...and first FanPost, so apologies for technical mistakes in either.
I've read similar articles people have written before about starting out in a new discipline and I enjoyed reading those and I also thought this would be interesting to any else thinking of starting out.
The entire session was an hour and a quarter long which flew by. We did a basic warm-up for ten minutes and then some more grappling-centric ones along the length of the mats. This was the first clue for me that I'm not that great at picking up techniques at one glance. Also that I'm not co-ordinated or flexible. A good start. Once we were all appropriately warm, we newcomers were seperated from the main class.
What I learned
There were four of us segregated newcomers my buddy. I'd trained some Catch Wrestling for a month or two last year and had rolled when doing that so I knew a few submissions to go for - Kimura/Americana (don't remember which is which or if one is a type of coffee), arm-triangle choke, ankle lock, everyone's favourite RNC and I'd had arm-bars attempted on me enough to want to do a few back. The rest I knew from watching MMA and reading Judo Chops but the first thing I learned is that I don't have the flexibility or knowledge for any of them when the other guy is fighting back.
A purple-belt (all names prerserved for anonymity thanks to my poor memory) kindly took us through the basics - breaking the guard (maintain posture, roll hips in, move base and knees out to one side, pull back (keeping outer leg on ground!), post inner knee in opponent's guard...), moving to side control from here (hooking grounded-opponents leg with inner ankle, posting up on outer leg if grapevined, sweeping opponent's lifted leg (maintaining posture!) stepping over) and escape from side-control (posting forearms under opponent's chin and on the line of the groin, bucking up to create space and then regaining guard if possible.) and we drilled these amongst ourselves.
[Please interpret any ambiguity or confusing grammar above as the author expressing his poor understanding of the techniques in a stream of consciousness rather than just his poor writing and spotty memory.]
Then we got to the bit I was most looking forward to - the club's black belt had taken over our instruction for the latter part of the above and said that we should roll amongst ourselves to try out the new techniques. Both he and the purple belt who had been asked to show us the ropes were exceptional generous with their time and knowledge and I was ready to get down and sweaty with another guy. Ahem.
We started on knees on the mats which I found easier than starting standing as I'd done in my few Catch Wrestling classes. I tussled for a bit with my first fellow white belt recruit and I if I remember right I got the tap from an arm-bar, my first - woo. I'm pretty sure I was just feeblehulk strengthing my way through the techniques but it was good fun. I kept going for the ankle-lock sub I'd used before (sitting back or stepping over with their ankle in the crook of your arm and torquing in hips until they go 'UGH!?) but I was rubbish with it and kept losing position so I gave that up pretty quick. My ability to break an opponent's guard previously consisted (poking my elbows in viciously and severely invading their personal space with a knee) had never really worked for me and I was having more luck with the new method we'd drilled.
I next kneeled up to my other fellow newcomer who I gathered has trained quite a bit of MMA before. Straight away I could tell what was left of my feeblehulk strength was going to be insufficient as we tussled. Being in the corner of the room made things a bit more interesting because we had two of the walls to kick off and attempt reversals. Somehow (and in case the chap is reading this I have to preface this with the big caveat that my opponent was far more skilled than me and went on to thoroughly and repeatedly outgrapple me for the following ten minutes) I managed to hook my legs around his back on his right arm and pin down his left arm that was left next to me and push the left arm towards elbow hyperextension for a tap...what is that, a Salaverry? Back crucifix?) Noob luck but I was happy with that.
We rolled until the end of the class and what I took away from it was:
- It went too quick. The class was great and I signed up on the spot. I'll be there tomorrow if my body still works.
- I was severely outclassed on the mat! Still fun though, I need to work on my limited arsenal and my flexibility. Seriously, people can touch their toes? Unnatural.
- My regular cardio isn't great but for some reason, and I felt this when I trained before, I seem to have good...grapple-cardio? I'd been rolling hard and continually for a while and though I wasn't as gassed as I thought I would be.That said, I was finding the new techniques (guard breaking) really hard to go for when tired.
- My preternatural ability to sweat allowed me to escape quite a few subs I really should have been caught in. Win for me, lose for future mat partners - sorry.
- I mostly got caught with - arm-bar (1), triangle (many)
Now that's written I really, really need to go have a shower.
tl;dr : I suck at BJJ.