Tonight, we pretty much sparred for an hour and a half. However, it was 90 second positional sparring for most of it. I felt like I had several moments where I was moving pretty well. In one match against a blue belt, I went for a knee cut pass, but kind of hesitated to proceed with it until the head coach yelled out that I was almost there. That gave me the confidence to complete the pass, do the side switch, and take his back. I give 70% credit to the head coach for saying the right thing at the right time. I have reached the point where knowing the move is not necessarily the issue. Sometimes, I simply lack the confidence in my technique to seize on the window of opportunity before it closes. I also had success with the half guard basic sweep chain against a female purple belt. After getting the under hook, I went for the knee tap, but she countered with a wrestling Whizzer. I was able to do the limp arm escape and take her back from there. This is a sequence of moves that I had originally learned within my first month of classes. However, I had never understood how to make it work in sparring until now. It’s all about staying on your side, keeping your elbow tucked, and avoiding the cross face, as you move into position for the sweep. I also tried it out on another senior white belt, but wasn’t as successful with it this time. He was stronger and much more aggressive than the female purple belt. I was able to neutralize his strength for a while, but he was so aggressive with his knee cut, that I lost my good position and wound up in the bottom of side control. What’s worse, my left arm was out of position, making it easy for him to isolate it for a kimura attack. I recognized the danger my arm was in, and tried to protect it the best I could, but he yanked it so suddenly and violently from the top of north south, that it ripped right through my standard defenses. In my opinion, he passed my guard and submitted me with good technique. However, I feel as though the real reason for his success was that he was more committed to winning than me. Had I done the exact same moves that I did, but with an intensity that matched or exceeded his, I probably could have prevented his guard pass, and possibly reverse him. The reason I believe this is that I was able to reverse him earlier in the match, but then he stood up in an attempt to play judo against me. I felt like he would have been easy to throw, but I waited too long to make my move. One of the black belts told us to go back to the ground, since that was the point of the sparring, so I was unable to capitalize on my judo skills. Oh well! I have mixed feelings about such matches. On the one hand, I felt like I should match his aggression in order to keep the fight even. On the other hand, I don’t like the idea of fighting to the death in a training environment. If I have to use full speed and power in order to win my matches, I will have to use full speed and power every time, or risk losing. I want to be able to win, or at least survive, while still having some reserve fuel in the tank for emergency situations. I also think this approach is better in terms of injury prevention. I didn’t want to lose tonight, but at least I will be back next time, injury free, to try again.

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