Saturday, December 29, 2012

Don't Throw Up, Throw Down! Ronda Rousey Fights Eating Disorders

Here is how my parking in Ronda's garage led to raising funds for the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Clinic....

Her friend, Marina, was moving to LA from New York and had her boxes shipped to my house, since they were driving across country and no one was home at the new place in Venice. When I dropped the boxes off, Marina and I walked to the beach for coffee. That's when Ronda came back, found my van in her garage and had a bit of a panic attack, going off about how she couldn't park her new BMW on the street and how hard it is to find parking by the beach. In my usual sympathetic manner, I said,

Check yourself! Your biggest problem is that you temporarily can't park your $130,000 car that the UFC gave you in the garage at your house on the beach. You do realize that some people have real problems, don't you? Take one minute to think outside of yourself. You have some money and a bit of celebrity now. Is there any group of people you feel strongly about helping?

Instantly, Ronda answered,

Eating disorders. People with eating disorders. No one is doing anything for them. 

Her friend, Wetzel said,

Well, there has to be somebody. Let's think of a celebrity with an eating disorder.

I said,

There was Karen Carpenter, but she died - of anorexia

In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. The cost of treatment is high and often not covered by insurance. Despite that, you don't see a lot of discussion or fund-raising. It's not an illness that has adorable babies tugging at your heart strings and pocketbook. Eating disorders are much higher among elite athletes than in the general population, and much higher among athletes in judged sports (like gymnastics) and sports that have weight categories (like wrestling and judo).

Wanting to find a credible organization, I contacted one of the staff members for the Didi Hirsch clinic, who happens to have lived on the same street as us since we moved to Santa Monica in 1997. She told us how hard it is to find the funds to give the therapy needed by teenagers (and even some younger kids) with eating disorders.

SO ..... Ronda decided to start the Ronda Rousey Fund. Any money raised between now and March, she'll match with a check of her own, up to a total of $5,000. One way to make sure that at least $5,000 gets raised is that she'll be doing a clinic shortly after her fight.  The facility will be donated as will Ronda's time. All the money from the clinic will be donated to the Didi Hirsch fund for youth with eating disorders. This is only the second clinic Ronda will have done since she started MMA and there are not any plans for her to do another one any time soon. It will be in Los Angeles. I'm pretty sure I know where it is going to be held but since it is 1:30 a.m. in LA and I am out of town, I'm not going to call Ronda now and ask her. I don't really know a lot of the details, but I will post them here as they get hammered out in the next few days. I think the clinic will be limited to 50 people or less and the cost will be $100 or more. I also expect a few spaces will be raffled off.

If you can't make it to the clinic but want to help, you can send a check with the note "Don't throw up, throw down" to

Joel Safranek
Vice President, Development
4760 Sepulveda Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90230

You can also donate online here. In the menu where it says "I am giving in response to" pick OTHER and type Ronda Rousey Fund in the box below it.

If you don't have any money but would like to help another charity, there is also the free rice group, you can join and donate rice. I'd think a good prize for the top donor could be a space at the clinic - but I don't know so don't count on that. It definitely would not be transferable.

As I said, details are being hammered out now - just thought it was interesting and I would post a heads up. Anyone with fundraising suggestions, please chime in.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Another way to start matwork

Here is another drill that is perhaps not as useful in the development of kinesthetic sense but is a variation of how to start matwork. The players sit up three times on my count and on the third sit-up they both start attacking.

What both of these drills try to do is instill the habit of attacking suddenly. Almost always, one person will be a little quicker out of the metaphorical starting block than the other. You want that quicker person to be you.

Free Rice Prizes Because Just Feeding the Hungry Isn't Enough

Just to summarize, because I know how annoying it is to read something where you have to go to a link to find out what it is about, and some of you already linked here from twitter ...

In case you don't know, Ronda Rousey - also known in our house as "Darling Daughter Number 3" and "MOM! Make her quit punching me!" is going to be fighting for the UFC on February 23, in Anaheim, California. You can buy tickets here or watch it on pay-per-view.

