So, today I had the opportunity to roll with a professional athlete who's interested in crossing over to do MMA. In his "former life" he was a professional cyclist, so he's in amazing shape, cardio and strength-wise. Think zero bodyfat, wiry and lean, and he never gasses. I like to think I have solid cardio and endurance for jits-- I rolled a solid 4.5 hours on Easter Sunday afternoon-- but he might have me beat.
He's not too much bigger than me-- maybe 15 lbs?-- and he is relatively new to grappling. You'd think (I thought) I should have been able to school him. Instead, I found myself struggling just as much: fight to maintain or regain guard, fight for armbars from guard, struggle for sweeps, defend armbars, try to escape side or mount. Mostly I felt like my offense was inadequate; my defense seemed to fall prey to his unconventional, unexpected "newbie" attacks. I felt like I was being muscled.
So I wonder-- is it really a strength issue? It's very frustrating to consider that as a possibility. I don't want to be a whiner (Some girls say *everything* is muscling) and I want to make sure I'm not giving up when it's my technique that's the problem. Because it was nogi, I had a very hard time controlling his arms. I broke down his posture pretty well, but couldn't dig his m... f... arms out of my thighs... tried to play open guard and got lifted, tossed, dragged, stacked and ultimately squashed. Managed a sweep or two but only because he's totally green; of course from mount in nogi I'm stuck thinking of all the chokes I like if only I had some lapels to work with... I'd love to do an armbar but (again-- is it really a strength issue?) felt like I just couldn't pry his arms into place. I know- bait the choke, trick the arms out, but somehow it wasn't working.
I need more drilling and more mat time. Seriously, how does ANYONE get any better any faster at this sport? I probably spend 20-25 hrs a week on the mats. It's gotta be a question of working smarter because I don't see how I can work any harder or longer.