Archive | March, 2012

BJJ in Asheville, #1

29 Mar

I started my Humane Alliance externship in Asheville on Monday, and it’s been great!!  It’s a 2 week externship that teaches students how to perform high-quality, high-volume spays and neuters, and throughout the two weeks we also learn about the other parts of running a program like that, between transporting animals, selecting the right patients, what kind of peri-operative care they get, and so on.  Then I’m staying for an optional third week that’s all about surgery.  This morning didn’t start off so great, but my afternoon spay when a LOT better and with any luck, I’ll be spaying cats in under ten minutes when I’m done here! 

Last night I checked out the first of the Asheville-area BJJ schools on my list.  I went to Ichiban MMA, owned and run by BJJ black belt Erick Jordan.  Unfortunately, he was out of town, but one of his blue belts was teaching.  It was myself and another white belt in the class, which is actually bigger than normal.  Apparently the gi class is usually just Erick and the blue belt (whose name escapes me at the moment). 

The kids class was just wrapping up as I finished, and Blue got me signed in.  He got us stretching some, showed us a bow and arrow choke, and then we just rolled for awhile.  Apparently, the white belt (Ronnie) has done MMA for about a year, and was a wrestler, but this was his first gi class.  He was really nervous about it, but I went with him after rolling with Blue and it was obvious he knew what he was doing on the ground.  There was an accidental slam, and of course the obligate freak-out, but it got sorted quickly and we were both back to rolling.  I was playing mostly defense, and did get submitted a few times, but I think overall I did a pretty good job of frustrating their submission attempts.  Ronnie finally felt confident enough to roll with Blue, and then after that we went over a few gi grips.  I got in one more roll with Blue before the MMA class started. 

While the class wasn’t very structured, I still had a good time rolling.  Obviously when Erick is back in town I expect things will be a little different, but since the class is usually pretty small anyways it seems like it would be informal.  It seems like the school is more oriented towards the MMA and no-gi stuff, so I’ll definitely need to try a no-gi class (or at least a class when Erick is teaching). 

The basics:  There’s a nice big sign on the front, so it’s pretty easy to find.  There’s one bathroom for changing, and the mat fee is $10 (but Blue wouldn’t charge me).  The mat space wasn’t huge, but everything was pretty neat and clean. 


New Training Buddy

25 Mar

I intubated a lioness on Friday!!

Like this guy, but with fewer helping hands.


I was pretty excited to get it on the first try.  Cats can be difficult, and with big cats the bigger tubes can be floppy and don’t always go where you want them.  Plus, it’s hard to see all the way back there.  Clearly, I was meant to do this.

Saturday saw a great women’s class.  I finally convinced Rebecca to come in for a class, and it was a blast.  She hit it off great with Jess and Michelle, and we all had a blast rolling and chatting about being women in BJJ, or in their cases, work.  Turns out that Michelle and Rebecca know some of the same people through work, and it was hilarious listening to them talk about their jobs.

We started off class with a warm-up and then some rolling.  Rebecca and I rolled first, and it was pretty great for both of us.  I definitely had some height and weight on her, but for both of us it was the still the closest we’d ever come to finding someone our own size.  Even knowing that I was slightly bigger, she still felt tiny!  I can’t imagine what I feel like to bigger guys.  It was great knowing that whenever I got swept or couldn’t escape, it was pure technique–no muscling and definitely no fat boy jiu jitsu.  It makes me even more sad that I’m leaving Knoxville so soon, after having found such an awesome training buddy! I rolled with Michelle next, which is always great.  It was good to see that she could stand to roll so well after her surgery, and she’s even made progress since Monday as far as what she can do with her knee.

After, Jess went over some “small guy” techniques–her variation on the knee-through guard pass, and different ways to take mount from side control.  I always love when we go over the basics.  At some point we got so caught up in talking we just sort of stopped drilling until Michelle (the one white belt! lol) got us back on track.  After class, we took some pictures (which I plan on shamelessly stealing from Rebecca’s blog once she posts them) and discussed trying to start a women’s open mat in Knoxville.  Even if I’m gone, I really hope it works out.  In any case, I hope Rebecca comes back soon!

