Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Quite an eye-opener tonight. I'm writing these little staff bios for the new Fit and Fearless website & I was interviewing Dr. J tonight after she taught yoga. She has really got it together, very insightful. She absolutely made the light bulb switch on in my head, even though we were talking about something a little different. She was telling me how yoga forces you to pay attention to just this moment to progress, & I realized that's been my problem lately in krav. You see, I'm progressing quickly in Crossfit & MMA - because I don't really care about them. I want to do well in whatever I'm doing at that moment, but past that I don't care - there's no agenda for "how I should be doing". I'm just having fun, really. But in krav I have a huge agenda, a definite idea of how I should be doing, and am very tied to the outcome. And you know what, I haven't had real fun in quite a while. And you know what else, I'm not progressing. The truth is, I'm regressing. My skills in both technique and teaching have been getting steadily just a little bit worse instead of continually just a little bit better, and that's just no fun at all. Mami K said to me a few weeks ago, "Who cares how long it takes? Just work on what you need to work on, who cares if it takes a year?" I thought that was a terrible idea! Turns out she was right. I think I'm going to stop worrying about how I'm doing & just have fun again. I hope I get to pass my teacher training test, but for now I just have to let that go and learn to enjoy myself again, both in training and teaching. To just GO. If I can't do that, then what the hell am I doing here?

Seeing Things

Oh, now I know why so many people hate the holidays! Yesterday in Ladies Crossfit we did the 12 Days of Christmas. It was my first time, and oh, my dear ones, it was hard. In a good way. I noticed that at first it was just like in krav - I'm very slow & uncoordinated, my moves are a bit awkward & tentative. But once I got cranked up I was burning like a house on fire, baby. About a third of the way through I start to feel a groove, even though its an effort to perform well, my brain shifts into another gear & my body takes over. I think that's one of the keys to why we keep coming back to this stuff over and over. Its like extreme anger/aggression or great sex or a particularly delicious meal. Your brain shuts down and your body takes over and you're 100% in the moment. Total lizard brain. By the end my body was shaking as I was trying to perform the moves, but I wouldn't let it slow down. Its funny what'll pop into your head. I could actually see (in my head) The Professor looking at me and saying, "Come on, girl", just like he does in real life when I start to fatigue. And then, The General, alternately barking at me to keep going & smiling at me encouragingly. I don't remember what he "said", I just remember I didn't want to fail in front of him, so I sped up. I have a pretty vivid imagination & it really helps sometimes! Also, I was actually talking to myself out loud, softly, "Keep going, you can do it..." And I did it. I came in with the best time, using good form, even though I was practically hallucinating from pushing myself so hard. I think I'm getting stronger.

I came back later that evening & taught my very first class on my own, a Fighting Fitness class. It was fun & I want to do it again. Its shadowboxing with little hand weights for 2 minute rounds, with "rest" rounds between each. Rest rounds consist of pushups, mountain climbers, crunches, etc. Its pretty exhausting, for the students, I mean. I was a little nervous before class, but it was good. The students seemed to be having a good time and they were working hard, which I always appreciate.

In case you ever wondered if all this training is really useful, here is a picture of me levitating. You're not gonna learn to do that down at your regular gym, folks! Krav rocks.
You may sometimes see me taking pictures in class. If you want to see if you're in a photo, go to flickr.com/photos/parkerwestbrook. Look in the sets to find the most likely spot where you'd be: mma, krav, yoga, or crossfit. Feel free to download yourself!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Engulfed in Flames

Mayday! Mayday! Parker's down! She's burning! Ooooh...yes, she's toast.
Taught hammerfist today in Relentless' level 1 class. Unsure of how to reconcile the 3 first time students need for greater instruction with the more advanced students need to get working, I decided the solution was to talk too long. And I did that very well. Talked less on side hammerfist, even less on knees. Hooray. Then I "taught" defense against choke from the side. My attacker, a large student, was shoving me sideways on the attack & instead of stopping & telling him to please not push, I defended anyway - failed to get the pluck! - and kept fighting him off. Badly. A match was struck & I started to smell gasoline. Then I gave a beautifully unclear explanation of the technique, moved them on to drywork, which kind of looked like a spastic dance-off. My clothes started smoking. I let them get to work and I don't know what the hell they were doing, and I definitely don't know what the hell I was doing, but I was clearly going down in flames. The funny thing is, a student came up behind me to ask me a question after class in the lobby & heard me telling Miss C what I'd just done & he said, "You know what, I'm a teacher & you need to understand that things look very different to your audience than they do from your perspective. We thought you were doing great." I am now engaged to be married to this man. HA, good thing my husband isn't reading this...

