Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Getting Girls to Engage

How do you get girls to engage? No, I am not talking about getting girls to get engaged. I am talking about getting girls to engage in grappling.

We've had good luck getting girls out to the barn and, even better, getting them to keep coming back. But I am finding that it is difficult to get some of them to want to grapple. I've also found the same is true for some of the younger boys we have coming out to the barn.

They sit down on the mat and stare at their opponents, clearly terrified. When they do engage, they are tentative and deferring, not resiting when they are swept and just laying there when someone is in mount or side control. It takes every ounce of self control I have not to start "coaching" them from the sidelines. Usually, they only want to do one or two grapples each class.

I can remember feeling like that when I first started. My first grapple, the teenage guy across from me said, "Attack me." I just stared at him. He was like, "Come on. Attack me. Get into a dominant position." I remember thinking, What the heck is a dominant position?!?!? But it didn't take long for my competitive nature to take over. I was spazzing like a champ in no time. I couldn't get enough grappling.

Some of these girls are different. If they didn't keep coming to class, I would think they didn't like grappling. I never push them to grapple. But I would like to figure out some ways to encourage them to be more aggressive. I know everyone has different personalities. And I have no problem if they want to take things slow. But should I be challenging them more? Or is this one of those things that just takes time?

I know part of it is that they know very few things at this point. All we have taught them so far is what the basic positions are, one main guard pass, the rear naked choke, an armbar from mount and the americana.

That's another thing. I am so tempted to overload them with techniques every class. I think to myself. Oh, we really need to teach them the basics of side control. But wait! They don't know anything about taking the back! And then there's guard. We haven't gone over anything from guard! AHHHH!

For me, training has been going...Ok. I am still not allowed to go inverted because of my neck. And I am still not adapting well to doing other things. I see some glimmers of progress. A random sweep here. A break down of posture there. But it is really slow going and I find myself cheating sometimes and going inverted. Then Fabio gets onto me. "Porra, Allison, I saw you go upside down like five times that round. You need to stop." lol

I noticed the other day that I am starting to pick up some Portuguese. There are a few people at our school who are Brazilian and Fabio talks to them in Portuguese. I was grappling one of those guys and he went for a gi choke on me. I heard him talking behind me in Portuguese and I can't tell you now what he said, but I immediately said, "No, it's ok if he chokes me. That doesn't hurt my neck." Both Fabio and the other guy looked at me. I shrugged. Fabio sighed and said, "You need to be careful. No chokes for now. We'll see how it goes later." lol! Ok, so maybe I'm not actually picking up Portuguese, but I can at least tell what they're talking about sometimes!


BJJ Judo said...

Your post reminded me of a funny story - When I first started as a white belt one of the TOP guys in the club who just came over from Brazil only spoke Portuguese (he was a 4 stripe Brown at the time). I asked him a question not knowing he did not know English very well yet. Well, he asked the instructor (his friend and fellow Brazilian) what I said and the instructor told him I called him a sissy and said that I said his BJJ was trash. He smashed the CRAP out of me....but it pretty funny from an outsiders perspective. After class I figured something "got lost in the translation".

Jiujitsunista said...

^^ hahahah! That story totally made me laugh out loud! Epic.

Kim said...

I think it has a lot to do with not knowing how to do anything. I started maybe 3 weeks ago, 3 classes a week, and have just started to feel only ok about "engaging". It wasn't about learning fancy moves for me so much as transitioning between positions, sweeps, escapes, wrist control, weight distribution and whatnot. Your girls probably don't know HOW to resist and defend themselves so they seem passive to you. One minute you're on top, the next you're on your back and you have no freakin' clue how you got there, let alone what to do about it. I honestly don't remember half the submissions we've learned in class, but now I feel like I can jockey for position a little and feel like I'm doing *something*.

I also had a 1 hour private lesson where my instructor ran me through a series of very fluid transitions between a lot of the positions that really helped get rid of my feeling of being "stuck".

SavageKitsune said...

Agreed- they do not know what to do or even what they are supposed to TRY to do. I was the same way when I started. I didn't even understand what the objectives were.

