Teen: Ah! My precious balls!!
Me: I'm so sorry...it'll toughen em up though.
Teen: ...how the hell would you know???
Gender perception's a funny thing...Just 2 minutes later we had this conversation
Teen: Don't you want to sit out the next round? I'm tired and don't want to be on the wall by myself.
Me: Naw dude...I wanna go again. But look, Stacie's sitting out.
Teen: Yeah, but she's a girl.
Me: What in the world am I??
Apparently I'm a guy with no balls. Hmm...that actually might say a lot about a lot.
I had a PHENOMENAL roll with one of my favorite blues tonight. I say phenomenal because we both got something out of it. (The thing I most hate seeing in my partner's face is boredom.) But yeah...he's one of my favorite partners for multiple reasons. He's fun. We're the same height. He's controlled. He's mad cool and crazy supportive. He knows how to gradually amp up the difficulty. He's always trying new things. He never takes it too easy on me.
Well, he was setting up an armbar and I was able to escape as he was applying it. I didn't think much of it except that it felt clean, but he blurted out an enthusiastic and somewhat surprised, "That was good!". I could see in his face that he meant it...not just in an encouraging way, but that it was actually a good escape. (I have to start trusting my instincts more. Once I learn something and drill it a bunch, I've found that I can make some nice tweaks just feeling my way through positions. I'm starting to feel more jiu jitsu every day.) A minute later, he got a wrist-lock against the mat from the mount he said he'd just improvised. He said he was going to try it again later on. One time for mutual growth!
Working through this aggression/assertiveness stuff is showing me so much. There are so many techniques I've been having issues with where the problem was that I simply wasn't pushing hard enough. Tonight, I saw another reason it's important. I know my instructor is trying to get the younger guys to play less and an assertive partner is a sure way to shut that down and get them to focus. The sad part though is that after a "Jake. Quit playing...Megan. Choke him." I wasn't able to properly execute a choke from the mount (I NEVER get deep enough grips), so I went for a sloppy armbar instead (I still can't fake my way into one AND properly get control arm). The sloppy armbar failed after he sat up but I turned it into an omoplata. He defended and I rolled him into another armbar which I finished. Yays.
And then there's trust. While I was rolling with the aforementioned blue, I saw his face wince in pain. I thought back to a couple weeks earlier when we were talking about starting training and his telling me about his back problems and how training had helped it. I immediately wanted to ask if he were OK. But then I remembered one week earlier when, to my repeated questioning of some uncomfortable faces he was making, he responded "if I'm in trouble, I'll tap". I continued to take in the discomfort in his face as I stacked him, slowly, carefully, to defend yet another armbar. Right then I realized that my not trusting him to tap or tell me to stop is a disrespect of his ability to gauge his own safety. Generally less necessary with a higher belt, especially if I'm being a responsible, careful partner. I know I hate it when the guys back off just because my face contorts a bit. I need to apply a bit of the golden rule here.