Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rigidity vs. Flexibility

Georgette just posted a blog ( that I thought was really insightful. At one point, she was talking about how white belts and he said:

"Most new whitebelts are like babies grunting, making sounds, only barely able to communicate with their partners by shoving or grabbing them and they’re fixated on what they want to “say,” often refusing to “listen” to their opponent (which manifests itself in that charming, rigid deathgrip and spastic movement we all know and don’t love.)"

Unfortunately, I know exactly what he means and can see some of it in myself, especially in the "deathgrip" department and trying to force what I want to happen. In the last month or so, I've really been working to change that aspect of my grappling; to learn to "go with the flow" more and use the momentum of my opponent in order to move from one position to another.

Last night, I started saw some positive steps in that direction. I was rolling with another white belt girl who is smaller than me and has had less experience than I have, so I was really relaxed. I wasn't looking for submissions, I was just moving and trying to get into dominant positions and then defend them, making her work to get out of them. I noticed I moved A LOT smoother.

Most of this probably has to do with the fact that I wasn't meeting with as much resistance as I normally do. But I also think the fact that I was relaxed and deliberately trying to react to her movements and work them to my advantage. If she pushed, I went with the motion and came around to one side or the other. If I was in side control and she tried to hip out, I sat out or moved to north south. Once she started going one way to get our of north south, I took advantage of the space and moved into side control on the other side. Then it was to mount, then it was taking the back.

I didn't have an agenda. I was focused on reacting to what she was doing and trying to come out into the best position I could from what I was presented with. Shockingly (to me), when I let go of control like that, I ended up in better positions than when I have tried to force my way into those positions.

I know, I know. It's shocking that my instructors were right. Again. As backwards as it seems to my mind, you fight better when you're relaxed and willing to go with the flow of the other person.

And, as with so many things in BJJ, this concept reminds me of life off the mat: Learning to let go of control and stop trying to force things to happen, instead trusting, doing your best and being flexible enough to make the most of whatever life throws your way.


Meerkatsu said...

Allie I think the post on Georgette's blog was actually written by Georgette herself. Matt was only the editor of the e-zine, he did not write it. Hope this helps.

A.D. McClish said...

Oh! I'm sorry about that. I'll go in fix it right away. Thanks for the heads up!

Liam H Wandi said...

This is wonderful stuff Allie. You are in the moment and letting go of control. Soon the big thing will happen: You will realise that control is just an illusion :) You just gone thru a grappling break-thru. They're great when they happen and a little addictive.

Dev said...

I wouldn't describe it as "letting go of control" as much as just relaxing, which you've also talked about at length. You ALWAYS need control, whether it's to stay in a position that YOU choose (not your opponent) or to keep things safe for both of you.

I think it comes back to the idea of staying relaxed until it's time to not be relaxed. What I think you're discovering is the ability to calm down your nerves, relax your grips, and understand that you still ARE actually in control without a vice grip 100% of the time. When it's time to change the scenario, your grip comes back, your muscle tension comes back, and you make the position change happen. But until then, you know that solid technique allows you to not maintain muscle tension in your legs or hands, while still keeping your opponent where you want them.


A.D. McClish said...

@ Liam: Thanks! Yeah, it definitely is addictive! I'm still not completely getting that balance yet of letting go of that rigid.stiff mentality. I can see the relaxed, reactionary style in other grapplers. But I am still trying to get over the idea that if I go the way someone is pushing me that I'll end up where they want me to be instead of understanding how to use that motion to my advantage. So, a lot of the times I still end up fighting back against them. Instinct, I guess.

@ Dev: Yeah, that's what I was having a hard time with: finding the balance between being relaxed and maintaining control. I'm not there yet, but I think it's something that I'll learn time on the mat and experience. So I'm going to be on the mat as much as possible!! ;)