When I began teaching a few of my friends, I started with some basic positions and terminology. I taught them three simple guard passes, three simple subs, and two sweeps. I verbally quizzed them on such things as "What is your job when you are in someone's guard?" (Try to pass the guard) "What is your job when you have someone in YOUR guard?" (Keep the opponent from passing your guard, while staying on the lookout for sweeps and subs) "What are the first things you do when you find yourself in someone's guard?" (Base and posture) I had them describe what side control is, what makes a good back mount, what pulling guard means. As they learned the guard passes and sweeps, I had them describe the techniques in minute detail. I quizzed them over and over till they could spit answers to everything I asked them. We drilled the techniques till they were comfortable with them.

So when it came to try sparring a little, they knew a few things to try, and more importantly they knew what was going on and what their objectives were. And when they came to a real class, they could follow what was being taught. I had told/shown them everything I could think of that I *wished* someone had told/shown me early on, but that I had had to figure out for myself. It gave them a big head start over people who began taking classes in a clueless state.

Anonymous said...

I third what Kim and Kitsune said. The four moves you taught them so far are not connected. If they are starting out in neutral or the guard, do they know how to Get to the back to initiate the RNC? How to Get to the mount to do an armbar from the mount? Does the guard pass put them in a position to use the americana or put them directly in the mount for the armbar?

On the other hand, even if they know only a sweep, a guard pass to mount, an escape from mount, and submissions from the guard and mount, then they already have a game they can play, not some big mystery: 1. Pass guard, establish mount, attempt submission. 2. Attempt sub from guard, attempt sweep, establish mount, attempt sub. 3. Escape from mount, re-establish guard, submit or sweep and submit. Etc . . .

As for aggressive engagement, that is potentially another story. They could be shy. (All of them, really?) Here's what I would do: Ask one point blank if she wants to roll. If yes, ask another. If yes, tell them to roll with each other. If no, tell them to get off the mat until they decide they want to roll. Eventually they will either start saying yes, or get bored and stop coming. If they aren't really into it, they should come back when they are ready and quit wasting your time. You can lead a horse to water . . .

Ashley said...

I agree with Kim and Savage. I think it will take time, as well as patience and encouragement on your part. It also may have something to do with their age...?

Do they feel a little more comfortable rolling with you, if they have? When I first started out, I found it very helpful to have a more experienced person give me an idea of what I should be doing when I was feeling clueless.

I also found it very helpful when - in my first two months - this huge purple belt guy would just move around and encourage me to transition between positions. Mount>Side Control> Back. It gave me a very good idea of the "flow" involved.

Would it be bad if you "coached" by pausing the roll to point out a little thing that they could be trying to do?

Maybe just give a little pep talk, if you sense them getting frustrated, about the dedication required but that once they get it, it'll be something they'll have forever!

I think it's awesome what you're doing for them, by the way! The environment at the barn is probably a lot less intimidating than a regular club; I'm sure that helps.

Liam H Wandi said...

It is really heart warming how you want to give them so much, but you have to remember that as a teacher (a good one, at least) your lesson must have two things before stepping on the mat:

1. Objective: This is for the learner. Example is the scissor sweep: grips, movement, angle, execution...etc. what do they need to learn?

2. Aims: this is for the teacher. Example is practice how to teach the scissor sweep, how to devise drills for it, how to stick to the time-frame, how to sneak a peak at the clock, how to address questions, how to balance TTT (teacher-talk-time) with STT (Student-talk-time)...etc.

I've always felt that martial arts and jiu jitsu in particular are about building relationships with people. The techniques are tools to do that. I'd rather use one tool to make someone work hard, make them face who they are deep down inside (how do they react to success, failure, hesitation, resistance...etc.) than spend the same session covering many techniques. But I'm a hippie :o)

A.D. McClish said...

All very good points! I don't want to push the girls to do more than they feel comfortable with. My only question is to know what I should do to encourage them to keep trying.

Anonymous said...

Everything everyone else said, AND

Be positive. When you see them do something right, make sure you tell them :) Make it fun. I totally think it's important that they know what to do from each its a story...give them a linear set of events to follow...bjj is not anything close to linear, but that is much easier to follow at first.

Georgette said...

Great advice from everyone, especially anonymous. I think moves need to be learned in context with some level of connection to the other parts of the game. It's tough! I also recommend Cane's blog (and the general approach of SBGi) about teaching jits-- focus first on the posture-- then the pressure-- and all the possibilities flow from that. Go give his blog The Gentle Art a read, it's a great insight into teaching jits.