Every Friday Mid-America has an open mat for about 1.5 hours after work. I make it most weeks as it’s a good chance to roll in either gi or no-gi, and it’s also a more laid back environment, so if there is something you want to work on, chances are there will be someone there to help you with it.
This past Friday night I went as normal. However, instead of the normal people, there was only 1 other guy that was there to roll (there were about 4 guys there helping one of the MMA fighters get ready for his next fight. But they were on the other half of the mat.) So this other BJJ guy and I start rolling in no-gi. It was nothing spectacular really. I’ve rolled with him countless times. I’ve yet to get a submission on him, but he’s really fun to roll with because of his skill level.
The MMA guys had a round timer going, but there was no reason for us to stop because there was nobody waiting to roll with either of us. As we rolled, more and more rounds beeped off. It got to the point that I didn’t even hear the timer any more. Finally, I tapped to a D’arce choke. As I looked up I noticed that we had been rolling for about 30 minutes, without stopping once. I was tired, and I knew it had been a long roll. It wasn’t at the intensity level of a tournament, but it wasn’t just doing a technique for 30 minutes either.
As I left the gym, I realized that I had been coming to sparring class for 12 months now. So I thought about sparring 12 months ago. At the end of a night of sparring last year I was just about dead. Breathing hard with all my muscles exhausted. I was a typical white belt when I rolled. Somewhere over the past 12 months I learned to relax while rolling. There were times in this roll that I actually smiled to myself as I got a sweep or wound up in side control. There were other times I laughed to myself as I once again wound up with my opponent on my back.
But the fact is, grappling has started to slow down a little bit for me. I can notice positions now. I can see what’s going on. I can even think to myself “I don’t think I’ve ever been in this position before” while rolling. I’m starting to not spaz out so much and starting to actually roll.