27 February, 2010

My plan of care anxiety relieved - Joe Theismann and Vampires

I had surgery on my blown knee this past Wednesday. Let me say that I was happy with the progression of my care. Friday, I hurt the knee. I was able to get in and see my primary care physician with-in 40 minutes and have a plan of attack sketched out that afternoon.
I got an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon for Monday and had the surgery scheduled for Wednesday morning.
I'm not sure how other folks insurance companies and health care options work, but I could not believe how well my schedule moved forward.

While I'm super happy with my case progression, I learned how much of a wuss I am. Now post-op, I know that there was not much to worry about from the actual procedure. I had way more anxiety due to my wild imagination than anything else. In general, there are two things that I can't stand seeing on TV - knee injuries and neck injuries. Can't stand them. It's hard not to feel the injury on myself! I have turn away, try to change the channel right away and control the nausea. The knee injuries - I'm not sure why I have that issue, but I remember seeing Joe Theisman's football game where his leg was shattered. It was too much for me. As for the neck - I've always been afraid of vampires. As a kid, I couldn't sleep with my neck exposed to the air. It was too creepy.

Anyhow, wussiness aside - this is what my days looked like from day of injury to immediately post-op.

Friday-Monday - I actually didn't have too much pain. The original injury was more of a shock than painful. The dislocation of my patella was fricking painful, but again, that was the initial injury. The bruising around my knee was disgusting. Otherwise, I was sitting on my couch or my bed with my leg up in the air. I've never had any other knee injury, and don't wish one again, but a severed patella tendon is weird. Your quadricep flexes and pulls on the patellar tendon, which in turn pulls on the shin, which pulls and controls your lower leg. With out that connection, my leg was a ton of dead weight. I could stand straight up with my legs locked, but nothing else. It was awkward.

Monday - Met with the orthopod. Before we even saw him, he was able to see my x-rays and read my history and physical and scheduled my procedure for Wednesday morning. He did a couple tests on my leg and gave a very detailed picture of the surgery. It was during this description that my choice to be a pharmacist and not a nurse or physician was validated. And of course, the detailed description made me want to puke.

Tuesday - Waited around a lot. I had periods of anxiousness just thinkng about the surgery. I'm sure my BP was up there.

Wednesday - Day of surgery. The procedure was scheduled for 10:45. I was due into the outpatient surgery center at 8:30. My prep was promptly started at 9:00. Line placement was the worst. The nurse couldn't get a line placed on the first try. It was line in the hand. Unfortunately the nurse had to describe everything she was doing and I realized that the thought of a piece of metal sliding through my blood vessels was added to my list of anxiety creators. Todd Smith, the orthopod came in and again described exactly what he was going to do. I had to cut him short and explain to him that my anxiety was running high. Checking my blood pressure showed a systolic of 150's and diastolic of 100's. Wow.
A little fentanyl and versed and I was happy and anxiety free.
After that, I don't remember much.
The anesthesia was a combination of a femoral nerve block plus general anesthesia. The nerve block places medication at a specific nerve that would block any sensation at the location of the surgery. It helps keep the amount of narcotics and sedation that is given to the patient and quickens the recovery from anesthesia. It also provides some pain control for about 18 hours post procedure.
I remember slowly waking up in the PACU (post anesthesia care unit). I was transferred to a chair and then sent home.
All in all - one hour prep, one and a half hour surgery and one and a half hours in recovery.

23 February, 2010

That wacky patella

See the bottom right hand pic. Your patella isn't supposed to be that high! The tendon that anchors it down is torn. Owwy.

Knee me

At least there is no arthritis or mini-breaks. This is 12-15 years of bad patellar tendonitis. Mini-tears and periods of inflammation make it a perfect spot for a tear.

Combine that plus a quadricep firing hard to prevent a fall backwards and you get a tear. I felt bad for my kids. They didn't quite know how to handle seeing daddy all hurt. Also, I've been rolling with the kids regularly - Gracies Bullyproof JiuJitsu program. AWESOME stuff. It actually has such great basics that it can help anyone in the Jits game.

19 February, 2010

Swollen right knee.


Grrrrrr. Popped the knee today. Dislocated patella and torn patellar tendon. We'll see what the ortho doc says Wednesday!

