Monday, January 11, 2010

Hitting The Wall

Great class tonight. Worked a basic Triangle, which was good because I picked up several details that I'd missed before, especially about the set-up.

During grappling, I didn't focus on submissions, but on not letting people pass my guard. I played around with some spider guard and butterfly guard, both of which are still weak for me at this point. Inverted is coming along, though I only go to it if all my other defenses fail because I am worried about getting stacked and hurting my neck while I'm moving into the position.

But the thing that stood out to me tonight in class was not the actual drilling, but what Fabio told the class before we grappled. He switched topics a few times, but the over all message was this: Be humble.

Here's a break down of what he said:

- Don't focus on stripes and belts. When Fabio is deciding who gets stripes or who gets promoted, he's not just looking for people who can submit other people. That's only part of jiu-jitsu, not the whole. He's looking for movement, for transitions, for the relaxation. If you come off the mat after every grapple completely winded, something is wrong. Also, sometimes technique isn't enough to earn a stripe or a belt. It's about the attitude as well. Fabio may give you one stripe and then not give you another one until he decides you're ready for your next belt, just to make sure you're not stripe-hunting. Or, if he thinks you're prideful, he'll give you four stripes or more instead of promoting you after the third stripe. Bottom line: don't worry about stripes. Worry about learning the techniques and developing an attitude of confidence tempered with humility.

- He also talked about how, if you let your pride get in the way, you won't last in BJJ. Eventually, everyone "hits the wall". You were feeling good about training, and then all of the sudden you feel like you've taken two steps backwards, or that you aren't growing anymore. Maybe you went to a tournament and you got tapped out or didn't grapple as well as you could have. If you let stuff like that mess with your head, you will stagnate and not move forward. When you hit the wall like this, you find out if you really love BJJ or not. If you do, you press on. If not, you quit.

Good talk.

On a completely unrelated topic, I have a question for all of my fellow BJJer's out there. I've been trying to focus on being relaxed while I grapple. But where do you draw the line between being tight in the correct way--i.e. not making space--and wasting unnecessary energy by gripping too tightly and being over-all too tight while you grapple? I don't know if I worded that question well, but I guess what I'm wondering is how to you be tight while you're grappling without wasting energy?


Dev said...


I don't have a great explanation other than to say if you're relaxed and you're still controlling your opponent, you're doing it right. If you can talk to someone while your opponent is trying to pass your guard, you're doing it right. Now, that's not very nice - kinda disrespectful, but it's a good way to think about it.

I did a post about this a while back with a good video illustration - check it out and let me know if it helps:

A.D. McClish said...

Haha, Renato Tavares almost looks bored for the first part of that match. I guess it's one of those experience things. I have to learn to know when to relax and when to turn it on.

leslie said...

First, I love what Fabio said about belts and stripes, how he doesn't always follow the expected pattern when giving them. Basically, that what those mean to you and what they mean to him are two different things. Keeps everyone on their toes, I'd think.

Second, on relaxed vs. gripping: Holding your breath is generally hand-in-hand with being too tight, so Dev's advice about being able to talk is good. You should be relaxed and able to move and react, but you should still move in to take away the space and keep your weight on them correctly. Staying tight is more about angles and weight placement than gripping and squeezing. (Geez, that's good advice for me, too!)

A.D. McClish said...

Leslie, the angles and weight thing makes total sense. Jut like with muscling a submission, if I am doing the technique correctly, I won't need to use strength when I'm acquiring and maintaining a position. Thanks!!