Why not try a no gi school?
I drove out to the east side of town to The Garage, to attend their 7pm class.
Mike Zolondek was leading the workout. He was very welcoming and too the time to introduce me to everyone on the mat. We did a little running to warm up and then started in on drilling.
I liked Mike’s format. He put us in parallel lines facing each other to make pairings. He had one side start on their feet and the other start sitting. The objective was for the standing person to penetrate the sitter’s guard, controlling and moving past their feet into the beginning of a knee cut or a folding pass. We started out slowly, then raised the intensity as the three minute rounds progressed and we cycled through partners. In the last two rounds, the stander tried to pass the open guard completely.
After about six 3’s, the standing side of the room sat down, and the sitting side tried to pass.
After 6 more rounds it was time to roll. I went with Mike first. I played from the bottom, focusing on keeping my knees against my chest and denying grips on my ankles like I’d learned at Fifty/50. It helped me defend more easily against both the pass and against Mike’s leg lock entries.
Once Mike felt that I at least knew what I was doing, he turned it up. We had a fast paced exchange with lots of inverting and leg attacks. A couple times Mike got into heel hook territory, but I sensed his control and goodwill and felt safe defending without having to worry about him applying reckless torque.
My second round was with a guy who I had drilled with a lot during class. When our objective was to get between their knees, he had pinched his together, allowing easy passes around the outside. I wasn’t getting the penetration, just folding his legs down again and again and he gave me some advice on how to separate his knees. He also volunteered to ease up on me which I declined as politely as possible.
So when we got to rolling, he was surprised when I passed his guard to the outside and sunk a choke from his back in about a minute. I did this once more, then played from the bottom, sweeping and submitting twice more. He looked disappointed in himself when it was over and I tried my best to hide my satisfaction.
He seemed like a genuinely nice guy who just had some misconceptions due to his only training for 18 months.
I rolled with two other students and then did another fun round against Mike, finishing up with another student.
I sat around and talked a little about my trip afterward, then shook hands with everyone and headed off to find a Planet Fitness to shower at.
Good night of training.