Well...not really, but at least I'm moving in the right direction. In the grand scheme of things, I still know nothing. I'm a total newb. And I still spend half the time feeling like WTF am I doing? But the other half of the time, I'm slowly learning in a way that's becoming more noticeable to me on an individual level. I think I'm more aware of my own improvements now instead of only recognizing the flaws (and believe me, those are endless). People are also challenging me more now and adjusting their game, which I'm assuming is a good sign. At one point, I rolled with Isley after class and tapped him out in about 30 seconds by way of RNC. He got up, looked around, said "Jesus, I hope no one saw that" and then went extra hard on me afterwards. I was pretty thrilled.
Last week was the bi-monthly women's open mat at Clockwork. I was tired and almost skipped it, but I'm so glad I went. Although I got trounced by a couple of purple belts, the same whites and blues who had wiped the mat with me just two months before were really struggling this time. I spent most of the time on the offensive, got a few submissions and pulled off a number of what my partners referred to as "totally epic escapes." It's hard to gauge your own progress when you roll with the same people (particularly of the more experienced and/or larger variety), so I was excited to be in a different setting and to notice such a significant difference in my own game.
Back at Ronin, I've come to love Wednesday night gi class. Unfortunately, Carlo insists on people using their full weight to make the person on the bottom miserable. That was all fine and well when I was practicing on Rascal, but when it came time for his turn, the whole heavier person sitting on your ribs thing was not quite as thrilling. When he started, I asked him to please try not to break anything, which he found funny, laughed at and then proceeded to try to break everything. The class concluded with a round robin set of 6 minute rolls with no breaks, and I nearly fucking died. I went with Carlo first, which was utterly exhausting, then Lucky, who I did well against, and then Krypton, which pretty much did me in...and then I realized we were only halfway done. Rolled with Liz next, who used the time to practice a number of painful submissions, crushing every muscle in my body and tapping me out again and again at record speed. Damn little maniac. Thumper was next (our roll was somewhat half-assed because I could barely move at that point), and then closed it out with Rascal. After lying around like roadkill for a while, I joined Liz, Carlo and Krypton for their weekly conditioning work. I wasn't going to, but Krypton gleefully discovered that he could peer pressure me into it by insisting that if I didn't join them, he'd have to sit out too. So I gave in and suffered through a whole bunch of painful abs exercises. I was wrecked by the time I got home but it was a good night.
Last Monday, I stayed late and finished by rolling with Jazz. Jazz is kind of a giant, so it was a bit like David and Goliath but without the inspirational ending. At one point, he pulled off the most outrageous mount escape I've ever seen, doing some sort of yoga ninja move to flip over on top, essentially ending up sitting on my head. WHAT THE FREAKIN HELL. I missed Saturday's wrestling class but did make it in for open mat. Jen Flannery and Ryan Hall from 50/50 had stopped in for the afternoon, and holy shit, Jen is amazing. She's so tiny, weighs about as much as a feather and just devastates her partners. I was completely transfixed by her roll with Diesel...it looked like she was just floating on top of him and no matter what he did, she was always in control. It was pretty spectacular.
Later, I rolled with Wardog and did quite well in spite of his consistent use of raw strength. Isley got on his case for that and eventually banished him and took over to roll with me. Schizo offered to go a couple rounds with me afterwards, which was an epic workout. The main problem with him is that I take too long to figure out what I should be doing in any given position. By the time I make a decision, he's already got his full weight down and once that happens, it's over because the guy is a fucking tank. I have to work on getting into good defensive positions before it becomes impossible to move. I actually did much better when I rolled with him today. He subbed me once or twice with triangles but aside from that, I did well with maintaining defense, getting to half guard and even managing a couple of sweeps. Krypton was watching and came over at the end to remind me to get the underhook and to get deeper for the sweep, so I practiced that a few times with Schizo and found it so much easier to flip him over. I'll have to keep that in mind and try again next time.
Highlight of the week: I had an absolutely amazing 20 minute roll with Homeboy. It had to be the most exhausting match I've ever had. He's been out lately and I've been coming so often that we've very much evened out. Neither one of us was holding back, so it was a fantastic chance to test myself. I got 3 submissions (arm triangle choke, stepover armbar and RNC) and he got two or three as well. We rolled all over the mat...it was so fluid and so cool. I had a bit of an epiphany, like oh wow, THIS is what rolling should be like! Everything seemed to slow down and I was able to focus on one thing at a time. When we finished, my arms felt like lead and I basically passed out, chilling against the wall with Rits for half the night. By the time the gym was nearly empty, and I was ready to give up and head home, Christian demanded that either Isley or I roll with Buzz. Isley mumbled some sort of zoned out reply (he seemed even more wrecked than I was), so I took up the offer and I'm really glad that I did. It was good to get one more match in and I got a lot of practice with passing guard (got a tripod pass once, which elicited a pained grunt, followed by "good job").
Unfortunately, during this week's gi class, I did a light warmup roll with Lucky and somehow strained what I refer to as an ass muscle but what must be my right hamstring. Of course, the moment I referred to it as an ass muscle, it became an ongoing joke. Liz and Carlo couldn't stop spouting off pervy comments and snarky retorts. I wasn't sure that I'd be able to participate in the class, given the debilitating pain when twisting in certain directions, but luckily, we were doing an easygoing taking-the-back lesson so I worked with Liz, used minimal lower body movement and had fun learning my first collar choke.