Monday, November 1, 2010

Submitting Whitebelts

I wasn't planning on doing another post today, but I just read an excellent post by Georgette about the struggle she has--and that I think a lot of us have--about whether or not we should use our training time with whitebelts to work things we can't work with more experienced people.

I am no authority on the issue. I have the same back-and-forth conversation going on inside my head when I grapple newer whitebelts. Should I catch that submission or let them work? Should I sweep or let them pass? Recently, though, I had an experience that has changed the way I think about training with whitebelts.

I have a female, whitebelt friend of mine who trains at the gym. She's doing really well, growing by leaps and bounds. But from the moment she started, I struggled with the idea of submitting her. It was not just her, I struggled with the idea of submitting any of the white belt girls that come to the gym.

She and I talked and she said that she wanted me to go for things on her so that she could grow. Ok, I thought. I'll go for some more things. But I kind of didn't. I still felt guilty, like I was taking advantage of her by going for things. I moved a lot more and got more dominant positions, but I still didn't submit her very much.

Then, we recently went to a tournament. Her boyfriend, who also trains, was talking to her before her match and he said something that really took me aback. He said, "Remember, these girls aren't Allie." I wasn't sure exactly how he meant it, but I think he meant something to the effect of, "Remember, these girls aren't going to be nice to you like Allie is."

This girl fought and she did really well. But the girl she went up against was a very aggressive attacker. As soon as my friend escaped a submission, the girl would go for the same submission again, keeping my friend on constant defense. My friend never got submitted and never gave up any positions, but the other girl won by advantage.

The thing is, the submission the other girl kept going for is one that I know and use on other people. I just never used it on my friend.

When we got back to training after the tournament, my friend asked me to start submitting her more. She said she needed to learn how to escape things. I felt horrible because, this whole time, I was kind of doing her a disservice by not catching submissions on her. This is something Fabio warned me about. Her boyfriend warned me about it too. I just didn't listen. She could have learned to work out of that submission that she was faced with in the tournament, but because I held back, she had never seen it before.

Now, I know that this isn't the kind of story that applies to everyone. My friend has an excellent attitude. She know that if she wants to grow, she needs people to attack her. Some people don't have that attitude.

Also, I know that no matter what, there are always going to be submissions that she could have been caught with that she had never seen before. She fought well, but sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. That's how it is. I know. It just bothered me because I love that submission and haven't done it on purpose because I didn't want to be a jerk. And now I managed to be a jerk anyway. lol

Anyway, moral of the story for me is that I am going to go for more submissions on white belts. I'm not necessarily going to finish them and I certainly won't be a jerk and crank anything. Bu I am going to at least catch them, though, and make them work out of it. Same thing with sweeps. That is what the higher belts do for me.


Georgette said...

Good point :) You just made me feel a lot better about what I usually do. I never crank stuff, but I go for subs as much as I can with definite intent and purpose, and people only escape if they really do the right thing and I can't defeat the counter. When I think about rolls where I let whitebelts work their stuff, I mean letting them go on the offense, and was feeling guilty like they weren't working "their stuff." But you're right-- that's letting them work just as much, on things that are still very important :) said...

I struggle wih the same issues, especially when I roll with my daughter! She gets mad at me when she knows I'm not going full force , but it just doesn't feel maternal to submit your own child. Marcelo constantly reminds me that I'm not helping her if I'm not challenging her.

Some kids from our school fought at NAGA last week and one of our boys took first in Gi and No Gi. I was so moved when his parents went out of their way to give credit to my daughter for his wins because of the way she challenges him each day in class.

BJJ Cailín said...

I have seen more than a few female white belts arms getting broken in tournaments because they don't understand when they are in danger. This comes from having training partners going too easy on them. No one just lets a white belt guy out of an armlock, they are forced to be taught how to react. It's unfortunate that so many girls (even through blue or purple belt) are not forced to learn when they are caught or how to properly escape submissions because their training partners "feel bad" submitting them or are afraid to hurt them.

A hyper extended arm in practice is better than breaking it in a tournament because you didn't know better.

Megan said...

I feel ya. When going for submissions/sweeps, I'll talk them through defense/posture and if they do what I say improperly, I submit/sweep.

I know I hate it when people let me win, so I try not to go too easy with them...keeping a watchful eye for any freakouts.

Kim said...

I don't know where he heard it, but my husband always tells me that you need 3 training partners. One that's better than you so you can work defense, one that you're better than so you can work offense, and one at the same level so you can put it all together.

I'm super new, but it seems like good advice to me! I also have a BJJ book I've been reading that defines the white belt role as "survival". You have to have everything (including the kitchen sink?) thrown at you in order to learn to survive :)