I still feel weird stepping out on the mat with a blue belt around my waist. Not only because it's new and slippery and wants to come undone. It's just... strange :-)
On the one hand I feel like maybe I have more responsibility. On the other hand, I'm pretty relaxed. I don't feel (so far) that I have a target on my back, that I need to prove anything or that there are sudden higher expectations which I must fulfill. The guys have been great. Oh, I get teased. How much the belt suits the colour of my eyes. One guy keeps saying he wants to roll with the champ. And there's the "now that you are a blue belt.." sort of stuff :-)
To be honest, it worried me to begin with, but now that I know the sky isn't falling on my head, I'm enjoying myself. With the comp over, I can experiment to my heart's content. Both with new techniques and with modifying ones I already know. Rolling is more fun all the time.
Keeping up with the theme of basics, we worked on guard passing on Friday night. For a change, it was only a very small class. One of the senior blue belts took it, then there was myself, and three guys. One of them with only a couple of classes behind him. I had the new guy for a while and was reminded how much people rely on muscles :-). We went from some drills to free guard passing against minimal resistance, then to guard passing against more resistance with the bottom person really working on breaking down posture. And finally free rolling. I mainly rolled with the two more experienced white belts. When it came to rolling, one came in grinning, called me champ and ran around to my back to attack. Silly bastard :-) We had a lively roll. I had him in a crucifix which I lost when I was experimenting. From then it was a tangle of arms and legs with several sub attempts from both of us, because this guy is pretty fast. I had a ball. He kneed me in the back of the head on an armbar attempt. We stopped to check for damage but it was time anyway.
Then we did a warm down. Oh yeah. 100 crunches. Push ups. Hold pushup position with arm/legs off the floor. Hold halfway down. Just hold for two minutes. Ha, that was funny, too. Hold the position came last, with arms & backs already tired. First he said let's hold for a minute. Cool. Two of the guys were groaning. Then he said how about two minutes? I said cool. That instantaneously led to the collapse of one of them :-) Another failed seconds later. Hehe. I don't know why, but I really find that quite easy.
Then he said, ok, let's wrestle some more. Arrright. I will say I wasn't too fresh by this stage... But the two guys I wrestled were my size or smaller, so I was going quite well. Finally, the blue belt wanted a roll. And then it was kick my arse time :-) Oh well. He always explains stuff after he catches me out and he's shown me loads of stuff. But I did feel I was getting it dished out to me. I think the best bit was when he decided to congratulate me on the new belt whilst applying a pretty nasty crossface and then ripping my arm out. Haha, fun times.
Saturday class was also reasonably small. Before the class, one of the brown belts showed me a couple of new things which he picked up from John Will and Rigan Machado down in Geelong. He couldn't stay for class, but we had a few minutes before it started.
First thing was a refinement of the standing open guard pass to knee ride. That was one of the passes we had worked on in Rigan's seminar last Sunday. Then he showed me a way to break the gable grip around the legs if someone is doing a double underpass. It's combination of making heavy legs and arching up. Next technique was a defence against the standing pass to attempted knee ride. You have to do a bit quick for this one. As he steps around my legs on my right side, I roll onto my left elbow, rock back onto my left shoulder and get my legs up. I then swing the legs in a circular motion to the right, rocking onto the the right shoulder and then the right hip, which either gets him back in my closed guard or a triangle. But you have to be quick, otherwise....
The last technique he showed me was a side control escape straight to d'arce. We didn't have a lot of time, so I only tried that one once. I'm mulling it over in my head and will have try it again a few times. But very interesting!
When class started, I took the warmup. Then I was partnered with the young, small guy. We drilled guard passing again, and the new guys were shown and drilled the figure four from guard. Then we went on to free guard passing with a bit then more resistance. And finally the bottom person was allowed subs. My partner and I were the most experienced pair on the mat, so we were sent up one end and mostly left to our own devices.
On the suggestion of our instructor, I worked on standing guard passes. With a light guy like that, it doesn't tax my back too much, and I can actually pick him up. When on the bottom, I made sure I gave him lots of problems to solve, but I ensured that he had some successes when he did something correctly. I showed him some of the several things one can do to slow down guard passing, such as move aside when the passer puts the knee in the middle, stiff arming, heavy leg on the under pass and such things. I showed him one of the crushing guard passes and then how if you don't control the arm, the bottom person will climb on your back. He's very ego free and thinks it's really cool when you catch him in something. But then I always show him what I did and what he might do to avoid it. And he picks stuff up fast. I was busy having a good roll with him and was busy taking his back, when I was told to "put that boy down!" :-). I made disappointed noises and we all laughed. End of class.