Standing up to strength
Sunday was my first real chance to test my new resolve to not shut down and go to defense mode when I was faced with a strong opponent. I started out in the basics class. Before class I tried to make this pumpkin-egg-pancake thing for breakfast and it was sitting in my stomach like a brick. Of course the instructor decided to drill armbars from knee on belly. Luckily breakfast did not make a second appearance while on the mat and I got through class (which I actually enjoyed once I was sure I was not going to throw up, we hardly ever drill knee on belly).
Class over. It was time to roll. The injured purple belt taught class and he was up for a few rounds so I got to roll a couple with him. That’s always a fun time so no panicking on my part there. Next a very tall, rather strong, fresh new blue belt asked me to roll. We have rolled before and he is very nice so that was also a fun roll. He always manages to take my back and then I spend a lot of time getting to practice my back defense. I find that bigger guys often have trouble finishing chokes on me. I don’t think they are used to having to make everything tight for a smaller neck. Not to say he can’t get me, he went to mount and got an armbar when the choke wasn’t working.
After that round the guy who had me trapped in various triangle positions last week (the one who was supposed to “go light”) asked me to roll. OK. The test was about to begin. We started to roll and he quickly got me in guard and went for a, you guessed it, triangle. This time instead of worrying that he was going to break my neck I immediately postured up and started fighting his leg. He tried to sweep me to get the mounted triangle and I managed to post and stop it. We fought back and forth and he finally did get me into a mounted triangle. I immediately turned my neck from the choke and started fighting his legs again, a stark difference from last week when I just laid on my back and watched him trying to finish the choke. We went back to triangle from guard and I finally was able to get around a leg and get to side mount. Wait…I got to side mount! I was even able to transition to mount but got rolled right off. We continued trading positions, he got an armbar from mount at one point (I apparently need to work my armbar from mount defense) but I tried to give it my all. I didn’t panic and shut down.
OK so that was done, woo! Not so fast. Most of my teammates had left by this point and everyone else was already paired up so he asked me if I wanted to go again. I really didn’t. It took all my strength and determination to get through the previous round and I didn’t think I had another round with this guy in me. But I have this thing about not saying no to someone who offers me a roll and I figured this would be a great way to test my resolve so I agreed. It was more of the same, trading positions, no submissions this time and I refused to back down. At one point he had me stacked and I figured he was going to push my legs to one side and pass. Nope, he pushed them right over my head so I did a flip over my neck and landed on my knees. I did have a moment of panic here and thought about stopping the roll to tell him that was not a safe move to do to a rolling partner (not only can you break someone’s neck, it’s ineffective as I ended up on my knees and then landed a single leg from there) but I kept going.
The round ended. I took my tired body off the mat in victory and packed up to go home. It was the first battle in the war against stronger opponents and I had come out of it victorious. I can’t wait for the next one.