "gaming" the system a little, doing some things just to complete quests, but at least I know I can still run a mile in under 8 minutes.  7:22 when I've barely been training for it--boo ya!

So share with me--what cool things has Fitocracy pushed you to do that you wouldn't otherwise be doing? 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NOW I'm confused

So before I start this, let me just say how thankful I am that anyone even reads my blog.  I appreciate any and all feedback, but more than that it's nice to have a place where I can just think "out loud," in a manner of speaking.

But I am really curious to know...who are the people searching for:

"ovariectomy hook storz"
"ian and jessica aperna (sic)"
"andre galvao forearm tattoo"
"lifting neophyte"

I kind of understand where most, if not all, of them come from (the tattoo one is the only one that confuses me).  But what I really want to know is, are these people that I know looking for me?  Are they finding what they want, or are they looking for something completely different?  And for all those searching for "grappling vet," are you really searching for me, or for some veteran of grappling?  Also, I am sorry to disappoint those of you who were hoping I was Jessica Martin or Mike Harmon. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday class

The women's class this morning was a little...sparse.  I showed up while the kickboxing class was still going on, which Jess does.  I got changed and sat around for awhile after 10, thinking that maybe the schedule changed and the women's class started at 10:30 now--until I asked Jess what time we were starting, and they all realized their kickboxing class had gone over.  It didn't really matter much, though, because I was the only one who showed up for the women's class. 

We managed to convince Nicole, the lady who teaches the kickboxing class, to join in for BJJ, and since it was just us three we also invited a new guy who was in the previous class to stay as well.  Nicole only had a little BJJ somewhere else, and the guy had none, so Jess kind of did an intro lesson for them.  They picked up things like forward rolls, backward rolls, shrimping, and break falls REALLY fast, and then she moved on to armbar from mount and the upa escape from underneath mount (which Nicole called "buck and roll"...that made me lolz a little).  The guy was decently sized, and both of them are pretty damn strong, but they had really good body awareness and I was impressed at how quickly they learned things, and how controlled they were when we did a little bit of open rolling at the end of class. 

For me, Jess showed a variation on a cross choke from guard, and taking the back when someone sprawls.  It worked off of a side control escape she showed me a few weeks ago.  After rolling, she also went over some small things to improve my game, which mostly involved making more aggressive grips.  Combined with Jack's little lesson on grips from open guard over at Jiu Jitsu Forums, I tried to put it all together for next class.

Open class was next, and there were only seven of us that showed up.  Apparently, Fall Festival is going on and we just can't compete with that.  Mike had us drill 30 guard passes apiece, any way we wanted, but starting with our posture broken down.  After, he went over a guard break to do when still broken down and hugging your opponent's chest, by making sure their hips were pinned between your legs, your body, and your arms.  I really need to work on that one.  Open rolling followed, where I (unsuccessfully) tried to work my grip game.  I got myself steamrolled by the Tucker boys

This is the first time I've done both the women's class and open in awhile, and I'm sure my body won't be happy tomorrow but it felt really good.  I figured I should take advantage of the rare weekend off.  I just wish I had a little more time/energy on weekdays to work out even a little, so it wouldn't hit me so hard when I do want to push myself on the weekends. 

And I finally got John's match uploaded to YouTube:

Monday, October 17, 2011

I should probably let this go

Leslie's last post on pulling guard got me to look at my own "guard-pull" attempts in tournaments.  I only intended on watching the beginning of the match, but I ended up watching the whole thing.  I always felt like I could have won if it was submission only or another minute longer, but I'm also pretty sure that my triangle at the end was a doomed attempt (she defended those really well!)  What I'm wondering is, at 3:35, would I have been better off working for an armbar?  Any other comments/suggestions about this match would also be appreciated! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tennessee State BJJ Championships

Yesterday our school headed down to Maryville for the annual TN State BJJ champs.  It's a pretty local tournament, and luckily not even a half hour away, so a lot of our guys (and some of our kids) were competing.  Unfortunately, none of our women were (vet school, injuries, etc.), but I was still looking forward to seeing what my competition would have been if I could have competed.  My boyfriend Ian was also competing, for the first time (and as a blue about nerve-wracking).

I totally meant to go to the women's class before going to Maryville, but of course I totally overslept and woke up right after it started.  Later I found out Jess was the only one who showed up anyways, so while I didn't feel quite so guilty, I was annoyed that I missed an hour of rolling with her.

The kids' matches were still going on by the time I got there, and let me just say--damn.  Some of those kids are effin' amazing.  Yeah, there was a bit of silliness going on, but it always amazes me at what you can teach them and how well they can learn.  I saw one kid pull off a sweet uchimata.  And for the most part, they were all really good sports, along with their parents.  I know I shouldn't care so much, but it made my heart glow a little every time I saw a little girl win against boys, and I really hope that most of them stay with it.

The women got started while the kids were still going, and I was impressed at the number of white belts competing.  I couldn't really figure out how many weight classes they ended up with, but it seemed like everyone had at least one match (most had more) against someone close to their own weight.  It wasn't quite as large as the NAGA I went to in Atlanta, but I wouldn't have expected it to be anyways.  The blue belt division, unfortunately, was quite a bit smaller--for gi, there were only three girls, and two of them from the same school, so they had to go against each other.  One of them was Shakia, who I didn't even realize was there until she was fighting.  I saw her, and I was like, "Hey--that looks a lot like Shakia Harris!"  I'll let her talk about the match (if she wants to), but I will say that she did really well.  Her opponent had a lot of weight (and four stripes) on her, and it was a very solid, technical match, as opposed to a lot of the women's white belt matches--five minutes of whirling fury that honestly made me hope they don't get promoted and enter my division any time soon! 

At 1, they cleared the mats and had the black belt superfights.  Two of them involved my coaches, Mike Horihan (against Dave Vannest) and John Hosford (against Tommy Wales).  The third was Brandon Bledsoe vs. Adam Arebalo.  Mike, fresh off a successful black belt test, went first.

 Unfortunately he lost by one advantage.  I was behind the scoring table, so I couldn't see where Vannest got the extra advantage.  Brandon and Adam were next, so I took the opportunity to move to the other side of the gym so I could actually see the time left and score.  John went last, and won by three points.  Later, he told us he had been studying videos of this guy for months, and saw that no one could pass his half guard.  When he found himself stuck in that position, he decided to get in Tommy's full guard and pass that instead.

Once they were done, the men's gi matches resumed and Ian finally got to fight.  He lost his first match to some guy who was like two feet taller than him, but came out with his head held high.  His second match went better, and he defended well.  Unfortunately, he lost that one too, but I'm glad he gave it a try.  He's really not the competing kind of guy, and that's ok--it means that I'll always have someone to support me on the sidelines, who doesn't have to run off to his own matches!

We had success with the rest of our men's team as well--we went home with another two golds and two silvers that I can remember.  I wish we had a women's team, but hopefully we can get something together by the next tournament (and maybe I'll have a mildly lighter schedule).  While it seemed like there were quite a few open rings towards the second half of the day, when there were still plenty of matches left, overall I think this tournament went pretty well.  BJJ tourneys have gotten such a bad rep for being disorganized and running late that any kind of improvement is a huge step up, and I'm pretty sure our guys were done by five.  Honestly, it would have just seemed longer that it actually was because my butt was getting so sore from sitting on bleachers. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Call me crazy?

