This may be one of my favorite Women's Class moments yet.
During grappling, one of my 115 lb teenie tiny terrors was grappling one of our much stronger girls. The stronger girl had our little Mighty Mouse in mount and I saw her struggling so I came over to help her. I told her, "Try to get on your side and trap her leg into half guard."
Mighty Mouse stops moving and looks at me with the best eff-you face I have ever seen. With as much patience as she can summon, she says, "What do you think I am trying to do?" LOL!!!
It's ok, I feel your pain Mighty Mouse. I have been there before. A lot. I am still there on a regular basis. You learn these techniques, then you have to try to use them against someone bigger and stronger and it just...doesn't work. You start to wonder, "Does this crap even work for someone as small as me?"
The answer is, yes. But unfortunately for us Lilliputians, it takes time to learn how to use the techniques we learn against someone bigger and stronger who is actively trying to resist. There are no short cuts. Time spent in trial and error on the mat is the only way to overcome our size and strength disadvantage. However, I do have some tips that I have learned that help me when I am stuck.
1. Switch between escapes.
If you are trying one escape and it isn't working, switch to another one. Be able to transition back and forth between escapes just like you would transition from one submission to another or one position to another.
When you are learning escapes during technique and drilling, think about how the escape works and why. Ask yourself: When does this work best? Where does my opponents weight need to be? Where does my weight need to be?
Use your grapples with bigger stronger people to learn when to use the different escapes. If you spend the whole time getting smashed, ask your instructor or a higher belt for corrections to what you're doing or even new ideas for escapes you haven't learned yet.
2. Use trickery!
Small people need to be sneaky. Sometimes I use distraction to try to escape. I will act like I am going to one escape, but I am trying to covertly trap them into another escape.
3. Keep moving.
This is the most important thing. If you give up you will never get out. I am not saying you should flail around pointlessly.But, if you are in practice and you have no idea what to do, take a deep breath, think about what parts of your body are pinned down and what parts of your body are free. Then think about what you can do with the free parts of your body to either make space or get the other person off balance or to distract them so you can go for a different escape.
4. Give yourself a break.
Even black belts still have things to learn and we are not black belts yet!! ;) So accept the fact that you have holes in your game and look at them as challenges that you are ready to face and over come. Every grapple can teach you something, whether you spend the grapple getting submission after submission or if you spend the grapple eating the mat.
When you start to get frustrated, remind yourself how far you have already come. Give yourself kudos for sticking with a sport that is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. Then, wipe the blood off your busted lip and get back on the mat and try again.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
This may be one of my favorite Women's Class moments yet.
Posted by A.D. McClish at 8:20 AM
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Posted by A.D. McClish at 5:52 AM
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Gearing up for a competition can be nerve-wracking. All you need to do is look back into the earlier days of this blog and you will read about me freaking the crap out over my competitions. You worry about making weight, you worry about whether the other girls are going to be good, you worry about not losing your first fight and about not disappointing your instructor, teammates, friends, family and complete strangers who may be watching you.
|Me at my first tournament, trying to look intimidating but|
instead looking like a freak.
1. If you are competing at a NAGA, fight in the weight class you are in. As women, you never know how many competitors you are going to have and if there aren't many, they will combine weight classes. Stephanie, my training partner and best friend, once kicked her own butt trying to drop to lightweight only to get to the NAGA and discover there were no other lightweight girls. She had to fight up a weight class.
This won't happen at IBJJF tournaments where they are very strict about weight classes, but even in those tournaments, consider how much of an advantage dropping weight really is. Will you still be strong? Will worrying about your weight take your focus off your training? I would say, if you are within a few pounds of the low end of your weight class, go for it. Otherwise, I am not sure it is worth it to kill yourself to drop weight classes.
2. Don't worry about how good the other girls will be. One year I stressed about all the possible girls in my division. I tried to look them all up on facebook and youtube and google search. I creeped their pages for any shred of information that might give me some insight into their bjj prowess.
But then, when I went to California last year, I decided that this wasn't about them. It was about me. It wasn't about how good they are, it is about me putting my skills to the test. Every day I started talking positively to myself about my strengths. I visualized myself doing what I do best and winning my matches. And I forced myself not to focus on whether I would win or lose, but on grappling at my best.
You cannot control how good the other girls will do. But you can control how well you prepare yourself physically and mentally. And if you are grappling at your best and you lose, who cares? All that means is that you still have room to improve--hopefully you knew that already. ;)
3. Me and Steph would always say things like, "I just hope I don't lose my first match."
Why? What if you fight the best girl in the division and lose your first match? Does that make you suck because you lose to that girl in the first round instead of losing to her in the second round? It doesn't change anything.
Instead of focusing on NOT losing or NOT getting submitted or NOT getting swept or whatever negative thing it is that you fear, try to focus on something positive instead, like passing guard or doing a take down or doing a sweep. Visualize yourself doing these things over and over again and drill them like crazy in your classes.
If you worry about things beyond your control--like what the other girl may do to you--then you are wasting energy. Focus your energy on the things you can control--like drilling positions and submissions and visualizing yourself doing those in the tournament. Visualize yourself winning and put in the work to make it a reality!
