Tuesday, April 13, 2010


For those of you who don't know, I have recently been inflicted with a very common, potentially joint threatening illness called bluebeltitis. Brought on by a recent belt promotion, this disease affects the brain of its victims, causing them to think they are more awesome than they are, and to act pridefully and not tap in situations when they would otherwise admit defeat and move on.

Last night, I took some steps in the direction of conquering this disease. I rolled with two white belt men last night that I don't normally roll with and who--shockingly-- have a significant weight advantage on me. Now, until recently, I would have just sat in my guard and played a conservative game, not wanting to give anything up lest I get my guard passed.

Not last night, buddy! I went for it. Played more of my normal game. submitted. Twice. Both with americanas.

Surprisingly, it didn't bother me as much as I thought it would. The guys I went with last night didn't point and laugh at me. My coach didn't announce to the whole class that I am an impostor and he didn't snatch back my belt. My friends didn't shun me. I did not die. ;)

In fact, I actually learned some things from those grapples. I got submitted by a blue belt with the same thing those two other guys got me with, so I am obviously setting myself up for these somehow. Also, I figured out how to kind of roll into an inverted guard from this one position when people are passing my guard that I wouldn't have noticed if I'd been all locked up and tight. After class, I talked strategy with another friend of mine about what to do when guys pin my arms down when they're in my guard and I feel like I have a better strategy now on how to deal with that.

Am I cured from bluebeltitis? Not entirely. I still have to talk myself into not playing a safe game. But I do feel like the new submission therapy is helping. Hopefully I will have the pride americana'd out of me in no time.


Unknown said...

Too funny! At least you have pointed out the symptoms of "Bluebeltitis" I hope i never catch that when the time comes :)

Dev said...

Awesome job! You're already WAY past where most new blue belts are. I really like the idea of being aggressive. I'm going to do a separate post about that idea, but you're doing AWESOME.

Liam H Wandi said...

Echoing what Dev said about you being well on the way to good health :) but also I must compliment the way you write. Does your job/other hobbies involve writing about events? You can easily add "I writes good Engrish" on your CV.

The bit about you're instructor summoning the class for an "imposter" de-motion almost killed me :)

slideyfoot said...

Cool, an example of the best thread on the internet in action. :D

@Dev: Heh - I hate the idea of being aggressive, but that is at least partially down to semantics on my part. Discussion here.

A.D. McClish said...

@Meerkatsu: Thanks for the term "bluebeltitis". Don't know if you came up with that, but it was pretty funny. ;P

@Rhee: Beware the disease! lol I was a perfectly normal, sane person before this happened. Kind of like the woman you're engaged to is perfectly sweet and normal until you put the ring on her finger. LOL!!

@Dev: Thanks!! I think the strategy is helping me mentally almost as much as it is helping my physical game. Once I commit and start grappling "for real" I don't have any more room in my tiny blond brain to worry about things like belt colors and egos.

@Liam: Thanks so much! I am actually a super nerd. I like to write fiction and have dabbled in some non-fiction as well.

Yeah, wouldn't that suck to get demoted!! lol I've never heard of that happening, but I think I would disintegrate into a pile of shame.

@Can: I think what Dev and I are talking about as far as "aggression" goes is being the one initiating and controlling the grapple instead of being passive in the grapple. I feel more comfortable being passive and reactionary. But, in this instance, being on the attack helps my mental game and forces me not to sit in my guard the whole time trying to play it safe.

Meerkatsu said...

Just a small point but I hate using the word 'aggression' when describing rolling styles. It confers th wrong ethos IMO. I prefer the word 'assertiveness' or 'proactivity'. sounds trite but if you think about it, smacking someone in the face on the street is aggressive, rolling with your team mate and trying to win pushing forward or on top or sweeping etc all by using good technique is assertiveness and being pro-active.
Having said that, me and Slidey both agreed that we are Kings of the defensive, lazy, small man's unassertive jiu-jitsu.

'Bluebeltitis' was first coined AFAIK by a black belt in the UK called Simon Hayes. I'll try to find his forum post. It's very funny but has a serious underlying message in his write-up - kind of a warning to new blets not to rest on one's laurels and train hard, if not harder.

In fact, here it is:

Simon is a well known instructor here and if anyone really really should blog, it is him as he has so many cool anecdotes and stories to tell as well as being handy with the word.

A.D. McClish said...

@Slidey and Meerkatsu: I can understand what you guys are saying. The word "aggression" has a negotive connotation. Teams are for learning, not smashing. ;) Having said that, I do think you can go to far in the other direction and be too passive in class for the sake of not wanting to offend teammates. What do you guys think? Is there a line when being passive starts to hurt both your growth and the growth of your teammates?

slideyfoot said...

@A.D. McClish: Kev was giving an example of exactly that to Seymour and I last lesson. Apparently, there was some wing chun guy who came down to a BJJ class once, and was very proud of his ability to 'flow'. It turned out that he took that to mean offering no resistance whatsoever, so he just lay there while people passed, mounted, and submitted him.

The serious point here is that resistance is essential to BJJ. So, on the one hand, I think it is important to be relaxed, calm and controlled, rather than trying to smash everyone you roll with, going 10000% all the time.

It is something I strive for: like I said to Leslie, I want to develop fluid motion, low energy output, and a smile on my face while I explore technique.

On the other hand, there needs to be some element of resistance, as otherwise you're basically doing aikido. This is also where competition comes in, as in that environment, you know that nobody is going to do you any favours. ;)

As with most things, you need to find a balance.

@Meerkatsu: Heh - 'king' sounds dangerously close to being positive about my BJJ abilities, so I think I'd just stick with describing my jiu jitsu as lazy and passive. ;p