Thursday, May 21, 2009

party wrap-up, and also videos

Writing in on the day after the May Grapple Den Party, and dear gods, am I sore! It was a fun night with a smaller crowd and a good number of spectators, which meant those of us who wanted to wrestle got all the mat time we wanted. Yay! And also Ow.

So the theme last night was Jocks vs. Nerds, and I went representing the jocks (having already gotten my nerd on earlier this week seeing the new Star Trek movie, which I quite enjoyed). I got to battle Princess Slayer in her wrestling cheerleader get-up, and Damien and I fought the signature match of the evening with him in the nerd camp (we're always on opposite sides!) That match came to a draw, so while jock pride was not damaged, I didn't score any stolen lunch money or get to stuff him in a locker either. Ah, well...

I'll also mention that the nerd highlight fight of the night occurred when "Hanz" Vanderkil and "Princess Slayer" faced off. This wasn't pre-planned, but fortunately I had the Star Wars theme on the playlist anyway, and it served well.

And another fun thing for me was getting to spar with a quite skilled former high school and college wrestler. Collegiate wrestling always fascinates me; the movement is so noticeably different than in grappling, and I love finding technically challenging opponents.

* * *

Now on another topic, it's high season for videos again. I had a very fun shoot with Utopia Entertainment last Sunday. This was a domination style match, very leggy with long, torturing holds. But again, it was such a fun shoot! My opponent, Thrash, was an excellent victim, great to work with, and loved getting beaten up. I couldn't stop laughing while choking, scissoring, and tossing him about; it was great play time. I'm told it's a little frighting that I grin so much when I fight; push me a little farther and I'm sure the gleeful cackling could be considered maniacal. Muah-ha-ha.

Also, I've got another shoot coming up with FemFightClub this Sunday. That'll be a couple of competitive fem vs. fem matches with Keri and, I think, another of her girls. Not to mention that I'll be shooting another female wrestling match when I'm on the road next week in Milwaukee or that my rematch with Gianna will be coming out soon at Doom Maidens.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Just quick update to share some excellent news. I was promoted at my BJJ academy today! Well, not exactly promoted, but I did get a new stripe on my blue belt. So a step on the way to purple belt. Very fun. And encouraging!

Also, I have to say how much I like this morning's instructor. He teaches basic, simple, high-success-rate moves, he's super-positive even early in the morning, he gets to know students individually, and what especially struck me today, he sticks to traditions some of the younger (and "cooler") instructors let slide.

There was a mass of promotions this morning -- like 5 stripes given out and two people raised to blue belt. For the belt awards, the instructor made the whole class turn to face the back wall so we couldn't see what would happen, snuck through the class and delivered the ritual beatings with the new belts. So you could hear the thwacks but not see who was being honored. Or know, if you were a high-ranking white belt, if you were going to be chosen. And afterwards everybody was encouraged to congratulate everyone else.

It was a little mini-party atmosphere at 8:30 a.m. with everyone needing to rush off to work. But it completely set such a great tone for the day. I am so pleased this guy sticks to the ritual forms. It's much more fun and meaningful that just handing someone a new belt, which I've also seen. Like keeping Santa and the Easter Bunny real for kids as long as you can -- it means something; it's special.

So, awesome morning, and thanks to a great professor.

Monday, May 11, 2009

excited for travel...

So things are a little quiet at the moment, but they're about to get exciting. Right now I'm hanging in, keeping up with my training and lifting, making a concious effort to get up-to-date everywhere and with everything online (getting my MySpace out of the Stone Age...), and looking forward to getting my poor old clunking laptop fixed up at the Apple store tomorrow.

But I'm very excited my upcoming session tour at the end of the month! I got the whole thing confirmed after a good bit of uncertainty, and I'll be making stops to offer wrestling sessions in Pittsburgh on May 26-27, in Chicago on the 27th-29th, in Milwaukee on the 29th-31st, and in Cleveland on the 31st-1st. It will be a lot of driving, but fortunately I love that. It's high time to get out of New York for a little while and take the fighting on the road!

Also on this trip I'll be competing in a grappling tournament on the 30th (I can't get enough, clearly). AND I'll finally get to meet some online grappling friends from the Madison area -- they'll be coming to my tournment and hosting a fight club afterparty at their hotel that night. Cheering squad + party = tons of awesome. Can't wait to meet these folks. And to top it all off, I have a few video prospects along the route as well.

