I have groupies! And The Sleeper kicked my ass!
Heh heh. I have groupies! On my first night at Gracie Barra Seattle, I did some drills with a purple belt named Jay. He's from out of town himself, so he didn't know I'm not a regular there. He asked me how long I've been training at GBS, and when I told him I was just passing through he got this funny look on his face and said, "Are you the one who quit her job and is driving around the country training jiu jitsu?"
I smiled and said yes, and he told me how cool he thinks the trip is. Turns out a friend of his who trains found my website/blog and sent him the link. I don't know who the friend was, so I don't know exactly how random this connection is. But look at me having a following! I feel like I'm in The Legend of Billie Jean, only minus the bike. Plus, I haven't shaved my head. Yet. And this other guy, Griff, does the webmastering for GBS and asked if he could link my website to their friends page. Of course I said yes!
Yesterday, Tuesday, I spent the morning in my hotel in Everett, WA, (remember I couldn't find a hotel room in Seattle b/c of the tattoo convention) dinking around on the computer. Then I moved to a nearby Starbucks to continue dinking until it was time to leave for the 6pm no-gi class. As usual, I was wearing a BJJ t-shirt, and the barista, a cute young girl named Christina, commented on it, asking, "Do you actually do jee-ooh jitsu?" (It's actually pronounced "jew jitsu," so that made me smile.)
So we talked about it for a bit and I did my evangelical thing about how more women should do it because it's good for self defense but it's also just really fun, etc, etc. When I offered to write down all the places she could train and put her in touch with some women who train (on jiujitsugear.com), she got really excited. I also gave her my contact info, and I hope she gets in touch! I may have converted a complete stranger! And a female stranger to boot! As Sharon, my partner in turtle guard strategizing (and a brown belt herself) would say, WOOT!
And okay, speaking of women and BJJ, last night's class was insane. Cindy "The Sleeper" Hales, a brown belt who is recovering from neck surgery, agreed to spar with me. I described the carnage in gory detail in my training journal, but let's just say that after probably an hour of sparring with her, my tapping hand is exhausted. Not to mention the rest of me. She cleaned my clock, people.
And I loved it. I rarely get to spar with women who outrank me. Not because I'm any great shakes, but because there aren't many women who train in the first place (hence the recruitment above). And at GBS, I got to spar with TWO women who outrank me! Michelle kept me on the run on Monday night, and Cindy finished the job yesterday. I don't think Michelle competes much, but Cindy does and will again once she's fully healed. She's also branching out into MMA. Her nickname, The Sleeper, stems from the fact that I guess people size her up and don't expect much of her, and then she destroys the competition. I expected a LOT of her and was not disappointed.
So when I see Cindy compete--and you can bet I'll watch for her--I'll be able to point to my ass and say, "See this? Cindy Hales kicked this into next week! Repeatedly!" And the best part, as usual, is how great they are as people: friendly, welcoming, generous with ideas and techniques.
And of course Mamazinho and Rodrigo were amazing too, and I wrote about that extensively in my training journal. And they were both so nice, too; when class was over, Mamazinho gave me his number and the number of his friend Tinguinha, a black belt who lives in LA and runs an academy there. Tinguinha also knows Leka Viera, a female black belt who runs either a class or a full-on academy that's women only. It would be so sweet to train there! So I'll definitely look them up in LA.
Mamazinho also offered me a place to stay the next time I come to town, and he and Rodrigo said I was always welcome. I tell you, this community kicks ass! Here are pics of me and Michelle,
(in the above one she had just finished throttling me)
and Mamazinho, me, Cindy, and Rodrigo on no-gi night,
and here is me and Mamazinho after gi class today.
I spent the rest of the day hanging out at Sea-Tac and flying to Anchorage. turns out Dan, my friend with the hookup for the MMA event in Anchorage on Fri, separated his shoulder, so he won't be at this event. Bummer. But wherever a door closes on this trip, a window seems to open. I'm gonna try to get tickets the the MMA event anyway, and I'm sure I'll be able to find SOMETHING to do in all of Alaska (I can still be facetious, even in the car). Jon suggested I drive to Talkeetna, which is basically the base camp for Denali/Mt McKinley. I will definitely look into that!
Before class this morning I got up at the ass crack of dawn to talk to my parents; I wanted to hear how my mom was after her latest surgery. My dad had called right after the surgery to say she was fine, but I didn't get to talk to her. Thankfully, she's feeling good! Hooray Mom!
And after that it was exciting laundry time.
One thing I won't miss about Seattle is the traffic. No matter what time of day, it seems, I ran into lots of delays and bumper-to-bumper situations. Moreso than any of the other cities I've been in. Maybe because it's bigger? But Denver seems pretty big. I do want to see if I can connect with Sam and her family when I go back. I've got my fingers crossed!
Okay, so with this entry I'm mostly caught up, except for one I need to write on the whitewater rafting trip on the Deschutes River in OR!