Monday, August 9, 2010


Movement and Butterfly Guard---those will be the main topics of the week. Should be fun, if today's any indication. Worked how to counter your opponent elevating you when you're in his butterfly guard, and a pretty slick armbar/triangle combination after passing to the back of the knees.

Went 50/50 with Gigantor Zach first. Something that I'm still learning: life is much easier if you refuse to let the other guy put you flat on your back. I avoided that, and the world was good. Then I went to Andy, and we had our usual back and forth, with me edging ahead of him at the end.

Rolls after were with Andy at the start, and then blue belt Ed. And and I had another set of vicious back and forths---we have a pace with each other that isn't 100%, but it's definitely more than 50/50 or "light training." I like having that kind of pace with someone, as it lets me try techniques in close-to-real circumstances. I'm not wonderful at remembering to try the things we learned in class, but when I do, it's worthwhile. Ed is a crusher, and I need to remember that. We worked for about 20, 25 minutes (I'm guessing), and afterwards he puked. So apparently my cardio is good and I forced him to work hard. Two things that I like.

A professor of mine has my mind thinking of excellence, and of how best to become excellent at something. This can be anything from a sport to a martial art to legal analysis to poker to sewing---an activity that demands concentration. This is not new material; I'm sure jiu jitsu bloggers have tried to plumb the depths before, Malcolm Gladwell has the 10,000 hour theory and his piece in the New Yorker about how underdogs can win is necessary reading if you're ever going to compete in anything. I even read the introduction to Andre Agassi's autobiography, and that set the same wheels in motion. As a society, we over-value talent. We see someone who performs at the elite level, someone like Roger or Rickson Gracie, Anderson Silva, Fedor, Muhammed Ali, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, [insert obscure phenom here], and we think, "God, with that kind of talent, anyone could do it." But that's not right. You can become excellent with effort, and effort can outperform ability. Jordan didn't have that kind of talent forever---he was cut from varsity basketball his sophomore year, and he put in the time. Andre Agassi had talent, but what made him perfect his skills was his father's machine that fired balls at his feet so that he could learn to hit the ball early off the bounce. (He also has a congenital spine deformity---seriously, that autobiography is high on my list of next reads.) Your brain has 4-5 hours a day--you can devote yourself to becoming excellent and improving about 4-5 hours a day before your brain stops absorbing information in a meaningful way. Whatever the activity, that's the amount of time you have. 4-5 Hours of Excellence Time every day.

This brings me back to jiu jitsu. I'm a law student, so when classes start again, I'm going to have a lot of those 4-5 hours takenup with writing and critiquing and analyzing and so forth and so forth. Some of the things I'll have to do are mindless and shouldn't tax my "excellence time," like checking authorities and preparing for class. If I have 5 hours every day, I'll probably be able to average only 1 or 1.5 for jiu jitsu (in a given day). So I'm going to probably notice a decrease in my rate of development. I won't like that, but it's the way it will be for the next several months. Thankfully, it isn't first or second year anymore, and my grades are already what my prospective employers will see, so I can't change those. But what I'm trying to get at is that we have only so much time that we can devote to improving our technique. So the time that we have, we have to use wisely. Drill for technique rather than speed (at least for now, until you commit the technique to muscle memory). Look for patterns and flow opportunities. Stretch and remain flexible when thinking about something else. The amount of conscious time that we can devote to our chosen art is finite. So we have to use it well.

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