After much badgering from Liz and Yanitza, I went to the NYC women's open mat at Clockwork BJJ on Sunday and, although I essentially got my ass handed to me by every female grappler in the Tri-State area, including a few very tiny girls who were probably half my weight, I also landed my first genuine, well executed submissions by way of stepover armbar and americana. So I came out of the whole thing feeling quite abused but equally satisfied. Rolling with total strangers at a different venue is a great way to gauge personal progress, and considering I was the least experienced person there by a few months, I'm pretty happy with how I did, even if it was essentially 2 hours of getting knocked around. What else is new? By the way, that's me in the picture...in the back, in blue...about to get swept...yep.
Monday's usual grappling class left me feeling pretty happy too. I did a warmup roll with Schizo and then we paired up to drill triangles and arm drags/taking the back from closed guard. I'd seen the guy around so many times but for one reason or another, I'd gotten it into my head that he was totally unapproachable and never talked to him. I don't even know why; it was nothing in particular. And when we finally ended up working together, he turned out to be really, really nice, so of course I felt like a horse's ass.
I did very well with the moves that day, although I struggled a bit once the resistance levels increased. Schizo is pretty jacked, so it was a bitch and a half trying to force his arm this way and that. He wasn't douchey about it though, and I was able to get the moves eventually; it just took some extra effort. Class ran over well into open mat, so we got a hell of a workout. I kept looking at the clock, thinking holy shit, I can't do any more, is class over yet? but Christian just kept going. I rolled with Thumper first, who did what he usually does and wiped the floor with me; then with Frodo, who kept getting into mount, which was amazingly irritating. I mainly used it as a chance to work on escapes and the bridge/sweep move I learned on Sunday from one of the girls. Rolled with Spaceman after that, which went very well. It was the first time he was ever unable to tap me out and we ended up in this back-and-forth stalemate for the round. Then back to Schizo again, who was looking like death at that point (as was I). With us both running out of steam, it was a much less aggressive round than our first few rolls, but we did what we could.
On Tuesday, I partnered with Archie for another intense kickboxing class. I'm trying to rotate who I work with day-to-day, so that I don't plague any one person with my total incompetence for too long. Things haven't changed much; I'm doing all right with the kicks but still feel like a real ditz when trying to box and am having trouble keeping up with the combinations. I apologized so many times throughout the class that Archie finally threatened to punch me in the face if I said I was sorry one more time. I don't think he was kidding.
Worked with Yanitza for Fundamentals to practice high percentage sweeps from half guard, which I actually picked up on quickly and did great with. Unfortunately, those same moves became five hundred thousand times harder when attempted on the big guys. For instance, when we switched partners and I drilled the same sweep with Trek, all of the smoothness and grace I'd felt at the beginning of class went right out the window. Honestly, I think I spent more time grabbing ass than anything else. It was hard as hell to reach down and get the foot, let alone hold it there long enough to roll him over. Long legs and short arms...what a fucking combination. Trek said it would've worked perfectly on someone smaller (yipee) but with someone his size, I'll have to do more rocking back and forth until I can catch him off balance. Worked with KGB after that and had an even tougher time...it was nearly impossible to accomplish anything while he was leaning down. Couldn't even get the first underhook without immense effort. Still, it's a huge motivator to continue focusing on and improving my technique.
Things got pretty nasty by the end with massive rivers of sweat on the mat, which had effectively turned into Christian's Wild Slip-'n-Slide about halfway through. At one point, I was shuffling on my knees towards KGB, slipped in the mess and nearly fell on my face. I can see why some people prefer to stick to gi training, although as gross as it is sometimes, I do enjoy no-gi more. That said, if having your head buried in someone else's sweaty crotch for two hours doesn't warrant one hell of a shower with fruity scented soap, I'm not entirely sure what does.