Saturday, September 8, 2012

Just When You Think You're Safe...

This morning in the Women's Class, we worked on some triangle transitions. One to the key points that Fabio emphasizes is that, when you are going for a triangle, it is important to hip up when you are initially clamping your leg over their back. You get a much tighter triangle from the beginning that way.

After your establish the triangle, people can defend several ways. But as always in BJJ, there is a counter to every defense. For example, when you triangle someone and they over hook the leg on the same side as their triangle arm, you can sit up and kimura them or wristlock them, or you can pry out the arm and do a straight arm or switch to a regular armbar.

While we were going through the steps, Ashley made a funny observation. She said, "Just when you think you're safe and you're defending something, they get you again! There's nowhere safe! There's just the lesser of two evils!"

Here is Ashley being one of the evils! ;)

But what she said has some truth to it. In Jiu-Jitsu, there is always a counter move. And a counter to that counter. And another counter still after that. That is what makes it so exciting! You will never reach a point where you have seen everything because people are always inventing new ways of moving. 

One of our newest girls grappled me today and at first was hesitant to move. I encouraged her by saying, "This is your time to experiment. Don't be afraid. Try whatever you think of. That's how you learn."

I enjoy very much the point when a new girl goes from flailing with all their might to a more calm, rational approach in grappling. You can see that they are starting to think about the concepts, starting to work out the cause and effect of the various movements, grips and positions. They stop wasting so much energy and start seeing the chances to use what they are learning. That's when Jiu-Jitsu really starts to happen. I love to grapple them because they have a fresh approach to moving. They try unconventional things because they haven't learned convention yet. Today, I got a new idea for an escape because of the way one of the new girls moved in my side control. I wouldn't have thought to try what she did. Now I have a new tool to use.

The most important thing when you are grappling in training, in my opinion, is to approach it like you would an experiment in a lab. You think something might work? Try it. If it works, try it again. If it doesn't work, modify it and try it again. If it still doesn't work, maybe go back to the drawing board. The fact that you may fail at first doesn't make you a bad grappler. The fact that you keep trying to work out those problem positions will make you a better grappler--a smarter grappler--in the long run than if you only stick to things that you know will work. 

 These are some of the bear traps when we aren't disgusting and sweaty. ;)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sucking at Something is the First Step to Sorta Being Good At Something

Well, that's comforting. I guess. 

I was talking with a friend of mine, Nick, and we were discussing how having to face-off against competitors who challenge your game/style is an essential part of the growth process in BJJ. 

Human beings are creatures of habit. If we find something that works--a pass, a specific type of guard, a certain submission that no one expects--we will keep doing it. And doing it. And doing it. And doing it. When that happens to me, I start to feel a little bit good about myself. 

And then it happens. People wise up to that sneaky submission, or that unstoppable pass or that unpassable guard. In a tournament, this can be even more shocking/disheartening. You may face off against someone who passes your super awesome guard like butter or who rolls out of your ace-in-the-hole submission with almost no effort. Suddenly, you feel like you're "back where you started". Sometimes it might even feel like you've regressed. 

Of course that isn't really the case. You haven't forgotten the things you already learned. It's just that the people around you have adapted to what they have repeatedly seen from you. Or, in the case of competitors at a tournament, perhaps you are facing a style you aren't used to. 

In both cases, these seemingly negatives are actually positives. Left to ourselves, we might not move away from those tried and true moves we rely on. Grappling people who challenge us forces us to break out of our normal routine and learn new ways of moving. 

Sometimes I hear people talking about how they don't want to grapple certain people or that they don't want to go to a tournament because they are afraid they will lose. To me, this is not a good way of approaching training/competing. In BJJ, losing does not equal failing. If you take advantage of the experience, losing equals learning and growing. 

So your guard got passed. Figure out how they did it and how you can move better to defend that pass. Heck, learn that pass yourself. It worked on you so maybe you can make it work on someone else! So you got submitted. Don't get down on yourself and start feeling like you suck. All it means is that you have more to learn. And that's a good thing. Because if you already knew everything there is to know about BJJ, class would start to get boring. :)

Also, if you are grappling and your focus is on whether or not you are going to lose or win, you will not be able to grapple your best. Instead of concentrating on whether or not you are doing good, concentrate on what you are doing at that moment. Don't worry about whether or not other people are watching and if they think you suck or if they think you are awesome. Be present in the experience at hand and get the most out of it that you can.