I got to the club and walked in to see Kondo-san who I have not seen for what feels like a year. He is a purple belt at our club and has been away due to work reasons. He is the 2nd person to return recently along with Haba-san who were original members when I was a white belt 3 years ago. The last time we sparred I remember passing his guard only to be stopped and then put back into the guard multiple times. Granted that he has probably lost a lot of timing but I felt he was much easier to handle, although, his defence was still good and I could not submit him. While rolling with him I heard F-sensei shout that I had become much tougher since Kondo-san last saw me. I was really shocked by F-sensei saying this and 2 thoughts went through my mind. 1. He is saying it to give me confidence for the upcoming competition and 2. Was I really that bad a year ago? Have I really improved that much?
For sure I have been sparring as much as my tank will allow me to go. There are some at our gym who sit on the side often or come in later to only get a couple of rounds in. I try to continue unless my heart is beating through my mouth (usually after sparring with brown or black belts). I see some of the white belts improving recently and wonder if they will catch me up. I wonder if time is against me. To take out the factor of age I am trying my best to relax more when strength is not needed and breath deeply from my diaphragm. I just listended to the Flow podcast where Nic Gregoriades talks about a similar aspect of BJJ he is focusing on, breathing and meditation, and enjoying the roll - enjoying BJJ. The episode is here. I really think being able to continue to monitor your breathing and how you are using your energy during a roll is so important. I really enjoy watching people like Gunnar Nelson doing BJJ because he just seems so calm. The thing he said about people being stressed when they roll made a big impact on me.
I had a weird moment after one sparring match. I turned round to look at the mat and saw a rather tatty blue belt, the label coming off and just sort of worn out in appearance. I thought to myself "Who does that belt belong to? It looks so damn beat up." Then I noticed it was mine. I sometimes feel as beat up and worn out as that belt, I thought.
Sparring time: 8 x 5 mins = 40 mins