Friday, May 7, 2010

Talking During Grappling

I think it's funny to see how vastly different one grappling experience can be from the next. You might go with one guy who is laid back, just "moving" as we say, and then the very next grapple you go with someone who is going all out, pushing you to the limit of your ability. Sometimes you kind of mess around in a grapple, or experiment with weird moves you've never tried before, but then other times the intensity goes up and the grapple gets serious.

Things get even more interesting when you add talking into the mix. Now, I don't have a problem when you're rolling with someone and goofing around and talking smack back and forth mutually. But there are some breeches of etiquette that I've noticed and I thought I'd talk about them here and get your opinions on what you think about these talky grapplers. Let me just say, I've been guilty of some of these "offenses" from time to time. Anyway, here they are:

1. The Staller -- This is the guy or gal who likes to talk during the whole grapple. They tell you stories, ask you questions, tell you about a technique they saw...whatever happens to come to their mind. Meanwhile, they aren't really grappling, they're moving a little bit, but are acting like they're not really going hard. They might do that for the entire grapple. If you are also a talker or just want to take it easy for one round, this might not be a problem for you. But if you really want to work on stuff, this person can be frustrating.

2. The Sneak Attacker -- This guy or girl is similar to The Staller, with one big difference. They'll be talking up a storm and laughing and seemingly messing around and not going serious. Then, they get into a good position and all of the sudden the conversation stops and you're getting choked out. This is one of my biggest pet-peeves. I don't know if it bothers anyone else, but I don't like it when someone asks you a question and waits for you to respond and then tries to pull a move on you. The Sneak Attacker is also sometimes develops "phantom injuries" that come at the start of the grapple but magically disappear when the person gets in a good position.

3. The Smack Talker -- Everyone likes to joke around and talk a little crap from time to time, but the smack talker isn't joking. They're throwing out jibes during the grapple aimed at either announcing a good position/submission on their part or belittling a good position/submission attempt on your part. In my opinion, this ruins a training experience because the focus gets taken off of learning and it turns into a competition between two people who are supposed to be on the same team, helping each other out.

4. The Advice Giver -- This one is similar to The Staller as well. Here's how they operate. You're grappling and you're moving into a good position or setting up a submission and all of the sudden your partner stops you and tells you that you're doing something wrong. They then very kindly tell you what you need to do in order to get the technique right. Meanwhile, you're thrown off your timing and they're getting out of danger. Now, sometimes higher belts will stop a grapple to explain something or give advice to a lower belt. But that's a different scenario. What I'm talking about is when someone decides to share their pearls of wisdom at the precise (convenient) moment when he or she is about to get owned.

5. The Passive-Aggressive Commenter -- This person has beef with you. Maybe you caught them in an unexpected position or submission and they're still mad about it. Maybe you said something that rubbed them the wrong way last class. Or maybe they just don't like you. But they're not going to come out and say it. Instead, they're going to make comments like, "Oh, I noticed you couldn't finish that triangle. Are you not feeling well?" Or, "Usually I have more of a hard time grappling you. Is everything ok?" You can tell how concerned they are by that gleeful glint in their eye as they stick it to you!

6. The Braggart/Accuser -- This offender takes his or her crimes off the mat, usually behind your back. They'll tell everyone they can how many times they submitted you and the mistakes you made. Or, if you happened to beat them, they'll smear you up and down saying you cross-faced them or made a cheap move in order to get your submission. Of course, you're not there to give your version of the story. But you certainly hear about it later when the gossip finally comes back around to you.

It's kind of a given that people are going to say stupid things to you at some point, whether it is on the mat or off the mat. I've done it before to other people, though not intentionally, and have had to apologize for opening my big mouth when I should have just kept it shut and grappled. And other people have done it to me.

In my opinion, it's best to error on the side of caution. If you think a joke is borderline and might be taken offensively, just don't say it. And, unless a person asks you for advice, I am starting to think it's best to just keep your opinions to yourself. That is, unless you have a good relationship with the person and you trade experiences and advice, or unless you're an instructor. Then it's kind of your job. ;) If you keep your mouth shut, you'll save yourself a lot of drama and have a more pleasant grappling experience.

So here is my question for you guys in the blogosphere: How do you handle talky grapplers? Do you ignore them and put it on with the fierceness? Do you endure the rambling and the comments with the patience of Mother Theresa? Or do you talk right back to them, meanwhile setting them up for that secret ninja position they missed in the last class and have no defense for? ;) I'm interested to see how your reactions line up with mine.


leslie said...

