Sunday, February 16, 2014

Paper cutter choke

We have continued working on North/South. The kimura is a fairly slick move but it involves letting pressure off your partner. A paper cutter choke is an option where you can stay heavy. Basically, from north/south move one arm between your partner's arm and their body. Reach under their shoulder and grab the back of their collar or shoulder. It can get a bit crowded due to the weight, various limbs, etc. With a good hold, rotate while driving your shoulder into their body. Stay heavy. It should look like your moving into kesa gatame (but with one arm under your opponent). Grab your partner's other shoulder with your free hand and drop your elbow across their throat. The whole thing should happen very quickly.

The paper cutter is a fairly bread and butter technique. I have fallen victim to it many times. While on bottom in side control I've started to bring my inside hand up beside my face to make space. Then I can bridge into my opponent and (hopefully) get to half. Sometimes my partner will give up the cross face and put both of their arms on the outside, prompting me to spin out under their torso... and right into the paper cutter.

I learned a few things drilling the technique. I spent time with S. who really is a gentle giant. His top pressure is tremendous so I feel like my lower ribs have been well tenderized. I also learned that a big guy doesn't really have to go for a technical choke. His paper cutter was really more like some sort of face crank. Regardless, I tapped. With battered ribs and a bruised jaw, I feel like I've been in a real fight!

The submission as a whole happens very fast. There is an interesting momentum change where you think that your partner's hips are going one way and then they reverse. You realize you're caught and you think you can shrimp out but your head is pointing the wrong way.

I also learned a bit about defending the position. Keep your elbows in and your hands up. Flare your elbows and your partner won't be able to get your collar. As for spinning out of side control without getting caught... I just don't know.

As for sparring -- the same lessons. My guard is really poor. That's okay. I'll just spend some more time working mount escapes! While sparring with T. I maintained a tight closed guard. He stood up, slammed me, and was immediately horrified and apologetic! I was completely okay with it. In retrospect, if we was in position to slam I could have swept him. Next time.

Changing a diaper is easy

Men who are expecting their first child present a rare gift. We observe a collision of values and stereotypes: pride vs. fear; machismo vs. sensitivity. Conversations with these guys enable me to actually feel like an expert. I have four children of my own so I must know something! Of course, this expertise -- like most -- is just a shallow veneer over survival instincts and luck that nothing has gone seriously off-course.

Sometimes these men will confide their greatest concern like it's a dark secret: "I've never changed a diaper!" Oh, my friend... changing diapers will become a deeply ingrained and over-learned task within days of having a new born. There really is no subtlety of technique. There is no zen-like fulfilment in a handicraft well accomplished. Just get it done. Frequently. There can be some subtleties of technique: girls are a bit different than boys and a newborn is different from a two year old. But really, you just need to do it and the only measure of quality is a general lack of poo in the general environment. Sometimes you get a challenge (e.g., on the front seat of a car or changing a sleeping baby in the middle of the night without waking her up) but a small amount of experience is enough to prepare one for these outliers.

"Changing a diaper" is really a metaphor to capture all of those nurturing tasks that we are unprepared for by way of societal mores and stereotypes. How does a man actually do all of those things that mothers simply do better? Quite frankly, I don't know. My youngest daughter is about ten months old and my wife recently had her first overnight trip away. It was just Tilly and me -- and the rest of the kids -- for the night. It turned out to be a long one and I was regularly made aware that I simply can't do everything for Tilly that her mum can. But that's okay. When she is sad in the middle of the night, I may not be her first choice but I'm definitely her second.

Guys aren't conditioned to be in second place. We want to win. But when it comes to nurturing, second is a pretty darned good place to be. The trick is to not get angry about being in second place (or, for that matter, to even being part of a competition that involves being up in the middle of the night). One thing that four kids has taught me is that the sun eventually rises on those long nights and that there are only so many nights where they actually want your nurturing. It's better to enjoy them when you can.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

North/South transition

I should really keep a journal of what I learn in the dojo. After all, the competent man must fight efficiently. Last week, I learned the basics of North/South.

The lesson was very interesting to me largely because I struggle with passing the guard. I can smash through someone's guard but I often get trapped in half as my partner snakes a foot back. My challenge stems from the fact that I have a game from side control but get lost if I move too far (i.e., north/south).

The basics of north/south: stay heavy -- imagine your pinned like a specimen to your partner and the floor. Catch a breath and smother your partner.

We also learned a basic submission. Get your partners hands to their stomach by sweeping your arms in and pinching your elbows towards their shoulder blades. Set up the kimura by grabbing a wrist and entangling the arm. Then force your partner onto their side, the side of the free arm. Bring your knees toward their shoulders (sit on their head if necessary), use the entangled arm as a pry, and keep the entangled elbow on your sternum. They'll move. As the come up onto their side, trap them by moving into s-mount. Make sure everything is perpendicular (you to your opponent, their forearm to their biceps, etc.). Then spiral your entire body to get the kimura submission.

That all sounds great but there are certainly some challenges. If their elbow comes off your sternum, the submission will be tough. If they grab their belt/gi to defend, spiral the other way to break their grip and then resume. If your angles are off or they've gabled their hands, spin and go for the arm bar. If they keep their hands clasped, try the biceps slicer. If they're really not moving, put some weight on their head or get their head between your ankles to feign the choke. Or, if none of that works -- my typical experience -- just scramble for a better position!

What to work on: I really have a terrible guard and I'm actually quite weak at passing. Both of these challenges may be due to grips. I've had some success with the left overhook while in guard. It sets up an entanglement of that arm which at the very least restricts my partner's mobility and gives me time to move my hips. As for passing the guard, I'm most weak at the mid-range attack. I need to go for either the double underhook or simply stand up and step around. The other option is to simply play very defensively  and wait for them to be aggressive and give myself some time to breath.

Perhaps one way of interpreting fight efficiently is "fight is such a way so as to keep your breathing under control."

Specialization is for Insects

Turning 40 gives us all a reason to pause and reflect. It lead me to a very basic question: what is a competent man.

Heinlein -- via the character Lazarus Long -- gives us fairly decent bullet list:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
— Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

Let's see how I do.