Before each title fight, Ronda runs a contest to raise food for the hungry since she is cutting weight and hungry.  As of now, enough rice has been donated by Ronda-fans to serve 10,000 meals to people in refugee camps and other places the World Food Program works.

I have been asked about prizes and we have picked up a few more. So far we have:

  • T-shirts and sweatshirts from Fightchix (thank you!)
  • A t-shirt from Down2scrap. (There was a long-sleeved shirt but the youngest sister swiped it. She says she did not swipe it, "it was eminent domain". Someone is studying for SATs.)
  • A copy of the armbar encyclopedia by Steve Scott
  • A Gene Lebell gift pack complete with Gene Lebell NSFW really bad joke book, bronze cast of Gene's cauliflower ear lapel pin and Gene patch
  • Ronda Rousey patches

Ronda will autograph all the prizes. Last time the top two got signed Topps cards but those were from a pack made especially for her and I'm sure she's keeping the rest.

She's donating her fight gloves to the school auction for her sister's school,  and she gave two other pairs to the MMAClothes4Homeless and West Coast Training Center fund raisers so those are out. (She needs the rest of her gloves to train.)

She is also doing a clinic fundraiser - but NOT for the free rice group, but for her OTHER charity project to benefit low-income children and teens with eating disorders, "Don't Throw Up, Throw Down!" Of course, the person who started her first free rice group with "Because it sucks to be hungry ..." would come up with that.

Anyway, more about that later,   go here to join the free rice group. where you answer questions on topics like math, Spanish, English vocabulary, science - the questions are pretty easy in some categories. For every question you answer, the advertisers on the site donate 10 grains of rice to the World Food Program.

How to win, what to win, when to win details can be found here if you need them. First of all, join the group and donate rice.
Make sure when you are playing that it shows rondaUFC as your group at the top right if you want the group to get credit.

If you have ideas on prizes or stuff to donate for prizes, tweet me at @drannmaria or post in the comments below.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Free Rice - Help Hungry People, Win Stuff

The free rice contest begins again now.  Free rice is a website where Ronda Rousey (a.k.a. daughter number 3) has a group. where you answer questions on topics like math, Spanish, English vocabulary, science - the questions are pretty easy in some categories. For every question you answer, the advertisers on the site donate 10 grains of rice to the World Food Program.

In case you don't know, Ronda is going to be fighting for the UFC on February 23, in Anaheim, California. You can buy tickets here or watch it on pay-per-view.

Before each title fight, Ronda runs a contest to raise food for the hungry since she is cutting weight and hungry. Between the last two fights, the group has raised over 30,000,000 grains of rice. Since one bowl of rice is about 3,400 grains and comes out to about 3 cups of cooked rice, that is enough to feed approximately 8,850 people.

How to win, what to win, when to win details below. First of all, join the group and donate rice. How it works is if you click on the link to join the group, you answer questions and for every correct answer 10 grains of rice are donated by the ad sponsor. (The ads vary.) 
Here is how to win stuff:

1. Be in the top five donors OR donate a million grains of rice (easier than it sounds - four people have done it so far).

By the way, if you are in this group and will be at the fight LET ME KNOW. We will try to catch up and give you your winnings in person.

Here is some of the stuff the nice people at Fight Chix donated. Ronda will autograph it all.

2. Be lucky.  Out of all of the rest of the people who have donated, we will pull three people out at sort of random. We'll weight your chances by the amount of rice donated. I'm a statistical programmer so I can do that sort of thing. If you have donated 300,000 grains of rice you have 30,000 times the chance of the person who donated 10 grains - but they DO still have a chance. Hey, people buy lottery tickets, right? Those people will also get prizes.

When: As of weigh-ins on February 22nd.

Thank you for feeding hungry people, by the way. To quote Ronda, "It sucks to be hungry".

Make sure when you are playing that it shows rondaUFC as your group at the top right if you want the group to get credit.

(Even though I said this, there will be at least 40 times when people don't do it and then write me to complain they did not get credit. I know because I have done this and I am estimating at least 10% of the population is as dumb as me.)

Notice this is a new group. We could not get the old one re-set to zero, and since this is her first UFC fight, it seemed only fitting to start a new group.

