Turning thefts into gifts; submissions should be gifts, not thefts

Navigating your BJJ journey entails mile markers, defined differently by all; tournaments, number of classes attended, rolls without breaks, and the obvious rank upgrades. You achieve it, and you’re motivated to the next, always moving forward and evolving along the way. Great ways to measure progress, and are easy to measure.

But some milestones aren’t as easily identifiable as events or achievements at all, they’re more like transitions. As an instructor, my favorite example of these is the long transition from “stealing” submissions to being “gifted” submissions. I’m always scanning for progress in this area.

Still with submission as the example, it’s great to see the initial cue recognition, and the player’s response to it…getting the actual tap or not is initially irrelevant. Just proud to see the cue and it’s response.

After some experimentation and countless failures, the details of each technique come together and they start getting the first few, live taps, against full on resisting partners, and confidence skyrockets. It doesn’t usually look pretty during the struggle, but the first objective, and their focus, has been achieved with the rewarding tap. And it’s a sweet transition to watch as it shows their skill set and confidence growing.

But infinitely more impressive is the next transition to the “gifted” submissions. Until this transition takes hold, most submissions are attacker attacking, defender defending, and victory to whoever does whichever better. It’s simple, The attacker needs to know more of the steps of the attack and faster, before the defender can recognize the attacker’s shortcoming with time to exploit them. Straightforward struggle that often comes down to attrition.

As the grappler evolves and polishes along their journey, each attack requires less full on dedicated, thought-driven focus to achieve success. So much is left to habit to handle, that frees up the mind to think outside the immediate initial objective. This allows him to think more like a flanker than a straight charger. With this flexibility in focus, the attacker is able to attack multiple targets, other limbs, angles on the same limb, the neck, positional upset etc. Because of this the defender splits his focus, unable to defend all his real estate. As he defends one aspect, he’s leaving himself open to be outflanked and attacked elsewhere. It’s on the attacker to be savvy to this, constantly attacking while predicting escape route and prepared to snag vulnerabilities as they present themselves. The attacker works to get so smooth with this, that the defender’s full on defense of a choke lands his arm in their lap, appearing as a gift in exchange for the safety of his neck. No struggle, no back and forth, no attrition. No muscle fatigue, no immovable object vs unstoppable force. It should look gifted.

If it doesn’t seem realistic, you haven’t yet approached this transition yet, or are currently in transition with us 🙂

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Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

Don’t be the snowbank either!

On the flipside of the “rock out, rock on” blog (link at the bottom), don’t be the snowbank either!

Nothing grinds my gears more than watching a higher belt, who should know better, bear down on a much less experienced training partner, leaving them to writhe helplessly beneath the “snowbank”.

It’s hard to avoid the occasional lay and pray when your options appear minimal as a newer grappler, but when you DO have some experience, i recommend using it. Expose this less experienced grappler, and yourself, to movement and space, dynamics over static tension. Statues are for museums. And nobody wants to grapple with a statue.

Training is for gaining experience, not for parking. Open the game, zoom it out for your partner and yourself.

What if my partner is much more experienced than me? This is even more of an opportunity to explore the movement in space, and likely they’ll guide you through your intro to new movements as they polish their own. I understand the (crutch) strategy of rolling with someone of higher experience to just survive at all cost through defense, but opening yourself up to attacking (or allowing his attacks and movement associated) the more experienced grappler will elevate you both (and even more safely than with the lessor experienced partners).

Why stop your partner from showing you something? We are meant to train WITH our partners, not against, regardless of either grappler’s experience.

As a part 2 to: https://jiujitsuthoughts.com/2015/10/21/rock-out-rock-on/

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Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

The General’s Army: Delegation Through Repetition

Our body as our total fighting force, we’d all assume the brain as the general and our body the army. Like any army, it requires training to be effective in combat, from the top general down the ranks. During the instruction portion of class, our ways of learning are to watch the movements, listen to them described, and physically walked through them. It’s putting our brain through officer training, and it’s a great start.

Our general is then normally instructed to pass this on to their respective armies, through the actual drilling of the same movements with our partners. Since our general almost instantly understands the techniques and how it applies to the big picture, it  is now to share it with the troops. and this is where a major hiccup can occur in the passage of information.

Many people, because their general has it “perfected”, will only drill the new movement a couple times, think they mastered it, and sit idly on this “knowledge” while the others drill their armies around them. The problem is, without actual repetition, your army can never know this information.

You see this watching two grapplers drilling with their respective partners. Both think about the movement and can nail it in just a few tries, and can demonstrate it flawlessly to their instructor when he comes around, outstanding.

The first grappler reps it those few times, pauses, talks about last weekend and farts.

The second grappler reps it 20-30 times and breaks a decent sweat.