4. If your coach, team, friends and family shun you because you lose a match then you need to make a social move. Your worth to your team does not rest in how many medals you bring home. And if it does, then forgive me but you are on the wrong team. And certainly your worth to your family and friends isn't tied to how well you perform.
When I competed in Atlanta, some of my family who lives in Georgia was there. They had never seen a BJJ tournament. Before I fought, I gave them a crash course in what to look for: dominant positions and submission attempts and escapes. Their eyes were huge the whole time. They had next to no idea what was going on. But they screamed their heads off when I was fighting and were proud of me even when I got disqualified. Why? Because they love me, not because I grappled well. Your friends and family will be proud of you too no matter what because you are important to them as a person.
Posted by A.D. McClish at 6:20 AM
Saturday, September 8, 2012
This morning in the Women's Class, we worked on some triangle transitions. One to the key points that Fabio emphasizes is that, when you are going for a triangle, it is important to hip up when you are initially clamping your leg over their back. You get a much tighter triangle from the beginning that way.
After your establish the triangle, people can defend several ways. But as always in BJJ, there is a counter to every defense. For example, when you triangle someone and they over hook the leg on the same side as their triangle arm, you can sit up and kimura them or wristlock them, or you can pry out the arm and do a straight arm or switch to a regular armbar.
While we were going through the steps, Ashley made a funny observation. She said, "Just when you think you're safe and you're defending something, they get you again! There's nowhere safe! There's just the lesser of two evils!"
Posted by A.D. McClish at 9:28 AM
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Posted by A.D. McClish at 5:41 AM
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Do you have the same excitement for BJJ as you did when you first started training? I remember what I was like during that first year. Poor Ben. My instructor would get to the class (which was held at a local high school) and find me and Stephanie already waiting outside the locked door. From the moment he arrived we would start talking to him. Our questions were endless. What should we be doing to get ready for a competition? What was that side control escape you showed us three classes ago? I keep getting triangled when I pass guard and I don't know why. Can you help me?
So what is it that is keeping me on the mat 5 or more times a week?
I know I talk to women who dread going to the gym. They hate the treadmill. They have to drag themselves onto it. Why do they go? Maybe it's guilt? Maybe they really want to lose weight? Maybe they feel they need to be healthier? Maybe someone is pressuring them to be there?
I go to BJJ for health and fitness. But more than that, I go because I STILL love the art. When I see something new, I still get that same excitement I got when I first started. I still sit at home and think about ways I can move differently. I still stay after class sometimes working out problems with other higher belts.
What keeps a BJJ practitioner on the mat is love. We go and we keep going because we love the sport/art. Anyone who comes into BJJ and does not really love it won't last very long. It is hard. It is time-consuming. It is mentally and physically exhausting. You get injuries. You get sore muscles. You get your hair pulled out and you have to keep your nails short and blah, blah, blah.
For me, when it's love, you do whatever it takes. When it's love, going to class isn't a chore. It's a CHANCE to see something you haven't seen before. It's a chance to grow.
What things keep you coming back to your BJJ school?
Posted by A.D. McClish at 5:44 AM
Sunday, July 29, 2012
It is always nerve wracking for me to watch my teammates fight in tournaments. My palms get sweaty. My heart pounds. By the end of a tournament, my voice is usually gone and, even if I didn't fight, I am exhausted. But being there to support the girls from the women's class took my anxiety to a whole new level.
Four of our new girls competed, three for the first time. Every time one of them stepped on the mat, I felt proud and scared at the same time. The fact that they were brave enough to try at all made me proud. What made the experience even better was seeing them use what they have been practicing in a high stress situation. They fought well and with a lot of heart. I couldn't be happier.
But, strangely, the thing I am most proud of happened in the week after the tournament. One of my girls went and lost. It happens to all of us. You work so hard, but it just doesn't come together. When that happens to one of my teammates, I always feel like I'm holding my breathe to see how they will take the loss. Will it shatter their confidence or push them to train harder for the next tournament?
Understandably, this student was upset right after the loss. She had given it everything she had. I've been there before. I hugged her, told her how proud I was of her and about all the positive things I saw in her grapple, then she and her friends watched the rest of the tournament and enjoyed themselves.
I wondered what she was thinking. Would she lose confidence in herself? Would she want to try again? Would she even want to keep training? This girl has a lot of potential and the thought of her quitting made me feel very anxious.
But I knew this was one of those defining moments that grapplers face. Jiu-jitsu is hard. You get bruised up physically and emotionally. But eventually, if you do not quit, you can learn from all your bumps and bruises and hopefully avoid them in the future. Or deal them out yourself. ;)
When this student showed up for class the next week, I was paying close attention to her attitude. I found out everything I needed to know as soon as we slapped hands to grapple. She was hungry. She fought better and with more aggression than I had ever seen from her before. It wasn't just her trying to use strength, she was thinking. She was using her technique and she was coming after me.
I couldn't stop smiling. I was even more proud of her then than I had been with her good attitude at the tournament. She wasn't going to quit. She was going to work harder. She was was going to make sure she learned her lessons from that tournament. Already, in the few weeks that have passed, I have seen improvement.