15 February, 2010

...FVGC efficientization of my armbars.

After taking the day off, President's Day and all, I realized that I was able to get to FVGC to roll for the noon class. It was fun getting back there. I know that this is not going to be a regular thing.
First 30 minutes was practicing take downs with the Judo instructor. We practiced 3 different take downs.
A hip throw - I don't have any examples. Penny Thomas does a the kind we were working on in the last BJJ legends.
Ohsotogari - a leg sweep.
Ukiwaza - a sweep from front - a variation can also be done from behind
Ohuchigari- almost the Ohsotogari - but using more of the hip and thigh to block the opponent and taking them off balance.
The next 30 minutes was drilling some things for the Blue Belt testing. Arm bars - Americana, Straight Arm bar from mount and from guard. We also practiced Triangles from guard.
Bill learned a couple things to make the straight arm bar set up more efficient.
1) Arm bar from mount. This tip was really helpful for me. When I get into the arm bar: Collect/secure arm, transition from mount to seated modified mount (right leg up): transition weight to free arm on opponent head or chest, pivot hips and swinging my leg over the head of the opponent while keeping control of arm - my transition sometimes ends up where my rear lands quite a bit a way from my opponents shoulder. leads to some wasted motion on my part to maintain control or an ineffective armbar if I can't resecure the elbow and arm. TIP from Bill: When transitioning to seated modified mount. My right knee is up while I'm sitting on my left knee/butt cheek. My left lower leg is positioned parallel and right up against my opponents back/neck/head. The tip is, with my right knee up - lean forward towards that right knee. Usually my shin ends up being straight up and down. Instead consciously lean that right leg/knee forward using my weight on the opponent. This sucks my hips/rear closer to my opponent and even shifts them up on their side. THEN work the transition. Butt to shoulder connection!
2) Straight Armbar from Guard. When I was at the club 1.5 years ago. The armbar from guard was a 4 step affair. Control wrist with cross grip, control back of head with c-hook, use head grip, and a posting foot on hip or floor to swing and pivot to the side, swing other leg to hook shoulder. Pinch legs together, hip up. The "new" version for me is similar to this clip. But the FVGC version doesn't use the step that secures the opponent tricep. a) secure wrist. no cross grip needed. use same side hand. b) on side of secure wrist, post foot on hip of opponent. Your hip and thigh effectively block any motion of the opponent's shoulder. c) with posted foot, get hips up and hang opposite leg on opponents shoulder. Chop down like setting up a triangle. This already puts pressure on the arm with hip up and leg weight bearing down. d) Swing posted leg around opponents head. Knees tight and hips extended.

I finished up my time rolling with some guys. One of them with some good wrestling experience and about 75 pounds on me. His takedowns on me seemed effortless. At least I flew around like a rag doll. I was happy for the little wins, good neck protection, able to create space to reguard or prevent mount. I'll tell you that the first time he got side control on me - his weight up on me and his toes and shoulder pinned against my cheek, neck and face. It was tough not to feel totally claustrophobic! Forget not feeling it. I definitely felt it! But a little frame here and a little shrimp there. I was safe. I did get him in a damn good lapel choke from my half guard - no tap. While I was working the choke and working to reguard - he was finally able to tap me with a weird choke/cross face thingy - I'm on my side, head up. He worked a forearm/elbow against my neck and pressured my head against my opposite shoulder. It was uncomfortable and I thought I was fine until I started losing my vision a bit. I asked him to put me in that position again to see if it was just uncomfortableness versus a submission. I almost went black again. I think it was my broad shoulder that did me in. I was able to pass his guard and protect from a couple armbars and Americana's. All in all it was a fun time.

