Tonight, I submitted a very good blue belt with an arm bar. This was the first time I have ever submitted an upper belt who was genuinely trying to not get submitted, while at the same time, doing his best to submit me. For this reason alone, I feel the need to really step back and analyze what happened. First, this was not an all out brawl, nor was it a tournament match. It was simply a typical training sparring session in which both parties are vigorously going after the other person, but not trying to win at all costs. Therefore, it is impossible for me to know just how much of his “A” game I was actually experiencing. I suspect he was not using his best stuff against me, since I caught him in an arm bar from the top of deep half guard. I’ve wrestled with him enough to know that this is not his preferred guard. I think he simply lost focus for a split second, which was all I needed, since the elbow cup arm bar is one of my better moves. I often try to catch this arm bar from this position, but I almost never catch the arm fully extended as I move around the person’s head, a critical step to completing the move. Without the extended arm, the arm bar is really hard to finish, especially against a good grappler. Still, I often go for it, because it can be a good way to defend against someone’s deep half sweep attempts. In terms of what this says about my progress in jiu jitsu, first of all, one submission once in a blue moon is not statistically significant. I need to be doing it on a regular basis for it to noteworthy in any sense, other than as an emotional milestone type thing. Secondly, I was not positionally dominating him at the time of the submission. The fact that I never passed his guard or took his back during the match, even though he took my back at one point, means that the odds were still in his favor to win. In other words, it was an upset victory, not a foregone conclusion. Lastly, he nearly submitted me several times earlier in the match. When he was on my back, he nearly sank in a rear naked choke. It was only my tucked chin that saved me. That bought me some time to work my hand defense, and reverse to top position, coming into his closed guard. In other words, the match could have easily gone his way, and almost did at several points. Despite all those caveats, and my awareness that one should not gloat over such things, it still represents a significant milestone for me. My first goal was to not get regularly submitted by blue belts. Then it was to pass the guard of a blue belt. After that, it was to submit a blue belt. My next goal is to do it on a consistent basis. Only then will I know for sure that it wasn’t a lucky break.

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