One thing that sparring class has really helped me with is conditioning. Before my first class I was talking to a classmate and said I felt like I needed to get my cardio up before I started sparring. He told me that the sparring class would make sure I was conditioned. He was right. I can tell that I have better cardio after doing sparring for about 6 weeks.
But it taught me something else as well. Jiu Jitsu is a marathon, not a sprint. I knew the journey itself was a marathon. After all, it takes more than a decade to get a black belt, that’s not something you can do on a whim without determination. But in a lot of ways, the matches themselves are not sprints.
For example, if I am in someone’s guard and I go about passing the guard as the only thing I have to do, then when I pass their guard and wind up in side control I’ll have no energy left to advance my position or pull off a submission. I’ll wind back up in the guy’s guard (or a worse position.) All that energy will have been wasted, and for what?
To take it a step further, if I’m in sparring class and I spend all my energy on a single pass, what is going to happen for the next 50 minutes? I’ll essentially just be a 200 pound pillow that offers no real resistance to my partners, and have no shot of doing anything myself. I won’t get better and neither will they.