Anyway, that took a bit of the sting out of it, and I'll be working on that technique next week in teacher training. A lot.

2nd hour was The Gentleman's bag class. This class is awesome. Crossfit is really starting to pay off, I can feel myself getting stronger & having more endurance, and being more willing and able to push through exhaustion. I take back all the stuff I said about Crossfit, its making a huge difference for the better in my training.

3rd hour, MMA, worked with Strongirl again (yay!). We worked some of those weird, complicated BJJ moves from the guard where you're reversing people and yanking on them, and doing super secret sneaky moves. Stuff that looks really complicated, until you realize it makes perfect sense, but then you can't explain it at all, you can only do it. We did that stuff.

4th hour, just worked one-on-one with The Professor, working on patching up holes in my game, building aggression in my moves, working the focus mitts, sprawling against his takedowns, fighting off his clinches. That boy is strong. Then just a little more groundwork, learned how to give the world's coolest beatdown while I have someone trapped in my guard, then a most excellent armbar. Mostly it was just bang bang bang for an hour, the kind of workout I live for. I just get so happy and excited after training like that, I want to jump around like a puppy, by mostly I just have to lay on the ground, sweating and panting. Its so good good good!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Yesterday & Today

Sorry I've not been posting, I've been ill for several days & not attending class. Now its all good, though...

Last night started out with teacher training with the Gorgeous Bastard. He said he's going to be doing all the Thursday teacher training sessions from now on. You don't hear me complaining. Except that he made me teach straight punches using no words whatsoever, then he made me stand there & get my reviews from my classmates without allowing me to speak at all or show any kind of facial expression. I thought I would explode. Then Spike taught me how to make a snake with my hands and I felt all better.

Next hour was assistant teaching with Detention. A big class! Again he started class with straight punches. A good idea for me to steal, I think. I taught choke from the front with a 2 handed pluck, but we didn't really have time to work it much, because we spent a lot of time working the focus mitts & doing drills. I got to demonstrate the drill on the mitts, too. I just love beating the crap out of those things.

Next was Mudslide's Ladies MMA class. I partnered with Strongirl, thank God! She is a good sport when I do poorly, and a good opponent when I do well. And when I just really don't want to do something, I tend to do it poorly. For instance, I hate takedowns. My little skinny neck always whips back when I slam down onto my back if its me being taken down, & I always worry about going too hard for my partner if I'm taking them down. I don't want to do it, consequently I do it very poorly, and therefore I don't want to do it. You see how that works? Its pretty much that way with everything I tend to suck at - I just don't want to do it, so my body is trying, but everything in me is resisting. Gotta fix that.

Now I used to not want to do Crossfit, but once I realized it was going to help me be a better kravver, I jumped on board & started to do well. You see there, this stuff is all in your head.
Today we did, um...all this crazy hard stuff. Jumping on tires and pushups & sumo squat things, and wall ball death dealers & the beastly lean back ab attack. I don't know the names of these things, I just know how to kick their ass! I love it when Scarlet comes to class, we're constantly out to beat each other - cheering each other on, but screaming TIME like our lives are at stake when we're done. Spike & this student who is still unnamed were in there, too, with other students from the Marines officer candidate school. Spike & my student are gonna wipe the floor with those boys, that's what I'm saying! Mami K took pictures, I'll add some later if they came out. Bye!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

At Least I Got It On A Platter

Mmmm, thursdays. First hour teacher training. Mami K had us teach whatever she told us to & then give her a drill for the same technique. I cheated & gave a drill we all know but haven't seen in a while, clearly I need to learn how to create drills. Its on the list!

2nd hour, assisting Detention in level 1, his classes are so much fun. I think I have the best schedule ever. Lets see, palm heels, round and straight knees, then, God help them, 360 defenses. These are still quite painful for me, but not as much as they once were, and those students were suffering, baby! Even I have a giant black knot on my wrist, though I don't remember how I got it, which is refreshing. I usually like to relive every excruciating instant of the strike. Jeez, if only I was kidding about that.