I can't usually multitask well enough to talk and roll. Also, there's generally a "No Talking" rule during our rolls, so the most you usually hear is short comments, generally of the joking smack-talk variety. (After class rolls or Open Mat is different; talk away.)

I'm finding myself needing to talk during some rolls, though, with the girls, to remind them of things they know and to calm them down.

Your #4 is also the guy who realizes he's about to get legitimately caught, so he disguises that by "walking you through the submission" so that he can explain that the only way you got it is because he helped you.

Shawn Aukstakalnis said...

I use to talk a lot when I roll, but honestly I've come to the conclusion for most training its not the way to go.. I agree with Leslie I can't multi-task and people generally aren't good at it. I prefer to focus and go with the flow, and then during the breaks talk about whats going on.

BJJ Judo said...

We have a "No Talking" rule in my school as well and it is for all of the reasons you mentioned. I totally agree with Leslie on the #4, he is about to get caught and wants to "save face". My biggest frustration is with the "phantom injury". I put them in the same category as the people who want to restart from neutral when get too close to the wall.

Dev said...

I talk a fair amount when I roll, for different reasons. I know it bugs some people, and I try to tone it down when I'm rolling with someone I know just wants to roll, not have a discussion.

First, if I'm going with a white belt, I try not to stop the roll, but if they're stalled in a position, I try to point them toward a progression: "look to pin the leg," "look for that arm there," "try walking the hips around," or whatever. Sometimes - particularly really junior guys - they stop completely when you start talking. At that point the flow's messed up anyway, so I try to explain quickly and move back into it.

The other time I talk is when I'm getting handled, sort of reverse smack talking. I'm very conscious of what's happening, and I'll say stuff like "good pass," when someone nails a pass on me, but it's usually when higher belts are crushing me - after John or Pete ends up in side control, I'll be like "well, THAT'S not what I meant to do." And I did that a lot with my Coach - when he would pass or set up a submission, I'd usually say "that's not fair - I didn't mean to do that," to which he would usually reply "oh, sorry - I won't do that next time you give it to me." To me, that sort of stuff is fun, and for me it kept me thinking about what was going on.

Honestly, I haven't dealt too much with someone who used talking to distract from a roll, but I think that would get annoying really quick. I guess the key would be continuing to go forward as they're talking. Not sure how else I'd respond.

JMAW said...

I don't mind talking so much if it's helpful and not excessive like the forms you've discussed. I also get impressed with something I've never seen before or that is well-executed and have a tendency to tell my partner "nice" from time to time.

My pet-peeve is the person who makes like they don't know what the rules are for flow-rolling or specific training and then when you stop to explain they bust out something to get the dominant position. We have a few dudes like that where I train and that one is ridiculous in my opinion.

A.D. McClish said...

@ Leslie: I'm the same way. I can't talk and grapple at the same time. At least, I can't carry on a conversation. And I have definitely experienced what you
re talking about: the guy "explaining" how to do the submission.

@ Shawn: I think that's the way to go; talking between breaks. Unless both of the people grappling like to converse while rolling.

@ BJJ Judo: Yeah, phantom injuries are really frustrating. I have no problem is someone has a hurt arm or knee or something and wants their partner to look out for it and avoid submissions on it. But if you say you want to go light because you are injured, don't turn around and go all out as soon as you're in a good position, right?

@ Dev: Haha! I totally do the "reverse smack talking" too! I shout out things like "Fail!" and "Crap" or "Well that was awesome" (in a sarcastic way, of course). Like I was saying in the post, I don't have a problem if people are jovially joking around like that. Or even if they're talking crap in a joking way. It's when you can tell that they're using talking as a strategy to get you off your game that it annoys me. Is it a legitimate strategy? Some people might say yes. Keep talking. Make the guy angry. Then he'll make a mistake. But for me, I don't like it.

A.D. McClish said...

@ JMAW: I completely agree!!

Georgette said...

I do the reverse smack too! Usually it comes out as "well, that's not what I wanted.." or "oh, shit." (I actually use the timing of my oh-shit as a metric of improvement. The closer my realization that I made a mistake to the actual mistake, the better I'm getting.)

I also make brief comments when someone does something well. "Niiiice!"

There are one or two whitebelt boys who do the #4 thing.

But I am happy to say that the rest of the people don't live at our gym!

A.D. McClish said...

@ Gorgette: I know what you mean about gauging your progress by how quickly you realize you're about to go down! lol.