Last week was pretty darn fun! There was no checklisting, and we had two Saturdays in a row of jiu jitsu-centric special training. This meant that, for the first time since the test started, I got to do jiu jitsu three times in one week!
Ahhh, that made me so very happy!!
My partner Suzi and I have been drilling our grappling pattern whenever we have extra mat time. The pattern is a set series of BJJ techniques done in a step-by-step drilling style. It’s kind of like a karate or tae kwon do form, but on the ground and with jiu jitsu moves, like kimuras and pendulum sweeps.
One of the things I love about BJJ is how your understanding of basic concepts constantly shifts and grows. I never go for the pendulum sweep in live rolling because I never really grokked it. A few months ago I had an “aha!” moment when I realized it’s called a pendulum sweep because you first cut your angle to one side, then sweep them to the other. I had aother “aha!” moment at Scott’s Wednesday class when we did a pendulum sweep as part of a larger thread that started with a bump-and-roll mount bottom escape. Long story short, you eventually end up in an arm drag position, which opens up the pendulum sweep from there. I think it was the first time I really understood that the arm drag position is your “first step” in the pendulum.
I know some white belt out there is reading this thinking, “Well, duh!” Hell, one of my coaches is probably reading this and facepalming right now because they’ve told me that a hundred times. Well, I’m in it for the long haul, and I’ve never pretended to be a natural at this stuff. For example, at the very first martial arts lesson I took when I was 17 or 18 years old, I swear the instructor spent 10 minutes explaining to me what “forward” meant in “forward fighting stance.”
As you can probably imagine, the BJJ live rounds I did this week were totally a mixed bag. At one session I was able to remember how to do a belly-down armbar, which was nifty; the next, I spent the last third of the round with my face plastered against some guy’s abs* trying not to a) suffocate on his gi; or b) get pretzeled into some novel new type of shoulder attack, arm attack or choke.
Of course, this doesn’t mean I totally skipped out on non-BJJ training. Monday we drilled tae kwon do forms with a focus on super deep stances. That’s always a great lower body workout, plus, all the front stances in palgue two really stretch my ankles and calves out. I also went to two more sparring classes — which means that I’ve met my mid-test checklisting requirement for 12 sparring classes and 9 jiu jitsu classes — and I got to practice boxing and feeding with the beginner and intermediate belts on Thursday.
Hopefully I’ll wrap up the majority of my checklisting items this week. From there on out, it sounds like my training is going to consist mostly of physical conditioning and getting mat time in for live sparring and grappling, all while cementing the feedback from checklisting into muscle memory and trying to be the best black belt candidate I can be.
*By “some guy,” obviously I mean one of my super awesome training partners. He armbarred me earlier that day, and it was AWESOME.