Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

Last night we worked on the switch again, applying different attacks from what we Monday.  Clock choke, taking the back, kimura, half-back....all these things re actually pretty easy to get if you keep looking for them after the switch.  Of course, being able to figure which your opponent is giving you requires a level of awareness I don't yet have.  But we're getting there.

I worked with Vance a bit after class.  His pressure is impressive, but he doesn't move that quickly or directly.  It's a problem if you end up beneath him, but if you can avoid that, you should be ok.  He and I share the same belt rank, so I didn't worry about going too hard or attacking submissions that were right there in front of me.  I could have used the time to let him put me in bad spots and see whether I could get out, I suppose.  There comes a point, though, where I am tired of just being laid on.  A few times, he would just keep pressure and refuse to attack for fear that I would escape or reverse, so I wasn't in a good spot, but because he wasn't doing anything I knew he wouldn't finish me.  In retrospect, I don't know how I feel about that roll.  I'll have to think about it some more and have another go with him in a week or so.

After that, I got wrecked by Klint again.  I know--at least once a week, I end up writing something about getting wrecked by Klint.  In reality, this is for two reasons:  (a) he's just that much better than I; and (2) I enjoy going up against someone who I know will destroy me technically and challenge me in the ways that my games needs to be challenged.  With respect to (a), that's not really a surprise.  I mean, he's been training for around 15 years, he has his black belt from one of the most respected instructors in the world (Dave once said that Klint's guard is one of the hardest he's ever passed), and he knows far more than he's had time to teach me.  (2) isn't all that surprising either, I suppose, though the second part might be a bit confusing.  What I mean is that Klint knows where my game needs work, and he puts me in the positions that make me work on those areas.  I have been having trouble knowing when to stop protecting my guard and start prepping to escape from side control, and knowing when to stop trying to pass guard one way and change energy---I'm late in pulling the trigger on the bottom, and stopping too early when passing.  That, and I hate passing guard.  It seems so much easier and more fun to sweep and end up in mount/side control.

I spent some time talking with Klint afterwards, and the idea of perfecting a position came up again.  [This idea of perfection and excellence seems to be the running theme of my jiu jitsu experience as a whole and this blog in particular.]  He told me that right now I have enough technical knowledge and athletic ability to be a problem for a lot of people, but that I haven't taken the time to make one position my own, make one submission my go-to standard, pick one guard pass and drill it ad nauseum until it's literal muscle memory and I can hit it on everyone.  So instead of having a deep knowledge of a few techniques and building my game off of those, I have a surface understanding of a lot (which feels like almost nothing) and my attributes allow me to fill in the gaps on the fly.  It's all a bit slapdash, really.  But that's not how you become formidable.  Klint and I talked about Dave and Jared (another Camarillo black belt in Brainerd, MN--and possibly the most OCD guy any person who knows him has ever met), and how the two of them fit that mold.  Dave is ridiculously good, with innumerable techniques in his arsenal; but every time he and Klint train, he passes Klint's guard with the stack pass.  Every time---double-unders, stack him like an accordion, and wait for him to get too uncomfortable to keep the position.  Every time.  Jared, on the other hand, perfected the loop choke.  Everyone he would train with would get loop choked, and once Jared got his hand on the back of your head, you were toast.  How did he develop this ability?  "I just did it 200 times a day for a while."  That's all.  (Who else feels terrible for the training partner who got loop choked 200 times a day for a while?)  It's the simple adage that "the people who put in the most time are the people who become the best."  And it's putting in smart work, using your time well.

That's something to take to heart and remember to apply.  At some point, I'm going to have to find a partner who is as willing to get throttled as I am.  And we'll have to figure out how best to maintain the necessary focus to make 200 reps useful.  Build good muscle memory.


  1. Such good advice. It does take a certain amount of time to accomplish though-- if you think about needing a go-to move from all the basic positions, a go-to escape, a go-to sub... and how can you put your friends through 200 loop chokes.. I finally find that I have (cough) good shoulder pressure when crossfacing. That is my "woo woo" thing I'm better at than anything else. Pretty lame for training for two years but I'll take what I can get :)

  2. My hand is raised in regards to your last paragraph ...