Tonight marked another milestone for me. It was the first time that someone I had known as a white belt came to class as a blue belt. He was promoted just last week. It was very inspiring to me, since I have a sense of his skill level relative to mine. I don’t think I’m at his level yet. However, I think I’m steadily getting closer. The real way to know how much progress you’ve made is to go against someone with less mat time than you. For example, I was practically toying with just such a white belt during sparring. He wasn’t even remotely challenging. To give an example of the gulf between us in terms of skill, the coach started everyone out doing a side control drill, prior to doing full on sparring. I let him put me in side control. My task was to escape, and his task was to hold me down. For two minutes, I repeatedly escaped without hardly trying. Then, it was my turn to be on top. Try as he might, and he tried pretty hard, he could not even budge me. It wasn’t that he didn’t know the technique to escape. In fact, we had just gone over the escape in class. It was that I have now learned how to place, and keep, someone like him in side control. Even though I’m pretty sure that a blue belt or purple belt would have easily escaped my efforts to hold them down, this particular white belt was absolutely helpless underneath me. After that, we switched to regular sparring. Let me put it this way. I rarely submit anyone, who is at my skill level or greater, with arm bars. I submitted him with an arm bar. I also mounted him, and submitted him with an Americana. However, one thing I like about jiu jitsu is that I didn’t have much time to gloat. I next sparred against a female blue belt who was smaller and lighter than me. Normally, when I go against her, I get stuck in her guard, unable to pass. This time, she swept me, got me into side control, mounted me, took my back…now it was my turn to be totally destroyed…by a smaller female no less! It just goes to show, yet again, that superior technique almost always beats size and strength, especially on the ground.