Tonight was a special class for me. It marked the first time that the school owner, the only BJJ black belt I’ve ever met (so far), taught one of my classes. Normally, the 5:00pm mixed-levels class is taught by a purple belt. If there was ever a night to not show up late, this was the night. Sadly, several students actually were wandering in well into the warmups, a real no no (especially when the instructor is the school owner). One fairly new white belt was actually changing into his gi just off the mats, in full view of everybody! Granted, he was already wearing a shirt and shorts, but we do have dressing rooms, after all. When the black belt asked why someone was changing into his gi on the side of the mats, rather than in the dressing room, an embarrassed blue belt had to explain that the white belt was new. The warmup was a little more intense than usual. I think the blue belt was trying to prove to the black belt that we were dedicated. However, it didn’t phase me too much. Three months of regular workouts have helped me to endure such things without too much soreness or discomfort. We worked on escapes during class, which suited me just fine, since that has been my main focus over the last month or so. He told us to not go so hard and fast during sparring, so that we would be more aware of our body positioning. Of course, almost none of the white belts followed his instructions. I did, but that’s because my sparring style is slow and easy anyway. Even when a strong, athletic guy turns up the heat, I still try to maintain a slow pace. This allows me to conserve energy, which is the only way I have found that I can survive against the 20 year old UFC wannabes. Anyway, my defense seems to be getting better. I wasn’t submitted by anyone tonight. Yeah! The only thing that caused me some trouble was that I was doing such a good job hiding my arms and neck, that the only option I gave to the bottom person was to pull out my gi tail, and try for a brabo choke or a sweep (by wrapping my gi tail over the back of my neck and pulling me over). This made me realize that my strategy will buy me time, but I can’t stay in someone’s closed guard indefinitely without moving. I have to keep trying to pass the guard whenever openings present themselves. The gi tail trick did allow one of my sparring partners to take my back, which normally would be a bad thing. However, it gave me the opportunity to stay calm and correctly execute the Saulo Ribeiro back escape, right in front of the black belt! This was an escape I tried to do on Monday, but messed it up and got caught in a rear naked choke. Because of this, I had re-watched the video of the escape in the interim, which is what allowed me to get it right tonight. After the match ended, the black belt asked me my name (the school has a lot of students), and complemented me on not trying to use muscle, which is what all the other white belts were doing, but staying calm and methodically working my way out of a bad position. Perhaps someday, if I get to work with him some more, I will tell him that his compliment made my week.