Tag Archives: Jiu Jitsu

I owe you an update (and can’t think of a better subject line).


The hits keep coming

My Jiu-Jitsu instructor explained how to trap someone’s arm when they go for a punch so you can more easily roll them over and get on top of the fight. Someone asked, “What if the other person doesn’t try to punch you? How will you trap their arm then?”

“You can say something like, ‘You hit like a kid!’ That will make them want to punch you.”

He didn’t say “like a girl” because I’m here.

Then Instructor added, “I would’ve said, ‘You hit like a girl,’ but Betsy’s here and she hit me once and it wasn’t fun.”

Knew it.

The guys on either side turned to look at me, but I kept my face forward and smiled. I’ve never hit Instructor! But it was funny.

Also funny: when Instructor leaned sideways to demonstrate something and said, “I didn’t have my V8 today… That used to be a thing.”

One guy on the other end of the line stuck his head out, looking at the rest of us with a giant grin that bit back a laugh. Everyone else ignored him, but I caught the smile and sent it right back. Seeing other people enjoy Instructor’s jokes is almost as much fun as the jokes themselves.

The Return of Surfer Dude

Remember when I named my first practice partner Surfer Dude because he had the look of one, not because I knew he surfed? Another guy was talking to him about his big yellow van. After class, I saw the van. There was a wet suit hanging to dry over a side mirror and these stickers on the back.

He IS a surfer dude. Called it!

Relating to Li’l Trejo

Thanks to Mark reminding me of a Disturbed song, I was able to say to Li’l Trejo, “Guess what song I heard on the way here. I’ll give you a clue… maybe. ‘Oh-wa-ah-ah-ah.'”

“Oh! Down with the Sickness,” he said immediately.

“You got it! I wasn’t sure I could do that well enough.”

“No, it was great. That was the song that got me into Disturbed. When I first heard it, I said, ‘Mom, Dad, you gotta get me this CD.’ They got me the clean version. I had to wait until later to get the real version.”

How young IS this guy?

Regarding ET

There was a moment after a class when I could’ve said something to Instructor about ET’s extra attention, but he was intently working at his computer, logging our classes, maybe. Lots of room for human error there. His expression carried with it an invisible “Do not disturb” sign around his neck, so I let it go.

Thank you, Koala Park Laundromat, of pixabay.

At the start of the next class, everyone moved away from the wall to partner up except for me, ET a few feet to my right, and Lopez a few feet to my left. I gave ET an apologetic smile as I stepped toward Lopez. ET threw his arm up in a “what the heck?” gesture. But because there were an odd number of people and Lopez is an upper belt, Instructor pulled him from me, put me with ET, and had Lopez roam the room, assisting as needed.

I’ve realized a few things about ET: 1. He’s harmless. He did make some comment about how something would make me “just a little bit prettier.” I missed the first part of what he said. I ignore half of what he says anyway. But clearly there was only one response I could give to this:

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E. T. is becoming a problem

E. T. is becoming a problem

No, I’m not talking about the famous movie where the people in space suits freaked me out as a kid. I’m talking about Enthusiastic Teen whose fervor in our Jiu-Jitsu classes has taken a turn.

I used to see ET sparingly, but he’s been showing up more often than not lately. Because we don’t bring out the best in each other, I try to avoid him. Thankfully, the next class after the scolding was when Jack the Black Belt volunteered to work with me. However, near the end of class, we did a musical chairs-type thing, which led me to interact with ET. I told him what happened after the “Ugh. I got ET” comment. He grabbed both my hands and said, “I am so so sorry you got in trouble.” Then he said more and tried to grab my hands again, but I wouldn’t let him.

ET is becoming a problem.

In the next class, I arrived a bit late and so lined up at the end. ET stuck his head out from farther down the line to look at me, but I averted my eyes. At a pause in instruction, he moved to stand next to me.

ET is becoming a problem.

When instruction was over, ET asked, “Want to work together?” I wasn’t prepared for how to say no, so I felt I had no choice but to agree. He’s sort of difficult to work with in that he messes around too much.

He did, however, teach me (or rather remind me of) a valuable hook technique (I forget the name) that helped me lift his leg, which is probably about half my entire body weight, so I could sneak my leg out from behind his.

“Nice, Betsy. Using the ___ hook,” Instructor said as he walked by on his rounds.

ET is sometimes not a problem.

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Traps and T-shirts


I went down an Amazon T-shirt rabbit hole. Throughout this post are pics of the two shirts you overwhelmingly voted for last time (immediately below) and several more for your consideration and entertainment. Let me know which are your faves. I will purchase one of them, but know that my vote counts triple. 😉

I received this email recently.

