A few weeks ago I went to a training session with the goal of working on and experimenting with the so-called “Sao Paulo Guard Pass.” My plan for sparring this day was to start in my partner’s closed guard, and then only use this one guard pass.
I spent the session training with one guy: a competitive brown belt who was about 15 lbs lighter than me. I’m heavier, stronger and more experienced. Should’ve been an easy sparring session, right?
Ummm, not so much…
That sparring session could be accurately described as long periods of deadlock, interrupted only by brief periods of him severely kicking my butt. After forty-five minutes he’d submitted me twice from his guard, swept me several times, and I HADN’T passed his guard once.
On my way home, though, I had a great big smile on my face. As far as I was concerned, the training session had been a great success!
You see, the previous time I’d worked with this same guard pass I’d had a hell of time surviving in the guard of a blue belt. ‘Only’ getting submitted two times this day by a brown belt was actually an improvement.
Furthermore, the fact that there were now long periods of stalemate meant that I was doing some things right. And my sparring partner told me that I’d actually been close to passing several times.
By the end of the sparring session I’d identified several sticking points in that guard pass – situations for which I had no good answers. These are times when the best thing you can do is go home, brainstorm for potential solutions and then test those solutions in sparring on another day.
So don’t freak out about tapping out. Cut yourself some slack, especially if you’re experimenting with a new technique, or tactic or strategy. If I can consider a training session successful despite getting tapped out multiple times by a lighter and lower-ranked grappler, then what are you worried about?