...but I'm thinking about running the Knoxville Marathon in April.  This isn't entirely random, as I was a cross country runner in high school, and ran a half marathon in undergrad.  However, I haven't been running at all since the spring when I wanted to do a trail race in town (the timing of the race didn't work out), but while I was training I felt really good about running.  Ideally, I should have been running all summer, but I think if I start now my body should be able to handle it. 

Things to consider:
1) Do I have the time to actually do it?  Clinics not only takes up time when I'm actually there, but also time when I get home--reading up on the next day's cases, finishing up that day's paperwork, and then studying for boards.  However, of all things to do, running should be the easiest thing to slip into a schedule.  I can do it completely on my own time.

2) Do I have the energy?  Today I came home and kind of...crashed.  Maybe giving myself a real training schedule will force me to not crash right when I get home.

3) Will it take away from BJJ too much?  I'm only training once a week as it is, so it really shouldn't, especially if I go to class Saturday morning and count that as one of my "cross training" days.  Part of the reason I'm worried about this is because of the last time I "quit" BJJ.  I wasn't even training that often, just four times a week.  But the commute left me exhausted, and my grades were starting to do downhill, so I chose to take a break and instead trained for a half-marathon.  That "break" lasted almost four years, and I don't want that to happen again. 

4) Can my body actually handle it?  I did cross country, but had injuries almost every season--shin splints, bad knees, a torn medial just never ended.  But I'm not training hardcore, every single day, the way I was then. 

All the evidence points to me going for it.  Someone tell me I'm forgetting something and convince me that this is a bad idea...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Long-ass update.

Ok, I know it's been awhile, but clinics have been kicking my ass.  When I made my last post about the Pedro Sauer seminar, I was in Farm Animal, which had me working 80-90 hours a week.  Thankfully, nothing has been that busy since then, but it's still been way over the "normal" 40-hour work week.  I've also been trying to spend my free time studying for my board exam (which I scheduled for December 10, a mere ten weeks away!), so that sadly leaves little time for BJJ or blogging.  So here's a quick run down of what's been going on:

1.  Pedro Sauer seminar: Awesome!  I made it in for the second session, and we did a little review from the first session, followed by Q & A (which the first session was).  The thing is, he doesn't actually need to know the move needed.  He would ask someone to show what they were asking about, did it himself, and then came up with the answer because he knows the mechanics and bits and pieces of BJJ that well. 

2.  Clinics: After Farm Animal, I went over to Community Practice for three weeks.  This rotation is basically small animal private practice.  Since the majority of our other services are referral-based, this one was created to take care of the pets of staff, faculty,  and students of the vet school, along with other UT-associated peopl and, in some cases, people who somehow have a close relationship with UTCVM.  It was a lot of annual physicals and vaccinations, but also many simple problems that would be seen in private practice.  What was the most common problem?  BIG shocker: pet obesity! 

I'll say that again: Pet obesity was the #1 problem we saw.  Please, people, PLEASE put your pet on a controlled diet (i.e., feed them a set amount, not as much as they'll eat).  Do searches on Pub Med or Web of Science about obesity in pets, and they'll show you a myriad of health benefits from being leaner.  And if your vet tells you this as well, please accept it and try to work with them to help your pet.  After all, if we were "in it for the money," wouldn't we want them to be as fat as possible so they could get sick/arthritic/lame more often so we could make more money fixing them? 

Anyways, that was a fun rotation, but now it's over and I'm on Small Animal Surgery.  It's been pretty hectic, and there's been a lot to keep up with, but I've gotten lucky lately and somehow have a very light patient load this weekend.  I'll still be going in early this weekend to help out the other students on the rotation, but at least I personally don't have much to worry about.  Hopefully I'll be able to make it to Jess's women's class again tomorrow!  Which brings us to...

3.  The women's class!  It's been going really well, and we've been growing, slowly but surely.  Jess has been adding in more elements every class, and last time we did some stand-up self-defense.  It was the first time we did any stand-up, and I hope it will continue.  While she does rely on me to work with the newest people and coach them through things, she's also really good about making sure that I a) get in the drilling I need, but also b) learn slightly more advanced techniques that I can do while everyone else is doing the standard stuff.  I'm really glad that I get to help teach (I've been wanting to do it for a long time, and especially since I got my blue belt), so that alone would make the class worthwhile for me, but I really appreciate the fact that she doesn't forget about my growth as well.  Lately, this has been the only class I've been going to, since my weekdays are so busy and I have to get up early and go in to school on Saturdays as well, so by the time I get done with her class I'm kind of beat. 

4.  Lastly: my BJJ blogosphere friends make my heart smile.  Also, it's a lot more satisfying than you think to take the high road. 

In other news:  some teammates of mine are competing at the Tennessee State BJJ Championships on October 16 15, in Maryville.  If you're there, come say hi to the girl who is either cheering like crazy or studying on a smart-not-phone (thanks, big brother!)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pedro Sauer Seminar

I can't believe I haven't posted this until now, but:

That's right.  Red and black belt Pedro Sauer is coming to Knoxville on Saturday for a seminar!  So I'm pretty sure there is no women's class, but yeah...this WAAAAYYYYY makes up for it.  Hopefully I'll be there for the morning session, but I might not get out of school in time.  It's not too late to attend, even if you haven't pre-registered!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The weekend that wasn't

Since when were weekends harder than weekdays?  When I'm on Farm Animal Medicine and Surgery, apparently.  This is a rotation that is supposed to be fun, and a lot of it is.  The unfortunate part is that they severely understaff the hospital so the students have to do all treatments, around the clock.  This means our hours suck.  We have to be there from 7 AM to 8 PM minimum every day, to make sure that every treatment from 8 AM to 8 PM is covered (overnight students take over after 8).  And we have to go in at 7 AM every weekend morning, and likely 7 PM weekend nights.  And I also had the luck of staying all of Saturday night into Sunday morning....and then come in again Sunday evening at 7.  Might I mention that I like my sleep? 

So of course BJJ gets kicked to the wayside.  I was hoping that we finished with 8 AM treatments by 9 AM on Saturday morning, so I could easily make it to the 10 AM women's class.  Of course, we didn't finish until after 10, so I showed up more than half an hour late to class.  And then I was so pooped from the week I couldn't stay for regular class after that.  No time/energy for working out, eating decently, grocery shopping, showering...I want my life back. 

On the plus side, I got to castrate a bull calf and do a cosmetic dehorn.  It left my pants looking like I was a serial killer, but it was so much fun! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Calling all ladies!

Ok, so I guess I should have posted this a week ago.

ATTENTION EAST TENNESSEE LADIES!  Knoxville Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is proud to introduce its brand new Ladies-only BJJ class, held every Saturday morning from 10-11:15 AM.  It is taught by Jessica Martin, a Fabio Santos brown belt from San Diego.  ALL are welcome to attend, even if you train at other schools.  I'm not sure yet about pricing, but we should know more by this weekend and I'll post that info as soon as I know.  Not a lady?  Not near Knoxville?  Tell your friends! Visit the Knoxville BJJ website, Facebook page, or call at 865-951-1392 for more information.

Next, this time in the category of "That actually happened to me": I got recognized at Kroger from my blog.  I was wearing my UT College of Veterinary Medicine scrub top (brown, so the cow poop stains don't show as much) and somebody just came up to me and asked if I was The Grappling Vet!  (Hi, Rebecca!)  I never thought I would get recognized from my blog.  That was pretty cool, AND I found someone in Knoxville who is almost my exact weight!

