Tonight was my five year old daughter’s belt test, so I watched that until my class started. The coach was in his typical Friday mood, and he had us doing ballet moves to classical music during warmup. If you’ve never seen a bunch of tough jiu jitsu guys doing ballet movements, you’ve been missing out. It was pretty hysterical. During sparring, I was mostly outgunned, only occasionally getting a small advantage here and there. The one bright spot was when I sparred against a brand new guy, something I hadn’t done in several months. He was bigger and strong, having played football as I later learned, but had little grappling experience. I was able to repeatedly submit him, sometimes with techniques that I’m not even very good at. He did freak me out a little with one of the submissions. I had him in closed guard, and went for a cross choke. I normally am unable to submit someone with a cross choke, and usually only use it to break the person’s posture so that I can set up some other attack. That’s because most people are pretty good at defending the cross choke, and I don’t have the grip strength to force the move. Anyway, this guy was brand new, and didn’t know how to defend against the cross choke, so I just held on to it, expecting him to eventually tap as I applied ever more pressure to his neck. Rather than tapping, his face started to change color, then his eyes started to bug out. That’s when I let go of the choke. I don’t think he passed out, but he probably would have in another few seconds. Jiu jitsu chokes tend to be blood chokes, in which you cut off blood supply to the brain. If applied correctly, they are not painful to the recipient. The guy didn’t feel any discomfort, so he thought he was fine, and so he didn’t tap. After explaining what I had done to him, I showed him a basic defense, so he would know what to do in the future. I talked to him a bit later. It turns out that he was interested in doing MMA, but wanted to be a well rounded fighter. He expressed frustration that he couldn’t even pass anyone’s guard yet, so I told him that the only reason I was winning against him was that I knew more techniques than him. That’s all. It wasn’t because I was stronger than him, and that in six months, he could probably learn enough to neutralize me. This is a common occurrence nowadays. A lot of young guys, who are strong and fit, watch MMA, and think they could do it with a little bit of training. What they don’t realize is that even the amateur MMA fighters often have years of experience in jiu jitsu and Muay Thai, not to mention wrestling, boxing and/or judo. Then, when these MMA aspirants get choked out by a scrawny 40 year old jiu jitsu white belt in their local gym, they hopefully realize that fighting in a cage is much harder, and more dangerous, than it looks.