When I walked in today, it was the first time I didn't have that imaginary audience everyone's-watching-me feeling. I said hi to some folks I'd seen around, talked quite a bit with people I've gotten to know and then when class started, for the first time since day one, I had no trouble. No staring blankly trying to figure out what the fuck everyone else was doing and how the fuck they were doing it. No struggling to keep up with the warmups. No overwhelming HUH?? feeling when Christian demonstrated the move. No requests for extra help because I was totally lost. I just...did it. Not perfectly, but as well as any other beginner. The biggest sign that I'm feeling more at home is that instead of hanging back when the class was told to pair up, waiting for whoever was unlucky enough to be left over and stuck with the newbie, I turned straight to the guy next to me, who I'd never seen before, and said "let's go." Ambitious, perhaps, but I was finally in that zen I can totally do this shit too place.
IT. WAS. AWESOME. It only took a couple of tries and I felt like I'd gotten the move down enough to at least work it properly. Also, for the first time, I got a feel for how intense it'll be to roll with someone. Not that we were all-out sparring but in the first four classes, I was so busy going step-by-step, trying to figure out what body part went where, that resistance was pretty minimal since the focus was on getting the basic motions down. This class, both partners were required to start from a certain position and work with a certain move, but to really put the pressure on and resist, respectively. The first time we did this, I got my ass handed to me. I think it took KGB about 5 seconds to go from open guard to side control (and that's probably being generous). I didn't even know what hit me until after the fact. One second he was at my feet, the next he was at my neck with my arms and legs going in all different directions. The second time around, I was more prepared and was able to put up some pretty decent resistance, even getting him into closed guard at one point. He increasingly challenged me, helped me to fix my mistakes and gave me no special treatment, so I'll definitely be adding him to my mental list of "good partners for training."
Later on, Christian paired me up with LJ, who is the only guy I've seen so far that isn't, well...big. He's about my size, in fact. Short and thin, although more advanced so he could undoutedly kick the ass of any super-sized beginner. Funny enough, practicing on him was harder simply because he wasn't big and I'd gotten used to working with larger guys where I wasn't worried (too much) about hurting them. LJ felt so small in comparison that I spent half the time feeling paranoid that I was going to break every one of his ribs. He had to keep telling me to crank up the pressure and I finally got the hang of it but man, I can see how some guys might worry about rolling with girls. It's a little unsettling digging your shoulder into someone's lower torso when there isn't a thick wall of muscle in between you and their internal organs. It took me a few tries to get over that. I've also got this ongoing worry that my movements are sometimes spastic (in a punch-you-accidentally-in-the-face-as-I-go-for-side-control sort of way) but LJ assured me that this was not the case.
After ten minutes, we switched once more and I partnered with Spaceman again. As before, drilling with him was great because he doesn't assume that I'll break in half, makes me work for the pass, gives helpful pointers when I'm fucking up and makes encouraging comments when I get it right. Anyway, it was a fantastic class, by far the most fun I've had yet and the best I've felt afterwards. Aside from the fact that there are tons of splotchy red patches (ie. broken blood vessels) covering my upper arms and making me look like a recovering junkie, it just keeps getting better.