"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." - Bruce Lee
Two and a half weeks ago, I really didn't think I'd be at the point where I'm at right now. With only one week left to go, I'm nearly through with the whole month! Every time I think I'm getting pretty well acclimated to class, something switches up, and leaves me sore all over again, but I'm learning to weather it better.
Speaking of switches, last night's class was a much different experience from the others. One of our classmates, Zach, is competing in a professional MMA bout this weekend in Dallas! Tony and Nate both traveled with him to be in his corner (it's so weird to use that phrase in its actual, originally intended sense), so our class was led by Chris and Gabe. Gabe is another of Tony's assistants, and Chris usually teaches the children's class that meets right before ours. Both of them have trained in martial arts for a long time.
I think that a lot of guys either only want to be there if Tony is teaching, or they just decided to take a long weekend, because the class was about half the size that it usually is. This was actually kind of nice, because there was more room to work in. Also nice? Gabe and Chris left the two fans in the wall turned on so that there was some air moving while we worked out. I've been trying to work with different partners as much as I can this month, so that I can get to know more people and experience a variety of experience levels. I ended up working with Chad again last night, though, simply because the class was so small, and most of the guys who were there were at a much higher level of experience than us.
As I mentioned in my last post, Chad is a great training partner. He offers constructive hints to help improve your technique, he acknowledges good moves, and he encourages. One of his long-term goals is to open a non-profit women's self defense school. I like training with him. Last night, however, I think he may have been better off working with somebody besides me. Obviously, if you were ever to bust out your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu moves in a street fight someday, you'd have no control over the size of your opponent, but in a competitive environment, you go up against guys in your same weight class. I'm going to guess that I'm about nine inches taller and fifty pounds heavier than Chad. When you're just running drills for most things, it's no biggie, but some of the things we were doing last night were making him stretch waaaaay farther than he should have safely had to do, just so he could get himself positioned right. Poor guy.
The things we worked on last night were mainly more moves from the full-mount position, aimed at getting a submission. There was a wrist bar move, a choke hold with your opponent's neck between your arms, and a move where you shift your weight off of your opponent only to trap his head beneath your leg. The last one is the one that Chad should have been able to practice with somebody closer to his size, because it kind of required him to be both near my head and leg at the same time, and it just wasn't happening.
Still, it was a very good class. Gabe and Chris like to spend a lot more time working on single things, until everybody in class is up to speed. With the smaller class size, they were easily able to make their way around the room and spend time working with each individual. For sparring time, after Chad and I went for a while, we all switched, and I rolled with a guy named Andrew. I already know Ali will make fun of how gay this sounds, but the dude had a seriously charming Latin accent. Also, seriously intimidating arms. We wrestled a couple of rounds, and I told him I was afraid I was slowing him down, and he just smiled and said, "We're both where we need to be, man." I'm continually surprised by the lack of ego that is in this class.
Today I took the kids swimming, and wondered why the ladies in the chairs on either side of mine gaped in horror when I took my shirt off. Then I remembered the baseball-sized bruises on my chest and left bicep, and the mat-burn on my right shoulder. I'm starting to think of them as badges of honor. I understand how people can get so into this now.