Today I had a casual first lesson in eskrima taught by my friend Andy, who has been doing it for nearly a decade now. We learned some basic footwork, basic strikes and three blocks. By the end we were able to drill the three in tandem. Nothing like swinging a stick around to make you feel like a bona fide ninja.

It was really challenging, as he anticipated, for me to adopt the right foot forward stance since all my stand up is more boxing/kickboxing oriented where you hide your bigger weapon (cross) behind your jab, instead of having your power side forward. Maybe it will help me be more comfortable switching stances.

I really enjoyed it though. The footwork, slips, and bob and weave can all be easily related back to kickboxing techniques that I already do and it never hurts to find new ways of thinking about it. The other foreign part to me was the idea of my knuckle placement in relation to the “blade” (since we use round sticks, the blade stays in line with my knuckles and I must re-orient my hand depending on which strike I’m attempting).

We met up in a public park surround by hula hoopers and frisbee throwers and got a few odd looks. It’s hard to remember that people think of martial arts as dweeby and I think they’re just so bad ass. So while I’m learning moves which mimic disemboweling someone they just see someone preparing for an epic cosplay battle in the woods (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

The Mental Game

I just want to spend a minute appreciating what I witnessed this weekend. 

I travelled to see a teammate fight this weekend. Two days before that she and her long-term girlfriend broke up. No doubt she was distracted, but my coach was dedicated to keeping her focussed. She went out there ready to go and dominated the first two rounds. She then spent much of the third round defending a RNC, but she had done enough to win the fight. I was really worried for her in that bad position in the third round because I was thinking about her mental state. I worried she would give up mentally because of what she was going through. And she didn’t look like herself when she was defending it, not moving like she usually does and reversing the position. 

Come to find out that she had her fibula broken while being taken down in the third. So her lack of movement had (most likely) little to do with her mental state and more to do with the inability to post on that leg while trying to escape the hooks. Not to mention, I’m not sure she could have kept going if they had stood up. So she just hand fought and stayed safe and survived the round. 

It just goes to show how important mental strength is to combat arts - her win was 30% skills and 70% mental this time. She had every reason to give herself an excuse to lose. As Sonnen says, losing is always the easiest option. We all would have understood. Especially given the broken leg. There are very few people who would have succeeded at the professional level in these circumstances. I’m proud to have seen it and to get to be part of it in my own small way.

You win this round, running.

I promise this is not going to become a running blog. 

But I made myself go for a run tonight even though the last one made me want to cry. Cry twice, even. Once because the pain in my side was so severe and twice because I saw it is a failure and didn’t enjoy myself at all. 

It is worth noting that my husband is training for an ultra marathon right now. He can run for hours. Faster than me. And I wasn’t able to see how my body was going to carry past two miles. So that in itself will make a person like me compare myself and want to give up.

He is loaded with good advice and has been nonjudgmental with my varying success in running. Today before I went he just kept reiterating to take it slow, walk when I needed to, and to be very focussed on moving my feet and be aware of how the heat was affecting me (90 degrees today).

I walked briskly to warm up for a few blocks and then began to run. I was feeling incredibly good - a nice, even pace and no side splits until my turnaround point about a mile in. Just as I got to the turnaround the cramps in my diaphragm started.

"No big deal," I thought. It was time to walk a little bit anyway. so I walked a  block and a half and turned around intending to run the rest of the way back for a total of two miles. The cramps, which subsided while walking, started up immediately and sharply. I fought through it for two blocks and then had to start walking again. This is where a little black cloud started to hover above me and I considered again that maybe I am just not a runner. It was the downhill portion and I couldn’t even muster one foot in front of another as each jarring step intensified the pain in my side. Walked two more blocks until the pain was managed and then with no faith at all told myself I would run again at the next intersection.

I started running slow and steady, exhaling in long slow streams and inhaling deeply but not sharply, until suddenly I found a rhythm and my body felt warm (not from the heat, but from the inside somehow…). When I got to my block where I could have turned and headed home, I didn’t want to because I was feeling so calm and rhythmic. I added 10 blocks roundtrip to my run and wound up at home feeling as though I still had steam and still felt good. In contrast, my last two runs were shorter and absolute murder until I stumbled to my door and was so thankful it was over.

It reminds me of the age old complaint about people new to jiu jitsu feeling that they should be able to “beat” those who have been doing it longer because they are bigger and stronger or just have that kind of mentality. It is always so frustrating because it feels like they aren’t respecting the enormous amount of work that goes into training religiously for a few years. Like, I didn’t just walk in here able to beat anyone. I put in my time, and you have to, too. It strikes me that running is the same - to compare myself to my husband who has been training his ass off for a couple of years to get to the point he is now is a useless thing to do. There simply is no comparison. I must have respect for the training runners put into their craft. I hope I’m finally getting that.


I’ve been jogging lately.

I hate it, and I’m really trying not to. Everyone in my family currently or used to run marathons; my husband, my mother and my brother. My mom doesn’t “run” marathons anymore because she had her hip replaced, but she still walks them. Fast. 

The last two runs have only been two miles and I’ve had terrible side stitches the whole time. I’m just now looking up how to potentially avoid them - stronger core muscles, planning fuel more effectively, warming up with brisk walking for a few minutes and breathing more deeply. I have noticed that once the stitches start, breathing more deeply actually hurts more.

I just have to keep telling myself as I run and ask myself “why (oh god why),” I’m doing this for my jiu jitsu!



Coach Mark Heinzer has be going over the Baratoplata series in his 7AM class. This is one of my favorite submissions because you can hit it from triangle, spider, guard, mount, or a top kimura grip. My legs are short and stocky so triangle is not my favorite move to pull although I tend to get my opponents in that position. Instead of straining to close my triangle, I immediately go to the baratoplata. 

Here’s a few notes just for myself to remember how to hit it from every position so it might not make sense:

  1. Finishing from triangle (or from guard to triangle): Stuff the inside wrist behind your thigh and reach your arm under their bicep and over their forearm to touch your thigh. Key components: Keep legs clamp down and the knee that’s on the hip tight. Push the head to bring the leg over and swim under the opponent’s arm or leg to finish the move.
  2. Finishing from mount: When opponent goes to defend neck/arms by crossing arms or grabbing the lapel, target the arm that is tucked on the bottom with the your arm that’s mirror their bottom arm. Reach under the elbow and grab the wrist. I prefer to go to an S mount. It tricks the opponent to thinking you’re armoring the wrong arm. As they sit up to escape, they walk themselves into the submission. Holding their wrist leaves less room for movement leading to a tighter submission.
  3. Finishing from kimura grip while the opponent is on their side: 
  4. (will return to add the kimura grip. need more clarification on it.)
  5. Finishing from spider guard: risky, not sure if I’m adding it to my game yet.

excellent shoulder lock!