Blue Belt

First night back as Blue: Threats and Neck Cranks

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Bear with me everyone as I process this experience (Blue belt promo) for my memories later on. Tuesday was my first night back since the belt change. Admittedly, I felt a little different. I don’t know how though. Of course there were congratulations when I walked in and throughout class but there was also something else.

I overheard a White belt, who will rename nameless, say to one of our Purple belts, “I am going to test that Blue belt out.” I was shrimping at the time and believe it was in jest. But, I figure this is similar to the feeling of having a target on your back. I also had a new guy purple belt, who I just met that night, say something about not taking it easy on me.

I really enjoyed the drill as we worked on a self-defense throw, first from our knees, then standing. Then we worked on the scissors sweep, a 5 step mount escape and a flow drill combining the scissor sweep and mount escape. Last, we drilled the baseball choke. I have seen people pull it off on videos and I have watched a couple of demo videos but that was my first time drilling it. It’s a sweet move, but our instructor let us know that if it doesn’t work you can end up trapped under your opponent.

I rolled with a new Blue belt to our club (whose name I forgot). He pulled out the spider guard on me. I was able to defend but we spent most of the time with me in his guard and him trying to pull me into him with my sleeves. Then I rolled with the White Belt who ‘threatened me.’ I was able to keep dominant position and eventually gained the mount for the tapout.

Next, I rolled with the new Purple Belt. He has a game slightly similar to our instructor but he is about half the size. Since he had a similar game I knew a few of his plans ahead of time and was able to jump to step 3 in the process of me getting tapped out. He tapped me out with the same neck crank that Smiley uses. My mission is to never get tapped with that submission again and to tap early if I even think it is that submission. The guy is much smaller than I am so it just reminds me of the effectiveness of BJJ. Finally, I rolled with Juan (who practices just about every discipline in the academy). I was able to gain positional dominance but he is crafty in escaping positions.

All in all, I have come a long way but have even farther to go.

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How far is that from a Black Belt?

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Mom: How was your weekend?

JJ365: Good! All went well. Oh, yeah, I was promoted to Blue Belt this weekend.

Mom: Oooh, Congratulations! How’s your shoulder?

JJ365: Thanks!  It’s fine.

Mom: Are you still going to the doctor? You should still get it checked out.

JJ365: I’m feeling fine. I may have it looked at when I get a check up. (No plans for a check up./Just trying to change the subject)

Mom: (to father off phone: He was promoted to Blue belt this weekend.)  Your father says good job!

JJ365: Tell him I said thanks!

Mom: Ok. —  So how far is that from a Black Belt?

JJ365: Uh, um about 4 or 5 years.

Mom: Oh.. (slight disappointment in voice)

And there goes the scenario for many conversations I’ve had about my practice of BJJ over the years. Many of my relatives and friends do not understand why I would go someplace where someone would, as I have heard it described, “beat on me.” Or as my mother-in-law says “Karate class.”

Is Bakari still taking that Karate?

Tell your mom I am not taking Karate.

Or when my father-in-law found out that I was still practicing BJJ after all these years, (he was talking to my wife on the phone) he asked what belt I was.

When my wife told him I was a white belt (at the time) I heard a noticeable pause on the phone and then he changed the subject. If I wasn’t present I’m sure the conversation would have gone something like this:

Father in Law (F-I-L): He has been taking BJJ for four years and is still a white belt?

Wife: (fumbling over response) Uh, well he used to take no-gi and now he’s taking it with the gi.

F-I-L: No-gi, gi? (quickly changing the subject) Uh, Okay.

My wife even calls it Judo sometimes but I forgive her because we were an item during my Judo days and I used to scoop her up from her dorm when I would leave practice.