Monthly Archives: October 2007

Slowly making progress: Academics

Recently I have been emphasizing my wish to increase my research output. Well, just as when I served in the army, it’s a lot of hurry up and wait. My main focus has been to make sure I do a little bit each day (except Sundays). So far I have all of my contract paperwork, etc., signed for the publishing of my book (academic research = probably no profit) and have sent off my second draft.  I am also working with a partner to shape up some of my writings on the graduate experience and pedagogical skills.

I have three research projects, two for my academic field and one totally non-academic that I am working on. I just keep hoping that if I continue to work on them each day, eventually I will finish. I have also revamped my routine for staying abreast in my field so I can continue to grow in the knowledge of my subject area. Let’s just say that I have to stay  marketable. I had a minor epiphany the other day and I realized that the more knowledge I consume the better I am able to churn out research and writings… So I am staying busy.

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My new fad: Jogging

I go to my grappling class two nights a week and play tennis one to two times a week, but it’s not enough to slim down to where I would like to be.  As I mentioned in previous posts, I am the smallest of the big guys in my jiu jitsu class and it’s irritating. I like to actually try out different moves and have a back and forth type of exchange with whoever I am grappling with so we both can learn. However, at a certain point according to Jacob Forte of the MMA radio show “The Low Blow,” enough size nullifies all skill.

When I wrestle with a smaller or equal size opponent I keep a dominant position only long enough to work on a submission or to let them learn how to defend. When it’s obvious that I have control and can grab an easy submission, I move to another position or allow myself to get in trouble so I can work my way out. However, not everyone follows that same philosophy. ‘Lay and pray’ is the name of the game for some big guys. The problem with that is that although I am learning how not to get smothered by  guys much larger than me, other areas of my game are not worked on.

The few Judo tournaments that I participated in, years ago, I was the lightest of the heavyweights at 204 pounds. So I know from that experience that I didn’t like competing in that bracket and wanted to drop down. I want to compete in a Jiu-jitsu or grappling tournament next year and I want to wrestle at 185 or lower so I have started a new regimen of jogging each day.  I am trying to do this for the long haul so I am starting off slow but I am looking to gain back a lot of speed, flexibility and dexterity that being at the right wrestling weight carries.

Breaking out of the Grading Tunnel

I now have a frim grasp on the grading that has consumed me for the past few weeks. I admit that I was bummed out by the lack of emphasis my students placed on their exams, although there were some shining diamonds in the rough. However, I can’t fail everyone so I decided to let my students obtain 20 extra points, yes the grades were that bad, if they typed up a written explanation detailing why they didn’t perform well. The catch, is that they have to visit me during office hours and provide the reason(s) face to face.

I struggled with myself to understand why they were doing so poorly and tried to see if I was doing something wrong and vice versa. I had given out similar versions of the same tests to other students for over four years while working on my Ph.D. and the breakdown usually occured in this manner in a class of 25:

3 A’s, 7 B’s, 10 C’s, 3 D’s and 2 Fs.

However, for the majority of my students, at this college, F’s are the norm… 

So I created the 20 points scheme. What is distressing about this is that it has been over a week since I offered it and only 14 students, out of nearly 200 students, have come to my office. The offer is good for only two weeks and I let my class know that I leave immediately after office hours so don’t wait until the last day to stop by.

However, I did have one student who wrote in his explanation “I see that you are a professor that cares about your students, or else you wouldn’t give us this chance. I am grateful that I have you as a professor and that you do keep our futures and possibilities in sight even, when we ourselves lose sight of it.”

That made my day….. 🙂

Thanks Eddie Bravo….

I cracked open Eddie Bravo’s book Jiu Jitsu Unleashed last week because my attempts at using the lockdown in class had not been working. For those that don’t know, it’s a move where you purposely place your opponent in halfguard; then bring your outside leg over the trapped leg; place your inside leg over your outside leg and then place that same inside leg underneath the shin of your opponents trapped leg (sorry, that’s about as good as I can explain it). Then you stretch your opponent’s leg out. It is essentially a calf muscle-crank.  