Aww. My JJ family misses me. I also got a text. Probably The System recognized that classes hadn’t been logged for me in a while.

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Fight or Flight


A blogger shared with me what she overheard on a podcast discussing martial arts:

“The guest had suggested that when ladies learn martial arts (like JJ) it can help them have more confidence and experience to fight with an attacker (sounded like a good point) but then Rogan noted that it would take years and years of training and then even with that – ‘basic anatomy’ plays a role in determining how most women would do if fighting with an attacker.”

“So while great for self defense and good for mind and body coordination and stability – the best advice is for people to put distance between themselves and the attacker (as opposed to someone with a certain level belt assuming they can take down someone twice their size).”

This is a good reality check. And I don’t disagree. Sure, I found it a little discouraging, but then I thought about my reasons for doing Jiu-Jitsu and Taekwondo:

  • Am I expecting to get attacked at every turn? No.
  • Do I intend to don a cape and spandex to fight crime vigilante-style? No.
  • Do I think it would be nice to have some ability to defend myself should I need it? Yes.
  • Am I largely just doing this for the fun of it? Also, yes.
  • Do I enjoy the challenge of learning something hard? Yes. (It helps that I have realistic expectations of myself. I never thought I’d be a natural at this.)
  • Does it give me greater confidence in general? Yes.
  • Is teaching what I’ve learned to middle school girls fun, fulfilling, and challenging? Yes.
  • Do they enjoy the class for all or most of those reasons above? I believe so, yes.

It has been pointed out to me more than once that the best option, when viable, is to simply run away. I joked that I should hang up my gi and work on my speed instead.

How am I doing?

Think I could outrun a bad guy at that speed? (This is also a nod to fans of The Office.)

I saw an interview with actor Ed O’Neill (Married… with Children, Modern Family), who has a black belt in Ju-Jitsu. He used his knowledge twice to put a rear naked choke (RNC) on men who had become unruly. This move is a good go-to, and I’ve already proven that I can, with a bit of struggle, successfully get the job done on a male blue belt (Surfer Dude 1). I don’t hope to need this skill in real life, but if I do, I’ll have it.

Fun side note: Hubs and I recently saw The Lost City. Brad Pitt used the RNC on several bad guys. I whispered to Hubby, “He’s using perfect technique. It’s nice the writers did their research.” Later in the film, Channing Tatum tries to imitate Pitt, but does so humorously wrong and unsuccessfully. It was a cute movie, and I’ve been a fan of Sandra Bullock ever since While You Were Sleeping.

Now. Let’s talk T-shirts, shall we?

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Saturday class and a T-shirt contest


The guy who said I have the perfect limbs for crushing someone’s life out (Be still my heart) was the only one unpartnered when I arrived for Saturday’s class. I was glad I’d already met him during the Triangle Choke class, as that made this much easier.

“Looks like it’s you and me,” I said on approach.

“Let’s do it,” he said with a nod.

This man is my new Timmy/Andre in general size, except Andre was careful with me. (Despite that whole bending my foot backward incident.) This New Andre, whom I’ll call Drake, heavily dragged his leg over mine multiple times (as expected, I’m feeling it today) and gave me a knee to the stomach. I said “Oof” many times and a couple of “Ow”s.

Still a nice guy, he was at least trying to not hurt me.

At one point he said, “You got Draked.”

Somehow, in the moment, I found it funny. Now, I just find it as lame as lame can be. I hope to avoid partnering with him in future classes.

After class, I had an opportunity to “relate” to Li’l Trejo.

T-shirt on Amazon, in case you’re interested.

“I saw a Korn sticker on your water bottle a while back,” I told him.

“Yeah.” He smiled.

“One time after class, I turned on the radio and a Korn song was playing. So I cranked it up and drove fast. Then I got stopped at a light.”

“Oh,” he grimaced.

“I was like, doesn’t this light know I just came from Jiu-Jitsu? I need to GO!”

He smiled in understanding. “I like metal like Korn and Disturbed…”

I nodded in recognition. Disturbed has a cool cover of The Sound of Silence. Don’t ask me to name any other songs. And I only knew I was listening to Korn because I used Shazam, a song recognition app.

Li’l Trejo continued with other band names foreign to me. “I just love music.”

“Me too,” I said.

“Not a lot of girls like Korn. It’s rad that you do.”

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Wednesday night’s class


My shoulders hurt after Monday’s Jiu-Jitsu class, so Tuesday night I thought to myself: I gotta bandage my shoulders before tomorrow’s class.

Wednesday morning: I gotta bandage my shoulder’s before tonight’s class.

Wednesday afternoon: I gotta bandage my shoulder’s before tonight’s class.

Wednesday night’s class: I didn’t bandage my shoulders.