Open class started soon after, and I got my wish from Monday–we started drilling takedowns, and then went live for two minutes from the feet.  As always, the old “be careful what you wish for” adage remains true–a minute in, I brilliantly decided to headbutt my partner with my nose.  It’s not broken and it wasn’t bleeding, but it crunched loud enough for another blue belt to notice and check on me.  And of course, when I went to go ice it there was no ice in the freezer–go figure.  I decided to stay for the techniques and go next door to Walgreen’s for an instant ice pack during the rolling part of class, and we worked on some half-guard passes.

I’m starting an externship in Asheville, NC tomorrow, so I won’t be able to train during the week unless I find a school there (any suggestions?).  I’m planning on coming back for the weekends though, so at least I’ll be able to hit up Saturday classes…and pack…and start saying goodbye to my life in Knoxville.

Sweeps and more sweeps

21 Mar

The past week has involved a lot of driving…last Tuesday we went out to Gatlinburg to look at a bear, and then the day after we went all the way out to Asheville, North Carolina to look at two more bears.  There’s a grad student doing a study on leptin in them, so we took some fat samples while they were knocked down.  Then this weekend, I went up to Chicago (really Steger, IL) for a Madina Lake concert.  I met up with some friends in Kentucky so I didn’t have to drive all that way by myself, but the drive back on Sunday still sucked. 

Lately, it seems like the fundamentals classes are the technique sessions, and then the advanced throws in the rolling.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays when we have both classes for a total of two hours, it’s not so bad, but on Mondays when there’s only an hour for class and there’s no rolling it makes me sad.  Last night was nice though, because we got a pretty solid warm-up from Jess (who decided to work out her frustration on us), a variation on a technique, and then rolling time.

The technique wasn’t really anything new.  John had us drill our favorite sweeps to start, then showed us a “timing version” of the scissor sweep, in which you go for it when they bring their head forward when they start to break guard.  It also involved using the bottom foot to cup the knee on the floor until they were swept all the way, but I don’t have gorilla feet yet so I’ll need to work on that some more. 

In the mean time, I’ve been trying to get my shit together for my move to Las Vegas.  I’ve been dragging my feet but I know I need to get my Nevada state license worked out, sooner rather than later.  And then figure out what to do with my critters when I’m in New York for a few weeks after graduation. 

Back to KnoxBJJ!

14 Mar

I got back to Knoxville on Saturday night.  My current rotation is Zoo Medicine (again), and my first day saw us at the Knoxville Zoo…getting attacked by a turkey.

He was quite large and puffed.

The scariest thing is that he was part of the petting zoo section, so it’s possible that little kids would be in there with him, getting jumped as well.  Although apparently he was after me for the miniature cooler I had in my hand.  I think he was just a little off his rocker.

Anyways, I did make it to the Monday night BJJ class.  There were a bunch of guys there I’d never seen before, so I knew it was going to be FUN (hear the sarcasm?), especially considering that my only jiu jitsu over the past five weeks was that one day in Omaha when I didn’t even get to roll.

Of course, because I already hit the gym and lifted earlier that day, we did constant rounds of rolling instead of techniques, like I hoped for.  My first two or three rounds made me feel like completely worthless, as I got smashed by a few of those new white belts.  I don’t know why it irritated me so much, but I kept trying to tell myself that this was a good thing–I needed to be humbled.  I needed to be beaten, so that I could have people better than me to challenge me and teach me things and force me to improve.  That said, I was still really glad that my next few rolls were with blues or blacks who would dominate me effortlessly without making me suffer.  Crazy as it sounds, it’s not getting beaten that makes me mad.  It’s just the feeling of getting completely and painfully scraped across the mats.  And what I hate even more than the feeling that just one more roll like that WILL make me storm off the mats with pseudo-moisture (I was NOT crying!) in my eyes, is how it just makes me angry and want to hurt the person rolling with me like that.  I get more aggressive and sloppy than I should, and it just makes the whole thing worse.

