Sixteen months ago I reflected on being submitted; I frakked up when trying a new move/got complacent and my partner used the opportunity to sink in a really sweet RNC. For purposes of symmetry I’m, today, reporting my own offensive success; last night, I took down one of the ‘big boys’ with my own rear naked choke.

Distant summit

While my offensive victory may seem humdrum to some readers, it has taken me five years to develop the skill to submit a heavier highly skilled opponent; this man is no chump and in addition to a 4-stripe blue belt in BJJ, he’s got professional cage fighting experience as well as a long-running career in traditional and nontraditional martial arts (I might also note, that he taps me regularly and did so twice yesterday evening).

Though I am reasonably handy, offensively, against female players of similar size, strength and skill as well as with noobs of varying size and gender, I’ve really struggled with male opponents of a similar belt rank. This is partly a ‘head problem’ in that I can lack the self belief to ‘go for it’ and partly a ‘reps problem’ as I spend a vast majority of my mat time getting smashed and working my defence.

I suppose I may sound like a braggart or as if I’m blowing this little experience out of proportion, but this has been a tremendously difficult part of my journey and I learned a lot from last night.

1) Be in the now. Defence and offence must be instinctual. This is self-evident and seasoned martial artists understand the importance of ‘being like water’ and letting go of ego; would I sound like a hippy to suggest inner peace allows the bod to do what it knows? Of course, understanding this truth and implementing it are two entirely separate issues.

2) Feel the position. By being in the now it is possible to ‘do’ rather than to ‘think about’. I didn’t see the position and then react; I was more like a passenger along for the ride as I watched my limbs do the deed.

3) Respect is strong. I’m lucky enough to train in a club full of mutual love and respect. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit insecurity about how the guys see me and my jits as they can often submit me while I very rarely get the upper hand with them. While I’ll tap without shame, I recognised last night that an offensive victory doesn’t equate to disdain for the person you’ve submitted. I didn’t fully appreciate this until now and I’m going to keep this lesson with me and perhaps it’ll help me fight those demons that would like to convince me otherwise.

I haven’t set up camp at the peak of my Everest, but I’ve glimpsed the summit. BJJ is a stern mistress and though she’s preoccupied with reminding you of all the holes in your game, your inadequacies on the mat and all that’s left to work on, every once in a while she lifts your heart with a glimpse of what you’re capable of given the right ‘tude and circumstances. I suppose this is why we do what we do.