3rd hour, MMA, with Mudslide. I was a little skittish about jumping in for a big workout after my festival of vomit a couple of days ago, so I filmed the guys working until I couldn't take it anymore & dragged a guy out of the lobby to hold pads for me. We worked together until sparring time, but he's new & has no gear so he left & I went back to filming until I spoke the words that sealed my doom: "Beastie, will you go a round with me & Mudslide can film it?" Those words rank right up there with "Let's besiege the Alamo".

Sweet Beastie is hyooooge and a very accomplished MMA fighter, so even though I knew he would destroy me, he also has the best control in the room, so I knew he wouldn't injure me.

My left leg is still tingling from his kicks and its been over an hour. I have never been punched & kicked so much and so hard, with so little effort from my opponent. That's hard by my standards, not his. He was absolutely taking it easy on me, but I still felt like he'd dragged me down to the laundromat & thrown me in the dryer with a bunch of rocks. Sigh. I watched myself on film & was shocked at how stiff I looked! I would list all the things I did wrong, but you don't have time.

I will encapsulate it for you. Worst comment by Mudslide, "You're supposed to lead with your jab. Instead you lead with your face and that's why you get hit so much!"

Best comment by Beastie, "That was really fucking good, Parker! I was pounding you and you just kept coming back for more, I couldn't believe it!"

Yeah, ha ha, I couldn't believe it either! Seeing yourself on film is really eye-opening, I hope we do it more because just seeing myself that one time is going to be a huge help. More, please.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

All Clean

So I take these little pills to keep my skin clear, and sometimes they make me sick. (This is called 'foreshadowing'.)

Teacher training today with Relentless, he was putting us on the spot, which is becoming fun. I no longer think its the end of days if I mess it up. I know now that I'm there to learn & have stopped trying to be perfect, which has improved my performance. Mighty Mouse missed on basing out when she was doing the demonstration for the bear hug from the front where you are lifted off your feet & ended up on the ground on her back with the Gentleman on top of her. She fought him off & jumped up & he continued on quickly with the same attack, which she defended successfully. It looked so cool! Very real looking. I want to be like Mighty Mouse! She's kind of scary. My stomach was starting to feel a little weird...

Next hour, level 3/4, again with Relentless. We did one of his famous exhausting warmups that used to scare the bejesus out of me, but now they're fun, even though they're crazy hard. Toward the end we got into groups of 4 & did non-stop chokes, monkey-in-the-middle-style, which signaled the end of me keeping my head out of the toilet. After my turn I sped out of the room, almost knocking over Smash, my favorite toddler, and had a thoroughly cleansing vomit. Then I walked watery-eyed & wobbly-legged back to class, knowing that if we sparred my secret weapon would be my breath. Yes, come clooooser.....

I ended up working with Speedy on the Thai pads, then we worked reverse guillotine & full nelson (effective for the defender, sucky for the attacker), and then sparred. Oh, dear lord, I thought I would die, I could feel my stomach churning and wanted to quit so badly for every second of that damn class, especially sparring. But I didn't. I admit I didn't have a very chipper attitude. Thank God Relentless started yelling at me to keep going & stay in the fight. My head was spinning & everything seemed surreal, so I just latched onto his voice and kept swinging. Then more vomit. Awesome.

Funny how things work out. I have come to realize that I'm kind of wimpy & need to be able to take a little more punishment than I currently can & keep going strongly, not just going through the motions. So I've been thinking I needed to find myself in some situations in class where I wanted to quit, but I had to keep on, and by experiencing that repeatedly, I would become stronger. Well, I got my wish, and it sucked! But I'm not sorry, because it really is what I need to experience to grow. If only I needed to experience a trip to Paris to grow....

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Secret Elbows, Don't Look!

