Jiu-jitsu Month 33 (Stripe, Cha, and Brenda)

(2024-03-30 12:28:39) 下一個

1. Progresses

The next video from Master Rickson addressed the knee shield which made me

very happy. Henry showed this too, I think, but somehow I didn't get it. It

fits nice in the principle of collapsing frames to pass guards. As usual, I

was pumped after watching the video.


Another revelation was the backdoor escape from cross side bottom. All of a

sudden, I could do it, after first learning it many months ago. I just get an

arm underneath, scoot down toward my feet with a forward shrimp while lifting

that shoulder, and I am out!


It's like a Wuxia story where a beginner tries to imitate the master but

somehow couldn't. The move looks deceptively simple but one has to practice it

so many times to master the non-obvious details, get a feeling for timing, and

maybe go through a few revelations, before it can even be done.


For a few weeks now, Weiqi had taught leg/foot attacks and open-guard sweeps.

One day, he asked us to combine the techniques in a drill where one of two

lines of students lay down on their backs to play guard and his partner in the

other line tried to pass, reset on sweep/submission for the bottom guy or

guard-pass for the top guy. After three minutes, the student at one end of a

line join the other line, clockwise. My abs were smoked but I had chances to

do invert and to attack the leg. Before that day, although I did the invert

drill very well, I had always thought it was impractical in sparring.


Weichi taught half-guard this month and we reviewed a few things from the

bottom. I liked

- to triangle the lower leg and sweep, and

- to ball up to catch the other leg with both arms, and follow up with a sweep

  or, if he drives in, to help him forward and catch the leg or back.


A few guys asked about my weight and commented that my cross side pressure was

good. I learned from Peter to grab the calf from the outside and sweep when

someone gets to my side or back when I was in turtle.

2. To Improve

I'm aware for a while that some, even more skilled people, seemed unwilling to

roll with me. I was definitely rough, I know. I used too much force and spent

little time drilling techniques. Every roll with me was a hard roll. People

could get tired of it, I think. Slowly, I started to see the point of drills

and change my strategy and begin to have more fun.


The last Monday of March, I rolled with Sunny and he later watched Stephen and

me spar. He gave me some good feedbacks

- I can wrap my arms around both legs when I collapse a knee shield. At the

  same time, my weight should all bear down above the knee.

- Once I'm in turtle, and my partner is trying to get to the side or back, I

  should catch a leg and take down. Don't wait!

- Get out mount: once I bumped my opponent so that he had to base out with one

  attacking arm, don't let him settle! Keep bumping and curling up or shrimp

  or whatever to get out.


Easter Saturday, Will (brown belt Will) and I talked about pressure which he said

was big in HQ. He trained there quite a few times and saw even blue belts do

it. He ended up teaching me things from cross-side control including a nasty

arm bar when the bottom guy tried to stiff-arm me. Next, I rolled with a brown

belt lady (I forgot her name as she didn't come often) and she told me I

didn't have to put the knee across to execute the arm-bar. I was stoked. I'd

drill this with Chris on Monday.


3. Promotion

Mid March, what do you know, Ed wrapped the first stripe around the black

patch on my blue belt. "To the toughest guy on the mat" he said. "Don't want

that reputation, coach" I smiled back. But I was very happy: I knew I had

earned it. That stripe took 15 months, only two less than what it took to get

my blue belt! But unlike when promoted to blue, I felt ready. Someone said,

enjoy your blue belt days, because once you are purple, you would never be a

blue belt again. I sincerely had been enjoying the journey. At the same class,

a couple of white belts got their stripes and Chris, a great training partner

and friend, was promoted to purple.


4. Cha in My Corner

In a pavement Chinese chess game (those you see on the streets of Beijing in a

hot summer day), some circuseers would try to help by giving instructions to

the players. Jiu-jitsu is a form of chess and sometimes the same happens.


On a Friday open mat, I was rolling with Adam who got me in his guard and

trying to put on me this lapel choke (Jeremy taught it a couple of weeks ago).

He didn't push it hard or might have missed something because I thought I


could survive and, meanwhile, I heard from Cha


    "Duck your head under his elbow!"

    "Whose head?" I shouted back as I was defending facing down.

    "YOUR head!"


We had a laugh afterwards as I explained that I had to ask because in my

experience they always tried to help the winning side.


5. Locker Room Rap

   Chris: Those digits must hurt.

   Rob: That's why I tape them and I try not to use them too much.

   Me: He (Chris) does finger-lock on you too, eh?

   Rob: Right. I'm going to see someone (a doctor or therapist) tomorrow.

   Chris: And ignore what they say. What do they know?

   Rob: Indeed.

   Me: You are a doctor yourself, right?

   Rob: Yes.

   Me: What an irony you have to live with, every single day!



6. Professor Brenda


In an email, we were told that Brenda healed well but turned down an offer (a

meager one, I later learned) to come back to teach. So it's not 100% good

news. The last time it felt bad was when they ousted Gene. One owner explained

to us it was a pure business decision. I don't blame them too much: it's a

business like any other, a game of maximizing profits. When push comes to

shove, the rule is that seniors take the rap.


In the same way I didn't feel personally about my being laid off. At certain

point in a person's career, or maybe even from the start, it is not about just

capability. Sharpening technical skills brings diminishing returns over time.

Being able to play the game and convince yourself, in the face of mounting

evidence to the contrary, that the job is not a waste of life becomes harder.

I bear no grudges against whoever pulling the trigger and I viewed what

happened to me last April inevitable, one of many natural outcomes of the

efficient machinery we have invented, refined, and depended on. One year

passed, I didn't get another job, and I was thankful.


It was hard, however, to reconcile the sellouts, outright or veiled, with the

image of friendship and loyalty the gym promoted with regular facebook group

posts showing the owners and coaches buddy-buddy with each other headlined

with inspirational quotes on martial-art brotherhood. It's clever marketing,

now I understand, those posts tapped into the deepest human yearnings, to

belong without fearing betrayal. Smart.


Dibdin wrote in "And Then You Die": "Protestants were an enigma to him, all

high ideals one minute and ruthless expediency the next." Yes, we are drown in

Protestantism in North America but is the paradox a religious thing or does it

have to do with capitalism or plain human nature?


I digressed. Again, I don't know the whole story. A week after we learned

about Brenda's not coming back, someone created a chat group for the concerned

and added me, mistakenly as he told me soon afterward and kicked me out in a

couple hours. I said nothing throughout as I was commuting and training during

that time of the day. The truth was that I didn't want to know. Brenda was

great and she was kind to everyone but it was probably again business. She and

everybody born here knew the rules better than I.


From an owner's perspective, however, I think it pays to bring the professor

back. She is 66 years old, a world champion, a growing legend, and more

importantly, she had this rare warm personality and the skills to draw people

in. I remembered signing up after she asked a couple of times: "When are you

going to join us?"

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