The New York Open is on Saturday, so our most of our competition team were not in class tonight. I don’t know what it is about Friday nights before a big tournament, but we always end up having a few brand new white belts in class during these times. I ended up sparring with two of them, both of whom were much stronger than me…of course. Even so, I was impressed that both of them were able to pass my guard. I think it had more to do with me being lazy than their technique, which amounted to a blitzkrieg style football tackle, typical of strong but unskilled grapplers. In both cases, I was eventually able to work my way into a dominant position, but I was not particularly aggressive with my submission attempts. New guys tend to not understand when they are in danger, and will often not tap when they should. I put on a half hearted arm bar, as well as a choke, on one of them, but I didn’t insist on either move. The guy that I found particularly amusing turned out to be a marine with a cut figure and impressive biceps. He wasn’t wearing a gi, so I asked him if it was his first class. I believe he said it was his second, so I suggested that he try some of the moves that we went over earlier during the drilling portion of class. He told me he would prefer to just flat out grapple, and that he had already submitted the first guy he sparred with. Since he had the build of a wrestler, I assumed that maybe he had wrestled in high school or college, so I went along with his suggestion. Not surprisingly, he was strong as an ox, and was able to pass my guard with minimal resistance on my part. I’m not about to try and outmuscle him. He seemed like he was trying for guillotine chokes, which is a common choke, but despite his strength and size, the skill gap eventually took over, and I was able to reverse him and mount on top of him. I was trying to set him up for an arm bar since he kept pushing against my chest in attempt to get me off of him, but I was being very cautious, since I didn’t want to get rolled and end up back on bottom. He did finally manage to buck wildly enough to cause me to dismount and transition to knee on belly, but he stood up in the scramble, so I put him in closed guard. He ended up complimenting me on my grappling skills, which I found amusing. I’m not a novice to grappling, but by no means am I a true expert at it. He seemed to think he was much better than he actually was because he was probably able to physically dominate a few white belts. If he sticks with it, he will eventually be humbled by a smaller blue or purple belt. If I, as a 150 pound 44 year old white belt, am able to hold my own with him, imagine what a 200 pound 20 year old world champion purple belt would be able to do! I’ve seen it time and again…technique beats strength almost every time.