Saturday morning, assisting The Gentleman & The General in level 1. I taught palm heels & let the drill go on too long, so I decided to let the 2nd group on on too long too, just to be fair. I think I just escaped a lynching! Its time to start learning how to time class sections out properly, I've just always depended on the lead teacher to do that, but its time to learn it in my own. Then, when I taught elbow #1, The Gentleman told me to quickly demonstrate all 7 of them first, which I did. But somehow I ended up turned around & my arm was facing the mirror, which I didn't catch til I was about to finish. So, these are secret elbows, you can't see! You want these elbows, you pay extra! Unsure whether to backtrack or go on, I decided to go on, since we weren't really covering anything but #1 anyway, which is my favorite elbow. A week or so ago in groundfighting The Gentleman was switching position on me (literally 'on me') & barely hit me in the mouth with his elbow, but its such a sharp 'boink!' that I instinctively felt the tooth to make sure it wasn't loose. If a little baby tap like that hurts, I don't care to ever find out how the real thing feels!

2nd hour was The Gentleman's bag class, which is its own little preview of the torments of Hell. I love this class. Strangely, my muscles give out way before my lungs. I don't feel winded, but my quads and my shoulders feel like they're moving through wet concrete, they won't go. So, what's the answer? More bag classes, weightlifting, both? Something else? Hopefully the answer is more carbs. Yeah.......

Next class was MMA, we worked only on the ground, continuing to learn variations of what we've been working on the past few weeks. I learned to apply a triangle better than I ever have, that one's always confused me. Its an inescapable fact, choking people is fun!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday Night

Its always fun to have Detention. As a teacher, I mean. I call him that because he's so hyper & naughty that if I'd had him as a student in my middle school class, I'd have given him detention every damn day. But as a teacher, he's a blast! He let me lead the warmup & I had them run relays across the room - you should have heard the groans when I said it was bear crawl time - hee hee! He always starts class with straight punches, which I find interesting & effective. Its a great way to focus your head on what you're about to do & an important skill to continuously practice. I also taught palm heel strikes, a technique I love. Interesting wrinkle - when we were doing side hammerfist a big muscle-y guy I've never seen before was just nailing his partner so hard he was hurting her. I stopped them and asked him, "Can you see this person is half your size?" and told him to lighten up on smaller partners. I didn't get a chance to see if he corrected it, as Detention had everyone switch padholders right then, but I did realize I'm going to have to watch my tone with people. Every emotion I feel is plastered on my face & I was very annoyed with this person, so I'd better control my tone of voice under those circumstances.

One fun thing that happened was when I was demonstrating the absorption drill - where the padholder with the focus mitts is smacking you all over your body with hard smacks & then claps the mitts together as a signal for you to strike - I saw an opening when Detention was smacking me & instinctively started to punch, even though it wasn't time. I pulled it back though and started grinning like a monkey, absorbing my hits - I'm taking it as a good sign that my instincts are going from being a defender to being an attacker.

Next hour was MMA, taught by Mudslide. I was lucky to get the Professor as my partner for an hour, I always learn a ton from him, and we were doing confusing techniques. I'm perplexed by my mediocre power on the ground. I'm pretty strong for my size, I think (?), but explosive moves on the ground continue to elude me. I'll get it, though, it'll just take a while. I'm okay with that now. I continue to seek out partners who are better than me, the Professor, the Gentleman, and Spike... working with more skilled people raises the bar and pushes me faster.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Beautfiul Tuesdays

Once again, my favorite day of the week works its magic.

First hour, teacher training with the Gorgeous Bastard. We worked overhand knife attack defenses, fairly complicated & wordy instruction. GB taught it to me, Spike, & the Gentleman, then each of us had to teach it. That private with GB really paid off, because I was only a little nervous, mostly just from trying something completely new - so hurray! Spike taught, too. He's not training to teach krav, but to learn leadership for his Marines officer training. He should be teaching with us, though, he'll be good at it and it will help him any time he has to speak in front of people & explain things to them. I don't know how well I really did, GB will often say you did well just to be encouraging & keep you working at it. I think I did fine for the exercise, but there's loads of room for improvement.

Next was level 3/4, again with GB, & we worked some of the same knife defenses we did in teacher training - one thing I like about training with him is that we go over certain points in how to teach, then he does the exact same thing in class, so I get to hear him do it for me in teacher training, I get to try it myself, then I get to see it put to work in a real class. Its good. We also sparred quite a bit. Legs only sparring is not fun for me. I'm built like a giraffe, so I look ridiculous doing it. I also notice I'm pulling my face back too much to avoid being punched. Miss C & I are going to work on that tomorrow in a private with GB.

