This may be one of my favorite Women's Class moments yet.
During grappling, one of my 115 lb teenie tiny terrors was grappling one of our much stronger girls. The stronger girl had our little Mighty Mouse in mount and I saw her struggling so I came over to help her. I told her, "Try to get on your side and trap her leg into half guard."
Mighty Mouse stops moving and looks at me with the best eff-you face I have ever seen. With as much patience as she can summon, she says, "What do you think I am trying to do?" LOL!!!
It's ok, I feel your pain Mighty Mouse. I have been there before. A lot. I am still there on a regular basis. You learn these techniques, then you have to try to use them against someone bigger and stronger and it just...doesn't work. You start to wonder, "Does this crap even work for someone as small as me?"
The answer is, yes. But unfortunately for us Lilliputians, it takes time to learn how to use the techniques we learn against someone bigger and stronger who is actively trying to resist. There are no short cuts. Time spent in trial and error on the mat is the only way to overcome our size and strength disadvantage. However, I do have some tips that I have learned that help me when I am stuck.
1. Switch between escapes.
If you are trying one escape and it isn't working, switch to another one. Be able to transition back and forth between escapes just like you would transition from one submission to another or one position to another.
When you are learning escapes during technique and drilling, think about how the escape works and why. Ask yourself: When does this work best? Where does my opponents weight need to be? Where does my weight need to be?
Use your grapples with bigger stronger people to learn when to use the different escapes. If you spend the whole time getting smashed, ask your instructor or a higher belt for corrections to what you're doing or even new ideas for escapes you haven't learned yet.
2. Use trickery!
Small people need to be sneaky. Sometimes I use distraction to try to escape. I will act like I am going to one escape, but I am trying to covertly trap them into another escape.
3. Keep moving.
This is the most important thing. If you give up you will never get out. I am not saying you should flail around pointlessly.But, if you are in practice and you have no idea what to do, take a deep breath, think about what parts of your body are pinned down and what parts of your body are free. Then think about what you can do with the free parts of your body to either make space or get the other person off balance or to distract them so you can go for a different escape.
4. Give yourself a break.
Even black belts still have things to learn and we are not black belts yet!! ;) So accept the fact that you have holes in your game and look at them as challenges that you are ready to face and over come. Every grapple can teach you something, whether you spend the grapple getting submission after submission or if you spend the grapple eating the mat.
When you start to get frustrated, remind yourself how far you have already come. Give yourself kudos for sticking with a sport that is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. Then, wipe the blood off your busted lip and get back on the mat and try again.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
This may be one of my favorite Women's Class moments yet.
Posted by A.D. McClish at 8:20 AM
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Posted by A.D. McClish at 5:52 AM
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Gearing up for a competition can be nerve-wracking. All you need to do is look back into the earlier days of this blog and you will read about me freaking the crap out over my competitions. You worry about making weight, you worry about whether the other girls are going to be good, you worry about not losing your first fight and about not disappointing your instructor, teammates, friends, family and complete strangers who may be watching you.
|Me at my first tournament, trying to look intimidating but|
instead looking like a freak.
1. If you are competing at a NAGA, fight in the weight class you are in. As women, you never know how many competitors you are going to have and if there aren't many, they will combine weight classes. Stephanie, my training partner and best friend, once kicked her own butt trying to drop to lightweight only to get to the NAGA and discover there were no other lightweight girls. She had to fight up a weight class.
This won't happen at IBJJF tournaments where they are very strict about weight classes, but even in those tournaments, consider how much of an advantage dropping weight really is. Will you still be strong? Will worrying about your weight take your focus off your training? I would say, if you are within a few pounds of the low end of your weight class, go for it. Otherwise, I am not sure it is worth it to kill yourself to drop weight classes.
2. Don't worry about how good the other girls will be. One year I stressed about all the possible girls in my division. I tried to look them all up on facebook and youtube and google search. I creeped their pages for any shred of information that might give me some insight into their bjj prowess.
But then, when I went to California last year, I decided that this wasn't about them. It was about me. It wasn't about how good they are, it is about me putting my skills to the test. Every day I started talking positively to myself about my strengths. I visualized myself doing what I do best and winning my matches. And I forced myself not to focus on whether I would win or lose, but on grappling at my best.
You cannot control how good the other girls will do. But you can control how well you prepare yourself physically and mentally. And if you are grappling at your best and you lose, who cares? All that means is that you still have room to improve--hopefully you knew that already. ;)
3. Me and Steph would always say things like, "I just hope I don't lose my first match."
Why? What if you fight the best girl in the division and lose your first match? Does that make you suck because you lose to that girl in the first round instead of losing to her in the second round? It doesn't change anything.
Instead of focusing on NOT losing or NOT getting submitted or NOT getting swept or whatever negative thing it is that you fear, try to focus on something positive instead, like passing guard or doing a take down or doing a sweep. Visualize yourself doing these things over and over again and drill them like crazy in your classes.
If you worry about things beyond your control--like what the other girl may do to you--then you are wasting energy. Focus your energy on the things you can control--like drilling positions and submissions and visualizing yourself doing those in the tournament. Visualize yourself winning and put in the work to make it a reality!
