Friday, August 13, 2010

Movement pt. 3

Another night of butterfly guard, another night of feeling a bit lost. Part of it might be that my body is built such that butterfly guard probably will not be my go to a la Marcelo, part of it might be me being a five-year-old, and part of it might be that butterfly guard is just hard to learn. But another night of techniques---single-leg + passing to the backs of the knees, passing butterfly guard, jumping to a triangle from stand and base. Rolls after with Vance (3 stripe white), Jon (white), Ed (blue), and Zach (1 stripe white) were good-ish. I keep finding armlocks to latch onto, though more often than I would like I am unable to finish them---either I lose my grip on their arm (happened twice on Jon) or I mis-time falling back (Zach).

After I was done, Ed complimented me: "Really good movement." My response: "It never felt like really good movement." I was there putting in mat time, but I never felt as confident as I had at times last week or the weeks before, I had no breakthroughs...I was beating guys I thought I should beat and stalemating those I though I would stalemate. And again, I started thinking about excellence as it relates to BJJ and everything else.

[Reading my last two posts might be good, if you haven't already.]

So if every day we have about 4-5 hours that we can use to become more than merely proficient at something, I was wondering whether you can split that time. I would want to use 3.5-4 on law school and the rest on BJJ until schooling is finished. But I'm not sure that it works that way. Look at Jon Fitch: he is not an amazing athlete. He will be the first to tell you that he is not an amazing athlete. He just works hard. He shows up early, he stays late, he drills hard, he logs the hours. And that's all he does. He has been able to become the second best welterweight in the world because he worked hard to get there. Reaching that level, though, has costs. When you're one of the best in the world at something, then that something consumes you. You have almost no world outside of it.

At school, we will be having a series of events where prominent legal professionals from around the community come in and talk about their passion, the thing that they do when they are not working. The hook is, they have to be really damn good at it, and it can have nothing to do with the law. For example, one speaker will be a head partner at one of the big law firms in town who has named Northwest Amateur Tennis Player of the Decade. The purpose of the series is to show that the work habits that we develop early on determine how successful we can be just as much as--if not more than--talent. But again, if you plan to excel and be the best in the world at one thing, then you will probably be unable to develop another. One legal professional in town was the trial lawyer on the Exxon Valdez case, and my professor was trying to see if he would come and speak at this series. Apparently, though, all he does is law. He's kind of boring outside of the thing at which he is one of the best in the world.

And now back to jiu jitsu. I do not plan on becoming one of the best in the world. I'm starting late in life, and I have other priorities that would interfere with my training if that were my goal. I do, though, plan on reaching black belt and continuing training thereafter. That's going to take time and work. Its even going to require work from butterfly guard.

That's probably all I'll dig into excellence for now. If something new comes into my head about it, I'll be sure to put it down here. Open mat tonight and again tomorrow morning, so if I have a chance tonight, I'll post my thoughts after rolling. If I don't, it'll be a whole day before I type here again.


  1. YES! I identify completely with what you're saying here, Chris. There are probably a lot of people training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu who start a little later in life (say, late 20s), who have the drive and ambition to be world-class, but who have decided to balance jiu-jitsu with other priorities in their lives. The question is, can these people, achieve excellence in jiu-jitsu? I definitely believe so - your commitment to achieve black belt to me marks a commitment to excellence.

    Butterfly guard is tricky - that has just barely started to click for me after countless reviews, and it still feels shaky. Let us know if you have any breakthroughs :).

  2. HAAA! What about those of us who start in our late 30s? Like Skinny says, it depends on your definition of excellence. I probably will never win Mundials as a brown or black belt. Too many little chickies who've been doing this since age 6, who are now 17 and stomping blues and purples into the dust. Maybe I'll win Masters World or something... but even if I don't, I will still achieve excellence as an attorney (that's 6-8 hrs/day) and as a jitsuka (another 6 hours a day) and my poor husband ... LOL... he'll get an adequate (??) wife with the other hours, whether I'm sleeping or not :)