14 February, 2010

Combative Training

Continuing my story. I knew that I found a way to get my roll fix and learn a great self defense strategy. Combative training using the Gracie techniques.
I used the Gracie University student location tool to help me find training partners. I was able to find three other BJJ practioners in the area that started at FVGC! Two of them (Steve and Roger) were already training together and were about 75% through the lessons and were going to be testing for their Blue Belts for Gracie. What was interesting is that Steve is already a Blue Belt through FVGC, but decided that it was worth starting over and doing the Blue Belt Qualification test through the Gracie Combatives. The third practitioner, Jarrod, is now able to join me and one of my TKD classmates for our own combative training sessions.
The combatives have you learn techniques that would address issues from opponents that know a little to almost no type of combat/martial arts training. The Gracie Academy has developed video learning interactive training to learn techniques that are geared toward opponents that have much more training, especially training in BJJ.
When I started, I initially wondered if my background in TKD, Hapkido and Judo would get in the way of practicing the combatives. Would I have to be conscious that they are geared towards the brawler, un-trained type of opponent. In fact, to keep the lessons, reflex drills and fight simulations as close to real as possible, Ryron and Rener recommend specific bad guy actions.
What my training partners and I found is that a background in any other martial art that is non-grappling oriented, is not really helpful for the bad guy and not really a hinderance for the good guy to learn the techniques. It did take some getting used to for the grappling minds in the room. To help negate some of our almost instinctual grappling response to the techniques, we started using boxing gloves to limit our grabbing. It also allowed us to add a realism to the bad guy response and incorporate the kinds of punching and striking that someone would try if they got caught on the ground.
I'll tell you what, getting caught with a big left hook from the ground while trying to set up a triangle choke helps you understand the openings you may have in your defense when practicing BJJ techniques for self-defense! Make that two big left hooks.

08 February, 2010

BJJ, just a new mouse trap?

This has been sitting in the back of my head. I've wanted to think this "out-loud" on the blog. In reading a couple articles about Helio Gracie and the Gracie Challenge and then with Royce Gracie and his championships at UFC 1 and 2 and the revolution that BJJ has brought on.

Is BJJ the current better mouse trap? It came as a total surprise to the martial arts world.

So, warfare started with hands, then came the rock and stick.

From rock and stick, sharpened sticks or sticks attached with pointy rocks.

Throwing objects soon followed.

Cavalry and horseback.

Armour of different types. Beginning with leather and hides, then bronze and chain and then plate.

And armour was soon tested with the invention of the crossbow and became quickly obsolete when gunpowder and bullets were utilized.

Or how about fighting from a straight line to fighting from cover.

The Gracies introduced techniques to the West that were radically different than the current accepted practices at the time. Why would I want to wrassle with someone when I could punch them? The Gracies showed that grappling was more than an effective counter for striking techniques and would continue to be more effective as long as there are those that don't understand or have experience in grappling.

Is it just the better mouse trap.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want anyone to think I'm knocking BJJ. In fact, I marvel at how BJJ has revolutionized self-defense and sport grappling. I think the roots of BJJ promote evolution.

The community is an indication of the sharing and embracing of new ideas. And there is so much more evolution about to take place. MMA shows the possibilities of the fusion of the striking and grappling.

07 February, 2010

I learned about the "H" in Rener.

What did I get out of that video - First, this is the first time I've heard how "R's" are pronounced in Brazilian names. I'm still not educated enough to know if this is only in the Pronoun's or if it is in any Portugese word. Or is it a purely Brazilian pronounciation of a Portugese "r".
When I heard "Hener" say "Hyron" when addressing Ryron and "Hyron" say "Hener" when speaking about Rener. I was confused. Then I remebered about "Hoyce" who is Royce in the first UFC's and I ... never mind, but that was something new for me.

