Tonight’s sparring went reasonably well…for the most part. I was able to get some good positions on several people that are very technical. I even got one advanced white belt, who I rarely make any headway against, in an arm bar setup. He escaped, but that was because I wasn’t patient enough, and tried to transition to another position. I ended up sparring with him a second time tonight, only this time, it didn’t go so well. I wasn’t as aggressive the second time, and kept getting stuck in his De La Riva. Rather than pressure into him, like I normally do, I decided to try a pirouette like move that I saw Keenan Cornelius demonstrate on a recent episode of “This Week in BJJ”, a podcast that I regularly watch. Unfortunately, the move didn’t go as planned. My sparring partner sat up as I tried to swing my leg over his head. The two fast moving objects met in the middle. He was a little dazed from being clocked in the head, but insisted that he was fine. However, I could see from the look in his eyes that his fight response had started to kick in. That’s when the adrenaline can send a person into a blind rage if the mutual aggression escalates. It’s not exactly a voluntary reaction, and can take a few minutes to wear off, provided the person does not receive further provocation. I did my best to de-escalate the situation by allowing him to assert his dominance during the remainder of our sparring. He is stronger and heavier than me anyway, so I’m not sure I could have resisted a spirited attack on his part in any case. Had I tried to resist, it could have potentially turned from a friendly sparring match to a life and death struggle. One of us could have been seriously hurt in such a case, and I couldn’t guarantee that it wouldn’t be me on the short end of that stick. After roughly passing my guard and submitting me several times, he seemed to calm down a bit, and our sparring session resumed a more mellow tone. It served as a reminder that fighting involves far more than technique. There’s size and speed, as well as chemicals coursing through your brain that can either paralyze you or make you lose any sense of control. Being a smaller and older grappler, I have to be more deliberate in making sure that sparring does not escalate into all out warfare, since I would be the one to end up on the losing end of that proposition far more often than not. Fortunately, both of us are committed to our training, so I think it will be fine the next time we spar. I’ll just have to be more careful not to clock him in the head if I can help it. I’ll probably end up retiring the pirouette move from my repertoire. I never could get it to work anyway.