I went into De La Riva BJJ tonight, like any other night, expecting to encounter the usual suspects such as the black belt adder and the white belt spas monkey. But tonight, I found an entirely new species of BJJ’er, and since I discovered him, I get to name him! I hereby dub thee the Great Blue Belted Bear!
“What”?, you say in astonishment! That’s right, an entirely new and baffling species of BJJ’er. Sit back, grab a beverage and let me tell you this astonishing tale!
It was a long hot day… with record setting heat in the Copacabana! I had trudged through the dirty, wild streets of Nossa Senhora for twenty minutes to eventually find my way to the sight of Academia Uno, Equipe De La Riva – a wild yet somewhat well-explored environment known to be (relatively) safe for Gringos . I had arrived early, eager for new discoveries – like any other night on the mats. I started off strong in the 5 o’clock class encountering several White belted spas monkeys, as well as a Brown Belted bull shark and even a Purple Belted badger! That guy was tough and moved super-fast in almost every direction! We had a great roll and it ended in a draw. I survived each encounter feeling as though I was getting more and more familiar with each of the different species of BJJ’er. Just one more step in the never-ending progression of any BJJ scientist.
Then, it happened! Professor De La Riva paired me up with what I thought would be a standard Blue belted killer bee. You know, those blue belts that see the purple on your waist and decide it is time to flip the “kill switch”!
We started with him in my guard and the roll progressed quickly and as I had expected. He was strong and he worked to pry open my closed guard. Not one to argue, I opened up, brought my right foot to his hip while simultaneously popping over on to my right hip. I had a strong and deep grip inside of his lapel and was feeling confident that he would fall into my cross-choke trap (as many blue belted badgers do. Impatient to pass my guard they rotate their shoulders when passing the foot on their hip and then fall helplessly into the cross-choke as they strain to escape the half-guard trap and eventually tap due to the ever-sinking choke). But, it was then that I realized I was dealing with a different creature altogether! As he shoved my knee down with his very strong pants grip and leveraging his +20 kilos of weight, I gave up the full guard and let him shove my leg into a half-guard position (“let him” might be an over-statement). As I waited for him to push away and fall into my trap he moved in a way I had not expected: he dropped his chest onto mine and stopped moving.
“Smart badger”, I thought. “He has sensed my cross-choke trap and had gone into a “pressure pass”, I thought to myself. Next, he will use the under-hook he has to pyramid up, grinding his head into my chin, and passing my half-guard.
This is where I was wrong, and had truly stumbled upon an entirely different species. The “Great Blue Belted Bear.” I had readied my outside leg by under-hooking it under my opponents leg, hoping for a chance to make for deep-half when he tri-pods up for the pass, but it never happened! Instead, he unleashed his secret weapon: The Great Blue Belted Bear Hug!
As I readied for him to posture up a bit and tri-pod onto his feet, the very clever blue belted bear instead wrapped both arms around my shoulders and head and began squeezing in an effort to force my brains out through my eyeballs.
I was shocked! Confused! What was happening? I didn’t know! Like any good purple-waist-ed explorer, I had placed my hand across the neck of my opponent as soon as the pass to half-guard occurred and now, it seemed as though the blue belted bear was attempting a choke using my own arm on one side and the entirety of his chest on the other.
Now, I recognize, dear comrades, that the “pass and hug” technique is not new to the repertoire of such creatures as the White Belted Spas Monkey and the Blue belted killer bee, but please, allow me a moment to expand on this behavior and the reason that I define this as an entirely new species of BJJ’er.
The Great Blue-Belted Bear is not just any ole’ blue belt. The Great Blue Belted Bear is always 10-20 kilos heavier than you, is as strong as his namesake, and wishes nothing more than for your legs to disintegrate, melt into the floor, or otherwise disappear altogether as he applies his half-guard bear hug.
As he applied his full-bodied hug to my head, neck and shoulder area, I kept my composure, maintained my outside leg underhook, and stepped my inside foot onto the back of his knee. With this I could very simply push down on the “knee-pit” and extend myself away from the great force generated by his “Man-hug”.
I had experienced this sort of thing before and expected that, after a short effort of man-hugging me to death he would eventually return to his Killer Bee behavior and go “full-Retard” in an attempt to pass the half-guard. How wrong I was!
The Bear adjusted his grips and squeezed again. I countered by pushing off of his knee and relieving pressure. The bear then, shifted his chest an inch higher on mine and resumed the squeeze. Again, I countered with my leg-extending technique.
It was a seven minute round and I had landed here inside of the first two minutes. I was astounded as intermittent squeezes, combined with grunting, heavy breathing and an occasional shift of the chest went on and on. This wasn’t a simple lay and pray approach! This was a full on effort to squeeze my face into his chest until we became a single entity like the rebel leader in the original “Total recall”.
At some point he attempted a head and arm choke, neglecting to realize that he was still in my half-guard and that he had really just relieved the pressure of his head on mine.
This lasted the remaining five minutes and when time had expired I was greeted by a hearty “Muito Bom”! ” Nao posso passar seu guarda” (This is the native language of the Great Blue Belted Bear and means, roughly “Great job, I couldn’t pass your half guard”).
I left the mat with a small, internal chuckle, wondering when it was that he thought he was trying to pass my half-guard. Then again, maybe the plan was to squeeze me until I passed completely through him and ended up on top with my back turned? Or maybe he was trying to squeeze the purple dye out of my belt and into his. I really have no idea, but I rushed through the wild streets of Rio de Janeiro to get home so I could document this incredible scientific find!
So there it is folks, the first sighting of a brand new species of BJJ’er! He’s heavy, and he’s strong and he is going to squeeze your face/chest inside your guard until either your legs fall away, void of circulation or time runs out…it could go either way!
Be aware, The bear is out there!
Oss! And remember, if you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right 🙂