Another small class tonight. Nevertheless, the class was interesting. Since most of the coaches are now in California, waiting to compete for a world title, we had a brown belt teach the class. He doesn’t compete, but has a very technical approach to jiu jitsu. He opened the floor to questions, which is always helpful. Also, we had two new students in class. One of them was so new, he didn’t yet have a gi. It’s probably his very first class. The other one had a gi, but I could tell he has not been doing jiu jitsu for very long. Actually, I sometimes like sparring with beginners for two reasons. One is that it serves as a reminder that I actually do know jiu jitsu, a fact that is easy to forget when you’re constantly getting smashed by upper belts. The other is that beginners don’t know how to do jiu jitsu yet, so they respond in much the same way that any unskilled opponent would respond, which is different from a trained opponent. Since it is this type of opponent you are most likely to encounter in an actual self defense situation, it is a good idea to be prepared for some of the crazy things they do. In particular, most untrained people are extremely uncomfortable being mounted. This means they will generally buck wildly in an attempt to get you off of them. That means your mount controls have to be on red alert, so that you won’t get rolled. In contrast, a seasoned blue belt might just wait for a subtle shift in your body weight, then recover guard. To be effective at jiu jitsu, you have to be prepared for both types of opponents. Of course, all things considered, a trained blue belt is going to be much more difficult to deal with, but you can never dismiss “crazy” as a strategy to win a fight. Untrained opponents are very good at “crazy” because they haven’t yet learned the “correct” way to respond. My task in such situations is to control the beginner in such a way that they won’t hurt me or themselves. Often, this means not going for certain submissions, since a beginner may not realize he needs to tap if he doesn’t want a hyperextended elbow.

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