I went against two less experienced white belts tonight. However, instead of regular sparring, one person had to start from half guard and attempt a knee cut pass, while the other defended against the pass. From there, it turned into a regular match. I feel like I’m making really good progress in both my bottom and top game. From the bottom, I was able to play spider guard and lasso guard. I even tried to go into the X guard at one point, but I managed to sweep the guy and come on top before I could get it fully set up. That’s ok. The whole point of X guard is to set the person up for sweeps anyway. From the top, I was able to pass the guard of both people, and achieve knee on belly, as well as mount, at various points. One of my weak areas is submissions. Saulo Ribeiro, and a number of other champion BJJ players, recommend not worrying too much about perfecting submissions until the more advanced belts. Therefore, I’m not too worried about it for now. In any case, I think I know what the problem is. In order to pull off a submission against someone that is equally skilled, you generally have to be able to string together submission attempts (since they already know the same sneaky moves you know). I have not yet mastered that skill. For example, when I had one of my sparring partners in my closed guard tonight, he put his arm in such a way as to make him vulnerable to an arm bar attack. First of all, rather than immediately launching into the attack, I took my time making sure my hands were positioned correctly, before moving my legs into position. In other words, I telegraphed my move from ten miles away. That was bad enough. But, the real problem was that, when I felt him pulling out of the arm bar, I should have immediately switched to the omoplata, but didn’t think of it until it was too late. Furthermore, if he would have tried to posture up out of the omoplata, I could then have slapped on the triangle. I know all this stuff intellectually by now. However, my body doesn’t yet respond to the stimulus in a timely fashion. I have to get to the point where I simply react in the appropriate manner without consciously thinking about it. For most people, it takes years to acquire that kind of ability. I’m hoping my previous martial arts training, coupled with my persistence, will help me to get there sooner rather than later.