Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Witch Hunt

I noticed something about myself yesterday during rolling that bothered me.

For a long time now, I have had a love/hate relationship with new, big, white belt guys. I hate that they muscle me and smash me and scare me with their spasmatic explosions. But I love that they challenge me and force me to learn new ways to deal with their insanity.

At first, they intimidated me and I stayed in guard. Then, over the last six months or so, I forced myself to move more. What has happened is not I am a white belts destroying machine.

I am not saying that I always end up "destroying" all white belts guys I go with. There are two white belt guys in particular that I can think of right off the top of my head that frustrate me to no end because I can't seem to adapt to their particular brand of smash.

But, in general, I am able to out-move most of the newer white belt guys. And I HAVE to, because they are all coming after me with everything they've got. It's kind of a kill or be killed situation.

At this point, I don't have the technical skill to be able to be like Fabio and a lot of the higher belts and roll all relaxed. I can get into dominant positions and get submissions, but I have to really fight for it most of the time, especially if the guy is a lot bigger.

Here's where my problem comes in: not all white belt guys are the devil. Not all of them are trying to smash me. Some of them just haven't learned how to calm down and not use muscle. They aren't trying to be jerks. They are just new. Unfortunately for them, I look at them and my brain says, "Must submit hard and fast!" And that is what I try to do.

Yesterday, I was grappling one particular guy who is pretty new; somewhere less than six months. He also is smaller than a lot of the other guys. Still considerably heavier and stronger than me, but not average beast man. He was coming after me and was quite spastic. He even picked me up like he might slam me at one point--I mean up to where he was standing up completely--and I said, "If you slam me, I am going to be pissed." That's the second time I have had to say that in the past few classes. And this was a different guy. Anyway, he put me down gently and Fabio pointed out to me that next time I need to just hook his legs and take him down. He'll learn if I do that. Anyway, other than that, this guy wasn't anywhere near hurting me. But instead of relaxing a little bit, though, I went after him with everything I had.

He was rubbing his arm after that grapple.

I apologized for hurting his arm. But the whole experience left me feeling confused. He was coming after me. And he was spastic. When I feel spasticness, my brain automatically shifts into "go mode" out of self preservation. What I did felt reasonable during the grapple. But afterwards, I felt like I had done something mean.

I need to find a balance. With some guys, I really do need to submit them hard and fast if I am able. But that's not every white belt guy I come into contact with. Even with guys who use muscle and who move unpredictably with a lot of force, I need to learn to use restraint. They might be out of control, but I SHOULD be in control of how hard I put on submissions.



Dolph said...

I hear ya. While I'm a guy, I weighed 116 pounds this morning. I'm smaller than everyone else on the mat, and some gigantanormous white belts see me and think "this is my chance to catch a purple belt".

If a big spazzy white belt picks me up when in my guard, I immediately say "You know you can't slam me, right?" Then go back to working my game.

There's also a very cool sweep from the standing guard. (a) control both arms, (b) carefully drop your legs around the person's knees while keeping their knees tight together by squeezing your knees; (c) pull person (using your hands and legs) above you and then to the side.

When someone is 90% muscley spaz and 10% technique, I've also used the line "you know that no one dies at the end of this roll?" It's actually calmed a couple folks down (though not most).

Georgette said...

Ooh, Dolph, I like. I'm going to try that.

Funny, Allie, I had some similar rolling last night.. in competition class we had timed rounds at the end in which we're instructed to go 100%. I had a whitebelt guy who is very sweet, but even though he's only 30lbs or so heavier than me, he's doggone strong and thick. So I was likewise in survive/attack/kill mode, and I got him a couple times... and after the first one, I didn't slow up despite sensing he was a little bewildered. (He wasn't necessarily slowing up either... but..)

At least in that context I am comforted knowing that I was expressly instructed to go 100% and not let up. But when I'm just rolling, I have the same type of experience you mentioned.

Afrorican said...

I've been dealing with this too recently coincidentally after I got done complaining that I don't roll with bigger guys enough. I am talking big white belts, 225+. I like Dolph's line, I think I'll borrow that!

Liam H Wandi said...

Dolph's line deffo wins!

It's also important that you don't die either Allie. As long as you're not getting any serious injuries (samming is still a nono) then enjoy the privilige that you are getting strengthened and toughened in a controlled environment. From reading your blog, I know that you know this :)

You're strengthening them and they are you. You're learning to deal with unrefined bruteness and they are learning that smaller girls can kick some serious behind.

Meg Smitley said...

^^^ TRUTH ^^^

Agreed. As long as everyone is (relatively safe - accidents happen!) have fun and take it as a complement that folk take you seriously enough to bring the smash. You'll get tougher, your technique tighter and you'll all grow together. I'm preaching to the converted, I know.

Take good care of yourself!

Bakari Akil II, Ph.D. said...

I like to ask my grappling partners to roll at different percents, 50, 75, etc. Further, I have gotten to the point where I will just say, "Do you mind if we slow down a bit?"