Wednesday, December 30, 2015

One Year (almost)

I started officially training in Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu last January.

I'm not sure of the exact date, and I had received a more than adequate introduction to it from my friends long before I made it official, so I'm saying it's been "about a year."  One training buddy in particular was drilling his own material with me on a regular basis for months before, although I won't pretend I understood much of what he was doing to me, only that it was awesome and the skills I had learned in many intense years of JSD training were useless against him once we were on the ground.

I still do JSD, but roughly 4 days per week, I'm doing this now:

It's sweaty.  It's gross.  It's difficult and often painful.  It requires all of my physical and mental effort, and I leave feeling absolutely exhausted.

It's also the most fun I've ever had on a regular basis.  And it's very, very addictive.

This last year, I've trained there at least 150 hours. But between those hours actually spent in the school, on the mats, I've watched countless videos, read countless books and articles, spent countless hours with the guru and other friends discussing or drilling outside of class.  And despite all of that learning, all of that work, I still feel like I've only begun to scratch the surface of all there is to learn and master.

It's easy to see why it takes an average of 10-12 years to get a black belt in BJJ.

With one of those years behind me now, and 3 stripes on my belt, I feel like I know enough to comfortably introduce a new student to a few important concepts or moves, but I wouldn't venture beyond that.  And when I learn something new in a class or seminar, it still takes a ridiculous amount of repetition (and writing it down in my notebook) for me to retain it, let alone remember the steps and use it when free-rolling.

I've been at this long enough to develop a few habits when free-rolling, which are hopefully good habits, but will no doubt change as I learn more and expand my repertoire.  Right now, my top game consists of getting to side control or kesa gatame, going for an armbar or to mount, and then an arm triangle choke.  My bottom game is about defense and survival.  If I can get my partner in my guard, I wrap an arm, grab the opposite lapel and go for a choke or armbar.  I've given up on the triangle choke for now - it wasn't working and I just wound up getting passed.  I'll revisit it when I'm better. I've experimented with a few sweeps, but they're still clumsy and I haven't mastered the timing of them.  I'm starting to work on standing guard passes, but again, they are clumsy and ill-timed.

It all needs work, and I'm not especially patient with myself, but when I line up now, I'm in the middle of the pack, and I know I'm improving when I roll with a newer person, especially if we're close to the same size.  Of course, just about no one there IS my same size.  I'm 123 pounds, and the biggest compliment I get there right now is, "Wow, you feel really heavy tonight!" When I roll with one of the prepubescent kids and can toss him around without a care, even with his full weight on me, I know what it feels like for 90% of the adults who roll with me.  I've resigned myself to the fact that, just like at JSD, I have to work 10x harder to get the same results.  At BJJ, to make up for the fact that I am smaller and weaker, I need to be that much more technical.  I have to know it, and know it well, because I can't rely on size, muscle or athleticism.

Fortunately, I have coaches, including my wonderful GirlCoach, who understand this and are incredibly supportive and encouraging.  And there are several others (in addition to the Girl Coach) who are smaller than their usual training partners but who hold their own nonetheless. These are the people who inspire me because they show me what technique can accomplish against bigger and stronger opponents.

I still feel like a newbie, but in many ways, I've come so far in the last year.  Glad I decided to take the plunge a year ago and commit to this new challenge.  It's already changed me in so many ways, and introduced me to so many wonderful people.  I'm looking forward to the coming year.

Monday, December 14, 2015

It's December...

... and as always, I'm in Christmas Denial.

The fact that it's been in the mid 60s doesn't really help, although I did take advantage of the lovely weather and plan to get a tree and put some outdoor lights on and around the house while it's still warm.

Some people go nuts over Christmas and really enjoy all the decorating and baking and shopping.  I (and I suspect Savageman as well) find it all a bit overwhelming.  I can do it in a super-intensive burst of cleaning/decorating/shopping frenzy for a day or two, but it's not sustainable over a longer period than that.  And I'm already juggling about all I can comfortably juggle, without giving up my decompression time.

I'm a creature of habit.  I get up at 6:40, get the kids off to school, have my coffee, do a little bit of necessary house stuff, and then I'm off to work or karate.  I come home in the afternoon, do a little more house / cooking stuff and take a quick power nap right before the kids arrive home from school.  I chase Little down to get his homework done. We pack up and head to BJJ/Judo, where I either stay and train, or drop Little off and head to JSD to train there.  After an hour or two of martial arts, it's home, food, watch an episode of something on Netflix and see the boys off to bed.  Savageman and I watch another episode of something while the laundry is running and go to bed ourselves, usually around 12:30.  After a measly 6 hours of sleep, I get up and do the whole thing again.

Fitting anything extra in there requires either 1) time on the weekend or 2) a day (like today) I'm not scheduled to work.  Lately, work has been plentiful. Sundays are my one day to sleep in, do some larger housework, and then I take off for two and a half hours of Judo / BJJ, do the grocery shopping for the week, and have dinner with my parents, followed by a final homework check and bedtime routine.  Yesterday, I added a morning open mat, and went for a run.

Today I finally have a day off, but I'm still hanging around the house.  I have a Crazy Person Eye Twitch which is driving me nuts.  It's been years since this has happened, and I wonder if it has to do with all the extra exercise yesterday, or maybe my neck needs to be adjusted, or I'm tired, or dehydrated.... in any case, it's making me cranky and not interested in shopping, which is already just about my least favorite thing.  I'm on the couch, drinking coffee, blogging, mainlining Gracie Breakdowns on YouTube, and researching Eye Twitch remedies.  The one thing the Interwebs seem to agree on is "Cut Back on Caffeine." Did I mention I'm drinking coffee?

I know I need to clean, decorate, shop.  My mother stopped by this morning and, as always at this time of year, she's a tornado of Christmas Prep Energy.  In my head, my eyes are squeezed shut, my fingers are in my ears and I'm chanting LALALALALALALALALALA at the mention of Christmas.  Maybe my fierce denial is manifesting itself in the form of my Crazy Person Eye Twitch.  In any case, my one day this week to get shit done is quickly slipping away.

Sigh... let's face it.  I don't Girl well.  I can't even shop for myself, let alone other people.  Savageman is the brilliant gift giver, the one who sees a shopping trip as a magnificent treasure hunt, who returns triumphant with wonderful finds that are both practical and creative.  And he's been working 10 hour days, plus going to the gym 6 days / week.

Meh, I need to go do this.  The kids will be home from school soon.

Twitch.  Twitchtwich....

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Cool BJJ Stuff: Triple Threat

We've been working on this for the last few weeks at BJJ.  It's fun, and it gives a taste of both the simplicity, and the complexity of what this art has to offer. Having so many tools in my collection is a challenge when quick decisions are not my strongest skill, but it's training me to think faster and giving me an opportunity to experiment and learn in real time with a resisting partner.