Not what you think. This post has nothing to do with U2's famous song about the trouble's in Northern Ireland. In class today, we had a guy come in from the local Bujinkan school and challenge our instructor to a match. Of course, as is tradition in martial arts schools, our instructor first "tested" the interloper by sending his students into combat. This is so that our instructor can get a sense of the challenger's skill level, but also to tire him out and make it more difficult for him to bring shame upon our school. So it was that I found myself facing a deadly ninja in combat. I tried to be calm and remember all that I've learned over my staggering three (okay, not quite three) months of training. Breath, Steve. This is for real. Breath. Oh shit. I'm hyperventilating... wait... no, that was just the onion rings I had for lunch. And then it started.
Okay, so maybe none of that happened, but I did get blood on my gi. In sparring, a guy's finger bled a bit on the sleeve of my pristine, white gi. While that's not a big deal, I couldn't pass up the chance to have that title for a Sunday class.
We drilled sitouts as well as the butterfly guard sweeps we've been working on all week. I also watched Coach go over a guard pass after class. It was new for me and involved breaking the closed guard by moving one leg to the center and the other out to keep good base, then bringing the middle leg up and over. I have learned one pass like this, but this one was different in that the leg goes over the opposite side leg. So if I base out on the right side and bring my left knee up, I would roll it over the right side hip. If I'm doing it to this side, the keys to the technique are to shoot my left arm under the guy's right arm to keep him from taking my back. Also, keep the head low and bring the right leg out right away so that it doesn't get caught up in a sort of annoying half guard thing. From there, sit out and control the guy's left arm to set up for some submission techniques, or control the head and slide my left knee down into side control.
Sparring was okay today. My first and third goes were more constructive than the second one. The first, I spent time trying to work from the bottom, with marginal results. At the end, he took my back, but I was working to move around, had a leg and really didn't feel as though I was in danger of being choked. I also did a better (not good, but better) job of staying up on my side and breathing. The third "match" (that doesn't seem like the right word, but for lack of a better) was spent working to pass guard. Too bad I hadn't seen that above technique yet!
The second guy I sparred with wasn't as constructive only in that the guy has a lot more technique than I do, is at least as strong as I am, and I really had no chance to counter anything. We'd go and then 20 or 30 seconds later, I'd tap. Then we'd go again. I hope it was useful for him, but I got very little out of it... beyond his blood on my gi! I've been mulling this one over, to see if there was anything I could do, but most of the submissions that he performed were new to me, and I just don't know how to counter them. I'm confident that this will change eventually, but I'm not there yet. It was also good in that I can always use a good lesson in humility, something to let me know exactly how much I have yet to learn.