Sunday, November 20, 2011

That's what you get....

Jeremy returned.  I have weeks of thrashing to look forward to.  At the end of class Thursday night, Klint and Jeremy pickled me.  It's like baseball in the back yard when we were kids, where one kid runs between the bases and the other two try to tag him out.  Just back and forth, with the kid in the middle pickled.  That was me.

I honestly can't say whether I was doing anything well or not.  I know that I made some stupid mistakes, and that I hate making those mistakes in general---especially when either Klint or Jeremy are watching me train.  So the fact that each of them was working me over while the other watched was hard on my psyche. Very hard.  I was fighting and screaming at myself over it until I went to sleep.  After gaining a certain level of proficiency at anything, you always get pissed and irritated when you can't do anything, when none of your techniques work.  And that was all of training Thursday.

Friday I got a text from Klint telling me that class was cancelled on Saturday, so Saturday I spent the entire time at Edina, taking class from Gina and her girls early and working through the open mat afterwards.  And for a lot of Saturday, the roles were reversed.  There were a few rounds where I was fighting out of my class---some rounds with higher belts who I knew were going to handle me and they did.  I got to work on my defenses and survival, and the thrashing I took Thursday had me better prepared for those rounds than I otherwise would have been.  I stuck myself into turtle too often, and one of the areas I need the most work is keeping moving through those transitions, from stiff-arming the guard pass to my knees to either my guard or my own takedown reversal.  I left myself in a few terrible spots simply because I didn't keep moving.  So I have some drills to work on, and I'm sure Klint and Jeremy will be able to help me work that problem.  Against a few similar belts, though, I was the driver.  I rolled with two people who were being just as hard on themselves and getting just as frustrated as I was on Thursday.  So I caught myself telling them the same things I heard at the end of Thursday's training:  they're doing well, that they're going to get beat sometimes and that's part of the process.  A few of the other rounds were a bit closer, no one losing self-confidence or slapping the mat.

A bit of the time, I even surprised myself with the techniques my body went to.  I was working a baseball choke, a few bow-and-arrows, some guard passes, Jeremy's back was a really good morning of training.  I only wish I could remember that those nights that aren't so reassuring.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Plays poorly with others

I went to a seminar this past weekend, given by a very public figure in BJJ around the world.  He is a second or third degree black belt, runs a world-famous academy in southern California, and is a relentless advocate for his family's brand of jiu jitsu and way of life.  I won't name him, though if you do minor research, it won't be hard to figure out.

I was disappointed in the seminar.  One session was about side mount, and the second was about triangle.  Neither went that deep into the position or strategies and philosophies around it.  I think part of the reason was that the hosting academy is new, and it's full of white belts and some blue belts.  As a blue myself, I hesitate to cast aspersions on others who hold the same rank, but looking around the room at some people moving around and drilling, I don't think many of them would have been blue belts at other academies.  So that's my snarkiness for the day.

I went on my own, and no one I knew did the seminar.  it was a room full of strangers.  The effect of that, though, is that my partner was always someone who I didn't know---which is more than fine---and who either doesn't pay as close attention to technique as I do (first session) or simply doesn't normally practice jiu jitsu (second session).  So I felt like I ended up re-teaching the techniques once we started drilling them, which seemed to be wasted time.

If nothing else, it gave me still more confidence in my home academy, and in my instructors methods and philosophy.  Exactly what I need---more reason to feel quietly superior.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I was working last night at the bar and a training partner ended up coming in for a drink with a lady friend. They had dinner and a drink or two, and then she left and he waited at the bar for his bus.  So we got to catch up; he and I don't get to train together that often.  He trains across town at night, when I'm usually at Woodbury.  We started training at roughly the same time, I think, but I have one distinct advantage:  I'm 6'1"-ish, 180 lbs, and he's 5'3"-ish, 130 lbs.  [You heard it here first---size matters.]  He said something that resonated with me:  "I see everyone around me making leaps and moving forward, and I feel like I'm just plateauing."

Why did this resonate with me?  I look over the history of this blog, and I can see (and remember writing) posts about how I feel good about my jiu jitsu, and how I feel like I'm progressing.  Right now, it's a little different.  I know that I'm progressing and improving.   I feel myself giving certain people more trouble than I used to, I see myself beating guys who used to stomp me.  I take my training seriously (more seriously than I think my lovely wife would like), and I make time to roll with guys across town so that I get training in with different bodies and higher belts who are not my instructor.  I hear guys complimenting my progress, etc.  And it still feels like a plateau.  Explain that.

For one, improvement is becoming much more of a slog, a much steeper incline.  It's no longer about learning the basics; now I have to build combinations and increase push-pull sensitivity and up my aggression without sacrificing my defense.  For another, I don't have people with whom to practice building those essentials.  I have Klint to wreck me, I have the white belts to wreck, and I have guys across town to measure my game.  I don't have drilling partners.  And those are the ones I think I need right now.  Blue belt, as I understand it, is where you build your game, where you craft what kind of jiu jitsu player you're going to be and determine what goes into your A game.  I'm going to be here a long, long time.  And I'm cool with that.  What would bother me would be being a blue belt for a long long time and feeling the entire time like I'm not training properly.