"Oh, Christ. I have completely forgotten that the ref can stand us back up. Well, there is no fucking way I am going to stand with this guy again and let him punch me in the face some more."
My coach comes into the cage along with my other cornerman, Bryan. I don’t recall taking a seat or drinking any water. I just remember what Dan says to me. But before that, you have to understand something about Dan.
Usually, he and I have a very colorful way of talking to one another. During my BJJ competitions, you can always hear Dan barking orders in his Scottish accent. Outsiders from our gym might think he’s harsh, and in some ways he is. But in regards to his cornering, the intensity and colorful language are a result of familiarity and comfort. Phrases like ‘Drive your dick into his spine!’ and ‘Stay the fuck on top!’ are often heard amongst a torrent of obscenities and advice.
This time though, Dan’s voice is calm and gentle.
“That was a great job,” he says. “Now in the second round, I want you to pull guard.”
I remember thinking to myself that if Dan is telling me to pull guard, then it couldn’t have been a good round. Nevertheless, I am very tired and very much want to pull guard and get to some familiar territory.
A minute passes by in a flash. Everyone leaves the cage, and my opponent and I touch gloves once more before the next round starts. The beginning of the round goes pretty much the same: I rush the guy without any head movement or footwork. I charge forward blindly and try to grab hold of the man any way I can. Somehow I manage to do just that, and then I sit down, pulling him as hard as I can down with me.
My opponent freezes. We land in single-leg x-guard. He doesn’t punch me, he doesn’t try to pass. That’s when I realize, Oh my god, he has no idea what to do.
Now I don’t mean this as an insult to my opponent. I would guess he probably thought the same thing while he watched me throw my feeble strikes and shoot my shitty takedowns. There is a huge disparity between our skill levels, but now that disparity is in my favor.
I bring my outside leg to the center to break his posture and reap his knee. He runs away immediately, yanking his leg out of my guard. As soon as I stand up, I hear Dan yelling, “Do it again! He has no idea what to do!” I feel like turning to him and telling him yes, I know this, too. I pull guard again almost immediately and go for the reap once more. This time when my opponent tries to escape, I follow and throw my weight at him the best I can.
Finally, I am where I was meant to be.
I land in his guard and breathe a sigh of relief. The fight is not over yet, but my chances have improved dramatically. I use my head to frame on his and get to quarter guard. From there he gets to his knees and into the turtle position. Dan yells at me to keep one hand controlled and punch with my free hand.
We are very close to my side of the cage, so I explain very calmly that he has grips on both of my hands. “Take his back then,” Dan answers. I slowly set to work when the referee says the most horrible thing imaginable in that moment: “Action!”
Oh, Christ. I have completely forgotten that the ref can stand us back up. Well, there is no fucking way I am going to stand with this guy again and let him punch me in the face some more. So without any technique at all, I pull him as hard as I can and try to take his back.