Another Seminar? Sure!

This one was for a great cause, too – helping Livia fund her trip to the 2013 World Championships in LA.

A physio visit and week off training had settled my back, and since I wouldn’t be full on rolling I figured it could cope! 

I learnt my lesson when I woke up in pain the next morning .. but oh well.

Dan Shaw and Lachlan Giles took this one at Absolute, we went through an attack series from closed guard and did some lasso spider guard. All very impressive, and I kind of had the hang of things by the end, when I wasn’t muddling my left and rights.

The guys were cool with us filming them going over everything again, too – and Dan also posted some vids of the moves on Facebook for us later, so hopefully I’ll be able to start drilling some things when I get back on the mat.

Image
Photo credit: Livia Gluchowska

A couple of pearls of wisdom I took away from this sesh – Break Grips and Move Your Hips!

“Jiu Jitsu is a grip fight, whoever gets good grips will win, so get your grips and work on what technique you can get off that grip.”

Image
Photo credit: Livia Gluchowska

Meantime it has been another week off jits for me, I did drop by my gym for a class, just to watch. Have some back exercises to do three times a day, and I’m hopeful it’s not too long until I return to training.

My First BJJ Seminar

Sophia (McDermott) Drysdale, Australia’s first female BJJ black belt.

Recommended by AGIGI honestly didn’t know what a BJJ seminar involved! I was envisioning a uni lecture where you sit and listen to someone speak, and take notes.

Or I figured you just watch them demonstrate moves.

Thankfully I asked, found out it was more like a class and made sure I packed a gi!

Cool vid put together by Jess Fraser.

I brought a notebook and my phone out on the mat too, though it’s up to the individual whether they allow photos/video and since I didn’t ask Sophia before she started, I decided to play it safe and keep my phone to the side.

Ditto the notebook it turned out. Other than a couple of scribbles in drink breaks and during the Q&A at the end, I really didn’t have the time or the thought to take notes.

After a quick warm up Sophia got us into pairs and we took turns moving around our partner who was flat on the floor, chest to chest, arms behind our backs.

It was all about using your whole body when on top to keep the pressure on your opponent, as opposed to most of the strength coming from your arms. Also altering that pressure as your opponent tries to escape (“be like a water bed”) and being on your toes so you’re able to move and adjust quickly!

From there we worked on the most effective positioning when in side control, and step by step went through a few of Sophia’s favourite armbar moves.

A few things I’ll be working on (no brainers but hey, unco white belt I be!)

–       Move on your feet, not on your knees, ‘duck walk’ around for the far armbar.

–       Be more parallel than crucifix to apply the correct pressure to the best areas in side control, including hip to hip.

–       Hips forward ladies!

–       Post/grab your gi as you’re settling in for the armbar, you don’t have to lean back for it until you’re ready.

– Do your warm ups and drills fast if you want to roll fast – sprints not long runs, short but intense push ups, sit ups etc, rest then do it all again.

At the end Sophia invited questions, and talked briefly about her journey through the ranks. She revealed while she never felt a BJJ gender issue in Australia, training overseas including in Brazil she was treated differently as a woman on the mat.

But at the same time she says we have to accept we’re participating in a male dominated sport “you’ve chosen to be in it, don’t expect special treatment, although also don’t be afraid to speak up to say this is what I need” ie. to sit out, or to go over something again.

Sophia believes there’s nothing wrong with tweaking an instructor’s move a little to make it work for you and your body.

And just in case I wasn’t finding this seminar with Australia’s first female BJJ black belt inspiring enough, Sophia told us she’s planning to compete at the Worlds in less than two months time, despite the fact her second child will only be about four months old!

My BJJ motivation has definitely returned.

Sophia Drysdale Melbourne seminar 2013.
Sophia Drysdale Melbourne seminar 2013.

BJJ slump.

So I hurt myself playing with the big kids again.

I joined a grading class last weekend, Andrew was going for his orange belt (coach uses the kids system to give adult white belts ‘stepping stones’), lots of the blue belts were there to give him a tough rolling session, we drilled while he went through the techniques he had to know, then he got me for some scrambly white belt relief!

