Monday, August 1, 2011


I read all over the place the dangers of using other people in your gym as a barometer of progress, and by and large, I agree.  Ideally, the gym should have guys who you're a lot better than, to try new and risky stuff on, guys who are right there with you, and guys who are way, way better than you , to point you in the right direction.  Also ideally, one should be comfortable enough with  one's ego to not keep a "tap tracker."  Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world, and when I tap someone who I know is much better than me, I can't help but get excited and wonder if this means that I'm finally getting good at jiujitsu.  

Tonight, I tapped out Collin (brown).  This guy is easily one of the best guys at our school, and has taught me more about jiujitsu than just about anybody.  I think he probably understands jiujitsu at as deep a level as anyone at our school, and honestly anyone I've ever met.  I should say right now that I only got the tap because of some weird, fluke position we were in where he was attacking the legs.  Well actually, let me start at the beginning.

We started from my guard. He baited with an arm to get me to open, which I did.  I somehow always take the bait.  So the first breakthrough I had was to not try to leg lasso or do any of the other dumb stuff that i do from open guard.  Instead, even though I really don't know how to play it,  I went right to de la riva.  Now don't get me wrong, he still easily, easily passed, but it slowed him down noticeably more than anything I've tried so far.  So he gets side on me, and I somehow get a leg in and take him over the top. 

This is when stuff gets interesting.  We kept reversing each other in either backwards half-guard or backwards  sidemount. ( I think it was half.)  Then he starts attacking the leg.  I did as Vaughn showed the other night, and figure four'd my legs to slow him down.  He layed out for it, and I rolled and kicked him off. Somehow, I don't remember how, we wound up in that same weird position.  He locked me up tight, almost felt like some kind of slicer.  Some how I wound up on top, and posted my hand in such a way that i could feel my leg coming loose when i stretched.  I used the posting hand to keep him from turning over and to start setting up an arm triangle.  As soon as I came loose, I popped over the top and locked it on.  Put my foot in his ribcage and just squeezed.  

When he tapped I couldn't believe it. I asked if it was a choke or a crank.  He said choke, but I don' t know. It probably was mostly the fact that he had just gone with Marco (black) and didn't want some huge guy on top of him...  In any case, we reset, and I somehow got out of there without him tapping me.  

As weird as this sounds, I felt ungrateful, like I was screwing him over after all he'd taught me and shown me. In addition to being almost ridiculously knowledgeable about all manner of grappling minutia, Collin is also a super nice guy, and a very patient and attentive teacher. He's also the best guy who I get to roll with consistently; because of that in a way, he's taught me more than anyone else.   And although I know its ridiculous to feel bad, I can't help but think it just feels wrong to tap your teacher.  It's tough to explain, but there it is.  

And then on the other hand, as I mentioned before, doing well against someone who's game is way better than yours can be a good sign that you're actually absorbing technique and doing the right stuff naturally.  In any case, I'm proud that I've tapped him once, for the hundreds of times he's tapped me.

In other, sadder news, tonight was Vaughn's last night training with us, as he's headed back to NYU. We caught a roll tonight and he was all over me.  I lucked my way out of a choke, and the rest of the time, he was looking for sweeps or passing my guard.  I swept him exactly once, and it did me no good.  Its almost funny to me how much I learned from him in 10 weeks.  Even tonight, before he left he showed me a version of the toreando pass that I'm excited to try.  Bottom line:  It sucks to lose that guy.  He raised the bar for the skill level of blue belts, and even gave upper belts stiff competition.  

Finally, rolled with this Marine guy who had a black belt in whatever combatives course they offer.  Interesting roll, way different than a typical bjj roll.  He had me in some pretty compromised spots, but I somehow turned one of them into a sweep, and even got my first baseball bat choke in awhile.  Hope he keeps coming.

Interesting night.  As I said, mixed feelings about the roll with Collin, but I have absolutely no doubt I'll pay for it in the very near future.  Stuff to work on:  passing the open guard, pulling de la riva against good guys.  

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