Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Saving the Male Ego, or We Both Know I Had It

When on vacation, Shark Girl likes to train at other gyms. It keeps me sharp. Plus, the foreign warm-ups make me feel like a white belt again. I also have many interesting experiences when I roll on strange mats. Like this recent one:
*****
My partner was the same belt as me, but lower in stripes. He was a young buck: spry and muscley, on the smaller side. We had a good go around for while.
He got me in open guard; I passed.
He went for a footlock; I escaped.
Finally, I got on top; he escaped. He was tiring out, though, because I quickly wound up back on top.
He escaped again, and we went back and forth a few more times until he could no longer find his way out of my top control.
I went for a choke.
I could see in his eyes he was defeated. They were the eyes of a scared animal, darting back and forth, unsure of what path leads to safety, but sure that staying still is death (by suffocation).
I tightened my choke. He started breathing more deeply, trying to get more air with each breath.
I tightened my choke a little more. His face was getting red.
At this point, I realized this man was not tapping. At all. He was going to do something really stupid, like pass out.
            So, what did Shark Girl do? I saved his ego. “Do I have this?” I asked demurely.
            He sputtered.
“What? Was that a ‘no’?”
            He sputtered some more and shook his head.
           “Okay. Darn. I thought I had it.” I let go and the buzzer rang. “Thanks for a great roll,” I smiled. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Shark Girl’s Top Ten (Minus Two): Tips for Rolling Respectfully & for Good Global Relations

This is the segment of my blog where I offer you advice not just on jiu-jitsu, but on life. These little tips are good for rolling on the mats plus you can use them in your next conflict resolution summit with your favorite enemy nation. You’re welcome!
  
1.      Avoid travel to “hot spots.” There are some places where if you go, you are just asking for trouble. You won’t see me buying a plane ticket to Libya or Syria anytime soon, and you won’t see me intentionally placing a hand on a boob, a butt, or a testicle. You know that shit’s about to blow up. Sometimes, in the normal act of sparring, we do get a handful of something unexpected. Move on quickly. No one probably noticed.

2.      No nukes! (Or at least promote disarmament.) There’s a reason no one wants to play with the nations that are hiding their nuclear warheads. It’s the same in jiu jitsu. You can be talking with a partner all friendly-like three minutes beforehand, and then suddenly, after you tap hands, they go all North Korea on you. Remind yourself that your sparring partner is your friend, not your enemy. You have common goals. No one wins if you are such an aggressive asshole that you nearly break your partner’s arm, or launch a missile that destroys the northern hemisphere.
You just know this guy's got a nasty omoplata!

3.      Don’t spread your communicable diseases. If you have the sniffles or ebola, it’s time to stay home and cross train. Break out that old Jillian Michaels DVD or Richard Simmons if he is more your style (hey, I don’t judge). Perhaps go for a run or, hell, I don’t know—anything else that does not put you in body-fluid-swapping distance of another human being. It’s nice that you have learned to share, but a global epidemic is not what your kindergarten teacher had in mind.

This is the second time RS has made it into my blog. Coincidence? 

4.      Eliminate (Greenhouse) Gases. Being a good global neighbor involves caring for the environment. You should care about your gym’s environment, too. “Emissions” on the mat can make for a very unpleasant habitat. Now, of course, sometimes we can’t help it. My middle-aged intestines cringe when someone knee-rides me. I regularly compromise rolls for fear that extra exertion would expel something unpleasant-smelling. But we can reduce our “fart footprint” by eating foods our bodies digest without problem. And for all you who climate-change deny it, we know you are supplying it!
This kind of cauliflower is allowed!
Not okay pre-class.

5.      Stay within our own territory. Annexing the Crimea may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it only pissed off the neighbors. Likewise, stay on your section of the mat and tread lightly into the territory where others are already rolling. It is frustrating to constantly interrupt one’s roll and move to uninhabited territory because some Putin decides his roll is so powerful that he doesn’t have to pay attention to anyone else around him.

Who knew? Putin is a black belt in judo! I bet no one crowds him on the mat!

6.      Ban Torture. You are in deep on a choke, or so you think. But your partner’s not tapping. You may be saying to yourself, Damn him! He is supposed to tap when I choke him. I’ll choke harder! Yeah, and while you are at it, why not waterboard him to really show him who is boss? Chances are if your opponent doesn’t tap fairly quickly from your submission, you don’t have it. A properly executed sub needs no muscle to receive the tap. So if your opponent is not tapping, move on to something else. Or, better yet, communicate with him. It never hurts to ask, “Do I have this?” “Am I close?” or “Is this simulating drowning for you?”

7.      Clean Up Your Biohazards! It wasn’t nice for companies to dump their PCBs into the nearby river just because they were too busy and cheap to clean up after themselves. Likewise, if you recognize your blood on the mat, clean it up, and put a Band-Aid on that scrape. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is all fun and games until someone contracts Hep C. On a less lethal note, wash yourself and your gi. It’s just common courtesy.



8.      Don’t (publicize that you) buy knockoffs. I’m not sure why this one really matters to international relations, but companies get pissy when other companies sell versions of their overpriced goods for much less. And when companies get pissy, governments listen. I’ve noticed the same thing in jiu jitsu. Most instructors get proprietary about their moves and their schools, even when they say otherwise. So, if you visit a new gym and learn a great move, don’t announce it to the class. Oh, sure, you can use it, but don’t reveal where you learned it unless it was at an instructor-approved seminar. In my experience, no matter how “open” your instructor says he is, he really doesn’t want you talking about how great the move you learned at the gym across town is.

Shark Girl Faces a Change

It is a turning point for Shark Girl. I haven’t written in a while. When I was a white belt, everything was new and curious. And being ...