My five year old daughter woke me up at two in the morning the other night, and I still hadn’t caught up on my sleep going into this evening’s class. Training under these conditions can actually be advantageous if you approach it with the right mindset. The primary goal in jiu jitsu is to accomplish any task in the most efficient way, while minimizing the use of strength, speed or flexibility. The more tired you are, the more these things are denied you. The way I look at it, jiu jitsu is mainly about preparing you to defend yourself against the house intruder who jumps you from behind in the dark while you’re half asleep after having worked a 15 hour day. If your jiu jitsu is effective in those situations, that’s all that really matters in my opinion. Friday class is always interesting anyway, since it has the most diverse participation. You could end up wrestling anyone from a scrawny beginner, to a brown belt with near superhuman technique and strength. I have a great deal of sympathy for the former, since they often don’t know what they are in for when they attend their first Friday class. I tried to go really easy with one such beginner tonight. I let him mount me, take my back, go for an arm bar…whatever he wanted, confident that my defenses would keep me out of danger. Still, he exhausted himself so much in trying to attack me, that he had to take a water break in the middle of our match. At one point, I had mounted him and was controlling him with an Americana armlock, and he started bucking like crazy trying to free himself. Of course, it didn’t work since my mount control is pretty decent (The reason I didn’t tighten the armlock is that beginners often don’t understand the danger their arm is in, and refuse to tap until they feel the excruciating pain of a hyper extended elbow or a torn rotator cuff). I think his attempts to escape such bad positions may have worn him out more than anything. It can be terrifying to have someone mounted on you if you’re not used to it, and the first challenge of anyone new to jiu jitsu is to learn that panicking in such situations only makes things worse. Stay calm, and look for your opportunity to escape. It’s the only way you’ll survive.

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