Thursday, June 30, 2011


I had a friend of mine who is a sports trainer look at my knee Monday afternoon.  He poked, prodded, crowbarred around in there, kept asking "How does this feel?"  I can get around, but it takes me twenty minutes longer to do anything, including and especially get out of bed in the morning.  Peg-legging seems to be the way to go, at least for now.  It's weird, though, because when I'm sitting, I seem to have most of my flexibility still.  And without pain.  It's the straightening that sucks.

"MCL, which is probably the best news I can give you," he says to me.  "It heals on its own, and there's almost no change in treatment from second to third degree injury on it.  So don't be an idiot with your knee for the next few days, we'll see how it heals itself."

That being said, I'm going to class tonight.  I'm not doing takedowns or guard work--hell, I'll be amazed if I can do half of the stuff Klint works in class.  But this weekend he's having a few of my teammates test for promotion, and I refuse to miss that.  I want to be able to help them as much as I can, even if it's chirping from the sidelines tonight.

So I haven't gotten an MRI, but I've gotten the best advice that my cash-strapped self can right now.  Besides, I really should be studying.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


I want to say this up front:  I love frisbee.  Ultimate is one of the best sports I've played, with just as much focus on fun and spirit and sportsmanship as on athleticism and skill.  I wish only that it didn't pose such devastating threat to life and limb.

Plaid Pick-up, a great group of people who get together every Saturday morning in the summer to play some disc.  On the Saturday closest to the solstice, Plaid holds a game to 100.  They draw stones (white and black) to pick teams (light and dark), and people show up throughout the day to provide fresh substitutes until one team reaches 100.  It's a day-long affair, sprinkled with wit and grilling, beer and gatorade.  If you play ultimate and live in the cities, it's worth the trip to St. Paul.

I'll get back to this game, but first--jiu jitsu.  I've really been training a lot.  Four or five times a week, I'm on the mat sweating more than I probably should and loving it.  I've been placed on a submissions-from-guard ban for the next month to ensure that I use the time in my guard to work on my sweeps.  It's a good tool, and last week I worked my sweeps a lot.  Even against the purple belts, I'm not letting myself shoot for submissions even if I want to use them to set up sweeps.  I need to get more fluid with my sweeps on their own, so I'm making myself work on them.  A few of my teammates are getting promoted next Saturday, so we've picked up the training pace a little bit, and we've started incorporating flow rolling into class and post-class open mat.  I think the only reason Klint hadn't had us working it before was that not enough of us had the necessary base knowledge to get a tangible benefit from it.  I'm starting to get more comfortable in transition, finding more success in scrambles, and realizing how much of my game is based around letting my opponent get to his knees and spinning around him to pull him into back control.  It's been a fantastically educational month for my jiu jitsu.

Yesterday was the game to 100.  Early on, though, I went to Gina's class in Edina.  I knew that I wouldn't be able to make Klint's class in the afternoon because I had an old roommate's wedding that promised to be a memorable affair.  So at Gina's class, I worked with some of her girls and incorporated more flow-rolling after class, working only position rather than digging for submissions and trying to keep my opponent pinned.  It was fantastic, it was fun and tiring and one of the best hangover cures I an remember.  So I rolled for about an hour and a half.  After rolling, I figured I would use about an hour of the Game to 100 to get some more cardio work in.  And I hadn't played ultimate for almost 2 years--law school and (more importantly) jiu jitsu stemmed my attendance and refocused my attention.

The welcome to the field was warm despite the sixty-degree semi-drizzle.  I strapped on my cleats, pulled my plaid jersey on and claimed my spot on the line.  I played probably ten points.  I wasn't the force that I remember myself being on the field, but I wasn't embarrassing myself either.  I was running, throwing, defending--I was playing about as well as someone who hasn't played in two years is expected to play.  One play I'm defending Mike, the guy who organizes the game, and this teammate sends it long for him.  So I turn on the jets and work to make sure that I'm not scored on.  The disc gets to the end zone and Mike is a step or two behind me.  He's old and wily, though, and in ultimate (much like in jiu jitsu), age and experience can be just as big an asset as youth and athleticism.  So I know not to take chances with him and dive to get the defensive bid.  I get it, slapping the disc away.  Our momentum, though, intersected, and Mike tripped over me.

Tumbling into one another on the frisbee field is not uncommon.  I've been in several crashes myself and walked away unscathed.  (Ironically, my only serious injuries in frisbee came from (i) fooling around in warm-ups (sprained ankle) and (ii) pivoting surprisingly quickly for my back to keep pace (threw out my back for 2-3 weeks)).  So I'm down, and Mike basically surfs over me.  Unfortunately, he lands on my leg between my knee and ankle.  And the knee pops.