Yesterday was much better.  I was still sore from another trip to the gym (yay for finally doing deadlifts again!  My hamstrings DO exist!), but there was a much wider variety of people and sizes at class.  Michelle showed up too, even though she’s still recovering from knee surgery and can’t put much pressure on her knee.  We had a brand new girl too, so we started class with the cross choke from guard.  We then moved on to the sweeps we worked on yesterday, starting with the “unstoppable” sweep.  Your opponent is standing and you’re on your back, with your feet in the hips.  They shuck off one foot with the elbow, and you bring the other foot down to their opposite leg, sort of like a scissor sweep set-up.  Then you load up their weight, making sure your top knee is above theirs, and scissor the legs and turn your body to the mat to finish.  We also worked on variations where they bring their weight down, and also come forward with their arm under the head.  We moved on to the guard pass drill, and finished that class with open rolling.  Having the opportunity to roll with lighter people was nice for a change, and I actually hit a few sweeps and submissions.  I rolled with one of the guys who demolished me the day before (dude from Texas), and while I didn’t do great, I was much more mentally prepared.  I didn’t let him set up his game right away, and I responded much better to what he did.  I felt like my jiu jitsu had some personality again.



MOVING! (online, that is)

11 Mar
I’ve had enough with Blogger.  For months, I haven’t been able to get to individual post pages and the comments have been screwy.  I’m finally fed up enough to move to WordPress.  My new home is .  There’s nothing up yet, but I’ll get some pages going soon.  In the meantime, if anyone knows how to migrate posts, help/suggestions would be much appreciated! 

New home! (online, at least)

11 Mar

Welcome to The Grappling Vet’s new home!  Blogger was being a pain, so I decided not to fight it anymore.

BJJ in Omaha

5 Mar
I finally got to train in Omaha!  One of my roommates went out of town this weekend and let me use her car, so I drove over to train with Team Rodrigo Vaghi Omaha-North.  I called in advance to make sure they would be there and it was ok if I came, and the ensuing conversation was rather interesting.  Trying to explain where I’m from (New York?  Tennessee?), how long I’ve been training (8 years, but really more like 3-4), where I’m staying (at the zoo…), it seemed like I couldn’t give him a straightforward answer to anything.  In any case, he told me that Saturdays were just open mat, but I was welcome to come on over.

I didn’t have any trouble finding the place, although I drove right by it the first time, and let’s just say the streets of Omaha aren’t the friendliest to out-of-towners.  There weren’t any signs indicating there was a BJJ school, as it was a youth center or something like that.  I walked in and found three guys in a wrestling room, and figured I was in the right place.  They invited me in, and the head teacher, Dana Taylor, gave me a fun lesson on takedowns–mostly arm drags and two on one.  He had to leave soon though, so the other two who were working together took me in and one of them, Greg, continued the lesson.  We did a little bit from the knees as well, and then it was time to go.  Unfortunately, we didn’t really have a chance to get any rolling in, although given the size difference between us I’m not quite sure I’m unhappy about that.  It was just nice to get moving again after a month without BJJ.

In zoo news, we’ve been working on some fun stuff, like tigers, aye-ayes, tapirs (I pulled blood on one!) and stingrays.

Also, I finally got offered a job!!!  It’s in Las Vegas (technically it’s Henderson, but who cares??), doing exactly what I want to do–mostly small animal private practice, with some zoo animals thrown in (they see a lot of the show animals from the strip).  I probably won’t start until late June or July, but I’m already looking into BJJ schools there.  So far I’ve heard Mica Cipili’s school and Drysdale’s school are the places to go, but they’re kind of far and there are a TON of options.  I was really looking for something closer to where I work, and Epic Training Center is less than a mile away.  As far as I can tell, it started out affiliated with Drysdale, but it appears that those instructors are no longer there and Fredson Paixao now runs the BJJ program.  That would be ideal, and honestly at my current level I don’t need THE absolute best instruction–I think as long as I can feel at home, and I will be able to get there with some regularity, it will be just fine.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?  I’m open to it!!