The coach really put us through our paces tonight. Instead of the normal technique portion of the class, during which time, two or three new techniques are usually taught and practiced a few times, we instead did two minute drills of bread and butter basic techniques. One person would do arm bar setups for two minutes, then kimuras for two minutes, and finally omoplatas for two minutes. After that, the other person would do the drills. Next, we did push-pull triangles, and then stand-up-in-closed-guard drills. All of our cores and thighs were burning by the end of it. His reasoning was solid, though. It’s only through correct repetition of the technique that you develop the muscle memory to pull off the technique in live sparring (or on the street) without thinking or hesitation. It actually reminded me of my Judo training. Mr. Goody used to have us advanced guys do solo drills of a single throw (uchi komi) 100 times each side. Then you would fit the throw on a person without throwing them, doing the same number of reps. Finally, you try to throw the person, first without resistance, then later in free sparring. It’s a brutal, but extremely effective way to train. It’s why a piano teacher makes you play scales when learning to play piano. After that, we did an interesting exercise that some people have affectionately called jiu jitsu chess. Rather than live sparring, one person does a move, then the other person counters with a move. Each person takes a turn, until you end up with a sequence of moves that can be evaluated by the coach, who gives feedback and provides suggestions of alternative moves. The point of the exercise is that it allows you to slow things down so that you can think your way through the moves. At the end of class, we did regular sparring. What was interesting is that this was the first time in a while that I had sparred with my partner for tonight. He started doing jiu jitsu long before me, but seems to have hit a plateau. Whereas he could easily mount me and submit me with an Ezekiel choke three months ago, tonight it was me submitting him (with a move I stole from Saulo Ribeiro’s book). Even when he passed my guard, I was able to recover half guard quickly and make him work to further improve his position. He did get mount at one point, but was unable to establish his base, since I had him tied up in a defensive clinch. This also allowed me to trap and roll him, so that I was now on top and he was on bottom. Any headway he made in the match seemed to be more a result of my trying risky things that didn’t work out (which I do on a routine basis as a learning strategy), rather than him imposing his game on me. I definitely think I have surpassed him technically. He even complemented me on my solid base at the end of the match. It was a far cry from how he used to dominate me only three months earlier.