There’s no rhyme or reason to these up and down days. I’m trying to be consistent in what I do before each class and to have at least one thing to really focus on and to come back to, but some days I can do it and some days I can’t. Can’t isolate the variable!
All jiu-jitsu should be based on how you feel your opponent.
-Saulo Ribeiro, Jiu-jitsu University
That’s it. Memorized it before class. (Read over some of my other notes, but only memorized that one.) Repeated it to myself watching Adam and Tim roll before class. Repeated it during the warmup. Repeated it in rolling and drilling and rolling again. (During rolling, it mostly flashed as “Feel!”) And the good news is that I was feeling and reacting and even anticipating. I almost rolled like I knew what I was doing.
Medium-sized class. Couple of new kids who actually go to another martial arts school in town, but they came in for class with us this morning; I’ve worked with them before in kickboxing. Okay on the warmup, though still falling behind by the end. (Shrimping down, I always try to make sure there’s room around me before I start. Plenty of room between me and one of the new guys, but with his first push he also kicked me in the head. ????? Waited until he got out of range and then started on mine.)
Couple of rolls next. Same new guy who I started with last week. I’m thinking Nick said something to him about smashing on me; he’s been apologizing for last Saturday every day this week — and again today. He was doing a lot better about trying to use the few techniques he does know. Most of the round was me in his guard: him trying to throw a triangle and me trying a standing guard break. Didn’t get it, though I was getting up okay, which meant I was also getting posture and breaking his grips. (Just realized that; not bad at all.) Odd number in class, so Nick was sitting out, and he came over and showed Eric how to actually throw the triangle (since I’d gotten away from all his other attempts).
Next roll with Adam. Felt so slow; hips seemed to be cemented to the mat. But, I remembered to feel. Felt out his base and where his weight was and then where it wasn’t; tried to feel — not look — where his limbs were. He pointed out, on the knee-elbow escape from mount, that I wasn’t bridging first and then turning; I was just trying to turn. Awkward trying it, then and in later rolls. (Realized just now that when I bridge, I push my body up, so when I come down, my feet are far from my butt; need to bump but come back down near my feet so I can get the shrimp after.)
Drilling next. A half-guard pass; we used it in the context of someone going for Old School, so they’re trying to get in deep, which you want to stop. Drilled with the new guy. Had to try to teach it over to him, as he’s still in the Twister game mode — right foot red, left foot blue, wait, which is my left foot? Hard to talk, though, with a knee in your diaphragm.
More rolling. Scotty first. Yay! Remembering to feel, and at times I was moving just based on what I felt rather than what I knew — and it even worked most times. (I rolled with him again later, and the two are blurring together.) He got my back at some point and was trying for an armbar; he’d got under my elbow before I turtled, though otherwise I used Saulo’s tips for turtle and kept turning toward that arm as he tried to pull it out. Feeling again: finally found which way was open, and rolled that way and moved back to guard. Had a “Holy cow, that worked!” moment. (He said that my turtle had been good there, too!) Even hit the half-guard pass from class (mostly), though of course he knew what I was doing and rolled in to me to counter, but because of where you’re positioned in that pass, I could switch easily back to guard. Another “Whoa!” moment. He was also pointing out lots of tips, and he said after both rolls that I’d done well. Overall, thinking about feeling seemed to really help; sometimes I could feel where there was or would be space and was moving in to it.
Buddy #1 next. Same kind of roll, which was nice because I got to keep on with what I was doing. More feeling. Part of it, too, was feeling which way he was trying to go and then trying to figure out how to counter. Right at the end, he caught for an armbar from mount; I’d gotten some bend at my elbow, though, and somehow managed to roll forward. We did that a couple of times, nearly plowing over several other pairs.
Third roll was Will, and between him really trying to work technique and me trying to feel things out more, pretty decent roll all around. At some point, I caught the end of his lapel and wrapped it across his back; had hold of it and kept switching it from hand to hand; never quite sure what to do with it, though it was providing decent control.
Final roll with Scott again. Again, everything blurs together between the two I had with him. But I think I was doing most of the things I want to do anyway — elbows in, hips heavy, do what I know — even though I was constantly reminding myself to feel where they were and where they were going.
Oh, but we weren’t done yet — on the wall for more conditioning. Single-leg shots first. The new guys were having trouble with it, so we partnered up and did the shot against a partner (no takedown, though). Did that many, many times while Tim worked with the new guys. Then squat jumps, four trips. Made it, though slowing down a lot by the end. Then alligators; supposed to be three, but I could only make two. Then bear crawls, four trips; made two before he moved on. Everything was jogging back between trips; my jog was more like a very slow shuffle. Out. Of. Gas.
Still not done, though. Partnered up for gi drags, five trips. Odd number, which left me out. Did pushups and mountain climbers on the side instead. Shoulders burned out. And then, 20 armbars from guard, each side. New guy had to sit out because he doesn’t know armbars yet, so I worked with Will. Hamstrings burned out.
Then we were done with class, but we weren’t all done with conditioning. Tim wanted to do bag hangs, so some of the guys went over to join him; I went, too, because I’m determined to get these. Five minute rounds, though no pressure of extra work if someone fell. My arms still don’t reach, and my legs barely do; one of the guys, who wasn’t doing it, helped me by pulling my arms together (first two fingers on each hand could hook) and then hitching my feet up and linking them (just barely crossed). Stayed on a lot longer that way, and it was much easier to grip, though I did still fall. The cardio kickboxing and kids’ TKD (and their parents) classes were coming in; they were looking at us funny, of course, and then they were all impressed and commented that my arms and legs didn’t even reach all the way around but I was still hanging up there. I’m gonna add those after class a couple nights a week.
Tired and low blood sugar afterward. A few of us went to Olive Garden after and could’ve fallen asleep in the foyer. Our waiter thought we were college students (surprisingly, none of us were) and had stayed up all night. We said, no, we’d come from two hours of jiu-jitsu class, so just tired and thirsty. I think we freaked him out with how fast we drained our drinks; he’d hardly set them down and they were gone.