I felt a lower back twinge and hobbled off straight after class to get a massage. I have had three bulging discs in the past (not jits-related) so am very wary when I get back pain in BJJ.

Thankfully it’s not very often. But it’s also the reason why I hate being stacked – I freak out about my back and pretty much let my training partner pass straight away to avoid the pressure/potential injury. Not great, I know.

I haven’t trained all week – I haven’t exercised all week actually except for a big walk. Shame on me.

To be honest the motivation died pre-injury though, when the local Gi comp I entered got cancelled due to the organiser being unable to pull it all together. 

But tomorrow I get back on the BJJ train. Sophia Drysdale (old interview, I believe she has 2 kids now!), Australia’s first female Black Belt is holding a seminar at Dominance, so with a week of rest behind me I’m hoping I can participate without much pain, and learn a new thing or two.

Just being around some of the incredible AGIG crew should get me back on track.

** I have been told to ask Sophia tomorrow, but as it’s my first seminar and I’ll probably be sitting out some bits, I’m wondering what the general rules are when it comes to note taking, photo and video recording? Can anyone enlighten?

That Awkward Moment When..

IMG_6298

I don’t think about these things on the mat a lot – most of the time I’m too busy defending myself from every angle to be very aware of what possibly odd-looking positions I’m getting myself into with dudes.

But there are those occasional moments when I DO think about it – and wonder at what point in my BJJ training did I become okay with virtual strangers sweating all over me, straddling me, pinning me to the ground and choking me out with their thighs? (not necessarily always in that order)

Some of my male teammates I’m pretty sure I had a bit of (clothed, obvs) crotch-to-face action with before we’d even had a proper conversation!

Bec Hyatt knows the fastest way to get a submission. Invicta 5.
Bec Hyatt (green crotch) knows the fastest way to get a submission. Invicta5

It’s funny how a fart on a mat can create awkwardness and clear out a space for a few minutes … but a tough roll between a guy and a girl in no gi, getting super up close and personal – no one including the participants bats an eyelid at.

A great reflection of the equality in the sport, mind you.

I have been single throughout my BJJ journey to date, so it hasn’t been an issue – but I do wonder if my next romantic interest will have a problem with my  hobby.

Are you in a relationship with someone who doesn’t train jits? How do they feel about you rolling about and accidentally kneeing the privates of sweaty men and women on a regular basis?

And I’d love to read YOUR awkward moment stories!

Working out my Game Plan.

I am yet to enter my first Gi comp. I should, I know – but a combination of things have stopped me to date.

– I hadn’t been training much in Gi, working more No Gi instead for upcoming comps.

– I haven’t felt as ‘in control’ in Gi – all these grips that render me useless and find me tapping from chokes I never saw or felt coming!

– I don’t have a game plan.

The last one I’m only just getting my head around. At the last Gi round robin (where I spectated and thought later, ‘I should have entered’) I overheard a girl talking to her teammates about how their game plans were coming together nicely and really working for them, great implementation of their game plans etc.

What on earth is this game plan and how do I get one?!

I really didn’t know where to start.

I’m thinking about entering the Synergy Pro or a local comp coming up at Melbourne Uni – they’re not far away, and I haven’t been training super consistently, but I want to do one .. just to throw myself into another comp asap.

So I mentioned it on Twitter, and got tweeting @JiuJitsuJournal who has written this great post – exactly what I need to begin.

New attitude is go.. kinda.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself” – I get told that a lot.

Also not to give up, see it as winning or learning.. not losing, everyone’s journey is different, go at your own pace, keep it playful.

So from now on, that is what I’m going to do. Doing already actually, though starting tonight by joining a comp rounds sesh with blue belts may have been a bit ambitious!

I cried a bit (what is WITH that?), got hurt a bit, frustrated, made the usual scrambly and silly white belt mistakes.

But I’m actively going in to every class from now on with an overall personal goal (eg. keep your balance tonight, be faster, more aggressive or keep those damn elbows in!) that I hope will see me keep my cool more, and lose it less.

