Thursday, August 5, 2010

Got this Itch That I Have to Scratch

Haven't been blogging since I haven't really had the time to train. I think I have missed around *gasp* 5 or 6 days! That's like 10 years in jitsu time. Had my sister and her boyfriend visiting in addition to business picking up like woah.

I finally got to go in yesterday and had an awesome private lesson with Steve. Went over a series of sweeps that I've never even seen before. The problem is that we went over so many that I think I only remember 1 or 2. I will have to try some of them tonight.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kid's Class is Good for the Soul

I have been helping to teach the kid's class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It's amazing to me how quickly they all learn. They absorb everything like little sponges-granted some of them have really really short attention spans, but that's also part of being a child. When they successfully work a technique or even learn how to do the warmup drills better, their joy is so evident. I am proud that I get to help in their early development as Jiu Jitsu players. I hope they all turn out to be World Champions!

Teaching also helps me with my own technique. It forces me to break down simple moves that I now take for granted. Shrimping. Loop chokes. More shrimping. Scissor Sweep. Cross grips. Push Sweep. I usually teach the more advanced kids, so we are now getting into combinations of the above. Eventually they will be a force to be reckoned with and will make the Redlion competition team proud.

The adult class was just so so for me. I injured my foot somehow during monday's rolls. My toe got caught in a gi and pushed all of my toes forward and something popped. Come tuesday morning, I can barely walk. So I had to skip out on most of the fun warm up activities that I enjoy so dearly. We also drilled passes. Steve has been adding 1 to 2 passes to a series of passes that we've been building on. I am glad that we are always working on fundamentals. Occasionally steve will show us a crazy thing or two, but 90 percent of the time we are drilling basics.

The roll sessions were interesting. I rolled with a newbie 14 year old kid who weighs 185 lbs! Cue spastic arm flailing and vicious elbows. I think he punched me in the eye 3 times and elbowed me at least 4 times. I was initially going very light, but I felt like I needed to teach him early on that this kind of reckless rolling would only lead to a) him getting gassed b) someone less kind than me cranking submissions. When I was telling him this I realized I was the one gassed from trying to hold him down and he wasn't even breathing hard. Damn 14 year olds.

On a completely different note: I recently heard that I have a rep among my classmates as someone who cranks armbars. I was shocked to hear this because I pride myself in never muscling anything. I mean, I simply can't muscle anything because everyone outweighs me. Even the 14 year old kid outweighs me by 40 lbs. So I was wondering at what point does it become my fault when I have executed and locked in a deep armbar and that person refuses to tap? Should I just start letting go? I feel like I am cheating myself and truncating my teammate's growth If I don't match their level of intensity. bleh. whatever. If I put you in a submission and you refuse to tap, I am going to take your arm or put you to sleep. Especially if you outweigh me.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tonight's Class

Today was one of those rare classes where you feel everything has come together perfectly. During free roll I was stringing together Loop chokes to triangles to omoplatas to sweeps to triangle to armbar and back to triangle. Over and over and over again. It didn't matter that everyone in my class outweighs me by at LEAST 20-25lbs. Some of them outweigh me by 60-100lbs. But I pretty much caught everyone multiple times with the same series of transitions and submissions. I could feel some of them take their frustrations out on me with their weight and strength, (cue multiple headbutts and the beginnings of a black eye in addition to getting cross faced by a 235 lb monster for 3 minutes...ssaank you berry much) but I felt like I had an answer to everything.

I'm not positive but I am pretty sure that the noticeable jump in techinique is a direct result of rolling with Steve over and over again this past weekend. I mean, the man just crushes me and not just with his weight like some of the bigger guys in my class try to do, but he just completely outclasses me with pure skill. Rolling with him makes my brain think faster so that it becomes instinct. Quicker/Faster Transitions. Combinations. Submissions. Positioning. Scrambles. Its like a tornado meeting a volcano. Cept I am a very tiny itsy bitsy tornado and he is the volcano that closed down european airways for several months.

Anyways, I feel great. My body feels bruised and battered but mentally I feel like I've taken a jump in my game after having been stagnant for quite some time. I'm beginning to see and understand the importance of the little bump and pull to initiate all my attacks/sweeps. All you need is that split second when their weight is pushing backwards or pushing forwards and you can capitilize to continue to make your opponent defend. At that point I can move quickly through my series of sweeps and submissions.

Note to self: COMMIT to each submission and sweep even when you are thinking of your second or third attack. Only if your oppoent feels genuinely threatened will they react in the way that leaves them open and more vulnerable to your next attack. And eventually...Check Mate. Kings to me.