Ladies' Classes!!!

I know I've been a bit delinquent in updating, but I do have some exciting news.  This Saturday, we finally started a women's BJJ class!  It's being taught by our brown belt, Jess, and I think she did a great job.  It was a small class, just myself and two other ladies, both wives of men who train--one had just started coming in to regular classes the past few weeks, the other had never had a formal class.  It was nice that she could keep it intimate to start, and hopefully make things more comfortable for them.  We started out with a brief warm-up and stretching, then got to the good stuff.  We did armbar from mount and the upa, keeping it basic.  I was her "teaching dummy," and when it came to drilling, we would each take one so we could walk them through it.  Jess didn't ignore my needs, though, and once they got the hang of each move she had them rep it on each other and let me drill the moves (albeit at a faster pace) on her.  We finished up with some open rolling and a quick cool-down/stretch session. 

I think this class is going to be a big step forward for the academy.  I've heard from far too many women that they just don't want to train with sweaty dudes and they don't feel comfortable with it, but I think this will be a great gateway drug for them.  Once they get hooked, they can stay for the open class right after the womens' class, and then hopefully come in during the week as well. 

My only problem?  There's a possibility I'm not going to make it in for the next...oh, three months or so.  Unfortunately, I just finished up with a bunch of rotations that gave me weekends completely off, and my next couple will have me coming in Saturday and Sunday mornings to do morning treatments on whatever patients I may have.  I'm hoping that I'll either be done in time to get to the 10 AM ladies class, or maybe I'll be able to convince the senior clinician to let me take off from 9:30 to 11:30 so I can "help" teach. 

On that note, I've also decided that upon graduation I am going to open a fat camp for dogs in Manhattan.  Apparently, there is not a single veterinary nutritionist on the entire island, and I KNOW there must be owners willing to pay money for their precious pet to lose some weight so they can live a longer, healthier life (refer to this article). 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sure, nice sweep...

At the end of class today, we were doing some open rolling, and I was going with this one-stripe white belt.  He kept doing the patronizing, "nice sweep" or nice this or that...and then, when he "swept" me, actually said *mumble mumble* "nice sweep!"  Oh, and then he let me cross choke him.  So kind of him. 

I'm not sure I've ever had to deal with this kind of thing before, or at least not for awhile.  Honestly, it was just really weird.  Like, dude...I have rank on you.  Don't patronize me, and there's no need to compliment EVERY move, because then it makes you sound like a douche.  Especially when you talk about your own moves.  Also, throwing me across the mat because I'm half your size...not a sweep.  However, I heard that last week he came in with a big attitude problem, so at least he seems to be much improved from that class.  

Saturday, June 18, 2011


And not because I triangled the spazzy n00b who told me to my face he had to win because he couldn't lose to a girl, but because I kept my cool and played my own game. 

Also, I got to do eye surgery last week!

That's me with the resident, Dr. Fischer.  And no, those aren't reading glasses--my glasses were sliding down and I couldn't push them back up myself. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I need this tattooed to my forearm

I'll never wait, I'll make a million mistakes
But to be content is to be a disgrace.
Every day drowns in lethargy
But to be content is to burn your wings.
So let yourself go, and let yourself grow
Don't you let them dig you hole.   

Sunday, May 29, 2011

BJJ is definitely not a weekend warrior activity.

Or rather, a once-in-three-weekends activity.  I finally got back on the mats yesterday after three long weeks, and it was somewhat..uncomfortable, to say the least.  It also doesn't help that I haven't worked out at all in two weeks, and my joints were all stiff and uncomfortable.  But I had fun!  I thought I would get my ass kicked, but it wasn't so bad.  Even though I'm still paying for it now.

On another note, since it's still (sort of) spring: if you see baby bunnies or birds, LEAVE THEM ALONE, unless you can see they are visibly injured.  Their parents didn't abandon them; they're probably just waiting for YOU to leave.  You are NOT saving them when you abduct them. 

In case you can't tell, I'm currently on the Avian and Exotics rotation, which also includes wildlife.  And we get tons of babies that have absolutely nothing wrong with them, which a) decreases their chances for survival, and b) makes more unnecessary work for us.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ups and downs

I finally got to go to jiu jitsu on Saturday!  First time since I started on clinics, and it felt good.  I've been so tired from being on clinics these past two weeks that I wasn't even super excited to go that morning, but once I started rolling it all started coming back. 

Clinics have been fun, hard, crazy, and awful all together.  Still vastly preferable to sitting in a chair all day, but demanding in a very different way.  Day to day...even moment to moment I can go from feeling confident to useless, and it doesn't help that most of my patients (not that I've had many lately) have, or seem to have, cancer that just doesn't want to show up on any of the diagnostics we're doing.

Monday, April 25, 2011

YAY clinics!

I finally started clinics today!!  I'm FINALLY playing vet instead of sitting on my butt all day, listening to professors and staring at slides.  I've been going through cycles of excitement and nervousness for the past few weeks, but after today I think most of the nerves are gone and I'm just excited to actually be doing stuff.  We had a pretty busy day, not made any easier by walking to the parking lot to find my classmate's car under a gigantic tree branch that was blown down during the freak 30-minute storm/tornado. 

Unfortunately, this means I won't get to train as much.  I didn't get home until almost 8 (although I did spend over half an hour with my classmate of the treed car, taking pictures and such).   Then once I got home, I had to do some research on all the crap I didn't know today.  And we need to be there by 7:30 tomorrow.  On the one hand, I really don't want to give up jiu jitsu.  But I also know that I'm only in school for one more year, and I don't want to spend this year rushing out of the clinic at the end of the day and possibly overlooking something in my rush to get to BJJ class.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I haven't disappeared...

yet.  Clinics don't start until Monday, but even though finals were done two weeks ago, I've still been so swamped I barely made it to jiu jitsu since the Friday finals were over.  We had Open House the weekend after, and then a presentation on Foot and Mouth Disease, and now this contract negotiation seriously never ends, even when you think it does.

I did make it to open mat today (yesterday, really).  Rolled with my boyfriend for a while, which was kind of nice even though he has  70 pounds on me.  I had to goad him into unleashing "The Thunder," which he finally did after much coaxing and prodding.  I'm not sure how many times I have to tell him that it annoys me more when he goes easy on me and hands me submissions, but hopefully he'll get it now.  Worked a little on how to modify a triangle going bad.  Then one of our "family guys" shows up, whose daughters both train.  One of them is competing in May, so I rolled with her for a little while.  I'm so jealous--she's only 11 and she's already really good.  I'm sure she'll do well at the competition, but I gave her a few pointers anyways.  There was a pretty significant size difference, so I did have a little trouble telling if some of the stuff she was doing was because she was so much smaller, or just because she didn't know it.

On the plus side for today, all of us soon-to-be-fourth years got Sombreros and free lunch for our "Scrubbin' In" ceremony.  They even had pinatas stuffed with candy, AND "pin the testicles on the donkey." 

