Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Gentle Art?

When I watch Fabio or some of the brown or purple belts at my school grapple, I am constantly amazed by the ease with which they move. Less advanced grapplers will be drenched in sweat, giving it all they've got against Fabio and meanwhile, he looks completely unconcerned, right up until the moment when they chokes the person out a smile on his face.

That's what I'm striving for. An effortless, technical game. I know it will be years before I start getting close to what I see from Fabio. But it's still the dream. One step in that direction is learning how to grapple without using strength.

There's been a lot of discussion lately between me and several of my other friends who have been training roughly the same amount of time as me about this topic. What the difference is between being tight and keeping pressure and using sheer muscle to do what you want to do in grappling?

Bigger, stronger guys usually get called out for "muscling", but I know that I have used muscle instead of technique before and have seen other small grapplers try to use sheer muscle to accomplish something.

From what I understand, most beginners struggle to find out where muscling ends and using proper technique begins. Lately, I've been trying to eliminate a lot of what I feel is muscling from my game. But this is one of those things that is kind of difficult to define.

I've asked around and here are the few guidelines people have shared with me:

- If what you're doing works only because your opponent is smaller or weaker, and wouldn't work on someone your size or larger, or on someone with better technique, you are probably using too much muscle.

- If you leave every grapple winded and shaky, you are probably using too much muscle during your grapple.

- If you are locking people up a lot or if you are generally stiff--i.e. you're locking your joints, or gripping and holding someone to the point that your muscles feel tight and to the point that you get gassed--you are probably using too much muscle.

- If you find yourself having to force submissions and sweeps, you probably have some detail about the technique wrong and are trying to finish it with muscle.

- If you are relaxed while you grapple and are able to talk to a person while grappling, you are probably NOT muscling (Thanks, Dev).

- Holding your breath because you are straining is probably a sign that you are using more muscle than technique (Thanks, Leslie).

- Leslie said, "Staying tight is more about angles and weight placement than gripping and squeezing."

Also, I found this quote somewhere and thought it was really good:

“If you think, you are late. If you are late, you use strength. If you use strength, you tire. And if you tire, you die!” Saulo Ribeiro.

That's what I've gathered so far. Feel free to add to the list!!


Meerkatsu said...

It's a cliche in BJJ circles but "Don't be afraid to lose" is all too true, you can really learn a lot.
Last night, I sparred with an 11 year old kid, I mean this kid is amazing, but he's stilla kid and half my size, and I got a bit too complacent and he got the sweetest foot lock on me and I had to tap. We both giggled and carried on. Maybe 2/3 years ago, I would be angry that an orange belt kid tapped me, today, I really found it funny and kinda cool.