Tuesday, 6 December 2011

On the Mat Day 214: Sparring with Black Belts

Makoto Ogasawara of TBJJ Taiwan (bottom)
I was not 100% sure I wanted to train last night but during the day I received an email from F-sensei to say that Makoto from Taiwan would be at the class as well as some other guys who were visiting. He usually sends out emails to all of us to let us know any information such as competitions or sudden changes in the dojo schedule. It's a good idea and makes us into a strong community. I know if I have been lazy and not attending class, those emails make me want to get up and go because of all the stuff I am missing. Anyway, I saw that I would get a chance to roll with Makoto and some new people so I went. It was great having so many people despite the cold weather and chilly mats we have to train on. The more people, the warmer the dojo gets from their heat!

F-sensei showed the scissor sweep variation he had learnt way back from the Rickson Gracie seminar and then some variations and even an omoplata which I did not think was possible. He ran through drills pretty fast because of so many people attending and the fact that some are entering a competition this weekend to let them get in lots of sparring time.

Tadashi Murakami from Kyoto Purebred (top)
I got to spar with 2 black belts, 2 brown, 2 blue and a white belt. That is such a great mix. There was a purple belt there who I knew from when he was blue. A small guy with a great ground game. I wanted to spar with him at the end but got asked to go again by Yoshida-san who is entering the competition on the weekend. He worked a very good flower sweep to armbar on me. Totally caught me off guard. I've seen Akira use the same technique. While sparring with the black belt, I placed my hand on his hip to stop the pass and he twisted his hips into me and almost broke my hand. Luckily, he had enough sensitivity to stop in time as I sort of hissed in air at the feeling of my wrist being bent back - phew. Need to be careful with that. Also, Akira crushed my hand as it was on the floor in a semi-clenched position. I think I had grabbed his lapel, he broke the grip and my hand fell to the floor and he moved over it. Damn it hurt but no broken bones. It was a night of bruises and bumps but it was also really fun and I like to think another notch up for me on the experience ladder. It is definately true that the more people attending class is in direct relation to how much fun and experience you get out of it. I wish every night was like that.

Sparring with both Makoto and Tadashi was interesting. As with all black belts they are very conservative of their energy, preferring technique and good placement before muscle strength. Particularly Makoto. He usually takes bottom and has tremendous leg and arm strength even though he doesn't look very strong. I could not remove my foot from between his legs to pass half-guard. It was humbling. His movement on bottom is excellent but he seems to do it slow motion yet still apply the technique. Tadashi did not seem to be particularly strong as I watched him spar with other blue belts but like all black belts he had an answer to any move I made. This probably comes down to a profound familiarisation with all ground positions. Been there, seen that, done that. He seemed happy to let me work on whatever I could then shut me down when it got a little too close. I think he is a great example of the average guy who never gives up training BJJ and eventually achieved black belt.

Sparring time: 8 x 6 mins = 48 mins

Notable moments: X-guard to almost back on K-sensei, preventing Yoshida's spider guard sweeps, clutch-armbar from full guard.

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