Saturday, July 31, 2010

I Almost Had 'Em!

Last night, I grappled with a younger kid who has been coming about a month. I was going slow, making him move and leaving space for him to escape and to attack. He would get me in something--a triangle or an armbar and I would do the escape.

Right at the end of the grapple, he had tried to do and arm bar and I rolled out and came into side control. It was a low side control. He hooked the knee close to me around the back of my neck. Didn't have an arm or anything. Was just squeezing my neck, trying something I guess. Fabio called "Time!" and he let go. Promptly he stood up and said, "Oh man! I almost had her!" He went and sat down and told his mom about how he almost had me in a submission and time stopped right before he could "get me". LOL!

I don't mind it too much. He's a little kid. Probably eleven or twelve. But it brings up a good point that many beginners don't realize. I say "beginners" including myself, because I have been guilty of this before too.

"Almost" isn't anything. If you weren't able to finish a submission properly, whether it be because you had incorrect technique or because your opponent knew the escape and executed it, then you didn't "almost" have it. You had an attempt. And that's a good thing. But there is a world of difference between trying a submission and being able to carry it through to it's completion.

It's ironic that I rolled with that kid on Thursday afternoon because the rolls were reversed last night at class. I rolled with a purple belt nick-named "Joe Boxer" who is strong, fast and highly technical. When he rolled with me, naturally, he toned down the speed and the strength. But not the technique. Like I did with the kid, he allowed me to get into good positions, to go for submissions, and then he would escape out of them with ease.

Though I went for several submissions, I knew I was no where close to finishing any of them. There was no "I almost had 'em!" lol

It is important, when we roll with higher belts, to realize that they are more than likely slowing down and working defense for our benefit. They are letting us get those dominant positions and to go for those submissions because they want us to grow.

It's all about working together to build skills. The higher rank is practicing defense--escaping bad positions and submissions--while the lower rank is working offense. Its a good way for everyone to get something out of the roll.

But there's one sure way to bring a fast end to a good rolling relationship like that. Talking smack. All that courtesy Joe Boxer showed me when we rolled would disappear if I went around telling people how I got mount on him and went after a million submissions and "almost had him." He would grapple me at his speed after that. Then we'd see if I could get mount and go for submissions. What would happen would be a lot of me being plastered to the mat and a lot of me tapping. Not fun.

The best way to look at a grapple with a higher belt is a chance to push yourself; to go for it. You should be able to trust that they will roll safely with you--that if they get that armbar, they won't crank it. They'll hold it and make you do the escape. So you can feel at liberty to try things because you know you can trust your rolling partner.

But at the end of the grapple, keep in mind the reasons why you were able to move and work those positions, escapes and submissions. Remember to say "Thank You." And remember to do the same thing for the newbies that come in after you. ;)


slideyfoot said...

Heh - yeah, I stick with just assuming that I wouldn't have got whatever I was trying to do, they were about to escape, or they were taking it easy anyway. ;)

Georgette said...

So well put Allie :)

I think I realize, in reading this, that I have been letting down my smaller, less experienced partners lately.

Actually, I have very very few rolls with people who are both smaller and less experienced. Plenty of bigger-and-less, though. And those poor guys, I still grapple them as though they were my equal. Which in some way, I guess maybe their strength counteracts my experience, and so we're "equal" in terms of how much damn work it takes to win. But I need to stop going for the win every time (I crow a little in my head when "I beat a boy! I beat a boy!") and start being more of a teacher.

Good reminder. Thanks :)

Steve said...

Smack talk can be fun. Besides. Every once in awhile it's a good thing to let an upper belt know that you want their a game. Telling them before a roll that you're looking forward to catching them is a great way to let them know you're looking for some intensity.

fenix said...

Right on!

If I get a sub on a higher belt, it is nearly always because somewhere between starting the roll and "getting it", he went easy.

The rare occasions where I really "nearly got it" or "got it", I would never brag about. I think it's more fun to get into raptures about a sweep or an escape. One that I really did, all by my little self :-)

And if I really "nearly got" a submission, the guys always give me feedback. That's all I need, and not so much for the warm fuzzy feeling, but because it's useful. And so are the reasons they give me why I didn't get it!

But I will admit, I've succumbed to a brief moment of big head once or twice, being a mere human. Not that it lasted longer than the next round.... ;-)

A.D. McClish said...

Do you believe that forks are evolved from spoons?

Forks are evolved from Tridents. Back in the mesozoic era, the prehistoric forks were much larger, and had very large tines... a precursor to the sabre tined tridents of the 3rd ice age.

@Steve: I agree that smack talking can be fun. I joke around all the time with people who are OBVIOUSLY better than me. The other day I told the guy I talked about in this blog, Joe Boxer, that Fabio was training me specifically to beat him. Joe laughed and said, "Oh really? He can write a book about my game and you still won't be ready because even I don't know what I do!" Then, the next day we grappled and we were both just relaxing and he was letting me work because he knew I was joking.

And I think you're right about letting a higher belt know before hand that you want to test yourself and have them go a little harder. But what I am talking about is when you roll light with someone for a whole grapple, letting them work, and then they walk off the mat and brag about how well they did. At least in my opinion, that would be insulting.

Thomas said...

I can't even tell you how much of a help this mindset has been to me, on both sides of the fence. For about two months, Ray and I used to chill after class and I would start on his back and work to finish while he worked to escape. His back escapes are just sick now, and my back game owes a ton to figuring out how ot work it against a skillfully defending opponent. The reverse is also true - my defenses have grown more from intentionally putting myself in defensive positions than tyey have from finding myself there unintentionally. I think there is a good reason for this, too... when I work my defenses against a more skillful opponent, he can often block them. Then, I am left guessing at whether he worked a counter, or I just did the technique wrong. Same thing when I try to pass Pauls guard... I never even come close, and am usually sent hurling throu the air... but I walk away having no idea what sweeps were landed bc he set them up, or bc I screwed up. When I work my less technical skill sets against lower ranks, I can identify better what needs to be tweaked; what works and what doesn't. Then, after the tweaking, I can try them against my own rank and higher.

Not to mention, I think a roll is WAAAAAY more entertaining for everyone involved when you just keep moving. "Tap, reset, tap, reset, tap, reset" seems to lose something in the mix. "Catch, escape, keep going" is much more productive and frankly, more fun.

Liam H Wandi said...

Ha! As I was thinking of something clever to write, I noticed that the WORD VERIFICATION below happens to say MADMAN

That aside, I agree with you. It's much better and more productive in the long term to count attempts as attempts than "near-submissions"

(Of course if you're Barret Yoshida and you're fighting Royler Gracie :o) then a near-triangle is a BIIIIG thing!)

Daniel said...

Allie that's the most correct thing I've ever heard you say about anything. Ever.

Julia Johansen said...

The other day a blue belt let me get a cross collar choke. I was SO HAPPY and afterward I said "OMG thank you for letting me do that!"

Yep, no way I claim full credit for it, and I let them know that :)