There’s at least one at every club. The guy who can’t “lose”, the guy who fights as if his very life is dependant upon this one sparring session; the guy who always goes 110% locked in 5th gear with the pedal buried applying every submission with reckless speed and power. The Hulk.

Identifying The Hulk can be tricky. Despite the moniker the Hulk isn’t necessarily the genetically gifted mass of muscle; though this is often the case, The Hulk can just as often be the middle aged high stressed accountant or the testosterone overloaded high school athlete or even the She-Hulk! How then can you know if you are about to engage in mortal combat with The Hulk?

Case: One favorite ploy of The Hulk is to lull you into a comfort zone prior to sparring by saying something like “Man, I’m feeling tired (or sick, or injured,or sore) today, let’s just go like 50% and flow light”. Twenty seconds into the roll The Hulk is trying to devour your soul in a frenzy of flailing limbs and flashing teeth! Sound familiar? If not you can count yourself fortunate – many a grappler has fallen victim to this trap!

Now you’ve got to make a decision whether to get smeared into the mat (and possibly injured) or to play this game and match the Hulk’s raging intensity. Now there is nothing wrong with physically taxing, high intensity grappling; especially if you have competitive aspirations however making every sparring session a battle to the death is suboptimal for several reasons:

(1) The chances of injury increase for both for you and your training partner

(2) Since everything is tense, tight and explosive it limits the development of that elusive attribute of “flow with the go”

(3) It limits your pool of training partners. People will start avoiding you on the mats, either because they don’t want to get injured or simply because they aren’t in the mood for an all-out knock down drag out fight.

(4) It can stop you from becoming well rounded. If winning every sparring match is the only thing that counts then you probably won’t willingly put yourself into bad situations or positions you need to improve at.

There are times when The Hulk can in fact they can be a very useful training partner; depending on what aspect of your game you are working on – especially survival and defense. The main thing to keep in mind is that you have to know what you are getting into and be prepared for a battle every single time. Don’t get duped into “going light and easy” and to without warning having the intensity escalated on you! Always remember that a clearly defining trait of The Hulk is that he is always injuring his training partners and/or himself.