The past few Friday’s have been relatively light workouts, since an increasing number of white belts have been showing up on Friday. When I saw all the newer white belts in class tonight, I was secretly relieved because I knew none of them would cause me to have to work too hard during sparring. The head coach, on the other hand, saw the situation differently. Instead of pairing white belts with other white belts, all white belts were paired with upper belts during sparring. So much for easy matches! I did my best to work my single leg x guard game, with mixed results. I only felt like I had the upper hand on one of the blue belts. It was more or less an even match with another blue belt. The rest of the matches were with blue and purple belts who were very effective at shutting down my game. I tried my best in each match to get to my favored position and go for the sweep, but some of them were much better at defending my sweeps than I was at executing them, even though I came close to sweeping some of them as well. Still, I like the fact that I now have a single consistent strategy for each match, even if my opponents know what that strategy is, and are actively trying to defeat it. Now, it’s a matter of continuing with that strategy until I can do it successfully with little thought, regardless of who I’m facing. One thing I can already see I need to work on is maintaining tight pressure with my legs. Things tended to fall apart during transitions from single leg x to full x, where I loosened my leg pressure for a fraction of a second. This became even more pronounced the more tired I got. By the end of the last match, I was getting my guard passed with little effort on the part of my opponent, even though I managed to hang in there with him for at least the first half of the match. Saulo Ribeiro likes to say that when you’re late, you use strength. When you use strength, you get tired. When you get tired, you die. What he meant, I think, is that you have to develop reflexes so that you respond to any attack correctly and without thought. I think this is even more true in my case, given the difference in age and weight with most of my sparring partners. My only hope is to get to a point where I’m two or three steps ahead of my opponent. If it ends up coming down to a strength or speed contest, I’m going to loose every time…unless it’s one of those rare occasions where I’m sparring with a 100 lb female. Helio Gracie is really the person I’d most like to emulate in this regard. My real goal is to be in my 70s, wrestling with my grown kids.

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