Saturday, November 6, 2010

How Do You Measure Success?

Tonight was a small class, so I ended up rolling with some people I don't normally grapple. One is a white belt guy who has been grappling about a year and is very strong. The whole grapple, I had to fight to keep myself calm. I kept trying to pass his open guard, but he kept doing sipder guard and yanking my arms a lot. He was pulling on my sleeves so much that I spent literally the last minute and half of the grapple with my gi top up over my head.

I would try one pass, break his grips, start to pass, get muscled around, sit back in my base, come to the other side, start passing that way, get yanked around, sit back in my base. Rinse, wash, repeat. Much of the time with my gi over my head. I started to get claustrophobic at one point and had to silently tell myself, "You can still breathe. You're fine. It's nothing. Keep going."

I passed only twice in five minutes and did not retain mount or side control for very long before he heaved me off and I would have to perform evasive maneuvers to keep from getting squashed. The whole grapple, I only went for a couple of submissions, and mostly they were threats in order to distract him from flinging me around more than solid attempts.

Afterwards, I felt like I hadn't done well. I felt like I should have been able to pass more and maintain the few dominant positions I had gotten to. I asked Fabio after class if he had seen that roll. He nodded. He told me I did good. I asked him another question, telling him that I had felt frustrated and he said, "Porra, Allison, I am telling you that you did good."

So I dropped it. And thought about it.

Some of you guys on here talk about how sometimes victory is not in submitting someone or dominating someone, but in surviving. I think I am finally starting to believe that. I am a small(ish) girl. That guy is bigger and stronger. When I started BJJ, he would have trounced me like a bug. Last night, he couldn't trounce me. He couldn't submit me. He couldn't get into a dominant position on me. And I was on offense, albeit a lame offense.

To me, that if progress. It's not mind boggling, genius level progress. It's more like short bus progress. But I'll take it.

I think I have to learn to notice the small steps forward, and not set my sights on perfection. I could get down on myself and lament over the fact that I didn't dominate that guy like I wanted to. But instead, I am trying to accept the fact that, with guys like that, it is a victory if I don't spend the whole five minutes eating mat.


Rick said...

Agree 100% that survival = success. I'm starting to believe that the current focus on sports jiu jitsu has done a disservice to the jiu jitsu lifestyle. Sports jiu jtisu is an important part of the lifestyle, but I think survival (self defense) is the heart and soul. Helio was a survivor. He'd beat larger guys because he survived long enough that they gassed (using too much muscle) and/or made a single mistake. It took time. Almost always far more than 5 or 6 minutes. I believe some of his fights went over an hour. Saulo Ribeiro says, "If you think, you late. If you late, you muscle. If you muscle, you tire. If you tire, you die." I hope to focus on technical survival/escapes to conserve energy for my entire journey (hopefully through black belt). I have to trust that the rest will follow.

Dev said...

I was getting frustrated reading the post, but then you solved your own problem. :)

You did fantastic, from the sounds of it. A bigger, stronger guy (with a year's worth of experience, no less) couldn't do anything to you, and in fact you were the one on the offensive. You were the one trying to pass. You were the one threatening submissions. What was he doing? Defending. Reacting. Not submitting. Not sweeping.

To me, that's success. But what do I know? :)

Megan said...

Way to go re-defining what you perceive as victory. Thanks for this post:)

Zen Mojo said...

success is enjoying the journey - the destination is ONE thing but getting there is EVERYTHING.

I want to finish each day a little bit better than the day before. Some days it is a crawl for inches other days it is a leap and others it is one step forward two steps back - but I am always enjoying the ride (otherwise why bother?).

You rolled a bigger stronger opponent with some skillz and were on offense - that ain't short bus sister, that's a sweet ride.

Enjoy the ride.

slideyfoot said...

For me, measuring success is about setting technical goals, then tracking my progress in reaching them. It's one of the big reasons I write up all my classes, as that helps me isolate what I want to work on, and specifically which parts of that technique are causing me problems.

Survival could be a victory if it is with a much larger opponent and you want to work your defence. However, I think you have to be careful with that, because it is also important to take risks in sparring.

The 'survival' approach is only useful if you are working a particular technique in the process, rather than actively avoiding a technique because you're too worried it might mean you get submitted (which has definitely been the case with me a fair few times).

@G-Stamp: As ever, I'm not convinced by the sport vs self defence split that has been pushed by the Torrance academy. It seems like a false distinction created by marketing, especially as you can go compete in Submission Only tournaments with no time limits and no points.

Anonymous said...

Everything happens in little bits...the more you pay attention to the little bits--the better off you are. The expression "it's the little things that make me happy"--it works with everything...little baby steps and you will eventually get there...and, like someone said, sometimes you have to take risks, but you will know your footing better so it will be less likely that when you take your risk that you will fall and smush at the bottom of the canyon...hmmm...when did this comment become a roadrunner cartoon? hmmmm..

A.D. McClish said...

@G-stamp: That's a good point about it sometimes taking longer than 5 or 6 minutes. "If you muscle, you tire, if you tire, you die." I try to remember that when I catch myself trying to force a submission.

@Dev: ;) Thanks!!

@Zen: I love that outlook. Most of the time, I try to think like that. Then I have days like this one...:)

@Can: You really made me think with this comment. I do think I am guilty of not trying new things with some people because I am afraid of getting put in bad positions or submissions. So, I need to work on that. However, in my opinion, there are some people where it would be unwise just to throw caution to the wind and try stuff. Some people are really rough when they grapple and will try to finish submissions fast and hard. With them, I feel like I need to be more cautious out of self-preservation!

@Regina: Haha! I like that analogy. I feel like that sometimes!! (The smashed at the bottom of the canyon part)

slideyfoot said...

Yeah, I definitely agree on that one: if there is an injury risk due to over-eager muscleheaded white belts, that needs a different approach. If somebody is likely to rip my arm off, then no doubt I'll be in survival mode, staying defensive. ;)

I'm thinking more in terms of staying wrapped up tight in closed guard or something like that because you don't want to get tapped or put in a bad position, rather than when you're worried about getting hurt: safety should always be the primary concern. :)