"Shida Kichinosuke said, 'At first it is an oppressive thing to run until one is breathless. But it is an extraordinarily good feeling when one is standing around after the running.'" From The Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai
At the beginning of each class, Tony has all of the students line up against the wall of the gym, where we bow to him, and he bows to us. Then he makes his way down the line, bumping fists with each of us and collecting our attendance cards. Sometimes he'll crack a joke or two with some of the guys. Last night when he bumped my fist, he asked, "What night are we up to?" Night eight. "Are you learning anything?" I think so! "Learning how to tap, right?" That one made me laugh.
Yesterday, Lubbock broke a weather record - the most days over 100 degrees within a single year. The previous record was 29 days, set in 1934. Yesterday was the thirtieth day so far this year, with many more unfortunately predicted. As I mentioned in the first post of Enter The Danny, Blackbelt Universe has no air conditioning. Yesterday's class might have been the sweatiest hour of my life. No exaggeration - I weighed myself before and after class, and there was nearly five pounds difference.
My training partner last night was Chad, the same guy who I worked with on Night 4. We spent the class working on further techniques from the half guard, including knee bars and working your way out of the guard and into a full-mount position.
Sparring time started earlier than usual last night, and went later, so that there was about 25 minutes of sparring in all. Tony usually has us switch partners partway through, but he was practicing with one of his assistant instructors last night, so Chad and I spent the full time together. I've definitely still got my weaknesses, but I'm also beginning to discover a few very reliable strengths, namely my height and my legs.
I've always had pretty strong legs, and I'm finding that I can break my way out of nearly any hold as long as I can get them under me and stand up. Sometimes that's much harder than it sounds, but that's where the height comes into play. The extra height gives me some added leverage that comes in handy when I'm breaking loose. I've even kind of developed a go-to move using that advantage. As long as I can reasonably control my opponent's legs, I can get to a standing position, flip them into a prone position, and go into the neck hold that I had success with on night 4.
When both of us had wrestled so much that we couldn't go any more, we got a drink, and Chad complimented me on my improvement over last time we'd worked together. Then he told me to look at the results of the June tournament on the website when I got home. "The name at the bottom, in last place? That's me. But I get better every time I come, and you are, too."