Saturday, October 24, 2009

purple belt wisdom

In BJJ tonight, I was paired with one of the purple belts. First drill: front sweeps.

OMG. I've been having a hard time with those. Combination of less-than-perfect lower back (probably age and abuse related..), making me feel weak in squat-like positions. But also lack of good technique. So although I've done front sweeps during gradings and managed ok, I'd been slowly but surely talking myself into "I can't do this".

So now I'm supposed to drill this sweep, slowly, properly and with no momentum to assist. Luckily my purple belt partner is my size and near my weight. I tell him I'm not good at these and that in rolling I'd never, ever think of using it. In any case, when I had a go, he made the observation that one of my legs felt stronger than the other (the right) which is why I might be having trouble. So he suggested two things. Firstly to sweep over the other shoulder. Secondly, to change the foot placement. Instead of having a foot on each of his hips, to place my right foot closer to his middle, to take a bit more weight. He said he's had a sore ankle once and used that to save it a bit.

I give it a go and I'm surprised about the difference it makes. Several more sweeps later my body has "understood" the adjustment and it's working. Not fabulously well, but I'm getting there. And the last sweep I try feels sweet. I can't help but comment: how smooth was that!!

Now in principle, I should have worked that out for myself. But it took the observation, feel and experience of someone more senior than myself to find and correct the problem.

Such a minor thing, such a large effect. Both in the sense that a small adjustment made the sweep possible for me. And in the sense that it shook me out of thinking "I can't" and put me back on the track of "I can", which is so important.

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