I recently visited another school’s Open Mat. I had a fine time training with some women, something I don’t get to do very often. It is always easier to approach the women at a new school, so I do that first, if I can. After a few rounds with the ladies, it was approach someone new or sit it out. I looked around for someone who might be willing to train with my petite ass. I spied a guy, not too much bigger than me, but muscular and compact. He was sweating from a previous roll and wearing a white belt, one stripe.
Perfect. I thought. Not too big—if he goes nuts I can handle him. A little tired, so he may have gotten some aggression out. I went up and asked him to dance.
“Sure,” he said. We tapped hands and jockeyed for position.
As always, when I roll with someone new, I try to respond to what they give me to get a sense of whether they are skilled and restrained or some crazy knee twister. With guys, I am always aware of the ego. In some men, ego can trigger EIIB—erratic, injury-inducing behavior . . . aka spazzing out. I’ve had my share of spazzing–out injuries and I really don’t need another.
This guy seemed to know a few things and was not too wacky. Between the initial grip fighting, I started small talk. I find small talk helps disarm tension that could lead to, you know, EIIB. I learned that this guy was about a year into Jiu jitsu.
We grip fought for a while, and then swept me. I countered, reguarding. He opened my guard, passed it, and pushed forward, hard. I hip escaped and reguarded, pulling him down. We went like that for while, and then he went for something . . . hard. When he didn’t get it, he shook his head.
“Are you working on something?” I asked, figuring he was practicing some move on me.
“Ahh, yeah. The berimbolo. I just can’t seem to get it.”
“Oh, I see.” I reguarded . . . both physically and mentally. My mental reguard was something like: Hmmm . . . one-stripe white belt can’t seem to get the berimbolo down. I better watch out for this one or I’m the next YouTube video casualty.
He lunged at me and arm–dragged me, looking for a Kimura. I wriggled out and snuck to his back.
“You want to try it again?”
I moved toward a sweep myself, spidering my right foot on the crook of his left arm. My foot fell through and he clamped down. He’s going for a footlock. I play so much open guard I can see that a mile away. I punched my foot through to the other side of his armpit. He grabbed at my ankle but it was too late, I was already through.
I noticed his hand was swollen. It looked like a latex glove after someone blows air into it.
“What’s that?” I asked. “Everything okay?”
“Yeah, my hand is screwed up.”
“Too much grip fighting?”
“Okay. I’ll stay away from it.”
“Nah, you don’t have to. It’s all right.”
“Maybe, but I’ll stay away. Injuries suck. Both my knees have had ‘em.”
“Oh, your knees?”
“So I’ll stay away from the heel hooks then.”
“Hahaha!” I laughed, but he wasn’t laughing with me. Was he serious? “Wait . . . were you trying to heel hook me?”
“Yes, NO heel hooks, please.”
“OK. Glad you said something.”
I finished up the roll as soon politely possible (there were no timers) and moved on.