Monday, April 11, 2011


I FINALLY got to train as a blue belt on Friday!!!  YAY!!!!  It was the afternoon class, and of course I was late because even though we're finally done with finals, I had to go to a bunch of meetings and barely got out in time.  And then when I got there, I was the odd woman out.  I was so worn out from finals, though, that I didn't mind sitting and watching a bit.  We were working the elevator from half guard, and went over a few variations.  We did the same basic thing on Saturday, too. Starting from bottom half, protect your head with your arm from the crossface, and put one hand on their bicep.  Grab their belt around the back with the other hand.  Have your inside foot trap their leg, unhook your outside leg and use it to shrimp out.  In that space, bring in your foot, keeping the knee to the outside, making a new hook.  Now switch the bicep hand to the knee, unhook the inside leg and use it to shrimp in, bringing your hips under theirs.  Lift the outside (hooked) leg, elevating them.  From there you can continue to take them over for the sweep (catch the other leg with your hand so they don't just lock down half guard again), bring your inside leg outside to take guard, bring that leg outside to sweep them back in the direction you came from, etc.

Ever since the weather started getting nicer, I've been running at a nearby nature park for my cardio workouts.  It turns out there's going to be a trail race there in the middle of May, and I really want to do it...I just don't know if I can survive seven miles of hills!  It's the Stalk Your Quarry Trail Race, and even though I've been through it all, I don't think I've been able to do more than half at once.  At least it was the hardest half, but that still really pushed me.  I think five weeks should be enough to make it, but we'll see how the training is going closer the race.  My first clinical rotation starts in two weeks, and it's Small Animal Medicine, which I've heard has some pretty intense hours.  If I can't find the energy to train properly, then there's no sense in hurting myself trying to run it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Three more days

Just three more days...three more finals...and then no more finals EVER!!!  

No, seriously.  I am alive--just trying to make it through my last academic semester of vet school, and then I'll be back on the mats by Saturday.  Except it hardly makes me feel better, because once clinical rotations start in about 2 1/2 weeks, I'll be in the clinic so much that I'll hardly have time for jiu jitsu =(  And I wanted to cram in as much as I can now, but of course finals don't help that...and neither did last week's cold.  It would be seriously super awesome if we had a UT BJJ club, because then at least I wouldn't have to make the commute to the academy and I could maybe justify going to a class or two this week. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Nice push press...

I haven't been to jiu jitsu since my belt test because I've had a cold, so no new techniques (or blue belt beatdowns) to report.  I did, however, manage to make it to the gym for some lifting today.  I woke up feeling better than I had all week, and my muscles were begging for something to do besides sitting.

So I get through my squats and my deadlifts, and I was putting away the weights and about to put the bar back on the pins when, for fun, I decided to push jerk the bar a couple of times.  I was doing it squat-style, when the guy next to me told me I could get better balance on my "push press" if I put one leg back.

Um...thanks?  I told him I was going more for a squat-style jerk, and pretty much left it at that.  I didn't want to be rude when someone was actually being nice in the rawr-man-hulk section of the gym, but at the same many things wrong!  A) I wasn't doing push presses, b) I wasn't trying to do a split jerk, c) it's not like I tilted over or lost balance at any point during my push jerks. 

Don't get me wrong.  I understand completely that I'm a lifting neophyte.  I'm still nervous about lifting by myself without anyone to help keep an eye on my form, so obviously I would appreciate any help in that department.  But at the same time, I obviously need to be able to sift out erroneous information from "helpful" people.  Sometimes, I really wish I was back at CrossFit 516.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Belt test!

I woke up yesterday feeling like crap.  My neck was still really sore from all the headlock escapes we had been doing on Thursday, and my stomach was all kinds of knotted up.  But there would be no sleeping in--I had to get to the academy for my blue belt test.

I managed to stuff down two Nutella-smothered waffles on my way over, and found Paris, the one other guy testing with me, and Matt, the guy he was testing with.  Gavin, one of our instructors was also there, and Paris and I went over some last minute details while Matt and Gavin tidied up the place--there were piles of old mats that Gavin wanted put away for the test.  We got there around 10, but the test didn't start until 11:30, so we had plenty of time for last-minute review (and nerves!)  People started trickling in even before 11, and it was really nice to see so many of our teammates had come out to support us.  Plus, they would get to take part, so I'm sure they wouldn't miss out on it.

We started promptly at 11:30, and went through our usual warm-up.  Part of the test involved some of our "warm-up" moves, such as standing in base, shrimping, rolling forward and breaking our fall, so we had to go first for everything.  For the next part, they had everyone except for Paris, myself and our respective training partners stand at the edge of the mat.  Everyone had to watch while we demonstrated the techniques they called out.  We were told to continue doing the technique until they told us to move on.  Starting from the very beginning, they went through the entire Pedro Sauer white-to-blue curriculum, somewhere from 80-90 moves.  It wouldn't have been too bad, except we had to do each move at least three times, often more.  And there were no breaks, except when my partner Ryan needed to fix his belt or I needed to shove my hair back into a ponytail.  Within the first ten minutes, I was already breathing hard and sweating.  This would not be good.

Finally, after about an hour (and a few partner replacements in my place, just because Ryan was so lanky that sometimes certain things just looked awkward when I did them to him), we finished the technique portion.  Paris and I were told to take a five minute break, while everyone else huddled up for a meeting.  They're going to kick our asses, I knew it.  Gavin came over after he finished with them, to prepare us for the next part.  We were going to be rolling straight for anywhere from 45-60 minutes, and we would need to conserve our energy.  Survive, he told us.  Remember that it's a marathon, not a sprint.  But don't ever give up and don't stop moving, because they WILL be pushing you.  However, he also made it clear that if anyone thought they could go crazy on me (or Paris) he would not hesitate to give them an ass-whooping in front of everyone.  They did one or two three-minute rounds, and then called us back in.

Now the fun part really began.  Once again, everyone lined up by rank, except for Paris and me.  The two of us were to stay out on the mat the whole time, and every three minutes two new people would come roll with us.  No breaks, no mercy.  Just never-ending jiu jitsu.

I honestly don't remember a whole lot of what happened.  I remember feeling good my first few matches; I didn't tap anyone but I survived and, in some cases, got in a few good moves.  I didn't feel particularly dead yet, but it still didn't help that I was going against fresh people every few minutes.  However, as it got later I could tell I was starting to fade.  I still wasn't feeling terrible, but I just didn't have the energy to move as much--I waited when I shouldn't have, and my matches become more about survival.  Every now and then I had bursts of energy; certain people I wasn't looking forward to rolling with (i.e. the ones twice my size) would come in and I would try to start on top instead of pulling guard; but that never worked.  Finally, at one point, I got tapped by a 3-stripe white belt.  He was one of those big guys, and normally, I don't wait around to tap.  When I'm caught, I know it, and I know there's nothing to be gained from passing out on the mat.  But it still angers me that I was being "choked" (suffocated, really) purely because I was squeezed into a fake triangle that I had been muscled into, and not because he had a legit submission on me.  I fought that one as hard as I could, but I couldn't get out.  Maybe I waited too long to stack him, or maybe there was nothing I could have done.  I had another few decent matches after that, and then it started going seriously downhill.  I still didn't feel awful, but more and more I was curling up when my guard got passed, and not moving got me into a position where I was going to be submitted.  I got tapped a few more times, and then for my last few rounds, it was my three coaches.  Of everyone, they probably went the roughest on me.

Finally, they called time.  I sat up and tried to catch my breath, which was kind of work until I got hauled to my feet.  Then I felt like I was about to puke for a minute, but I managed to make it.  We lined up by rank, and they called me up.  After a short speech, they tied on my belt.
That's John tying on my belt, and Mike in the background.  Paris got called up next, and if anything, his journey was even more difficult--he has a four-month-old son, so lately he's only been able to get in maybe 2-3 times a week, if he was lucky.
So thanks to everyone in the above picture, who was there for our test.  You all participated and pushed me and without you, the test wouldn't have happened.

