October 13, 2011

Sweeps and Passes

Another great day. I've been arriving at the gym 15-20 minutes early so that I can watch the end of the kickboxing and take my time settling in. It's also nice to catch others and talk a bit before class starts. I figure the more people I get to know, the less I'll feel like the new kid.

There was actually another girl there today, a young English woman around my age. I made an effort to introduce myself and told her how much I liked the place so far. When kickboxing ended, I got to stretching and Britgirl followed me, which I didn't mind. But after a few minutes, I moved to the far end of the room and only later realized that she may have taken it the wrong way. I prefer being near the wall when I do a stretch that involves the butt being up in the air, so that I don't feel like I'm shoving my ass into everyone's face, but she seemed a bit put off that I'd suddenly switched locations. Oops.

Class started shortly after that. To be totally honest, I was glad when Britgirl ended up paired with Isley, one of the part-time wrestling instructors. Since I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, I really didn't want to be put with someone who knew even less. Of course, I've still been too shy to stalk my own training partners without an invitation or instructor intervention so I was left the odd girl out. Christian asked one of the blue belts to train with me instead, which turned out to be great. Blue was looking a little panicked when he realized that the first warmup we were doing involved lying on your back, placing your feet onto the other person's hips and kicking them up into the air like a spastic leg press. He seemed to be searching the room for someone my own size and I don't blame him. I wasn't entirely confident that I wouldn't send him crashing down into the wall or hell, right on top of me. To make matters worse, I have a birth defect and my right thumb is half the size it should be and doesn't bend. As a result, my right fist doesn't close properly. So not only was I a girl with much less weight to throw around, I was a lighter girl who could only hold on to one wrist.

Christian, however, is not interested in silly things like size difference or dysfunctional body parts. He swung by, asked WTF we were waiting for and told me that if Jean Jacques Machado could do it, I had no excuse. If that doesn't motivate you, I don't know what does. I yanked Blue up into the air and held him up successfully for about ten seconds. It's really amazing what you can do with a couple of well-placed feet on the hips.

After that, we practiced tripod sweeps and passes. The sweeps I did fine on. The first part of the pass I did fine on. But when it came time for the tripod pass, I really struggled at first. I mean, it's like doing a fucking pushup with your head. Have you ever done a pushup with your head? It's not easy and it took me a long while to get right, although I finally managed a half-assed semi-successful attempt by the end of class. Did I mention this shit is really exhausting? At one point, I asked Blue to demonstrate the move on me, just to see how he did it. MISTAKE. This guy isn't one of the biggest in class but he is pretty buff. He did the pass once and I was thinking holy shit, did my spleen and kidneys just rupture? If someone puts that kind of pressure on me on the regular, I'll probably be tapping out before they even finish the pass. Sad...

To wrap up the class, each pair joined up with another pair - for us it was Isley and Britgirl - and did a sort of round robin where all four of us practiced the moves on the other three and then swapped. I'd generally figured out what I was doing at that point and didn't embarrass myself too much. Britgirl, however, seemed uncomfortable and kind of giggly. Trying the move on her also felt really awkward when my turn came. Apparently, I don't mind rock-hard pecs smashing my chest but with two sets of boobs, I literally had no idea what to do with the damn things. I don't care about the close contact but from a purely physical standpoint, I found it really uncomfortable. Maybe it's different in a gi and maybe it just depends on the size of the girl's "girls" but for whatever reason, that was my least favorite round. I found working with the guys much easier.

When the hour was over, I talked with Spaceman and Yanitza for a while and a few other guys introduced themselves to me, which was nice. I'm slowly starting to feel less lost and out of place here. On my way out, I saw Britgirl talking to Christian but her overly polite look and excessive nodding, I have a feeling she won't be back. I'm not sure martial arts are turning out to be her thing...pilates seems more suitable for someone like her, but I guess we'll see next week. Isley convinced me to swing by for his Saturday takedowns class, so I'm looking forward to that.


  1. Ha - I was just about to recommend you check out JJ Machado, but I see you knew that already. From what I gather, he uses a lot of overhooks and underhooks instead, as he can't grip properly with that hand.

  2. Yeah, Christian told me to look up Machado the first time I went to check out the gym and asked him if he thought my hand would be a problem when doing BJJ. He was like pfft, no, just look this guy up. He even sent me a link to one of Machado's fights that evening as inspiration and said we could easily work around any limitations, find what works for me. So far, it hasn't caused any noticeable problems. Everyone there is very "oh? can't do it this way? k, do it this way instead" and it hasn't been a big deal, which I really appreciate.