O.K. the GU site has online forums, detailed video instruction, written instruction points, and drills for building technique reflexes and fight simulations to practice progression of techniques. The GU site provided a way to get in touch with a Gracie Academy school or other students looking to do the GU curiculum and needing a partner. There was also the Gracie Garage concept, while not a unique thing (guys getting together to roll), the execution of a method of authorizing and organizing garages was unique. Providing videos of the folks that run a garage, seeing the garage site and equipment and mat space - who else has done that?
And finally, for me was the opportunity to test for Belts and Stripes. C'mon - testing online, via video?
So let me give you my thoughts, point by point of the GU product.
Online forums - for me, very useful and interesting. The questions from different students would be answered by Rener, Ryron or other Gracie Academy folks. And 99% of the time, someone would eventually ask the same questions that ran through my mind.
Detailed video instruction - I liked that the videos would indicate when a particular technique should be used. The key details of executing the technique would be pointed out as well as the common mistakes that are seen. Inevitably, Rener or Ryron would cover a point and answer a question that was brewing in me as they instructed.
Written Instruction Points - I have used these for helping me think through the technique. The written instruction points help me with visulization of a new technique. I write notes on how the techniques transition from one to the next.
Reflex Development and Fight Simulations - Such a useful way to get reps in of a new technique and then practicing transitions and progression of position in different situations. These drills and simulations become progressively more involved, but it is such an excellent mental and physical test that develops muscle memory. These don't feel like drills that have you rep a technique over and over. It tests both partners - the "bad guy" and the driller and enables you to get reps of several techniques.
Student Search - was I excited. I could find a live grappling partner. Sorry Tapey. Hopefully our schedules workout. Within 20 miles of my location there are close to 200 students. Unfortunately not all of the students wished to be contacted or wanted to be a training partner. I wonder how these folks progress in their lessons...
Gracie Garage - A location, hopefuly in the area, where you can train for free with other guys learning the GU curiculum. I found two Garages in the Appleton area. 2! In NE Wisconsin - Get OUT!
Testing on-line - Believe me, I'm the first to be skeptical. I believe that live partners with full resistance is the best way to train. But I really was amazed at the videos that need to be submitted, the amount of detail that is expected and the consistent method of evaluation. A very useful part of the site was that demo videos and actual video testing submissions are posted on-line to be viewed. Not only are there videos of folks that passed, but videos of folks that did not pass. I've enclosed the link. To see the videos, you may have to register, but registration is free.
So after more than a year I was training again!

Gracie University - a new foundation

I've seen other instruction videos - but in different arts. Mostly striking arts, but also in Hapkido and Judo. Or I've tried what I would see on YouTube or on a martial arts movie. Grainy and minimal shot angles or too glitzy and glam with the use of wires and pulleys. Maybe it was because these other videos were of questionable production quality or were basically what videos are - one way communication, that it was easy for me to be highly impressed by the Gracie University concept.
In addition to the quality of the video instruction, it was the progressive nature of the lessons that really appealed to me. There was a logical beginning lesson with drills that develop appropriate reflexes and then simulations that incorporate new lessons and past lessons into logical sequences that would occur in "real-life."
From a point of reference that many other BJJ students may relate too, depending on who attends a live BJJ class, it is very difficult to create a lesson plan that may meet the needs of all of the experience levels of the students in class that day. In my several months at the Grappling Club, I learned a ton - the basic submissions were drilled and drilled and drilled - Key Locks, Arm Bars (different variations), and Triangle Choke. I remember covering 2 or 3 different of sweeps (scissors, pendulum, elevator) multiple times. But I didn't learn an effective oopa, trap and roll escape until the last month at the Club. That was eye opening - trap a side (arm/leg) effective bridge straight up, then pivot and roll to the side of the trap.
But what it taught me (and I knew this for other stuff) is that as far as beeing an adult learner, I like to - need to - understand the base knowledge and how it builds, progresses and connects to following knowledge. Up until then, I was thinking about how I was treating the class. I was treating the class like other martial arts classes (striking classes). I learned one move after another move. Hey that was a cool move. Whoa that was a cool kick. Not really - "that was a great transition and look at the progression from that position to another position." I know, I know, it shouldn't have taken months for me to figure that out. But I'm slow that way.
So, because of issues I mentioned before, I'm limited with time. I jump on GU and find the first lesson - Trap and Roll Escape, three variations. The beginning of building my foundation.

UFC 109 - The crime at 109!


Wow. The Rolles Gracie v. Joey Beltran fight was an afterthought. And luckily it was. It aired after the main event - Couture v. Coleman, and luckily it did. I actually wasn't sure what to expect not seeking Rolles in a MMA event before.
Let me replay the events of last night as I remember it. It was like witnessing a crime in action. I remember thinking that the Couture/Coleman match was just sad to watch. I couldn't imagine what Coleman's kids were thinking and felt badly for him and for them. I was about to shut the TV off after the main event, but decided to wait and see what might be aired. (I caught some excellent matches previously that way.)
I stepped away for a little bid and came back seeing one fighter take down and eventually take the back of another fighter. At that point, I didn't really know who was fighting. I remember hearing Joe Rogan say that while the fighter on the bottom has grappling experience, he's going to be totally outmatched by the fighter on the back. A Brazilian JiuJitsu black belt. My ears perked up. But it wasn't soon after that Joey Beltran (at this point I hear his name) was able to escape, get back to his feet and box. This is where the rest of the crime was committed. And like with car accidents, I couldn't turn my eyes away. It was a wreck - horrible striking attempts and shots by a lumbering and waddling fighter - Rolles Gracie. (When I heard his name, I said - Wha?)
....But the link above described it well. Rolles didn't look like he belonged or even wanted to be there. And seeing Renzo after the fight, I don't think he wanted to be there either.
You have to wonder if that multi-fight deal with UFC is going to stay together?