P.S. We have gotten organized. In the past we had some problem with people getting their stuff. Some of it seemed to have disappeared en route and then we had to send them something again. Or we'd think it got mailed out with the last bunch of stuff and it was still sitting in the supply closet in my office. So, this time we will be sending everything out in one fell swoop after the fight, and keeping tracking numbers.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Yet another reason not to start matwork back to back

Maybe I should call this series of videos 101 to start matwork other than back to back, but I have reports for clients to finish before the end of the year, so I will save that rant for another day. I keep harping on about kinesthetic sense. One example of that (or lack thereof) that is demonstrated at the very beginning of this video occurs when they start close to the fence. A person with better developed kinesthetic sense would realize that as soon as they started moving and spinning they would likely run into the fence. In addition to the not running into the fence, both the person on the top and bottom should learn to react immediately regardless of position.


These drills make players comfortable reacting on the mat because they have been put in all sorts of situations and had to respond immediately. Well, they were a little less than immediate in this drill, but it was the last practice of the year and everyone was a bit distracted.

Besides, that's why we call it practice.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Simple matwork start for kinesthetic sense development

Ooh, does that title sound impressively academic or what? So many people start matwork back to back. That's neither very realistic nor creative.

Here is another way to start matwork. Players start at opposite walls. They do a forward roll, and when they meet in the middle of the mat, they start matwork.

As I say in the video, this drill develops your kinesthetic sense.
As our dear friends at wikipedia can tell you,
Proprioception, the kinesthetic sense, provides the parietal cortex of the brain with information on the relative positions of the parts of the body.
Hopefully, you can see how a well-developed kinesthetic sense can be a good thing for a judo player to have.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Another matwork drill for transition

A few days ago, I put up a video of a matwork drill to practice transition. Even though no one commented on it, possibly evidence of lack of interest in my transition drills, that has never stopped me before.

This next video is interesting - to me - because it shows a situation that happens often in teaching. You have players at different levels. In this case, there are a couple of young players who are pretty inexperienced and there are several more players who have been doing judo, grappling and jiu jitsu for years.

What I do is teach a technique where you throw and go straight into a pin, because as you know if you have read this blog before, I harp constantly on transition, even for six-year-old white belts.

As Aristotle supposedly said,
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
So, you may as well start getting in that habit from the beginning. Our young beginning players start out doing the throw into a pin and that is all they do. Fortunately, I have the inimitable Crystal Butts helping with this drill so when we split up she can go with that pair and help them get it down perfectly.

The next part of the drill has an arm bar combination from the pin, followed by another arm bar if the opponent escapes the first one.

So, it is - throw, pin, arm bar, arm bar again.

I am just going to keep putting these transition drills up, so there!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Does disapproving of this photo of Ronda make me look old?

We got the proof copy of our book on Monday. Jim and I got our edits to the editor today. There was not much to change. The editor says it will be available by March 29th at the latest. Maybe we'll luck out and it will be available as an ebook sooner.

It was interesting to me to see the photo they chose for the first page of the book. I didn't include it myself because even for my extremely low bar it seems not quite ladylike enough.

I guess I was bothered by the fact that she had a triangle choke and was sitting on Travis' neck. Not for the first time, though, it was pointed out that I am old and overly conservative when it comes to my daughters.

Ronda's comment was that for God's sake, she wasn't wearing a thong and that's how you do a triangle choke. I can vouch for that because poor Travis kept almost passing out when we were taking the photos. She kept having to - literally - let him up for air.

My husband thought the picture was really cool because she was choking, arm barring him and punching him all at the same time. Since he was the one who threw away her Eminem CD for being too obscene, I guess it is established then. I AM an old lady.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Some matwork drills for fun and profit

The profit you will get out of these drills, I hope, is a development of kinesthetic sense, that awareness of where your body is in space and relative to other objects, like your opponent, and the mat and the out of bounds area.

I do a lot of drills like the one shown below. I stole this idea shamelessly from Sid Kelly.

Players lay at each end of the mat. Then they roll toward the center. When they get near each other they start matwork.

About half of the book, Winning on the Ground, is on transition. My belief is that "golden seconds" happen often in a match. Those are that second when your opponent is not quite ready to attack or defend, the second when you pounce.