A funny thing happened on the way to Jiu Jitsu

This past saturday I went to our school's open mat. When I got there, a white belt of...two, maybe three months was talking with our instructor Steve. Normally, if i'm not involved with the conversation from the beginning I mind my own business, but I could not help but eavesdrop a little since I was completely blown away by what I heard as I walked past. ( I won't name any names, since I know of at least 1 teammate that reads my blog-whaaatup Bernard!)

The conversation went something like this:

white belt of two/three months: so when are so and so getting their purple belts? I think so and so really should get their purple belts soon because they've been blue belts for x years and they are really good and technical.

steve: well, they need a couple more tournaments under their belts...etc etc etc

Now, correct me if i'm wrong, but this is absolutely ridiculous right? I mean, at what point during the two months did this white belt become more knowledgable than our instructor who has spent a decade plus training and competing in Jiu Jitsu? My initial reaction was to speak up and say "dude, seriously?" But since Steve graciously answered his questions without even batting an eyelash I held my tongue.

Which brings me to the point of this blog entry...Promotions.

Cleber Jiu Jitsu / Redlion Jiu Jitsu / Elite Team Jiu Jitsu is on a system where at the very minimum you have to spend a year and a half at your current belt before you can even be considered for promotion. So, even if you are a blue belt and you are absolutely destroying your competition at all the major tournaments you still need to meet the minimum time requirement. (I believe there are exceptions although i'm not sure how you qualify for them)

Now, other than this minimum time requirement there is nothing else preventing you from advancing other than your own consistency, ability to learn and execute, and tournament participation. So you won't find Steve holding back anyone just for the sake of holding them back. In fact, his philosophy is to never let you get comfortable. "Comfortable at white? Here is your blue. Comfortable at blue? Here is your purple. Go and get your ass kicked so that mentally you can step your game up to the next level." And I have to say that it has worked. At least for me.

I remember when I first got my Blue after 6 months of being a white...and I absolutely did not feel like I was a blue. I particularly remember going down to Huntington and rolling with this purple belt who played with me like a cat plays with a ball of yarn. After the first 6 taps he didn't even bother submitting me. I was devastated. I went back to my instructor and told him about how I wanted to give him back my blue belt and how I think this and i think that...

In retrospect, I realize how childish I was being and how I was in no position to question my instructor's decision. Not then, not now, and probably not ever. Because of his decision to promote me when he did, I stepped my game up, worked harder and now feel like I've "earned" my blue. In fact I can even say I am comfortable.

Promotions are around the corner, and while I don't feel like I am ready for a purple belt or even at a purple belt level, I won't question if my instructor does or doesn't promote me. In fact, I don't really care. But if it happens, I will be ready to "earn" my purple.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Be who you are and say what you feel

Jitsu has become my one and only escape. While I am in my gi concentrating on the techniques, analyzing becomes so simple and quiet. And really that's what Jiu Jitsu is about isn't it? Simplicity over complexity. Finesse over strength. Think Roger Gracie. The guy never looks like he is trying and he is never doing some crazy upside down reverse omoplata to jumping reverse reverse triangle. Yet he still submits everyone at a level of game where his peers are barely winning on points.

I think I am at the point where I am back to basics. I know enough techniques, but
I am not executing the ones I know perfectly.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

cannot wait

I cannot wait till jiu jitsu tonight so i can choke someone.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Will to Win

So I was watching the hbo documentary, Thrilla in Manilla, and I was completely blown away with how flawed Ali and Frazier both were. Here you have two of the greatest champions in all of sports and it is so incredibly easy to forget that they are human beings with all the baggage that comes with being human. Pride, hate, prejudice, and fear only just scratches the surface when it comes to their three legendary fights. But, what struck me the most was their will to win. They literally pound into each other for 44 rounds to the point of DEATH and somehow still find a way to answer the bell...

Which got me to thinking about what it means to have the will to win in sports. I am relatively new to sports. In fact I can safely say that I never really played any competitive sports growing up. I spent most of my time reading comic books, practicing the violin, and later on just smoking a lot of pot. Only recently have I started competing in Jiu Jitsu and taking my training seriously...not because I plan on being the world's greatest Jiu jitsu player (we can all dream right?) but because I feel like it's a natural progression of my addiction to jits.

So the question do you find the will to win when your entire body is screaming at you to just take a seat. To quit. To give up. Are certain people born with lion hearts? Do they develop this over time through their training? Or is it a product of their monumental hubris? Finally is it worth it to win when you could possibly lose the ability to walk and talk again ? a la Ali's parkinsons and Xande Ribiero's refusal to tap to an inverted heel hook at Grapplers Quest resulting in the most disgusting popping noise i've ever heard coming from a knee cap.