So this trip probably doesn't count as a vacation. It will be great, but madly busy. That said, anybody out there in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Milwaukee, or Cleveland who'd like to get together for a session while I'm visiting should get in touch and schedule! Time will be precious!

And as a final note, things are getting ready to pick up back home in New York as well. I have a few video and photo prosepects brewing here as well; more soon when I see what materializes from them. Grapple Den is increasing its training workshops from once to twice this coming week, and since the weather is FINALLY getting nice, the Wednesday session will be moving outside to Washington Square Park. And of course the Grapple Den Nerds vs. Jocks Party will be May 20. Should be a good kick-off to the travels!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Last Weekend's Tournament Report!

May 6, 2009, 10:09 p.m. --

So now, belatedly, which is an unfortunate trend with my blog posts, I have an account to offer of my tournament last Saturday. This was a no-gi only tourney, so it was smaller and quicker than most of them, but it was still a fun, full day.

The adventures began even before I arrived. Going out on the train, I made a new friend, which is to say another tournament competitor recognized me as a fellow fighter and latched on. This was pretty amusing; the guy was just out of college, very new to grappling, and unbelievably excited about everything. I got to hear all about the intense water-fast, weight-cutting program he’d put himself through for this tournament and his involved strategy for winning it all. Good guy, and it’s fun to know people and cheer them on between your own matches, but, holy shit, this one was, I repeat, excited.

So, arriving at the event, I found that there were a lot of women there, more than I’d expected, but they were divided up into many weight and skill classes. I ended up with only four total women in my advanced flyweight division and five in the absolute division. There was also a freestyle wrestling tournament going on in the same huge warehouse-like convention center. Fun to see that side-by-side with the grappling.

My division rolled around. Unfortunately, I got no advance notice of this, so I went into my first fight totally cold and still subconsciously in warm-up mode. So that was not my fight. In fact, the other girl rather demolished me – but she only won on points, and I found out afterwards that she had a 20-year martial arts career, 12 years of grappling, and is training as a pro kick-boxer. So I didn’t feel too badly. I would have had another match for third/fourth, but my opponent was injured in her first fight and had to forfeit. So in advanced flyweight, I took third based on survival credit.

Then there was the absolute division. Sadly, the way the bracket worked out I ended up facing the same girl again, again in my first fight. She still had her 20 years of experience, but at least this time I was warmed up. I am very pleased that I was doing much better in this match. The score was much closer, and I had the lead for a while…but she went for a footlock, which she’d tried before and I’d managed to escape. I wasn’t worried; I went to perform the same escape, but then there was an audible pop from my ankle. For that, I had to tap.

Everyone was pretty distressed (“Was it your knee?!?!” “No, it wasn’t my knee…”). But I iced the ankle for a few minutes and felt all right to go in for my third/fourth fight.

My opponent this time was much heavier than me (170 lbs), but also much younger – only 13. Some of these advanced kids can be amazing; they’ve started training young, and they can easily have been at it longer than I have! So in this match, my opponent took me down with a very neatly done hip throw and took side control. I got my hips out, hooked her leg, and executed the escape to take her back.

I don’t remember how she recovered guard, but I managed to pass, take side mount, and finally gain mount to win on points. A more legitimate third place finish in absolute, so that was pleasing.

Meanwhile, in between matches I’d discovered that one of my opponents from the Providence tournament was at this one as well. We got reacquainted; she was very interested to hear about my March trip to the Atlanta competition and wanted to get in on future long distance tournament road trips. She also got to meet my eager young buddy from the train. They got on very well. Apparently they follow the same water diet.

So that was my tournament. An acceptable showing and more stock for my trove of experience. I made it back to the city in time go for a lovely but unwise walk on my compromised ankle and get a badly needed dinner.

Fighting Gianna and Wrestling Party matches

April 20, 2009, 9:27 p.m. --

I was going to post this much earlier today, when I was stealing internet time at my day job. Then, just as it was ready to go up, there was bizarre accident at work involving a car falling on -- not hitting, actually falling on -- my building. I emailed the blog to myself for later posting, and joined the general evacuation. Now, here's the original entry of 3:33, slightly delayed:

OK, some excellent news. I've got a video match lined up for tomorrow with Gianna, who's currently visiting in NYC. She's just my size, and an experienced BJJ grappler, so this should be a fantastic, technical, close-fought match. A spiritual sequel to my fight with Kim, I'm hoping. My one fear is that we're not shooting in my usual studio this time, but in another that I know, and there's a small but real danger there of going through the wall!

