I finally got my BJJ gi (uniform) tonight. It only took four weeks, but who’s counting! I feel like my training has now begun in earnest. My big toe isn’t fully healed yet, but it felt better tonight than on Tuesday. Hopefully, it will get back to normal soon. Sparring tonight was an interesting experience. The first guy I went against was bigger than me, but not much faster or more experienced, so we pretty much ended in a tie. The next guy was the class instructor, a purple belt. He didn’t exactly go easy on me, but I could tell he was holding back. I’m pretty sure he could have easily submitted me several times, if he wanted to. I think he didn’t because he probably didn’t feel like he needed to prove it to me. If that’s the case, he was right. My guess is that he preferred to ease up at certain points in order to give me more opportunities to try different things. That’s the mark of a good instructor, in my opinion. At the end of our round, he even complimented me on my grip fighting, saying that it was much more advanced than a typical jiu jitsu guy of my level. He knows I studied Judo, and suggested my Judo training was probably the reason. I agreed with him, saying that in Judo, you’re constantly fighting for grips so that you can throw the other guy. However, I told him that my grip strength is completely gone. He thought it would come back with time, which was kind of him to say, but I’m a bit skeptical. I find it harder with each passing year to open jars etc. The last guy I sparred with was another white belt, but seemed to have a lot more polish than most of the white belts I’ve gone against so far. He was young and strong, and looked a bit like a wrestler. He probably submitted me a dozen times in five minutes (a first for me). Some of his success against me was due to superior technique, but most of it was speed, strength and stamina. I felt he was treating our sparring session a bit like it was an actual tournament. If it were 20 years ago, I might have tried to put up more of a fight, but I knew it would be a fool’s game to try that against this kid. The key to avoiding injuries in BJJ is to know your limitations. On a side note, I’m not sure who he was trying to impress. Nobody was paying attention to us, not even the class instructor, who was busy sparring with someone else. If he really wanted to impress me, he would have needed to submit the instructor (a champion competitor) a dozen times in five minutes. That would have been impressive. It’s not that hard to out speed and out muscle me these days. Anyway, the best I can do for now is to try and work on improving my base, so that he won’t be able to sweep me so easily next time. Of course, a functioning big toe does help one to keep a good base, but who’s complaining?