Despite all the things that I deeply love about our art, the mat burn really, really sucks. I've got a quarter-sized monstrosity on the top of my right foot. My sandals chafe it, shoes are near hell, and rolling requires ten more minutes of prep time to wrap it against catching some 13-year-old's super-bug off the floor.
Most of the open-mat rats are down in Chicago, trying to win NAGA. A few purples went, Damian (the black belt in Edina) is apparently competing as well, I think some blues and a white or two. Tim is the only one I know for sure, and he should have a good shot. So the attendance at open mat was sparse, seven of us showed up. Andy and I started, worked through a few positions, go warmed up. I rolled with Luke, got wrecked a bit, then put him in a bit of trouble. Probably the best I've done against Luke. Brady came next, and I had forgotten what having a size advantage does to both your game and your confidence. I'm not a big guy in our classes, but I'm not small. Luke is roughly my size, but Brady--I've got at least six inches and forty pounds on Brady. At one point, he shot triangle and got me to bend down, but I kept posture and shifted my weight towards my trapped arm, putting all of the weight on my knee right by his head. This stacks him to high hell and prevents him from getting the angle he needs to finish. It does require a bit of attention, surfing over a stacked opponent and making sure he doesn't do anything to the arm he has trapped, but after about four minutes, his legs just flew open and I was in north-south. It was awesome. At the end of the night, I rolled with Enrique for the first time. He's a purple belt, mildly terrifying o look at and his pressure is outstanding. He let me get some mildly-resisted work in, swept me when I forgot something important. It was extremely worthwhile and appreciated.
Once again, everything comes down to basics. I spent the day remembering to keep the bottom leg pinned when I was in someone's open guard, and I had more success passing than I ever have before against these guys. Still, I'm forgetting basic things, like using the wrong leg to attack, trying to keep my opponent flat by pushing the head rather than the shoulder and effectively gift-wrapping the underhook.
I can feel the progress, but I can also tell that I'm spending a bit too much time sparring and not nearly enough time drilling. So that has to change.