Eddie Bravo also suggested wearing long gi pants in order to keep your opponent from sliding out because of sweat.

Well, with my gi pants on an a renewed faith in the lockdown I travelled to my grappling class last Thursday. The first guy I tried it on, I was able to clamp it on but then my foot cramped before I could squeeze. Evidently it had some effect because he asked me what I had done because he almost tapped.

The second guy I tried it on was the guy I keep talking about that is about 6ft 4 and 280 lbs. Everytime I tried it on him in the past his leg was so slippery I couldn’t hold him in my half-guard. This time my gi pants held his leg long enough for me to slap it on. I extended his leg out and he said “Oww!!” I immediately let go and he had a look of wonder on his face. He said, “What was that?” After he asked the instructor came over and I explained what I had done. The instructor then said, “Oh you did the lockdown.” I played it cool, but I was estatic, because I had broke through my own personal plateau…..

Thanks to Eddie Bravo….

Research and Publishing: Doubletime

I have been doubling my efforts at research and writing as of late. Especially since I have realized that the atmosphere at this college will not change. It is very disheartening to see the lack of motivation on the part of the students. I am also experiencing a gradual burnout due to teaching too many classes and seeing no relief in sight. Also, the lack of interest in research and publishing in the college does not serve as inspiration. Although I believe that this is largely due to the number of classes that must be taught.

I have four projects that I am working on right now. One is a book project where the first draft is due in two weeks. I have a research project that I am working on for the public that I should  finish in two weeks and a research project that I am working on to submit to an academic journal. I am also working on an article for my academic blog, where I use my real name, that discusses visual intelligence and cognitive learning.

I can motivate myself but I am trying to avoid the negativity that I find myself facing throughout the week. I actually had a student ask, the week before their test, if they just came to class and listened to my lectures could they pass the test…..

Presentations, Tests and Grading Disappointment

For the past two weeks I have been listening to presentations, proctoring exams and grading papers. About 350 total grades combined. I can’t delay in the grading because I have another round of group projects due next week and I can’t afford to get behind.

I was disappointed with the students presentations and even more with their tests. I actually had to lecture each class about their level of committment, where they were headed and how to take advantage of their college experience. I also realized that the students level of preparation, drive and expectations are much lower than where I have taught before (Big State University). Next semester I am going to have to spend a few class sessions bringing them up to speed on how to successfully navigate my course and college before I dive into the coursework.

I must admit that this is not what I expected and I have been investigating other options…

The smallest of the big guys/Jiu jitsu

I have been having a couple of breakthroughs in Jiu-jitsu lately as well as frustrating moments. See, I am the smallest of the big guys that we have in class. Technically, I can roll with the lighter guys, but when we pair up for drills the big guys always come looking for me. This is a mixed blessing. When drilling with bigger guys (6ft4′ and between 225-280) I am fine, but when we spar it’s always a fight for my life…. The biggest guy in my class and I are often paired up because some of the other big guys don’t come as regularly and when we spar it usually follows this sequence:

1. Him pulling me down 2. I establish guard 3. He breaks my guard and goes to side mount 4. He lays on me and I can’t breathe 5. He finishes me with an Americana (arm-lock).

As of late, I have sometimes been able to re-establish guard when he gets me in side-mount and last week I was able to get his back, transfer to a mount and control him for a good period of time so I know that I am improving. The blessing in working with him is that when I do wrestle smaller guys, it feels like I am wrestling with a non-resisting opponents. I am also becoming more technical because if I want to have a chance with bigger opponents I have to be.

This week I was trying to work on a lock-down maneuver from the half-guard. I couldn’t do it because my partner was too sweaty (we’re no-gi). However, I remember when reading Eddie Bravo’s book Jiu Jitsu Unleashed that he said he wears gi pants so he can pull off some of his moves and opponents can’t slip and slide out of them. I will wear my gi pants to class next time and see what happens. Oh, yeah I almost pulled off an omoplata in practice (my last one was about a year and a half ago), but the guy stacked me ‘pretty good’ so I gave it up….