4. If your coach, team, friends and family shun you because you lose a match then you need to make a social move. Your worth to your team does not rest in how many medals you bring home. And if it does, then forgive me but you are on the wrong team. And certainly your worth to your family and friends isn't tied to how well you perform.
When I competed in Atlanta, some of my family who lives in Georgia was there. They had never seen a BJJ tournament. Before I fought, I gave them a crash course in what to look for: dominant positions and submission attempts and escapes. Their eyes were huge the whole time. They had next to no idea what was going on. But they screamed their heads off when I was fighting and were proud of me even when I got disqualified. Why? Because they love me, not because I grappled well. Your friends and family will be proud of you too no matter what because you are important to them as a person.
Posted by A.D. McClish at 6:20 AM
Saturday, September 8, 2012
This morning in the Women's Class, we worked on some triangle transitions. One to the key points that Fabio emphasizes is that, when you are going for a triangle, it is important to hip up when you are initially clamping your leg over their back. You get a much tighter triangle from the beginning that way.
After your establish the triangle, people can defend several ways. But as always in BJJ, there is a counter to every defense. For example, when you triangle someone and they over hook the leg on the same side as their triangle arm, you can sit up and kimura them or wristlock them, or you can pry out the arm and do a straight arm or switch to a regular armbar.
While we were going through the steps, Ashley made a funny observation. She said, "Just when you think you're safe and you're defending something, they get you again! There's nowhere safe! There's just the lesser of two evils!"
Posted by A.D. McClish at 9:28 AM
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Posted by A.D. McClish at 5:41 AM
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Do you have the same excitement for BJJ as you did when you first started training? I remember what I was like during that first year. Poor Ben. My instructor would get to the class (which was held at a local high school) and find me and Stephanie already waiting outside the locked door. From the moment he arrived we would start talking to him. Our questions were endless. What should we be doing to get ready for a competition? What was that side control escape you showed us three classes ago? I keep getting triangled when I pass guard and I don't know why. Can you help me?
So what is it that is keeping me on the mat 5 or more times a week?
I know I talk to women who dread going to the gym. They hate the treadmill. They have to drag themselves onto it. Why do they go? Maybe it's guilt? Maybe they really want to lose weight? Maybe they feel they need to be healthier? Maybe someone is pressuring them to be there?
I go to BJJ for health and fitness. But more than that, I go because I STILL love the art. When I see something new, I still get that same excitement I got when I first started. I still sit at home and think about ways I can move differently. I still stay after class sometimes working out problems with other higher belts.
What keeps a BJJ practitioner on the mat is love. We go and we keep going because we love the sport/art. Anyone who comes into BJJ and does not really love it won't last very long. It is hard. It is time-consuming. It is mentally and physically exhausting. You get injuries. You get sore muscles. You get your hair pulled out and you have to keep your nails short and blah, blah, blah.
For me, when it's love, you do whatever it takes. When it's love, going to class isn't a chore. It's a CHANCE to see something you haven't seen before. It's a chance to grow.
What things keep you coming back to your BJJ school?
Posted by A.D. McClish at 5:44 AM
Sunday, July 29, 2012
It is always nerve wracking for me to watch my teammates fight in tournaments. My palms get sweaty. My heart pounds. By the end of a tournament, my voice is usually gone and, even if I didn't fight, I am exhausted. But being there to support the girls from the women's class took my anxiety to a whole new level.
Four of our new girls competed, three for the first time. Every time one of them stepped on the mat, I felt proud and scared at the same time. The fact that they were brave enough to try at all made me proud. What made the experience even better was seeing them use what they have been practicing in a high stress situation. They fought well and with a lot of heart. I couldn't be happier.
But, strangely, the thing I am most proud of happened in the week after the tournament. One of my girls went and lost. It happens to all of us. You work so hard, but it just doesn't come together. When that happens to one of my teammates, I always feel like I'm holding my breathe to see how they will take the loss. Will it shatter their confidence or push them to train harder for the next tournament?
Understandably, this student was upset right after the loss. She had given it everything she had. I've been there before. I hugged her, told her how proud I was of her and about all the positive things I saw in her grapple, then she and her friends watched the rest of the tournament and enjoyed themselves.
I wondered what she was thinking. Would she lose confidence in herself? Would she want to try again? Would she even want to keep training? This girl has a lot of potential and the thought of her quitting made me feel very anxious.
But I knew this was one of those defining moments that grapplers face. Jiu-jitsu is hard. You get bruised up physically and emotionally. But eventually, if you do not quit, you can learn from all your bumps and bruises and hopefully avoid them in the future. Or deal them out yourself. ;)
When this student showed up for class the next week, I was paying close attention to her attitude. I found out everything I needed to know as soon as we slapped hands to grapple. She was hungry. She fought better and with more aggression than I had ever seen from her before. It wasn't just her trying to use strength, she was thinking. She was using her technique and she was coming after me.
I couldn't stop smiling. I was even more proud of her then than I had been with her good attitude at the tournament. She wasn't going to quit. She was going to work harder. She was was going to make sure she learned her lessons from that tournament. Already, in the few weeks that have passed, I have seen improvement.
So...keep struggling. Wear your bruises with pride. They're evidence that you're committed to growth, both as a grappler and as a person. Osss!!!
Posted by A.D. McClish at 6:41 PM