So Thursdays class was interesting! Tony was out of town and I went to my first class without him.
It’s the class we usually attend. You might see a few different people but mostly the same faces everyday. I’ve started to get comfortable with those faces. I’m even looking forward to some of them sitting on my back! (Explanation here.)
Not today, today we have about half and half. Some I train with regularly, some I’ve seen before, in the advanced class (after the fundamental classes, schedule.) And one I’ve never seen before. He lines up with everyone else, like he knows what needs to be done. Not a white belt either, awesome, he DOES know what’s going on. We run through the various calisthenics to warm up. Many of which I sit out as I am way overweight and my knees would refuse to work anymore if I tried to do them. (Try to walk on hands and feet then come off one hand and one foot and kick towards the guy next to you. Oh, and your body is parallel to the ground as you do it.)
After we review the weeks technique, Ninja sets us to a game with bases and pulling guard/sweeping, that kicks my tail for a good 30 minutes.
Ah yes, the good part. Now we roll. I get a good one in with my usual female partner, then we all switch. I’m exhausted, so is the new guy. He offers to roll light, OK, I can always get my ass handed to me lightly.
When I was watching Tony do his first week of training and trying to decide if this was something I wanted to try, I ended up talking with a lot of the students there. One in particular stood out to me. He spent a long period reassuring me that this gym did not tolerate higher belts tearing into the white belts. This gym and its members understood that they needed white belts to stick around long enough and get enough knowledge to challenge them; because without them, they, the higher belts, wouldn’t grow either. He gave several examples and went out of his way to impress upon me how serious he was. I thought it odd at the time.
Until that conversation it had never occurred to me that people would abuse, misuse, hurt, or in anyway undermine another person. No matter the belt. We are people doing the same thing after-all.
Well, this rolling partner was new to our academy. It quickly became apparent that his previous facility did not teach the same philosophy. Or he didn’t believe in it. Whatever. I have never had anyone not release when I tapped. He got an arm bar. Good for him. I tapped. He didn’t let go. I yelled, he let go.
When he offered to show me how he got me there and how to defend it I figured, OK, sure. Maybe his reflexes where a little slow, out of practice. Sure. I directed him to a different arm as my other elbow was already starting to swell. We dropped to the mat and he did his setup, slowly. He pulled my arm back, I tapped. He didn’t let go. He quickly bent the arm all the way back into the full move. I yelled again and he looked at me and started explaining how to roll my body forward to prevent the submission. Then let my arm go.
In hindsight it’s a really good thing Tony was out of town.
It did teach me something though. Something in my naivety I didn’t know: It’s OK to decline a roll. It’s OK to choose not to roll with someone mid roll. Honestly, it’s made me a lot more cautious and it’s made me really appreciate the guys I’ve had the honor of training with so far.
So, when that guy I’ve warned you about comes to class? Just say no.