I have far too many more people to thank than just my KnoxBJJ classmates.  I left a note on my Facebook with some details, but I want to thank you, everyone who has ever given me advice or encouragement, because without the online BJJ community I might have lost the heart to keep training. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I don't particularly like Mondays, but...

yesterday wasn't so bad.  One of my professors told me they were doing a laparoscopic ovariectomy on a lion, and I could stop by if I wanted.  I'm doing a paper on that for a different class, so I was excited to be invited.  Luckily, I didn't have class until 1 on Monday, so I got to help prepare the lion for surgery, and talk to the vet about the procedure. I only got to watch a little bit of the actual surgery before I had to get to class, but hopefully I'll get to participate in one when I'm a fourth year student. 

Later that evening, one of my friends had a bunch of us vetlings for dinner for Persian New Year.  Her parents came from Nashville and cooked Persian food, and it was delicious.  It was definitely one of those days to NOT wear just-washed shrunken jeans.  I had to miss jiu jitsu for it, but it was definitely worthwhile.  Sometimes a break is necessary.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Brick Wall

I came to this revelation on Julia's blog post about getting hurt in class:

"Honestly, until I started jiu jitsu I almost never cried. Even before when I did jiu jitsu (when I first started, about seven years ago, before my 4-year hiatus), I never cried from jiu jitsu. Now that I think about it, I honestly believe part of the reason I cry more is because I’m closer to more of the people I train with and as a result, I’m more emotionally “open”. Awful as it sounds, it’s so tempting to try and put those walls up again so I can at least function like a normal person."

I've been feeling this for months now, but until now I just couldn't put it into words and identify it.   And now that I finally know what's going, I think I can fix it.

I'm tired of being that girl.  I need to be able to function again without worrying about breaking down when things get hard or I get hurt.  I need to be able to brush things off and keep going, and not get so touchy about things that aren't personal.  So a brick wall is going up.  I'm not taking anything personally.  I'm not special and I don't expect anything from anyone.  I'm going to pass my blue belt test and then focus on vet school, at least until finals are over three weeks from now. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Belt test review...epic fail.

Warning: This is one of those rambling emotional might want to skip this one if you're sick of hearing about the waterworks. 

My instructors did a blue belt test review for me today, and unfortunately it looks like I don't know the curriculum as well as I thought I did.  We got there at 9, which gave us about two and a half hours until regular class started.  I thought that would have been plenty of time to do the review, and then maybe go grab some breakfast before class.

BIG mistake.  We barely finished in time.  It seemed like there was still material that I either didn't know, or saw just once before (and this too was from asking one of the blue belts who had recently tested, not from class).  Also, my jiu jitsu memory appears to be like a sieve--I can't remember anything until I've done it multiple times, even if I just did it the day before.  Then there were the moves that I thought I knew, but I was doing it wrong.  I know a big part of it is obviously me, but I can't help but feel frustrated at the fact that a lot of the curriculum is self-defense, which we don't really work on a whole lot.  I feel like I'm learning things just for a test, and I'm not really sure why these moves are deemed important enough to be in the curriculum but not so important that they're part of the regular rotation of moves taught in class.  Obviously I've had times where I've been out for weeks and I've had to miss classes, but there are just a lot of things that we don't do because they're not really what people come in to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for.  Also, there's a lot of headlock defense stuff that we don't do too much of because...well, BJJ players don't really pull headlocks that much. Going over it again now, I think I know it.  I really need to drill this stuff next week, and go over it in my head at least two times a day.  I really owe them (and the coach's son, for coming in and being my throwing dummy) for coming in on a Saturday morning.

They started class as soon as my review finished.  I was really tired and wanted to go home, but felt bad just leaving as class was starting, so I took a quick break and came back in towards the end of the warm-up.  We did a lot of drilling--basic cross choke, armbar, and triangle from guard, then guard breaks (our choice; we just had to do ten times each).  Then came the "fun" part--one person on bottom, one on top in cross side.  We had 30 seconds for the bottom person to escape and top to mount.  Whoever lost (if anyone) had to do five push-ups.  Then we rotated so the person on bottom stayed and the one on top moved to the next person.  Yup, guess who did about a bajillion push-ups.  Then we worked with one person starting on the back, same kind of deal: back-taker works to submit, back-taken works to escape.  Most people were blue belts or higher, so I wasn't expecting to "win" any of these rounds, but I kept getting frustrated and more and more upset at how completely useless my supposedly almost-blue belt-level BJJ was.  I was tired from not being able to sleep well the night before, already working for over two hours before class even started, and for some reason I just couldn't get out of my head the feeling that I was being picked on for being the smallest one in class.  Not like for fun, but by the other smaller people, because I'm smaller than them and they can finally work on someone so they take full advantage of it.  The end of every round was an exercise in holding it together and not crying (or at least, letting people tell they were tears and not sweat).  Our last round, I go with a pretty strong (but not huge) blue belt, and I can feel him really working for his choke.  He has it in, but it's not really applied right, and then right before time ends, he tries to switch arms and instead ends up grinding his forearm into my larynx, sending me into a gross hacking/retching fit.

I know it was an accident.  But the mean negative part of me that's been growing lately is convinced that he was getting frustrated at not being able to choke a little white belt girl and so he did what he had to do to make me tap.  They gave us  a water break after that, but I could feel myself on the edge of a breakdown, so I discretely changed and left, hoping no one would try to talk to me on the way out.

There's something more that's wrong than just frustration with jiu jitsu, I know this.  Even as I write this, just thinking about it is making me emotional again.  Part of me is turning into an emotional wreck that cries when something is hard.  The other part is turning into a nasty beast that blames everyone else for her problems.  This is everything I used to not be and I hate it and I'm scared.  I want to say it's just vet school frustration and the jiu jitsu on top is what pushes me over the edge, but what if it's not?

Later I found out that one of my coaches thinks I'm having too-frequent breakdowns in class.  He saw the whole thing that happened yesterday, and saw that they guy didn't intentionally go for a calf crusher and thought I might have overreacted a little.  I will readily admit: I don't think he was going for a calf crusher.  I don't think that was his intention at all.  But I'm still upset that, to me, it felt like he didn't release me until I tapped, even after I yelled out.  And then he brought up another episode that happened last week, when Jess decided to grab me, turn me upside down (pinning my arms to my side in the process), and then let me drop down a little.  I started freaking out and it just got worse once she put me down.  No, I clearly didn't want to cry.  I don't think it was an appropriate reaction.  But is it overreacting?  I don't know.  Maybe he can be turned upside down, arms pinned to his sides, and feel like he was being dropped on his head.  And the worst part was that I felt like if I struggle to get out, I WOULD have fallen on my head, with no way to protect myself.  I had ZERO control in that situation, and it sucked.  I know she's just having fun, but she's not that much heavier than I am.  This is another one of those picking-on-the-small-person moments--she's not doing it be mean, but I feel like she was taking a little too much advantage of the fact that I'm smaller than her and she can throw me around.  And she's a brown belt, so it's not like I could really do anything to stop her.  She felt really bad about it after and apologized, so I don't think this kind of thing is going to happen again, but I just hate that it's coming up again.  I don't like it when I cry, and I don't like being reminded of it.

