December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays From the Mats

The holidays are upon us! And in the midst of shopping for gifts and spending time with family, I'm wondering how it all affects my gym schedule. Clearly, I've got a handle on my priorities...

More newbies showed up last Thursday and I ended up with one of them. The focus was wrestling, so we pummeled and yanked each other back and forth for a while. The poor guy and his friend seemed so amazingly lost, it's funny to think that I had that same OMG WTF? HELP! expression only 2.5 months ago, and now feel like I've been there forever. I think they were a little unsure of the whole grappling girl thing at first but I was in a helpful mood so I kept yanking their arms tighter and talking them through the moves until they figured out that I was not, in fact, going to sue them if they went for a harness grip.

I stayed for gi class afterwards and Yanitza had fun practicing all sorts of painful moves on me in preparation for her first competition. I eventually got tired and meandered around with my cell phone, taking pictures and getting some great shots of Yanitza and Curly after she challenged him with some freakin' funny smack talk. He very much enjoyed getting her back for that, and C-Bear multitasked as coach, referee and commentator, which made the whole thing even more hilarious. If I had it all on video, it would be a great example of why I love my gym so much.

Went in for open mat the next day and warmed up with Rascal. It's hard to roll with him because he keeps making snarky comments and doing ridiculous impressions that break my focus and make me laugh. It's not really fair. Rolled with Christian after that, which went very well. Aside from the unrelenting kneebars, I feel like I got into a good groove with him. Jazz, one of the old school crew who I'd never seen out of a business suit, randomly decided to join in and I worked with him for a while too. We talked a bit afterwards as he showed me some leg locks. He was interested to know why I chose Ronin and if it wasn't kind of offputting training with a bunch of guys. I assured him that it was not. It'd be another story if the gym was full of loud mouth steroid-abusing jocks, but that's obviously not the case. The guys there compete but aren't hypercompetitive. They're athletes but not meatheads. So far, I haven't met a single person who hasn't been totally friendly and laid back. It's a solid community where people come to learn and to have fun, and where everyone supports each other...just a good environment to be in.

Monday night was insanely busy, there were so many people. I paired up with Buster to drill armbars and sweeps from guard (rocked one variation, sucked at another). Spaceman came late and worked in with us. Because of my dysfunctional right hand, I was having trouble with the first part of the move, so the boys tried to think up alternate methods for me. Spaceman had a few ideas, which he and Buster demonstrated and together, they helped me to figure out what worked best. It was really sweet of them to have that sort of consideration without even being asked.

Class ran well into open mat again. Rolled with LJ and did okay. He's so light, it still kind of shocks me. With Spaceman next, who tapped me out once, then Schizo, who kicked my ass up and down the mat. I spent most of the time trying to escape mount and side control, although I did get a few good moves in. After that was LJack, who let me work on passes and escapes as he usually does. Then Spaceman again to close it out, who I actually got a frustrated swear word out of after escaping an armbar, swiveling to my knees and taking him down. I hate to be a dick but that was quite satisfying. After all, I'm usually the one swearing in dismay. By the time we finished, I was an ungodly mess...sweaty, hair in all directions, clothes half twisted off. Yep, so graceful.

I skipped kickboxing again today because my left knee has been hurting. Worked on taking the back with Homeboy tonight, then drilled with Rascal and KGB. Rascal has some sort of injury and at one point, I completely forgot about the ghetto bandages on his hand and yanked one of his fingers, resulting in some very unhappy noises. He's so adorable and reminds me so much of my kid brother that I felt extra bad about that. When he recovered and we continued, I was overly careful to avoid the hand. KGB, however, was a bitch to drill the moves with and I had to go extra hard with him. He's a lot stronger and bulkier, which made it difficult to pull him to one side and get the choke. I finally succeeded after resorting to Christian's "Oh, you don't wanna lift your head? Well then fuck you, how do you like this?" approach and basically yanked his head back by pushing on his nose with my forearm. It was kind of an obnoxious thing to do but it worked, which is good to know.

Gi class was great tonight too. I paired up with Carlo to learn flying sweeps to armbars and taking the back (FYI brown belt = totally ideal training partner for scary moves). I won't lie...I was panicking at the idea of jumping up and locking my legs around someone midair. I didn't think I'd be able to jump high enough and had trouble bringing myself to try. But Carlo doesn't fuck around and started yelling "GO! DO IT NOW! DO IT!" loud enough that other people started to stare (which I assume was the point as it's damn good motivation), and I managed to get the move down just fine. Later, I rolled with Yanitza for a while (got destroyed), then C-Bear (same) and Homeboy, who I did well against and actually managed to sweep a few times. Exhausting but awesome night.

No more class until Monday now. There may be an informal open mat tomorrow if Curly decides to open the gym, but I'm supposed to spend the day wandering around with my mother for our usual Christmas tradition of looking around 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Center and all that, so I may just take the next few days off and let my body rest. See you in the new year!


  1. It was a great feeling for me too when I started feeling like I'm becoming part of the ass-kicking family -- I didn't feel like such an alien anymore. I started picking up technique faster. I started having fun training -- that really helps with learning technique ofcourse.

  2. Well, it's not like I don't feel lost at times or that I pick up everything super fast. I go through the moves slowly and carefully the first few times, then try to do it faster and faster. Some things I get very fast and feel good about and other things I'm still struggling with even after a couple months. But mentally I just feel more comfortable with it now know, at home :o)