Because I simply refuse to wear the thick hot heavy gi top, much to Jiu-Jitsu purple belt blog buddy Tom’s consternation, I knew my shoulders were going to take a hit.

It was 80 degrees yesterday, okay?! And even hotter in the gym. I put both fists up to bump Surfer Dudes 1 and 2 as I slid between them against the wall.

“It’s hot in here,” remarked SD2.

“No kidding,” I said.

“Hi, Betsy,” said SD1, clearly harboring no grudge for last class’s rear naked choke.

This class was Elbow Escape, which requires “shrimping:” moving away from your opponent by pushing off the floor with one foot and rotating on the opposite shoulder. Basically, we’re curling then straightening our bodies to move backwards, much like how a shrimp swims when it wants to get away quickly.

To add injury to injury, Instructor had everyone lay down and practice shrimping from one side of the room to the other and back again. I was feeling the sting immediately. Here’s where the gi top would’ve helped, but I had planned to have pre-bandaged shoulders! And that was before I knew this class would involve any shrimping, let alone a TON of shrimping.

The elbow escape itself requires not one but three shrimps, or in my case, four. My opponent was on the short side, so I needed to shrimp an extra time to create space for my foot to get out from behind his knee.

This one’s not as bad. Some spots are scabbed over.

And I’ve been remiss in posting pics for “What’s! That! Bruise!?” so here’s an elbow.

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Watching the sunrise through the Jiu-Jitsu window

Watching the sunrise through the Jiu-Jitsu window

I woke up early and failed to fall back asleep. When I looked at the clock 35 minutes later, I realized the morning class started in 30 minutes.

Could I make it? Did I want to get up? Not really. If I did would I have time to eat? There was that one Saturday class where I woke up too late to eat much and nearly passed out. Ironically, today’s class was the same lesson.

Finally, with 20 minutes until class started, I flung the blankets from me.

It was still fully night when I left, which was disappointing. I wanted some spectacular sunrise, especially after Chatter Master’s enticing propaganda piece for mornings. (I know that was directed at me, CM!) I ate most of a banana on the way and a couple gulps of Muscle Milk.

The moon when I arrived, on time. The gym was still dark. I thought, Are you kidding me? Is class actually canceled this morning when I finally get up for it? But then Instructor rolled up a few minutes late, and several others poured from their cars, lying in wait, as I was.

I recognized three people from other classes. (Where has Timmy/Andre been hiding? Haven’t seen him in months.) One older gentleman with brown hair I strongly suspect is dyed, was milling, so I offered to practice with him. (Look at me go! So much easier when there are only a handful of students.)

This was Older Gentleman’s (OG’s?) fifth class. I couldn’t help but think, “Aww. I remember when it was my fifth class.” Suddenly I was Nate the Great commiserating with THIS guy about how difficult it was when *I* first started.

In fact, I was the most senior student there. My, how the tables have turned. I was actually teaching THIS guy how to do the moves, such as the basic trap and roll. When I did it to him, a guy much bigger than me, he said, “Wow. I didn’t think you’d be able to do that.”

Jiu-Jitsu, baby!

Jumping ahead briefly to the end of class, it was his turn to try to throw me off, but I got my hooks in and hands out for base, switching from side to side as he tried to roll me this way and that, exhausting himself until he gave up. “Wow,” he said again in a tone of, “This stuff really works.” I threw my arms overhead in triumph. (Like I should’ve done with Andre.)

I’ve always thought 5’6″ 130-pound Instructor was the poster child for the effectiveness of Jiu-Jitsu, but move over, buddy!

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New blog feature: “What’s! That! Bruise?”


I can’t help but read those three words and hear them shouted in unison by a game show audience. You?

I discovered a few more bruises on my arms and thought, Huh. Wonder what those are from. Could be Jiu-Jitsu, could be from running into something. Well, probably not. That does happen on occasion, but I’m not a klutz. Though I have no problem making fun of myself. For instance, has anyone heard me sing? Of course not, because anyone who has immediately takes their life afterward.

Right arm.
Left arm.

Probably could’ve taken those in a more balanced manner. Sorry about that. Not trying to elbow you in the face.


Like all good stories, this one begins with a cat.

The neighbor’s cat was strolling toward our front door, so I immediately opened it to invite him in. He politely declined the offer by launching himself bodily into the nearest bush.

This did, however, enable me to discover two packages waiting for me.

Two (nearly) identical packages.

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Betsy gets silly


I arrived late to Jiu-Jitsu Monday night, which I don’t mind, as I want to avoid the practice-before-class-officially-starts part. I was not late enough, however. The only un-partnered person on the mat was the only one who scares me. Not because he’s big, but because he looks like a dude who would be typecast as the bad guy. He’s the Danny Trejo of Jiu-Jitsu.