Anyways, I went to a nature park after I left the school.  I blasted My Chemical Romance on the way, which made me feel better right away.  One of the guides had their red-tailed hawk out, so he talked about her for awhile, and then their vet was also outside sunning their albino box turtle, so I talked to her for a bit also before going on a walk.  I felt so much lighter just seeing the hawk, and I really feel like I cleared my head.  Of course, revisiting it all right now brought all those feelings back, but I'm hoping that now I've let them out, they'll stay in the interwebz and out of my head.  I mean, life is good, right?  I am so lucky.  I'm in school for my dream career (of which I'm nearly 3/4 of the way through), I'm in good health, I learn BJJ at a school with two black belts (who came in for ME on a Saturday morning to do a test review!) and a high-level brown belt and it's not that far away or too expensive,  I finally have pets in my life, a family that loves me, people who care about me, food in the fridge and a roof over my head.  What more could I possibly want? 

Friday, March 18, 2011

One of those days...

Well, most of the day was actually pretty nice.  It was just later in the evening that went downhill.  I lifted today, and went for a hike at a nearby nature center because it was so nice outside. 

Beginner's class went fine; we mostly worked on self-defense from the back.  At the end we did a bunch of short rounds.  One of my rounds was with a really big new guy, and while I did survive, it was frustrating not being able to take advantage of his obvious mistakes, like getting my guard passed instead of armbarring him when he practically handed me his arm in my guard. 

Advanced class was somewhat simple, and now that I think about it was probably (at least partially) for my benefit.  We started with drilling an armbar just spinning your hips around to either side, then progressed to omoplatas.  The technique was a sweep or an armbar if they put a leg up and spinning your leg around.  For the sweep, hook your arm under their leg when they put their leg up.  Move your leg on that side up to clamp on their back, and bring the other leg around.  If they try to hunch down and tuck their head in, sweep by swinging your leg back, down under them, and push over with your clamped leg and bring that leg down as you come up, so you're in mount.  For the armbar, start with the same set-up and take it if they try to posture up and have their head straight up. 

After that, we did our guard-pass drill, and that's when shit went down. 

I went into this one blue belt guy's guard to start.  We've had our issues in the past, partially because he's really big and strong and sometimes he likes to mess around with people, and partially because I'm much smaller than him and "messing around" for him means "getting hurt" for me.  But I thought we were past these things and I was ok rolling with him again.  As I'm working to pass his guard, I'm not exactly sure what happened, but he made a quick move and grabbed something and the next thing I know, my calf is getting crushed and my knee is at kind of a weird angle.  I freaked out and yelped (mostly likely dropped some f-bombs), and he did nothing.  Then I tapped and he let go. I'm still sort of freaking out, about to hyperventilate, both from the pain and from getting stuck in that weird whatever-it-was, and one of my coaches came over and sent the guy away.  I told him I was ok and he pulled me up to go walk it off, but for some reason I just keep getting more and more upset about it.  I take a seat facing the back wall, and I did nothing but breathe and tried to relax.  Then my coach came over again, asked me if I was really ok, and then I started getting upset and almost crying again.  That's when he told me it seems like something more happened than what I let on, and then he walked away so I could collect myself.  It took me a little while, but I finally managed to calm down enough to join the class for the last few rounds of sparring.

As I'm changing out after class, I started thinking about what happened in my head and once again, I started getting upset about it.  I changed fast and left, and called my boyfriend (who also trains) once I got to my car.  Shocker of all shockers, I started bawling as soon as I called him.  I tried to explain what happened, except he basically bullied me into going back into the school and talking to my instructors.  I tried to convince him I could do it another day, but he wasn't having any of it.

So I go back into the academy, and of course the guy who this happened with was there, and he asked if I was ok, to which I said "no" and then I kind of got into with him, asking him why he did what he did, and then why he had to wait until I tapped to let go when it was obvious that I was in pain and needed out immediately.  He said that he had gotten his wrist stuck under my leg, and couldn't let go until I moved.  Of course, talking about it got me upset again, and I got more so when he told me I needed to calm down.  One of our other instructors had kind of worked his way on over by this point, so I just told the guy to forget about it and went and talked to my instructor.  I apologized for making a scene and explained my side of the story.  As I'm explaining what happened to him, our third instructor also comes in so he can hear it.  I kind of held it together, but for whatever reason, every time I try to talk about it I get upset.  In the end, he basically tells me that this guy does sometimes mess around with people, he's so strong he sometimes doesn't realize how much pressure he can be putting on someone.  But he would talk to him about it, and then asked me how I would like him to handle it as my instructor; if not rolling with him was a choice I wanted.  For now, I definitely think that's best, because I just don't feel safe rolling with him.  

I don't know why I get so upset when things like this happen.  There's no serious harm done, and as far as I can tell he didn't mean to really hurt me.  But something about the incident scared me, and his intent still remains cloudy to me, and I just can't fathom what was going on in his head.  Does he forget I'm small and skinny?  Does he forget that I'm not Jess, the brown belt?  Or does he really just not think about what he's about to pull?  Or is it more my fault for freaking out over getting stuck in a really awkward position that just took time to get out of?  Let me make something clear, I hate crying.  I almost never do it.  There are certain times, like finding out my cousin was in hospital with a ruptured brain aneurysm, that I just break down.  It didn't help that situation that I was really stressed out.  Then there are certain movies, like Hotel Rwanda or Up, that I can't help but get a little watery eyed.  But other than that, I really don't cry.  Or rather, I didn't cry until I started jiu jitsu.  Then I would have moments--really, every few months there would be a couple of weeks--where everything just seemed to be going wrong and it felt like certain people were being bullies.  Usually there's other stuff going on in my life when these "crying weeks" happened, but I'm on spring break right now--I'm supposed to be relaxed!

Oh, and I'm starting to get heart palpitations again.  Wonderful. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

De La Riva Day

 I finally made it to the weight room again.  Now that it's spring break,  I really should be able to work out as much as I want.   It did help that I had to be at school anyways for some Open House business.  Speaking of which, anyone and everyone in or around Knoxville, TN is invited to the annual UT College of Veterinary Medicine Open House on April 16. You get to see some really cool stuff if you come!

Lots of De La Riva today, even during the beginner's class.  Started with established DLR when your opponent stands up in your guard--unlock your legs, grab a sleeve, sit your hips on one of their feet, put your far leg into their far hip, and wrap the other leg around the back and then inside of their inside leg, so you are at an angle to them.  If they pressure in, which they normally do when you push, take the inside leg and put that foot in the hip, take your foot that was in their far hip and drop it to behind their knee/calf, make sure your hand is around their foot (the one you're sitting on), and straighten the leg in the hip.  If they come back down, basically stand up in base--put the hand that was grabbing a sleeve in the collar, plant the other hand and opposite foot on the ground, and get up, swinging your hips back, making sure their leg is trapped with the leg that is swinging back.

Advanced class went from there--if the DLR wasn't as far off to the side and you're more lined up to the person, and then step their foot back to avoid that initial sweep, put the foot that was behind the calf in the hip that is closer to you, bring the foot that was in the hip all the way across to behind their ankle, but from in front of their leg, not behind.  Push the hip down, block with the hand and other foot.  Also, you could do the same stand up in base-sweep while they're standing.  Sit up and hug their leg and the arm you have.  Push their far side knee with your foot.  When they go to try and strip your foot with their hand, grab that hand and pull that into the hugging grip.  Keeping your head tight, drive in with your shoulder and pull back with your foot, keeping their foot clamped with yours.  When you land, you should have their wrist under their leg.  Keep it there and block the feet with your hands to come to cross side.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Just...blown away is all I can use to describe rolling with him.  But that came at the end.