Next was yoga, something about today's class made me so calm and almost sleepy after every pose.

And finally, MMA, yay! Pad work for the first half of class. First the Professor held the pads for me, then ATX came in I worked with him. He was throwing these hard round kicks to the pad & a little voice told me I should put my mouthpiece in, because his control of his left leg round kicks is not that great. So I did, I put it in, and the very next kick he missed the pads completely & his leg came over the pads and straight at my face!! But in this respect he showed amazing control - he pulled the kick before it actually made contact. I felt the wind it created brushing my face, but my face remained intact. He would have broken my nose, so thank God he caught it in time. Next we did groundwork, more "queso" katami and arm bars.
Awesome night, can't wait til tomorrow's lesson!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Runnin' Up That Hill

Once, when I was 12 years old, I was scuba diving with my family off the coast of Florida. During the hour we were under water, the winds picked up & the sea became very rough. Long story short, there was an accident and I almost died. The skipper of the boat had to jump into the water & drag me into the boat, saving my life. The next day, my stepfather insisted we spend the day scuba diving. He said if I didn't jump back in at once, the memory of the event would sink into me & I would become afraid of the water. He said the only way to master fear is to attack it and fight through it immediately. I've been doing it that way ever since.

You may have read a few entries ago that I completely freaked out when the Gorgeous Bastard came into the room while I was practice teaching, so I decided to jump in the water & book a private lesson with him to just teach.

Well, we did it. At first, I was ridiculous, a nervous wreck. I don't even remember what we started with because I was just trying, and failing, to get my brain and mouth to work at the same time. Its no secret that I pretty much think the stars & planets revolve around GB, and I adore him even more for this: he didn't take it easy on me. He very sweetly but firmly insisted I teach him the hard stuff - elbows, 360's, teaching in the style of a full classroom and a private lesson, teaching as if I don't have a partner to demonstrate on. I made a million mistakes. We kept going. Finally, I was just exhausted. Not because I was doing much physically, but because my heart had been going faster than a hummingbird's the whole hour, so when he told me to teach him one last technique I just thought, "Oh, screw it, I can't worry about this any more, I'm just gonna do it." And I did it. And I did it well! Halle-freaking-leujah. So now we'll see what happens next time he walks in while I'm teaching. I think I won't freak out anymore, but if I do...you know what I'll do next!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Love Tuesdays!

Oh! I love Tuesdays, because I get to do all my favorite things.

First hour was teacher training. At first teacher training was fun because I had my teachers all to myself and got loads of one-on-one help. Now teacher training is fun because there are several of us learning to teach different classes, so I get to learn from everyone's mistakes & successes.

Next hour was level 3/4 with the Gorgeous Bastard. Chokes & stick defenses, which we did outside. I love stick. It only hurts if you get smacked with the stick, whereas gun hurts every time they rip it out of your hand or you rip it from theirs. I noticed I didn't move smoothly, I felt very awkward the whole hour- probably because I didn't take the time to warmup & hit the bag or spar before class. What a huge difference that makes.

Next hour was yoga, Bon bon's first time to teach, ever! She did a really good job. Usually we're all cracking jokes & insults the entire class, but everyone was trying to be sweet since it was her first time & we were all quiet & obedient as little mice. Turns out that made her more nervous, so when she asked us why we were all being so quiet, the party started. We all elbow each other out of the way to get a spot on the wall for headstands now, I think its everybody's favorite pose. We also did a cool one called double downward dog - I'll try to attach a picture, if you don't see one, you know I'm still a technological infant.

Last hour was MMA with the Professor. We seem to have a new Tuesday night formula & I freaking love it. We start out with padwork, holding a focus mitt & a Thai pad. Thai pads are heavy, so if we keep this up I'll have a super strong right arm like Hellboy, then I knock you down, baby! Next we learn some groundwork, building upon whatever we did the week before. Last night we worked keylock & reverse keylock from a position called something like "kaysa katami". I couldn't tell exactly what the name was because everyone kept calling it "queso" & requesting chips and queso. Then we rolled. My partner was the Gentleman, who is made of pure fun and sunshine. I can't wait til next Tuesday!