It’s my first week back on the mats at Gracie Pensacola (well, second really but I only went once last week, so…). It felt good to be on their mats. I felt home. I was worried my skill set had lessened since I had been on hiatus for a few months playing in my garage. I’m super-uber proud of my promotion to blue belt with Gracie University, however, there’s the lingering fear that I might get tapped by a rookie white belt. Truth is it’s not the rookie white belts I worry about. It’s the one with 3 or 4 stripes who has started to put the pieces of the puzzle together and has one or two tricks I haven’t seen in a while and is able to sneak a choke or arm lock in on me. You know the guy, the sandbagger at the tournament who has been doing Jiu-Jitsu for 2 years and some change and taps every other white belt in under a minute. Is this what the Gracie brothers mean when they talk about ego and leaving it at the door? Should I care if I get tapped by a white belt, experienced or not? Having another colored belt tap me doesn’t bother me, so why should I care if a white belt gets me?

Turns out that following the Gracie University program with a few buddies worked out well for me. I think my defense and understanding of what the other guy was doing has actually improved. I spent some time rolling with a couple different white belts and did fine. I was able to defend until I decided it was time to be offensive and then I was able to execute my game plan. I got a chance to roll with a purple belt, the great Tony Baker, and although I couldn’t impose my will (or stop him from imposing his) I was definitely able to identify what he was doing and actually execute a few counters and even escape once or twice. I’m sure he was letting me, especially since we were both playing real lose, but it still felt good afterwards. I need to get in and play around with a few blue belts and see where my game falls in. I think I might even tape myself and try and break it down objectively and see where I can really improve and smooth out my skill set.

It’s good to get some personal instruction, too. Head Instructor Pat Vito knows his stuff and we’ve spent the last week moving through the “power-hour” of Jiu-Jitsu. Always working from stand-up to ground, as is to be expected. We’ve been drilling the same inside leg sweep but with different passes or sweeps once we get there. Today we introduced an elevator sweep to mount, a triangle setup from the elevator sweep position, an Americana from the triangle setup position (should they attempt to pass) and an armbar if they decide to stack. Fundamentally these are nothing new to me but I haven’t played with these from the half- guard or triangle setup position in awhile so they were good drills and I was happy to do them! Hell, I’m happy any time I’m playing on the mats! I look forward to getting back in and training a bit more!

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