I take a few minutes on the field, just kneeling to see how it feels immediately afterwards.  It isn't that bad--a bit throbby, but this is the same knee that pops all the time in jiu jitsu so I might have dodged a bullet.  And it's the inside of the knee, the same place that always makes my training partners stop in their tracks and ask if I'm ok when it barks.  Mike's worried and asking about me, but I think I'm ok.  Besides, it wasn't an intentional crash, it was just one of those plays where the game results in a tangle of arms and legs.  We stand, and my leg feels a little wobbly, but not bad enough to worry.  Then I step, and know better.  I call injury and hobble off the field in search of an icepack and a fistful of ibuprofen.

So here I sit, valu-pak of ibuprofen (aka Vitamin I), and a limp that would make Verbal Kint pity me.  I'll go to class Tuesday, just to watch and not participate, and talk with Klint afterwards about what I can do.  Really, I will probably go mad if I have to stop all activity for more than a week, especially with studying and the inherent stress that causes.

So.  If anyone has suggestions about how to care for a soft knee, let me know.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Not Dead Yet

Still alive, still training on a very regular basis.  Training to the point where my wife tonight asked me when I would be able to give up a night or two a week of training.  Because she thinks I'm there a bit much.  I'm not saying that she's wrong, I'm just saying that I like it.

Klint gave me a few jiu jitsu guys to find videos on and watch over my spare time.  You know, those fifteen minutes between sleep, bar class, bar studying, bartending, and jiu jitsu-ing.  That's right, I'm taking bar prep classes (to take the bar to become a lawyer) and working at a bar (a mainly alcohol-serving establishment with multiple tap lines of fantastic beer) this summer.  So keeping bar class and bar prep separate from bar fun is a linguistic nightmare.

My jiu jitsu is moving forward.  I think.  It's not stagnant, so that's good.  But, as always, it isn't progressing as quickly as I think it should, and definitely not a fast as I would like.  My blue belt is getting some hours put on it, but we just finally started incorporating some flow-drilling into our class time and post-class training, so the last two training sessions have felt fantastic.  It finally felt like I was doing something right, like the time I was spending on the mat was for more than just repping the techniques that I'd learned that day and seeing how it fit into my game as it now existed.  Instead, it was seeing where my body wanted to go and what opportunities that opened up.  I found out that I like taking the back more than I knew, and that knee-on-belly is going to be a position that I love.  I found out that my triangles are good, but not where I thought they were, and that I need to work my sweeps.

So I'll be watching Abmar Barbosa, Romulo Barral, and Kayron Gracie for the next few days.  Probably with a little Rafael Lovato Jr. thrown in for good measure.  Need to hammer down this guard work.  I'm on a hiatus from guard submissions for the next month.  It's all about working my sweeps and controlling the top position once I get it.  I think.  I'm not quite sure, we were talking it out over text message.  Hopefully tomorrow night will shed a little more light on my training goals for the next month.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Weighing In

This post has nothing to do with actually weighing in, but rather (at least, as I start it) what you do with your weight.  More specifically, what I do with my weight.

I am a bit over 6'1" tall, and walk around at about 180 pounds.  Back in 2006, before making my diet environmentally conscious and training jiu jitsu, I was a bit north of 200.  Never overweight or anything, but now I'm just skinny.  In the last two weeks, I've told a few people I train with what my weight is and they're all surprised it's so high.  They were convinced that I actually weighed more like 160 or 165.  Klint, my instructor, is one of those people.  Now to be fair, some days I get home from training and I'm more like 175 on the scale at home, but I've never been much lower than that.  At least, not since high school or college.  So this evening, these observations and shocked reactions got me thinking about how I use my weight when I'm on the mats.

To start with, I'm not really that strong.  I never really added any athletic muscle onto my frame.  Ever.  I have always been lanky and lean, and m legs are strong and flexible.  I'm a dude, so I have a little meathead strength hidden in my DNA, but really, I try to keep my jiu jitsu game about movement and baiting-and-switching rather than pinning and crushing.  At the same time, I know that a lot of my game would probably improve if I were to start putting some thought into how I was using my weight.  In my guard passes, for sure.

This hasn't gone anywhere, really.  I guess I want to sort out why it seems to me like I'm not using my weight effectively.  If several of my training partners think that I am not as heavy as I in fact am, I take it to mean that I'm not efficiently using my weight to its full potential.  6'1", 180 lbs isn't small by any means.  Now I just need to sort how to use it without losing the sensitivity I've been building.