Check him out! He has a book!

The guy in my class is young, though, long haired and with knuckle tattoos. He looks like he’d be one of Chicken Man’s henchmen in Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul.

I was more than happy to stretch out waaaaaay on the other side of the mat from Li’l Trejo until Instructor spotted me and suggested I jump in with this guy. Fine. I greeted him and offered a fist bump. He lifted a hand to shake. We both smiled. He closed his hand for a bump. I opened mine for a shake. We laughed, we smiled, we gave up on a third attempt, and I realized he’s not the classic villain, he’s the family pet, namely, the sweet puppy dog.

I wasn’t paired with him during class but with a guy who had the darkest blue eyes I’d ever seen on a human. He was also a bit rough. When trying to do the move, he made me work for it. I’m used to guys taking it easy on me. Maybe I should be grateful that this guy didn’t treat me as anything special.

He also gave me my latest war wounds:

Long scratch on my right arm.
Harder to see, but a scratch that curls underneath and some old bruise on the left.

Instructor is great about including me. Months ago, when there were more people in the 11:00 class, he was angled away from me as he told a story “to the guys,” but then he turned his head and made eye contact with me as well, bringing me into the group. It was then that I truly felt I’d been accepted as one of them, at least by him.

In our recent one-on-one classes, he’d say, “When you get to Master Cycle…” which comes after this beginners’ Combatives course. Notice the “when,” not “if.”

Tonight he twice said “man or woman.” For instance, “…with your thumb pointed back at yourself because you’re the man or the woman.”

A couple funnies: He was crouched over his opponent, calling it “Spiderman pose.” Then he put both hands out, middle fingers pressed to his palms. This must have been a new one, not only to me, because the literal actual black belt next to me chuckled along with me.

Another time he said, with a completely straight face, “You want to go fast, not only because it’s smoother, but because it looks cool.”

Next he talked about doing the arm bar on someone much stronger. “If you need to, you can grab the top of his hand for greater leverage, but I’ve really only needed to do that twice.” He continued instructions and asked if anyone had questions.

A guy raised his hand and asked, “Was I one of those two?”

Instructor thought for a moment. “You might have been, yeah.”

And in the brief moment of silence that followed, I was feeling comfortable enough to be silly. See if you can guess how.

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The first rule of Fight Club…


I’ve mentioned that I teach middle and high school girls self defense after school once a week. My Partner in Crime (PiC) teaches the boys. We’ve been doing this in a classroom, pushing the desks and chairs off the to side, and laying mats on the floor. The teacher of that room often comes in, carefully skirting the mats (we have a strict no shoes on the mat rule) to get something from his desk.

It’s also the classroom where teacher meetings are usually held. One afternoon the principal got on the intercom to announce a teacher meeting. Just before he could say which room to meet in, this particular teacher rushed into the principal’s office and said, “Not the 8th grade! They’re doing Fight Club in there!”

I was so glad someone witnessed this and told me about it later.

Before weather was less permissive, we stretched the mats out on the grass in the courtyard. Frequently teachers, sometimes parents, would walk by, staring. It undoubtedly looked weird. I’d wave to them from the ground as I had their child or student locked up in Punch Box Stage 1, for instance.

“Nothing to see here. Just teaching your sweet girl how to hurt people.” (Didn’t actually say that. But it was implied.)

Recently a girl showed up late so one of my students got her up to speed. “Come here. Let me show you. First you do this, this, then this, this,” etc.

I stood there watching, hands clasped to my chest, fighting back tears (just kidding), but I was so very very proud.


Because I brought Neighbor to class, Instructor offered me a free t-shirt with the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu logo and the name of our local gym. He didn’t have an adult small, so he offered me a child’s large.

The child’s large was too big for me.

I relayed this story to PiC. He said, “You need to eat more.”

Ya think?

So he prescribed me this “diet:”

I shared the t-shirt story with another friend and told him of PiC’s prescribed milkshake routine to bulk up. He said, “Well, yeah,” and pointed at my arm.

So I punched him in his biceps.

He rubbed it. “That was a good hit.”

Because he knows I do Jiu-Jitsu, I told him, “That was my Taekwondo training. And if it bruises, I want to see it.”

I texted this story to my sensei because I realized afterward that I had proper form without having to think about it. I thought he’d be proud. Instead:

I also told him about my other friend and the milkshake diet. He responded:

It’s great that both my martial arts instructors are funny.

So I’ve been trying to eat more and drink my milkshakes, which are quite yummy. Too bad they are meant to be in addition to other meals, but they usually wind up being the meal.

Then, of course, because nothing can go my way for long, this happened:

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