Friday, December 30, 2011

The good and the bad

A couple of good things:

1) A few weeks ago, the Jiu Jitsu ladies of NC had it's first ladies' open mat. It was well-attended at a lot of fun!

2) Mask and I did a little redecorating to our guest bedroom. What do you think?



3)  I've gotten absolutely hooked on Bikram yoga. My teammate Jeff piqued my interest - he's been going for years and he's as bendy as Gumby, but with stubbier legs and a healthier complexion. In fact, his back and hips are so bendy that once he gets me in side control, it's really hard for me to get out. And he shrimps as well as any crustacean I've met.

Now, I've tried yoga before and I wasn't a fan. To me, it seemed like a workout for people who didn't actually want to work out - some deep breathing, some stretching, a little meditating and wa la! Workout complete. What's more, most yoga schools have a no talking during class rule, and to be perfectly honest, I have a hard time shutting up for that long.

But Bikram is a little different. It is 90 minutes of deep stretches and body weight strength exercises (all at 105 degrees F and 40% humidity). Needless-to-say, you get your heart rate up. You sweat so much that the popsicles that they give you after class taste like fruity rods of frozen heaven. Plus, this type of yoga bypasses the spiritual mumbo jumbo that was always a turnoff for me. It's basically just a long, hard workout, targeting flexibility, strength, and balance. I do have to shut my yap, but some of the poses take so much concentration that I see the necessity of it.

Now, I have a lot of respect for how long it takes to truly develop a skill. I've been doing yoga for about a month, which is nothing. Like jiu jitsu, I'm quite sure it takes many, many years to get good at yoga. So, I think of it as a long term investment for my jiu jitsu. As a total and utter novice, I thought it would take at least a year of yoga before I would notice any real difference in my rolling.

But I was wrong! I was pretty shocked to notice a difference on the mats after only a couple of weeks. I'm still, of course, one of the clumsier, greener people in yoga class. But at jiu jitsu...

- I am throwing triangles a little easier
- I'm having an easier time inserting the 2nd hook after taking someone's back
- I'm able to get a little lower to the ground when working on wrestling takedowns
- When I am in bad spots, I'm able to shrimp more effectively to get back to half guard.
It's not a huge difference by any means, but I feel like I'm moving a little freer in all these spots.

I think the reason I felt improvement so quickly is because my flexibility was so deficient to begin with. (If an in-shape swimmer starts running, he might not notice much of a difference in his cardio. But if an utter coach potato begins a running program, there's a good chance he will soon be breathing easier when he climbs stairs. I think the same applies to flexibility). Thousands of miles of swimming has left me pretty unbalanced, with hypermobile shoulders and elbows, but with legs as stiff and crunchy as uncooked noodles.

Flexibility is strength, I have been told. And I'm starting to believe it. While no amount of strength training will get me to out-muscle a 220 lb man,  being more flexible can give me another type of advantage in scrambles.

But this brings me to the bad...

I landed weird after a light Judo trip and felt a sharp, hot pain in my knee. While I was able to get up a few min later, I had swelling and reduced range of motion in my knee for days afterward. I tried to hobble through it, but ended up taking a week off of rolling. I went back to rolling the next week, but since I couldn't kneel to pass a guard, I had to always start from bottom (which ended up being to my benefit, since I got to practice the butterfly and half guard sweeps that we drilled that week).

As much as I like yoga, I think it is the real culprit behind my bum knee, since I pushed my joints really, really hard the night before I hurt myself. I'm going to continue to get my "om"on, but I will be a little more cautious in the future. I don't think they know how dangerous it is to say "it's supposed to hurt" to a jiu jitsu person!


  1. Hey Kim - I love Bikram yoga as well. Where do you go that they give you popsicles afterward?