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Everyone Likes Surprises

Once a week, I travel to my instructor’s instructor’s gym for some extra-hard training. For two-and-a-half hours or so, we lock ourselves inside his barn, turn off the fans, shut the windows, and go hard at each other in a combination of jiu-jitsu, Bikram Yoga and Thunderdome.

Yeah, it’s pretty much the most fun ever. Once you’re done, anyway.

Usually, it’s some combination of 30 minutes of drilling, 30/60 minutes of intense positional sparring, 30 minutes of shark bait/king of the hill, and a half hour of rolling. This is followed by many hours of re-hydration.

Naturally, at some point your body becomes exhausted. Your mind, too, stops operating at peak capacity. It is a tale of both of these phenomena that I wish to tell you now.

About 90 minutes in, we’re pretty gassed. Everyone’s rash guard and shorts are soaked. Because it’s super-important to drill technique properly when we’re tired, we’re drilling takedowns and guard pulls. The idea is you go quickly, but correctly, so you continue to challenge your endurance while executing technique. You do one of your best three takedowns or guard pulls, then your partner pops up super-fast and goes, and you just keep alternating.

Of course, we’re all struggling to keep up the pace. Occasionally you’ll drag yourself to your feet and your partner will have his/her hands on the knees and be doubled over. Or you will be, and your partner will have to wait.

This last happens to me. We’re working in groups of two, and my partner takes me down. As I’m slowly lifting one leg up, then the other, I hear one of my other training partners say from across the mat: “Hey, are we switching off?” Yes, the instructor says.

Now, when I’m this tired, my strategy is rest until I’m ready to explode, then rest again. I hear this and understand we’ll be switching partners. I also understand that, unless I jump guard RIGHT NOW, I will have a tough time doing anything that isn’t totally embarrassing.

So I head to where my new training partner is on the mat, leap up to jump guard …

… and think, while in the air: “wait, did he mean we were supposed to be switching up takedowns with the SAME partner?”

My new training partner’s look of shock and bewilderment seems to confirm this theory. But thankfully, she still has the presence of mind and cardiovascular righteousness to catch my guard jump and deliver me safely to the mat.

I wish there was video. I imagine it looked something like this:

It is like I am a flying kitten.

In the future I will give fair warning before jumping guard. Even in tournaments.

Mostly because I don’t pull guard in tournaments.


About Jeff

I write, work for social justice, listen to music and grapple. That's about it for now.

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