So what was strange about this Saturday morning at the gym? Virtually everything, that's what. Normally when me and my fellow compatriots meet up for an hour or two of mat time, its the standard open mat format. But as I often say, the only constant is change.
To go along with the new year, the gym has now instituted a new schedule, which I am largely in favor of. It makes my life considerably easier. One thing that is very interesting is the addition of a Saturday morning (11:00AM) BJJ class. This class is then followed immediately by a nogi BJJ for MMA class at noon and then open mat begins at 1:00PM and runs thru three.
This is a drastic departure from the past schedule. You see, previously there was a 10:00 nogi class and then it was open mat afterward. That's it. Nothing else. Being one who has yet to feel comfortable enough yet in the gi to venture out of it for additional training, Saturdays to me were strictly for open mat. And that was fine. But now there was a choice. There is a gi class to partake in BEFORE the open mat, how perfect is that? So with a bit of gumption, Neil, Dr. Evil and I decided that we would meet up for that gi class, recover during the nogi portion and then hit the open mat. Sounds good right?
We began the warm-ups as normal felt like any other class. But once we passed the "easy" portion and hit the wall for the back and forth section, things got ugly. We didn't do anything out of the ordinary, the work out just didn't stop. Whenever we thought we were on the last exercise, there was one more waiting. And each time Kazeka and Fritz along with a crowd of onlookers laughing at our obvious pain from just off the mats. It seemed to be a "lets see just how much we can give them" kind of day. That's good every now and then, I guess today was the now.
Today's drills were focused on Knee-on-Belly (KOB for the rest of this post). We worked on getting to KOB from side control properly. We also worked on getting the right posture once KOB is obtained. I was drilling with Dr. Evil and Chris who is a yellow and white belt kid (I'd guess 12ish) with amazing skill. His dad is Matt, one of the gym's Blue Belts and a great guy. Chris takes the adult classes with us all the time and rolls with all of us despite being only 3/4 our size.
Once we worked thru properly getting to the KOB position we worked on an armbar that is predicated on your opponent attempting to defend. There was one thing I really liked about this move and a couple of things that bothered me. First off, its a great armbar. The angles are there and it's easy to transition to. I had difficulty smoothly sweeping around the back and kept stutter stepping, but that's easily corrected.
What I didn't like was the fact that it was a countering attack. I need more of those but I also need some more purely offensive moves. I suppose that I could dig in for it but it seems to defeat the purpose and would probably rush things and ruin it. The next move was a Kimura from the same set-up that comes about when the armbar fails because the opponent defends. Again, offense predicated on defense from an overwhelmingly offensive position, but hey its a slick move so I'll put it in my bag of tricks.
I started off against Dr. Evil. As always it was a great battle. One day I need to get one of our rolls on video. If nothing else it will shatter my image of what we look like for the reality of the situation. Insert image of toddlers fighting over cake here. We are always changing leads, barely missing submissions, escaping, gaining positions; just very evenly matched. Always a learning experience and always a lot of fun. Stalemate.
My next round was with Chris, yes the kid. There is a heap of stress. On one hand, you don't want to hurt the kid, your friends son. On the other hand you don't want to get owned by a little kid who doesn't weight 100 lbs. or isn't near legal shaving age yet. This kid is awesome. What he lacks in strength he makes up for in technique and skill. He's quick, has amazing hips and his BJJ mind is always going. I managed to pull off an armbar on him and I felt so lucky. He was formidable to say the least.
Next up was Alex. I hadn't seen him since the "My Epic Night" post. He's a great guy and like many of us, life had kept him out of the gym for a while for a while so its good to have him back. When I got him he was already wiped out. He told me that he had nothing left so I told him that I'd just pull guard because I could use some work from there anyway. Alex outweighs me by quite a bit, he's probably walking around at about 220 or so and I'm holding at 163. So I had a big, tired guy in my guard. I was working to push the pace but he really was tired and postured up. Eventually I went for a sit-up sweep, didn't get it because he has an awesome base, he pushed me back down so I hipped out and managed to catch the Oma Plata. He rolled out of it, I rolled with him, hit it again, caught his hips and finished it.
Fritz then said: CHANGE PARTNERS ONE MORE ROUND!!!So, this guy named Mark who is also considerably larger than me basically called me out. He came crawling over, and picked me. Now, the last couple of times we've gone he's pretty much had my number. He's got size and strength to his advantage but he's also pretty skilled. We were all exhausted and it almost felt like he was coming to me for an easy ending to the day. That made me kind of mad. I was so happy to disappoint. I really went after it with him. Even though I had nothing left, I dug deeper and refused to give in. We traded positions and had a very EVEN match. I know that caught him off guard. When the match ended with me in his guard, standing and working for a pass, I knew that his opinion of me had changed.
That was four rounds we did. Four, Five minute rounds. Since I work in finance I was able to do some calculations and I know that we rolled for 30 minutes!!! I know what your saying. Four times five is only twenty, how do you get to 30? Well, I'm sure that our gym is not the only one that forgets to look at the stopwatch while rolling. I know that it was 11:50 when we started and 12:20 when we ended, so somewhere in time ten extra minutes sank in. We certainly didn't rest for ten minutes.
Yeah, that idea was out the widow. After the warm-up and the four rounds of sparring, we had nothing left. So, Saturday's might look a bit different from now on. Stay Tuned.