Today at my school we hosted Andre Galvao for a seminar.  He was super nice right off the bat, and started us off with some light stretches.  We drilled a head and arm choke starting from half-guard a bit, and then he went into a bunch of half-guard stuff.  I really wish I had brought a notebook, but I'll have to do my best with the following (and this is likely out of order and missing tons of details):
-from top half guard, get the head and arm.  Put your forehead on the mat high, near their head, relax and extend your leg to pull it out of half guard and into mount.  Switch your feet to get both on the side that your body is on, drop your body to the floor and apply the choke.
-if the person curls up and grabs their own leg to stop the choke, take the Ezekiel--the arm that is under their arm grabs your sleeve of your other arm, bring that hand up over the head.  Make sure the arm grabbing the sleeve is deep, because that's the choking arm.  Bring your one knee into their shoulder and the other close to their back, then sit back and extend your arms in a scissor motion to apply.
-take the Ezekiel from back mount--go under one arm, use that hand to grab the sleeve of your other arm, and from there it's pretty much the same.  You can also do this if the other person turtles. 
-also from top deep half--grab their far side knee with one hand, close side lapel with other hand (four fingers inside), swim/shoot your forearm around their head, then sit back and apply the choke.
-top deep half--if they have their arm around your leg that is closer to their head--switch your feet so your weight is on the foot closer to their head, and your other knee is either on the ground or their thigh.  Grab their hand that is wrapped around your leg and push it into your hip and bite your body down on the hand.  You can use the other hand to post out at first.  Roll over their body, so your shoulder that is closer to their head comes down first, and aim your head towards their outer hip.  From here, both your legs are kind of under your partner's body.  The free hand should grab their belt, the other you can use to bring yourself up, and from here go one of two ways: 1) pull out the bottom leg and take their back, or 2) pull out the top leg and go for an omoplata.  If you can't submit right away and they roll forward with you, be sure to grab their legs as they roll, and then block their upper body from coming up so you can finish.
-From top deep half, if their arm is wrapped around your leg that is farther from their head, and their other arm is hidden: use your arm that is closer to their head to reach between your body and their head (don't trap the head!) and grab their belt.  Lean over their body and put your forehead on the mat.  Work your way down their body so your head is on their chest, and keep your belt-grabbing arm's elbow close to your body.  Use your other leg to scoop their far side leg so they can't upa into you.  Use your foot against their feet to break their half guard, pull out your leg and go to cross side.

I know there's more; I just can't remember it all!  Hopefully I'll get to drill some of this stuff this week, so I'll be able to make it muscle memory (at least a little) and have something to go to from top half.

After that, he wanted to spend 15-20 minutes rolling with people.  He had us all line up against the wall and then people just stepped forward as he tapped them.  One of the more annoying guys I train with decided to push me forward to "volunteer" me, although I'm actually a little glad because I didn't want to be the over-eager white belt who got to roll with Andre Galvao before all the blues and purples.

And that was were magic happened.  My jiu jitsu sucked; I know it.  We started from standing and I went for the sloppiest double leg ever, and somehow we got to the ground.  He let me work stuff, and we even got to half guard and I "did" one of the moves we learned (I'm sure more of it was him moving for me).  And yet his rolling was so smooth it made my crap-tastic jits feel like butter.  He let me finish him with (another sloppy) armbar, and then I went off to watch him play with his other toys.

This man doesn't have a single wasted movement.  Escaping from a position wasn't just that--it was establishing another dominant position, or setting up another submission.  Nothing, it seemed, was done with a purpose and a plan.  I've watched videos of Mundials and ADCC matches and all sorts of high-level jiu jitsu, but something was just different.  Maybe it's because such high-level athletes slow each other down and negate a lot of what the other does, or maybe he was just playing with us.  Honestly, I couldn't care less--it just left me with a very deep appreciation for what jiu jitsu can be, and how very desperately far away from it I am. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bright girls?

Parked at the ag campus this morning and ran to the gym for a warm-up.  Stretched a bit, tried to roll out on a foam roller, except they're only a foot long, and did plank 60 sec x 2.  I stuck with 55 lb for squats and 85 for deadlifts, but did more reps (8 as opposed to 3) this time.  Only got in two sets for the deadlifts because I had to get to class.

I ran into Mash after vet school classes today, and she expressed how frustrated she was that she "still" can't pass guard (she started around February).  I told her, probably in terms too blunt and a tad bit unkind, that if she's frustrated at not being able to do it now, she's going to be REALLY frustrated months from now when she still has trouble with it.

I really didn't mean to be so mean, but I see her and Peggy (who is also in my vet school class and started BJJ at the same time as Mash, but has some Army Combatives experience) getting frustrated so easily with their jiu jitsu "not working".  Both of them are slightly bigger than me, but still way smaller than just about everyone else in class.  I'm a little worried that this frustration is going to burn them out.  But then I wonder if I was like that too when I first started--was I always that frustrated at the things I had just learned but couldn't do?  Am I as frustrated now, but just better at hiding it?  And how much of this inability to get things to work leads the few women who start BJJ to drop out?  I posted an article on Leslie's Facebook page a few weeks ago, The Trouble with Bright Girls.  The three of us are in vet school, which took some pretty rigorous standards to get accepted to, so clearly on some level, we're bright girls.  It SUCKS not being "good" at something, and it's even worse that for a long time, I had very few opportunities to objectively test my ability.  Even when Jess came, I knew that anything I did with her was her being nice and letting me work.

When I finally tried my hand at competition, I was disappointed.  Sure I submitted one girl, but there were three sloppy armbar attempts before the last one stuck (with twelve seconds left!).  Then I spent my gi rounds getting my face crushed by elbows from girls posting on me in my guard.  I KNEW they had terrible form (and no base), but I could barely do anything.  I felt like all my hard work on "good jiu jitsu" was useless.  Really, I shouldn't have been so upset--the truth is, the things they were doing were such terrible jiu jitsu and such big no-no's that no one in my school does them.  If no one does them to me, how am I supposed to know how to defend against it? After the competition, I made sure to ask about that stuff and the solution was really simple.  THEN I felt bad for not figuring it out myself--isn't part of jiu jitsu learning how to move, not just parroting back techniques we learn in class?

Class tonight started with the front hair-grab defense.  We did a quick review of the bottom cross side escape, then went into kimura from guard.  Open your legs to come up and thread your arm over the shoulder and then through the hole.  Pull them up and trap their one leg with yours; shift your hips so you're on one side and come down.  Then keep your leg (the one used to trap their leg) stays tight to their body and comes up their back to cross again with the other leg.  Keep their elbow to your chest and finish.

Monday, March 7, 2011

BJJ 3/7/11

I meant to do weights this morning.  That didn't really happen, as I was busy studying for my exam this morning (It was only 24 short it made me a little nervous, but oh well).  Also, one of my coaches felt my shoulder on Saturday and said I had a small tear and needed to stop the upper-body workouts until it healed, but squats and deadlifts should be ok. 