Head on the outside for this drill!Photo via Jess Fraser
Head on the outside for this drill!
Photo via Jess Fraser

** By the way yup I’m a newbie blogger, still setting up my page, so apologies for the work in progress.

I’m also keen to add other BJJ blogs to my reader, so please recommend. =)

Flying Sharks And Lycra Fights

Last weekend, I joined more than 70 ladies at Australian Girls in Gi Camp 2013.

Image
Photo via Jess Fraser
Held at Dominance MMA in Abbotsford over two days, and organised by the amazing Jess Fraser – BJJ girls from all over Victoria and interstate (even a couple of internationals) got together for some hard work and play… and a terrible sleep on gym mats, seriously.
Next time I won’t internally scoff at the ladies bringing blow up mattresses or a stack of bedding, I’ll be one of them!
This year’s schedule featured…
  • Guard Passing fundamentals with David Hart (“You wanna be soft heavy, like a bean bag full of lead pieces..”)
  • No Gi fundamentals with David Christopher (DC)
Image
Photo (and most others below) via Jess Fraser
  • Judo with 5x Olympian Maria Pekli (“No giraffe, no Charlie Chaplin, no snowboard” – on the positioning of your feet when setting up a hip throw). She was a real wealth of information on standing technique.
  • Guard fundamentals with Lachlan Giles and Dave Marinarkis
Image
The guys teaching single x guard
Plus a couple of hours of free rolling/open mat.
There was also a talk on Competition Psychology and Physiology by Tra-ill Dowie, and Sports Psychology with Chris Shen and the lovely Maryanne Mullahy, who I was lucky enough to roll with briefly as well.
Image
We also had a LOL comp (Loud Offensive Lycra) and super fights.
Many of us were too buggered by the Saturday night to get stuck into rolling in our dress ups.. but we did wear them out to brekkie the next morning!
Image
I met the best bunch of ladies and learnt so much, some basic techniques I have probably been told and shown previously, but right now they feel fresh and shiny and new – and I really hope they stick!
Things like keeping your posture when in someone’s guard, moving yourself – not your opponent, when you arm drag and go to their back and “never cross the streams” ie. the dangers of reaching diagonally for their opposite collar/sleeve .
Image
Some points from Tra-ill’s talk that have inspired me to work on where my head’s at when I’m on the mat..
  • Take a few minutes before every class to feel grateful – it will increase your ability to perform well and be a good competitor.
  • There are seven basic systems within the brain; Seeking, Rage, Fear, Panic, Lust, Care, Play. Keep rolls playful in order to stay in a positive and calm frame of mind when under pressure.
  • Fighting in comps motivated by panic, fear and rage will most likely see you flip your lid (lose control mentally). Using seeking and play as your motivation will see you most able to keep your cool.
One of my favourite camp moments was while grappling a blue belt, Kim – who I have rolled with previously at AGIG events and a few Australian Elite Team classes.
After our round she said “You’ve improved so much!” Big yay.
Image

“Don’t you have any stripes yet?”

“No!” – That was the indignant answer I gave my BJJ coach as I sat on the mat, dishevelled, sweaty and out of breath from a tough roll, that ended with me being submitted (as usual).

Seven months I had been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, sometimes up to five days a week as I worked hard to get better – and keep up with my teammates.

I had watched those who started classes at the same time as me go from strength to strength, picking up moves quite quickly and earning stripes for their white belts. They’d enter local competitions and end the day with medals around their necks.

I’ve entered a couple of comps too – the best result to date has been a draw with a (much lighter) blue belt, the rest.. losses on points or by submission.

I’ve been keen – spending hours at a time at the gym, responding to Facebook posts by my teammates to meet up for extra training sessions, eagerly joining Australian Girls in Gi events for the chance to roll with people more my own size and strength .. even regularly heading to a gym friend’s house for some drilling.

So why wasn’t I getting better? I know they say it takes a good year for this sport to click, and for you to really understand what you’re doing, when to make a move and why.

But talk about disheartening – “don’t you have any stripes yet?”

All that pent-up angst bubbled up. I was about to let loose on my coach who was standing over me, tell him how much it sucked that he didn’t seem to care about how I was progressing or offer any words of advice or encouragement..

Then I noticed the strip of white ribbon dangling between his fingers.

And I burst into tears. Relieved, proud, happy tears.

Image