Once they are set, it is too late. That's why it can be hard for jiu-jitsu players to switch to judo (that and the fact that the judo rules seem to change every third Thursday of the month).  In jiu-jitsu, and grappling, you can stay on the mat for a long time. In judo, you just get a few seconds and they make you get up. So, how do you practice for that second of transition when 30 times as long is trying to get your technique on someone who is already on their guard?

Easy, you do lots of drills that just last a few seconds, where you practice that split second transition. Notice the drill above only lasts ten seconds.

I have a bunch more drills I'll upload all week. None of them are in the book. That's for our next book. I haven't talked Jim into that yet, so if you want to see another book, you better buy this one.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Yellow Belt Tests Today

I hate those clubs where a student has come to class for three months or six months and then one day the instructor says,

"Hey, Sid and Johnny, come to the front of the class. Now you're yellow belts."

I think there should be an actual test demonstrating your knowledge. People should know what is on the text, practice it and them show they know it. What should you know for your first belt rank? There are some VERY rigorous systems where people say,

"Oh, our yellow belts all know 14 throws, 11 pins and can climb the Eiffel Tower."

As my highly intelligent friend, Bruce Toups says,
A. Those people are lying and
B. What the hell are they trying to do, preserve the sanctity of the yellow belt?

I think people should know several throws that they can demonstrate reasonably well, how to fall, a turnover to a pin and a couple of pins. To document that they know that, I either ask another black belt to come watch the test - which is usually easy in LA where you can find a black belts every mile or two - or, as today, I videotape it and have another black belt watch it with me and agree, yes, those people have progressed beyond the point of complete beginner.

Today, we did yellow belt tests. Mr. Gonzales, history teacher and our school sponsor, and Mr. Sanchez, humble assistant and paraprofessional, demonstrated first to give the middle school students a little confidence after seeing their teachers do it. You can see the beginning of the test here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Views on Matwork, Via Facebook

I don't always chat on Facebook, but when I do, I talk about mat work ...

Here is one side of my Facebook conversation

Wrote a book with Jim Pedro, Sr. that will be out March 29th so that is awesome squared

About matwork. The title is Winning on the ground
It's for judo, grappling and mixed martial arts. One of our tenets though is that GOOD judo mat technicians beat everyone because they have to pull off a score in such a short period of time.
Of course, so many judo people SUCK at matwork
Ha! I think the rules should change so if they do that drop and flop crap you should not only not get a shido against you, you should be allowed to KICK them.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Agility-Ladder-less Agility Drills and Assessment

All teachers should have learned early in their career that periodic assessment is a good thing. Before you teach children multiplication, you give them a ten-minute test on addition. If they haven't mastered multiplication, there is no point in plowing ahead.

 The same thing is true when teaching judo. For many years, I had a problem with teaching beginning students to do forward throws, especially very young kids. One day, I had them do these simple agility ladder drills (I was at a more affluent club then where we could actually afford stuff) and I realized that the kids had trouble with the basic movement of just twisting your body around in the air.

 So, in every class now, from time to time I do some drills like this. Again, we do it in a relay race format, to make sure the students are putting out an effort, plus races like this are a good way to instill a competitive spirit without anyone getting hurt. Since we have no agility ladders, I just put belts on the mat and the students are to go as fast as they can down the line pivoting and then back again. Here is a few seconds in a clip to show you how it looks.


Warm-ups and exercises for agility without agility ladders

We don't have a lot of equipment at Gompers Middle School, but we do have a supply of good kids, good support from the school and good ideas. Not having an agility ladder, we improvised, using four belts.

This drill is very simple. Students are lined up in two groups and do a relay race. The first drill, they simply need to step both feet inside, one foot at a time, and both feet outside.

Today, we had worked on a foot sweep to o soto gari (an outside leg sweep). So I thought it would be a good idea to work on a drill that develops your ability to move your feet quickly and with coordination, without crossing them.

Notice the difference between the students who go earlier in the video and the student who goes last. It is his first day. I think the difference between the students illustrates the effectiveness of this type of drill.