Class today started with a drill doing breakfalls using a partner who was doing takedowns.  Then we went into escapes from bottom cross side, going to the knees.  Remember to use the inside forearm to post on the hip, and the other arm hooking under the arm, palm facing up to the ceiling and pushing their body up (off you/higher up on you, freeing your hips).  Suck the bottom shoulder in when you shrimp, move one foot at a time (don't keep them too wide apart in my case), and if all else fails, thread the arm through when the leg gets threaded through.  I definitely jacked up my shoulders trying to drill this ...and my training partner only had 15 pounds on me =\  Being waif-like really needs to end.  Like now.  Paris and I practiced some of the self-defense stuff for the belt test.

And, AND, I finally got my package from Amazon today!  I ordered The New Rules of Lifting for Abs, on Leslie's recommendation.  It's really not about abs--it's more about building a strong core, with abs being a bonus if they pop up.  Lots of static stabilization work and weight work with uneven loads.  There was nothing (on purpose) that involves spinal flexion, although in one small section they said that fighters/martial artists are one of the few groups of athletes that need it, so I guess I can't eliminate that stuff altogether.  I also got an immersion blender so I can finally try making some blended soups (and for easier smoothies). 

Here's to hoping I can get up early enough tomorrow morning to hit the gym before class. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lifting, 3/4/11

I finally braved "the boys' room" at my school's gym today, aka the area with the barbells.  They didn't stare at me like I was an alien, and were pretty cool when I needed help figuring out how to adjust a rack (I don't use all this fancy equipment!).  Anyways, I did squats (55 lbs), deadlifts (85), shoulder press (40), and bent-over rows with dumb bells (15 lbs each arm).  Also attempted some pull-ups when I walked in (2), and 30-lb kettlebell swings.  I started with some light weights, because it's been awhile since I've lifted for real and I just wanted to focus on keeping my form.  Of course, I probably didn't, but at least it's a start.  I e-mailed Leslie after I finished for some advice, and got a great response super fast.  I hope I can make some progress before competition, but even if I don't, I'm just happy I'm lifting again.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Five hours of sleep really isn't enough.  *le sigh*  At least my next test isn't until Monday.

I finally got to talk to my coaches about competing today, and they're behind me 100%.  We decided on NAGA in Charlotte, NC, and they said they would try to get a team together to go.  I'm not sure if I should be excited or terrified...I feel ready for another tournament, but then I start thinking about all that I have to do, and how much hard work it's going to be.  Hopefully I'm just really tired from the double whammy of exams this week and I'll be more gung-ho about it once I get some sleep.  I don't even know what to focus on--metabolic conditioning, or strength training, or try and mix both?  Then there's my stand-up game, which hasn't seen the light of day in months.  And I have to watch my diet.  If anything, I should probably be trying to gain some weight in muscle, but packing in protein isn't super easy as a vegetarian.  Really I just want to avoid junk food, but the package my mom sent me packed with the Indian version of Ramen is definitely NOT helpful...especially when I have it an hour before jiu jitsu.

Beginner's class was top side control.  Started with basic positioning making a "plus sign" with your body and your partner's, and staying on top with no hands while they moved.  Worked with my vet school classmate, Mash, who started a little over a month ago.  She only has about 15 pounds on me, which is really nice to drill with because that way we both know that if our moves don't work, it's because our technique is off, not because our partner is too big.  Next we worked sinking our one hip down to our partner's hip side.  Need to remember to sink my hips back more and keep up off my knees.  Then we worked sinking our hip down on their shoulder when they try to mug your hips from the bottom with their forearm.  Use your elbow on the far side of their head to bring their head towards you, bending their spine.  Next we worked on floating from one side to the other.  When they move their legs away from you, get up on your hands in 4-point base.  Thread the needle with your leg to the side you want to go, then push their face back with your hips.  Sink down and bring your other leg over. 

We started the advanced class with rolling--first 5 minute rounds, then 7 minutes, and the last one was 10 minutes.  The arch of my foot started cramping less than halfway through that last round, so I probably spent more than half of it trying to massage it out.  Class was guard breaks--standard break, angled break from behind the knee if they bring their hips up, and the spine-contortion break if they break your posture and pull you down.  Worked with Jess, our brown belt lady.  She came from California with her husband last fall for school, and until she got here I was essentially the only girl training at my school.  Safe to say that she's kind of a life/soul saver.  And she's really close to my size, so we usually drill together. 

I grabbed one of our newer blue belts after class to help me go over some of the self-defense moves on the blue belt curriculum.  They're almost definitely going to be on the test, and now that it's about 3 weeks away, I'm starting to get nervous about the self-defense stuff we don't do very often.  Most of it seemed pretty simple, though, so I think I'll be good after a few review sessions. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


No, not the ungulate, the dog:

I know, I said I would try to keep this blog to BJJ, but I'm excited--he's my first dog neuter!  I've already done some spays and a bunch of cat neuters, but I this is the first time I got to take the cojones from a dog.  He's house trained and super friendly on the off chance anyone in the East Tennessee region is in the market for a chocolate lab/terrer mix.  You can read more about him at the Smokey Mountain Animal Care Foundation website.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

+/- Competing and Tabata

I'm thinking about competing in a few weeks.  There are actually two tournaments the weekend I was thinking about (April 9th), and while one of them is a little closer, the other might have more women in my weight class.  So once I decide if I'm competing at all, I'll need to figure out which one I want to go to.  It is the weekend after finals, but if I train right I should be tapering that week anyways.  The other issue is that it will be about three weeks after my blue belt test, so if I do pass, I'll have to (get to?) move up to a higher division, and with women's competition these days I'll probably be facing purples belts 

In any case, that might all be conjecture since I've been so busy with exams lately (one this morning, another on Thursday) that I haven't done BJJ since last Thursday night, and won't be going again until this Thursday.  To start my preparation, I did a Tabata workout in my bedroom (20 seconds hard work, 10 seconds rest, 8 rounds/exercises for four exercises), with burpees, squats, push-ups from the knees, and sit-ups.  Score was 5/11/10/9, with totals for each of 45/93/83/86.  Starting with the burpees kind of burns me out, but I still didn't feel like the sit-ups were giving me enough of an aerobic workout.  Does anyone have any suggestions for exercises I can incorporate into a Tabata workout that don't require equipment? 

ALRIGHT already.

At the urging of Slideyfoot, and the recommendation of many others, I have finally decided to start a BJJ blog. There will, of course, be non-BJJ things occasionally involved, but jiu jitsu and how it pertains to my life (or how my life revolves around it) will be the main focus.

I guess I should start with a little of my personal BJJ history. I started with my brother right after I finished high school, in 2004. I trained at Serra BJJ with Matt and Nick Serra that summer, then went to NYU and trained with Mike Harmon at the BJJ club he started there. Then I heard Kyra Gracie was coming to New York, so in February I started training with her as well at Renzo Gracie's academy. I had to take the summer off due to conflicting work schedules, but I resumed training at the NYU club and at Renzo's that fall. Unfortunately, due to a long-ass commute and progressively worsening grades, I kind of burned out and stopped training that winter. It took me almost four years--until September 2009--to start again, this time in Knoxville, TN at Knoxville BJJ during my second year of veterinary school. So despite the fact that I started training almost seven years ago, I'm still a white belt. I received my fourth stripe a few weeks ago, and I'll be testing for my blue belt at the end of March. Yeah, I'm a little nervous.