So...keep struggling. Wear your bruises with pride. They're evidence that you're committed to growth, both as a grappler and as a person. Osss!!!
Posted by A.D. McClish at 6:41 PM
Saturday, May 26, 2012
When I first started coming to Fabio's, I thought it would be intimidating and maybe even slightly hazardous to my joints. I mean, you have a mat full of big, sweaty guys who are spinning around and jumping and twisting limbs and choking people. Kind of intimidating.
I was quiet as a mouse for a while after I started coming there. Very shy. I think I said "I'm sorry" even if someone accidentally bumped into me.
But I realized early on that the guys at the gym were not blood thirsty meat heads who might snap my arms off if I offended them. I started noticing how they went out of their way to help me during drilling, correcting little details I was doing wrong. I noticed how most of them were careful with their weight distribution while we grappled. Many of them even instructed me on things during my grapples. Anyone that I asked to help me was more than willing to try to help me understand difficult movements and concepts. I also noticed that these guys were a part of each others lives outside of the gym and were there for each other. And soon they were there for me too.
The team, I realized, was a big family. And it's function was to built people up, not just in the techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but in character as well. People who are lacking in confidence are encouraged and strengthened. People who are prideful are humbled, but then encouraged once they realize their mistake. People who have trouble dealing with conflict learn how to manage their anger. People who are scared are challenged to face their fears. People who are passionate are given a channel to fuel their energy into.
For me, personally, my team has helped me develop self confidence. When I first came to Fabio's, like I said, I was very much a mouse in the corner. Through competition (which I hated until the past six months or so), through hitting the wall and having to keep going, through trying and failing, I have realized that it is ok to be imperfect. In fact, it is what makes us human. When I understand that it is ok for me to make mistakes, so long as I learn from them--on and off the mat--then I have freedom to try things I would otherwise be too scared to do.
I have learned that I can survive, even when I am being squashed by a giant man. I have learned not to give up, even when it looks like I am going to lose. I have learned that patience and adaptability can beat sheer power. I have learned never to underestimate what my body--and mind--are capable of doing even when I think I have nothing left.
The question I have is, since my team has given me so much, am I paying it forward? I want the answer to be yes.
Posted by A.D. McClish at 5:29 AM
Friday, May 18, 2012
Posted by A.D. McClish at 6:12 AM
Saturday, April 21, 2012
From the left, you have Ray, Jimmy and Brian. They helped me not to lose my mind on Wednesday and Thursday. They went down with me to do cardio Wednesday night and Thursday night. But, even though I was eating super clean and doing cardio, I still was a pound over on Friday morning when I had to fight.
I've never gone to a tournament and not made weight. I was panicking, for sure. I had already done 30 mins of cardio in sweats that morning and I hadn't eaten anything. The night before, I had done 45 mins of cardio, ate only and apple and an orange and slept in sweats. Still a pound over.
Fabio told me to go out to the car in sweats and in my gi,, turn the heater up and sweat it out. I was sitting out there, freaking out, and one of my teammates, Paul, called me. He talked me through everything and got my mind off of the panic. After about 40 mins, I went back in and weighed in and made weight! Woohoo!!
With all the worry about making weight, I wasn't nervous at all about the actual competition. After I made weight, I was so happy that the rest of the day was just...fun! At the Miami Open, I was able to relax and not be a nervous wreck. But this time, I actually had a lot of fun.
I was thrilled to see a lot of Florida girls at the Pans. Shout out to Melissa Bentley, who I got to fight in my division. She was by far my hardest match, both times. Glad to have gotten to know you more, girl!! I also saw Jennifer, from over at http://family-mat-ters.blogspot.com/. Also, congrats to Amanda "Tubby" Santana, who not only competed and did well, but also got promoted to purple belt on the podium! :)
I learned a lot at this tournament, especially about the mental aspect of competing. I learned that my body can do much more than I thought, if I push myself and stay focused. Also, I got over my fear of take downs and the stand up portion of competition. I didn't do any awesome take downs, but for the first time I felt comfortable on my feet. That is a big step for me. Maybe I can start to be a little more confident to try new take downs in the future.
I also had a breakthrough with a sweep from guard. When the other person stands up in your guard, you swim the leg, switch your hips and take them over. In my first match, I forgot about it. But my teammate, Jimmy, was screaming from the sidelines in my next match telling me to do that sweep. I did and after that, I saw that sweep all over the place. Fabio has shown me that sweep about a million times, but I never really noticed it during the heat of grappling until that moment. Funny how things click sometimes.
When I look back at competitions in the past, they have not been fun for me. I put so much pressure on myself to perform that I missed out on all the joy of being on the mat and meeting new people and just enjoying the fun. But now, I look at it differently. I have nothing to prove to anyone. All I can do is go out on the mat, do what I know, fight my hardest and enjoy the people and the experience. If I can do that, win or lose, I can walk off the mat happy.
Here are some pictures from the trip:
Posted by A.D. McClish at 9:21 AM
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Sometimes when you are grappling someone bigger and stronger, it can feel like your face and the mat are having an inappropriate relationship.
Posted by A.D. McClish at 6:15 AM