Tonight our sparring class was run by our black belt, Ed Shobe. He got his belt from Rodrigo Vaghi (who got his from Rickson Gracie.) I say that to show that our school is not far from the “old school” mentality of jiu jitsu. I’ve heard rumors of how tough our blue belt test is. I hope one day to be able to tell you how bad it sucked (and that I made it through it.)
Tonight was a bit different from other sparring classes. We started with a partner and did 3 flow drills. So my partner started in my guard, passed to side control, slid over to mount and then went for an armbar. I escaped, and wound up in his guard. Then it was my turn to pass etc. It’s not completely passive, but there’s not a lot of resistance either. It’s more about getting the muscle memory down than it is winning a match so to speak. Next we moved on to pass-sweep-submit from closed guard. Then pass-sweep-submit from open guard. Then several matches where we started on our knees.
In itself, that’s not all that different from class. What was different was there were essentially no breaks. In between each “round” we had about 1 minute. During that time Ed made sure we stood up. We weren’t sitting, kneeling or even leaning over. He wanted us standing up tall. We also couldn’t put our hands on our hips. We were told “If you want to hold on to something, grab your belt and be a tough guy.”
After class, I was exhausted. As I thought about what we’d just done, I thought about how I was out of shape. After the last roll or two, I just wanted to put my head on the mat and sit there for a minute, but I couldn’t. Everyone else on my team was standing up, I needed to stand up as well. It was the little things (a seemingly common theme in BJJ) that were going to help me be better conditioned that my opponents. Instead of sitting down or bending over, standing up will force me to get used to not sitting around between matches. I never realized how much of conditioning is mental.