It has been a long time since I’ve written. There are, of course, lots of reasons for that…but its mostly that I’m lazy, not a naturally gifted writer, and I haven’t had a helluva lot to say. It was a bit easier in the beginning, when every class was a new revelation. Now, however, my progress is much more plodding.
So, a few months ago I got promoted to blue belt. I knew it was coming, but it was still a great feeling. My promotion was two days before my two year BJJ anniversary. As I expected, nothing really changed. The same people who beat my ass before still do. We don’t have a lot of white belts in our school, but I’ve noticed a slight uptick in their intensity. I’m still a very lazy jiu jitsuer, so I tend to be defensive. I still get newb-smashed by the big, strong white belts. I still have a very hard time actually getting submissions.
Over the last few months, I’ve been having a flare up of my fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome, so I haven’t been going to class as much. I’ve also put on weight. I’m back up to 180 lbs. I am still averaging twice a week, but its been hard to find the strength to go.
So, that’s kinda been the situation the last couple of months.
I’ve also gotten some new gear. My favorite gi has been my 93 Brand Goose. After a little over a year of fairly heavy use, it was definitely showing its age. Its collar was fraying pretty badly, explosing the rubber core beneath it. It had also faded from a beautiful, dark, steel gray to a very light, almost white, shade. So, I decided that with my promotion to blue belt, I’d invest in a good gi.
I decided on the Oss Rebel gi. Ya know, the star wars one. I love star wars. It is a super nice product, but I found that it is a bit too large, even after shrinking it down. I feel a bit frumpy rolling in it, but it is well built, and absolutely gorgeous. I would highly recommend it, but watch the sizing. You might want to order a size lower.
I also ordered a Killer Bees gi material belt. For the price, it is an awesome product. It’s tough, and it stays tied. I was, of course, given a belt when I got promoted, but it was a bit too big, and didn’t shrink much when I washed it. The killer bees belt did shrink, but I bought a size larger to account for that. I wash my belt religiously, so I read into the shrinkage on it. After a few washes and dries, I’d say that there was 10-15% shrinkage, which is pretty significant.
So that brings me to the present. Last month, I was out of class for a few weeks, due to my annual military commitments. When I got back, I have felt horrible. That said, I think I’ve actually been rolling better. At least a few times, I’ve come into the gym and dominated people who usually make me look like a child rolling with his father. On one particular open mat session, I submitted our senior purple belt a couple of times. Of course, he submitted me way more. Afterwards, he pulled me aside and said something along the lines of “I want you to know that those submissions were real. You set them up, I didn’t give them to you, and I defended them. They were well done.”
And then, I went back to rolling like a white belt at my very next class.
Last weekend we had a seminar from the school that we’re affiliated with. These seminars are always really good, and we learn a lot. The black belt who holds them usually brings a couple of his senior students, in this case two purple belts, and they focus on basic stuff. This seminar was really good, because our black belt, Darin, also came. Darin is weird in that he doesn’t want anything to do with ranking people up, running a school, or any politics. He just wants to come in, teach a couple classes a week, and stay sharp. He has a very, very tactical mind, and his approach is much different than the other black belt.
Anyways, we reviewed mount retention techniques and went into a few attack sequences. We always do active drills after the main seminar portion. So, we start with three people on the mat, their partners start in a position. Once the conditions of the drill are met (sweep, pass, submit, escape, etc.) a new partner comes in. The person on the mat stays for a full five minute round with fresh people cycling in. We do this over several positions. The black belts use this as a way to evaluate people.
At the end of the day, I got a stripe on my blue belt…though I don’t really feel like I deserve it. Several people didn’t get any promotion, so I felt kinda like I’d cheated them. I know its silly, I just feel like I’ve been missing so much class, and my skills are still really hit or miss.