04 February, 2010

Gracie University

I have my training partner all made - so it's time to train, right? I loved my time at the club, but my schedule just didn't work out. Staring at the FVGC schedule every night wasn't really working - "I know I can get out to the Wednesday class.... maybe the Saturday class..." Hoping isn't a method.
I researched other options, I rolled with the dummy, I tried various video clips from YouTube, I rolled with my kids and even the dog (Fred got over excited and puppy humping usually happened next).
I got my fix by reading different books and magazines. Then one day I noticed a Black Belt magazine ad for Gracie University.
Serious? - a comprehensive BJJ curriculum that started with basics and built on its lessons. Provided a method for finding training partners in almost any neighborhood. Provided a method to ask questions from Gracie instructors. And even allowed for a detailed testing process to test for a Gracie Academy Blue Belt and beyond. Really.
I was really skeptical. And it took several visits to the bathroom (where the magazine sat) over a few days, for me to be intrigued enough to even visit the website. But to the site I went. And I was amazed.

01 February, 2010

Tapey the Grappling Dummy part 3

This is the wrap up to the Tapey DIY.

Here's the skeleton so far to Tapey. The dimensions end up being right around 5'10. with the same wingspan (36inches from mid chest to finger tips) and leg length (41 inches from hip to toe) as me.

I had some extra cable when I cut down the arms. I used those to reinforce the legs. I positioned them to the outside of the PVC covered cable. This added a bit more structure to the legs. I figured that it would also help get dummy in positions like turtle and guard and mount. I started sectioning up the memory foam that I had and started with wrapping it around the torso of Tapey.

Here's Tapey with with more tape around the bottom of the trunk and with hands being formed. Remember the wire that was wrapped around the cable (mentioned in Part 1)? I used that to form hand shapes and foot shapes. I'll start to wrap these good with tape.
Here he is almost totally done. I'll post final pictures when I take them. I used foam around the legs and arms. And lots of tape! I had to pick up some additional foam to add to the arms and thighs. I picked that up from a Walmart in their sewing section - you can get it at most fabric stores.
One other touch - I used bungee cord to add some tension to the arms and thighs and legs of the dummy. That will take a picture or two to describe. But I'll try to do it without.
I used short pieces of bungee taped to the insides of the dummy's arms and thighs. So picture this - a piece of cord taped to the inner bicep, attached to the upper chest of the dummy and taped to the other arm in an identical spot on the opposite inner bicep. I purposefully cut the bungee cord shorter than the span of the arms. So while bicep to bicep stretched out may be 32 inches, I attached those two points with cord that was 26 inches. This gave the arms some spring and tension. I did the same to the legs - cord attached thigh to thigh. I finally did the same with each leg - calf to hamstring. That gives the legs spring and tension and moves the appendages all back to a good working position.
So, do I use the dummy? Yup about twice a week. Recently I was repping the different versions of the Elbow Escape as instructed by Gracie Unversity. It helps a ton to get some muscle memory.
My kids love the dummy - they are the ones who named it Tapey. The foam and tape have given it a very punchable, kickable and bounceable body. Fun, Fun for a couple kids.
I keep it in my workout room. Tapey wears an old gi and just sits there in either turtle position or sitting up. It always freaks me a bit because it does look so real.
Final pictures to come.

commercial break

Disgusted, yet curious and hungry.

Just had to post this pic. Processed meaty goodness.

I'm part Hawaiian - at least the part that likes SPAM.

Get your Roll On!

About Me

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Attention Deficit Dad with as many interests as days in the year. You can't hold me back and you can only hope to contain me!