Tonight marked the return of the blue belt who taught me the importance of breathing and staying relaxed during sparring. As it turns out, he had torn three ligaments in his knee and was forced to take several months off. He is closer to my size, which makes me happy to see him coming to class again. It’s hard to find sparring partners who don’t outweigh me by a significant amount. I was used to him being relaxed during sparring from before, so I was not going too fast (not that I ever do). That might have been a mistake, since I could tell that he was determined to demonstrate to me that he was still a blue belt. He took my back in a quick scramble, and submitted me with a very polished bow and arrow choke. After he established his dominance in such a way, he seemed to relax a bit, and I was able to work my guard more effectively. Sometimes, I regret not being able to go faster and more aggressive during sparring when my opponent is determined to use speed and aggression. However, the fate of another white belt tonight served as a reminder that it would not be a wise course of action, especially without more experience. He is a good wrestler, but new to jiu jitsu. I didn’t see the whole thing, but it seemed like he was really trying to go after a purple belt during sparring. The purple belt swept him, but the white belt must have tried to twist out of it, because he hurt his knee in the process. They got ice for him, but he could not continue with class after that. I hope it’s nothing serious, as he is one of the few white belts that come to the longer classes, whose guard I can regularly pass. Injuries do happen in jiu jitsu, as it is a very physical activity. The trick is to minimize the risk of injury by not resisting a good sweep or submission. Some people simply refuse to recognize when they have been defeated. Tap early and tap often, as the saying goes. It’s better to tap or be swept, and be able to continue training, than to be sidelined for weeks or even months.

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