Other things to mention -- I had a very nice submission grappling class this morning. Techniques worked: Hip throw and single-leg catch from underhook set-up and many unorthodox triangle tricks -- triangle set-up for straight armbar; sidemount to reverse triangle step-over; triangle as a single-leg defense, and finally a very unusual arm-trap to arm bar via a sacrificed triangle. Also the live rolling was great -- you don't get such perfect guillotine set-ups often...actually, ever. What was my partner thinking?

I'm trying to increase my technical drilling time, so I'll actually start remembering more than one of the six techniques I learn in a class at a time. Yesterday, one of my sparring partners and I came up with the brilliant idea of meeting to drill in the park. Today, we accordingly ordered some protective outdoor kneepads, and I'm going to appoint some of my old workout clothes as OK for grass stains. I'm looking forward to this -- now refer back to Part One of this entry, re: how much the weather needs to leave off sucking.

And finally, though this is very belated, a report of last week's Wrestling Party. It was a great one. Things started off very mellow with the early crowd settling in, the spectators claiming their seats, and a few warm-up matches alternating on the mats. And then, wham, a flood! A ton of wrestlers suddenly showed up, and the mats were packed the rest of the night. Later in the night, we started running multiple matches at a time to give everyone the fighting time they wanted. Some people wrestled so much they did their socializing during their bouts -- you could see someone holding guard and looking up to chat with folks on the ring-side sofas. It was great!

Highlights of the night for me personally included the return of my dear friend Mentee Fresh, back to grappling at last after recovery from knee surgery; a match with very skilled newcomer who said she used to train long ago (she hasn't forgotten much!); my classic rematch/continuing grudge match against Big Vince (who says he now wants to do a video match with me, which is great since he'll have to stop lying about winning once I have hard evidence of his defeat one film); and my not-so-classic team-up with Kim against Vince -- that was hilarious, and even more of a spectacle since the two of us look like twins. Also, my favorite match that I wasn't fighting was Miss Juliette's face-off with SnakeEyez -- he's 250 pounds of muscle; she's probably 130 physical pounds, but armed with 300 pounds of sass. Watching her move in on him was a sight!

The next party will be May 20. The theme is Jocks vs Nerds!
- VeVe

Quiet weekend -- but stolen bike!

April 6, 2009, 1:43 p.m. --

My weekend -- Well, I did NOT go to the NAGA tournament in New Jersey this weekend, and on the one hand that's sad because apparently it was a huge, successful tournament with 80 competitors in the womens' divisions and I'm told some people were actually asking for me and wondering where I was.

On the other hand, I didn't feel like I'd had enough training time between Atlanta and Jersey to really improve my game, I'd been desperately needing a couple days at home to get about 20 things done, and I am so goddamn intensely sore after just training and lifting at the gym this weekend that I think my body needed recovery time more than it needed a tournament.
So overall I'm pretty pleased with my quiet weekend. My no-gi academy class on Saturday was fantastic. I've been irritated lately with a lot of the instructors' emphasis on sparring and endurance training almost to the exclusion of teaching techniques. And the same instructors have very "figure it out yourselves" or "skip it entirely" attitudes toward takedowns, which I don't find helpful at all.

So I was thrilled to find we have a new guy teaching who, wonder of wonders, balances technical drilling and live sparring, has some kind of method to his takedown instruction, and is furthermore very pleasant and detailed in his teaching style. Definitely going back to the same class next Saturday.

As for the 20 things I needed to do, I only got done about three of them, but it wasn't for lack of working. And at least those things are done. You can see them, actually; they are new photo galleries for my website -- The Boxing Gallery, The MMA Gallery, and The Fashion/Portraits Gallery. These came from my questionable black-eye photoshoot, but nonetheless, there are some lovely images, and I'm proud of both the photos and the gallery construction!

A few other tidbits about the weekend --

Good Things: Went out to two lovely dinners in Manhattan, which included trying two new restaurants and exploring one new neighborhood (during one of the warmer rain showers of April so far); enjoyed a long and thorough lift for legs and biceps on Sunday; finally got confirmation that my sessions/tournament trip to Chicago and Milwaukee in May is a go (yay!); and had a great time taking my bike out in the first nice biking weather of the year.

Bad Thing: The bike got stolen. Fucking NYC bike theives. I'd be more pissed off about it if the rest of the weekend hadn't been so nice. But apparently, since I have no proof of ownership, I can't even file a token police report. Actually, it IS pretty annoying.

- VeVe