Review class can be like swimming across a lake; even if your arms become dead weight and your lungs on fire you may find yourself only halfway across. What else can you do in that situation besides force yourself to keep going, even if you feel you have nothing left.
My first match was against a red belt (same belt as me). He wrote down his weight and I was a bit intimidated to see that it exceed 200 lbs. Today when I weighed in I was at an all time low of 163 so I felt the difference could really work in his favor. He also resembled Jeff Monson what with his shaved head, huge neck, and tattoos of Vikings, not the team but actual Vikings. My plan was to put him in my closed guard and work for chokes so I jumped right in and went to work. He defended well but I was able to grip two chokes (both of which failed on his huge-ass neck) but in defending he stuck his arm out a bit too much so I went for an arm bar. I arched back with all I had but he wouldn’t tap. He then stacked me up on my neck which caused me to bail. I was soon in his closed guard where I was able to negate his subs and sweep attempts. I just knew I couldn’t let him end up on top due to the weight he’d have over me; I wasn’t ready to hold off 200 lbs for 20 minutes for the first match. Soon the time was up and we had to settle for a tie.
Second match was against an orange belt who was a few levels below me. Orange belts can be tricky because they always seem so eager to ruin a red belt’s day. He moved well making it hard to pass his guard due to great hip movement. He grabbed my foot and fell back for a foot lock. A few days back my girlfriend and I went to see a movie and right in front of my seat was a metal railing. I spent most of the movie (Ghostbusters) forcing my ankles against the metal bars hoping to toughen up those skinny things. I think it helped because he leaned back and I didn’t feel much pain. My brain was screaming, “peel his foot off and get up” but it took my body a few moments to go for it. This is a problem I’m working on, it should be instant. So I got up and ended up on top side control where I quickly grabbed his collar under his neck. He turned into me and I threw my leg over securing the choke. I had just refined that choke a week ago so that was fortunate timing.
My final match started harmless enough against another heavy red belt except this guy had a beard which can be scary. I did my best to get closed guard but he kept his knee up eventually passing and ending up in north/south position on me. I went into full defensive mode and grabbed both my collars making an X with my arms. This did two things: it kept him from being able to choke me, and it protected my arms. We stayed there for about 8 minutes which was awkward because his crotch was pushing against my cheek the whole time. (I bet the photographer caught a few shots of that) All of the sudden I started feeling woozy and realized my “brilliant” hand position was making me CHOKE MYSELF! This made me laugh out loud at the irony of the situation; I’m sure it made my opponent wonder too. Eventually I squirmed out and he went into relentless mount mode. He pulled a Roger Gracie and was going for the mounted collar choke but I also studied that technique so I did enough to stay alive all the while secretly hoping Mr. Arnebeck would call time; by now my neck was hurting and I knew I couldn’t mount much offense any time soon. When time was finally called we both just laughed at how insane that roll was. So another tie.
We were expecting another round but time ran out. This is when you see the most smiles as everyone is relieved to have gotten through such a tough class. I went to fist bump my opponents but they opened up for a hug instead. The kinship between BJJ practitioners really shows post competition.
I felt better than after the last review class. My hands weren’t as beat up (less grip reliance?), I had no mat burns, and the only soreness was in my neck. I’m sure I’ll have what they call “Batman neck” for a few days but that should be it. However, after dinner my body did begin to grow more and more achy as the trauma set in. I went to lay down and my girlfriend was amused saying I was moving around like a newborn dinosaur who was still awkwardly stuck in the primordial egg ooze. I can’t say she was far off.
*Areas of improvement mostly include being more offensive and taking more chances now that I have faith in my defense. This should open up my game and create better situations for future matches. Thanks for reading.