Again, both grapplers can demonstrate it perfectly to the instructor, but in many cases the first grappler executes it BETTER than the second. This is because their general is still leading the movement with conscious thought.

The second is slightly fumbling during the download to their body, their unconscious, their army. But this allows their army to perform without the generals direct orders, freeing the general to zoom out and focus on other, bigger picture strategy. It allows higher order analysis of the movement as a whole and the principles behind it. This is much more developed and sustainable, allowing for gathering of more info from the top, whether more details on the same particular movement over time or for future movements. Each exposure filtering through again and downloaded, delegated all down to the lowest foot soldier.

When the general is freed to no longer think about each and every detail of each movement, it’s able to add additional details and applications under its own discretion, and over time. A good grappler can imitate and execute movements, a great grappler can train their army to master them subconsciously.

Only through repetition can your army free your thinking general. Drill your army.

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Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

newb advice from a new father

A few months ago we finally got to meet our daughter, our second spawn. And of course i look to BJJ for guidance.

With our first child, i read everything i could get my hands on, talking to everyone that had children, and annoyingly to those that didn’t. I wanted to make sure I didn’t go in blind, and that i didn’t screw anything up….selfishly forgetting that it’s my wife that will be pulling the weight, ripping, gushing, likely pooping, and spending precious energy on deciding on loving or hating me through it all. I remember being frustrated finding that everyone’s opinions and pointers differed drastically, everyone had different plans, and none of them went accordingly. But always the same, “don’t worry man, you’ll do fine.”

Looking back now, i remind myself of the non-BJJ people that consistently ask about what to expect on day 1; how to be prepared, what to know first, how to get in shape first, or how to excel or win at BJJ. And i distinctly remember the look i got from other parents exactly matching those of the BJJ practitioner to the newbs. In one form or another, it’s the same, just show up. Don’t worry, you’ll do fine.

I know from BJJ that nothing is even remotely as important as mat time. And as i translate this to fatherhood, i see it’s the same. No study of life even remotely comes close to simply living it, especially in the creation of it, and the shared life that follows. I learned more in his first day breathing than i did with months buried in books about first poops, latching, and skin-to-skin contact.

I still maintain my steady study of the process of our second child growing towards toddlerhood, but with the comfort of my “mat time” with our first to keep me relaxed and breathing throughout. I’ll focus on the details i missed with him, and the new ones that will appear with her. With my fresh mat time i have less fear, i’ve seen some stuff. I’m more free to enjoy the process, decided what to bring for the hospital downtime, what photos we wanted to capture, whether to eat the placenta cooked or raw, dried into pill form, or not at all.

The difference in studying BJJ before and after any amount of mat time is enormous. Once you have mat time, your study is clearer, more focused. In some ways it can still be overwhelming, but at least you know why you’re studying it, and get better at filtering what applies to your specific journey through BJJ. Likewise, studying how to father is compounded infinitely by being a father. And life by living it.

To get good at Jiujitsu, to “win”, there is no faster way than to start living it, getting your feet wet, and gaining mat time as soon as your comfort allows. Your fears will diminish and your questions will become more applicable and specific, less driven by fear of the unknown. A minute of mat time serves you better than a month of youtube. Get after it!

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Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

Flow like River, not like Glacier

 

When rivers flow, they gather more oxygen, invite higher life forms, cover ground, and see major landscape. They’re constantly changing, carving, and evolving. Rivers are experts at navigating obstacles quickly and efficiently along their path. They LEARN as they flow.

When glaciers “hold their ground”, they invite little life, grind on, and have the same damn view for years. They grind slowly, hold on to the past, and take 1000s of years to cover any ground, experiencing so much less. They lay still, and OBSERVE life happening around and to them.

Grappling is the same. Resist the temptation for the instant gratification of “not making mistakes” as a glacier. Take the “risky” route into the unknown, and get as much experience out of each roll as possible. You can learn FROM and AS the glacier, for sure. But you’ll cover more ground and gain more experience, faster and more efficiently, as a river.

*Advice to rivers confronted with a glacier, KEEP MOVING!

Many grapplers meet static partners by joining them! If he’s not moving, then no need for me to. This works to slow the pace and take a break, and that’s great if that’s your goal. But if experience is your goal, try not to let them slow down YOUR  learning. Inertia works both ways, either you join their static state, or you convince them to join your flow. Writhe and bridge, roll and shrimp.  Sometimes the only way to get them to move is to give them increasingly tempting movements, offering a limb or neck can do the trick. Worst case: you get caught and continue your flow. And through flow is the learning.

Roll like river, not like glacier.

best when paired with: The river or the rock. or Don’t roll to “last” or showing up is NOT half the battle: mathematics of bjj skill acquisition

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Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts