Friday, December 18, 2009

Intimidation Factor

Why is it that I am more intimidated to grapple a fellow white belt who is about to go blue than to grapple the purple and brown belts in our school?

I noticed this yesterday in class. Every time I grapple unfamiliar guys who are also white belts or who are blue belts that I don't normally grapple, I get really nervous. I know these guys from class, but I rarely roll with them. When I do, I usually end up not rolling as well as I should.

I think I realized what the probelm is. I'm worried about them thinking that I suck. I'm worried about them submitting me. I'm worried about catching submissions on them. When I'm rolling with purples and browns, the pressure is off. I EXPECT to be constantly defeated, so I just relax and try stuff. It's the same way with all the blue belts I normally grapple. I know they're better than me. So I just focus on moving and trying to use what little technique I know.

When I roll with a fellow white belt or a blue belt that I don't know very well, I feel a stupid amount of pressure to perform. Why? Who cares if another white belt taps me? And especially, who cares if another blue belt taps me. That's why I have the white belt--because I'm a beginner.

It seems like I keep coming back to this issue of trying to prove myself. And every time it happens, I suck for a few classes because I'm psyching myself out. Then I realize I need to relax. Then I do and finally I can roll normally again.

I'm a head case.

Anyway, we did a guard pass yesterday that was pretty cool. It's one of those leaping, cartwheel-y type ones that I probably won't use for a very long time. But it was fun to practice. Rolling was fun too, except for that one grapple where I let my head gt in the way. I grappled one of our purple belts, Joe Boxer, who is really fun to roll with. He rolled lighter than normal with me, giving me resistance and forcing me to move correctly, but basically letting me get into positions and try things.

I had "taken" his back and I had this rear naked choke. It was taking a long time. Nothing was happening. I was squeezing, I was filling my lungs with air. No tap. Since it is SUPPOSED to be a blood choke, I was 90% sure that I wasn' doing it right. So I turned my head to ask Fabio what I was doing wrong and I hear, "No Allison! Put your head back!" But it was too late. He got his head to the side and escaped. lol. Oh well. It wasn't like I legitimately got that choke anyway.

Impatience for the lose!!! ;)


Dev said...

Honestly, there isn't much anyone can tell you that you didn't already put in your post. Simple fact is that what you're talking about is a mental block, and you'll get past it at some point.

My advice is to attack it - instead of avoiding it, deliberately ask those guys if they'll roll with you. I try to look at it as a collaboration - sometimes, you're working on a different move than them, and that's what you SHOULD be doing - trying new things, regardless of the belt. Senior whites are good to work stuff on because they generally decent defense.

At any rate, if you sink something, or nail a solid sweep, especially one where you both go "wow!" then stop and teach it to them. Maybe they've seen it before, and maybe they haven't, but you BOTH learn. You can't expect to rock a new technique on a purple if it hasn't worked on a white or blue.

But in terms of the mental block, lower your head and wade into it. Purposely roll with those guys that intimidate you, or that you find yourself getting nervous about for no reason. At some point you'll look back and wonder what it was you were all worked up about.

leslie said...

Oi, yeah, I know the feeling. I felt like that a lot after a couple months of class, though I don't know that I ever pinpointed it as well as you did. (Mostly I just say I'm "frustrated.") I'm not sure that I'm all that much better now.

I think we're all head cases right there with you :P

And Dev, I'm gonna take that advice myself. Thanks :D

Dev said...

It's easier said than done, for sure. I have several guys that I tend to casually avoid because they are SO good (in fact, I wrote about one of them in my last blog), and I feel like I am not living up the THEIR standard when I roll with them. But I know - consciously - that if I can overcome that initial step (kinda like skydiving, I suppose) then the rest will just happen. You just have to take that first step.

slideyfoot said...

I've almost certainly linked this before, but I find that reading this thread really helps combat that kind of anxiety.

I avoid rolling with unknown quantities too: my reason is that I don't know their level of control yet, and therefore whether or not they're an injury risk.

If at all possible, I like to be able to watch how somebody spars (especially if they're a white belt) before I roll with them.

A.D. McClish said...

Thanks guys! @ Dev: I think you're right about needing to just jump in there and face it head on. These guys are my teammates. They're not going to hurt me on purpose or ridicule me if I don't perform well. The only thing stopping me from rolling at %100 percent is my own fear of failing. This happens in tournaments too. I won 1st place in no-gi. Then, when gi came along, I got all psyched out because I was worried about failing and disappointing my family and friends.

@ Leslie: It's great to know that I'm not alone in feeling this way sometimes. At least I know I'm a head case with company! ;)

@ slidey: Good advice. Fortunately, Fabio rarely if ever puts me with brand new white belts. The guys I am getting intimidated are guys that I know and have seen rolling, but just haven't had a chance to roll with myself more than once or twice. Like I was saying to Dev, they're nice guys. It's not like I am afraid that they will hurt me. I am more afraid that they will think that I suck. I know I need to just toss my ego aside and enjoy rolling. But for some reason, I just freeze up when I'm grappling someone new-to-me like that.

A.D. McClish said...

@ Slidey: I read that link you posted and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Worrying about not performing well was causing me not to try new things against those other guys. I can definitely see a tendency in my personality to want to impress my teammates. Just have to fight against it and remember why I came there in the first place. To learn BJJ!!

slideyfoot said...

Cool - glad to hear it! I absolutely love that thread: I'm not exaggerating when I say I think it is the best BJJ related post on an internet board ever.

I read it before I started training, and I've aspired to follow the ethos NSLightsOut presented ever since.