Saturday, January 7, 2012

how to from here?

The quiet holiday time is nearly over. We'll be back to our normal weekly BJJ routine starting on Monday. I have missed it, yet I've enjoyed the bit of a quiet time. I've managed to get to 6 open mats in three different schools. Each and every session was good in it's own way and I took something away from it.

I didn't overeat or overindulge in any other way over the holidays, so I have no regrets and nothing to work off. Possibly, my body appreciated a bit of slow time, so I'm feeling great and I'm totally looking forward to get back into the thick of things.

Of course I've had a little bit of time for reflection. I have loads of questions, such as:

? Is it the right approach to try to firstly understand techniques primarily on an intellectual level. By this I mean to deconstruct it, analyse the prerequisites, the necessary steps, the possible finishes and the variations. See where it logically fits into the context of other known positions, attacks, defenses or other moves. Discover the mechanics of it, determine the best use of leverage or weight distribution. See how far from the ideal scenario I can take it and still make it work succesfully.

? Or is the right approach (for me) to investigate how something should feel. Try stuff out in flow rolling and then in live sparring. Only consider the broad approach, not focus on specifics and let the body figure out what to do and when. Like when I flow roll, I find sweeps just happen, I realise that I can shift someone's weight by making some small adjustment to my own position.

? How can I avoid information overload? We are so bombarded with techniques, on lists, on FB, on blogs we read and of course by way of instructionals we buy. Already, I only superficially look at stuff that sounds a bit interesting. The only techniques I look at more closely are those which fit into my game or are similar to things we currently work on in class. And still it is too much. I want depth, not breadth. Yet I watch because some part of me thinks that getting a broader idea of a technique will give me a better understanding (= more depth).

? What is my game? Well, I know what it isn't! But is my game what I do when I play, what I do when under pressure against someone my size and skill level, what I do against someone better, how I roll when with a big spazzy newbie or what I do when competing? It seems like totally different things I need to do to succeed. So what IS my game? Is it maybe what I THINK I should be doing, or what I WANT to do? And what is it I actually want to do in each of those scenarios?

? Where am I going? All I know is that I want to improve and that I want to have fun doing in. Don't mind doing the hard yards, don't mind various levels of discomfort, because learning means I need to know how to lose, how to be in bad positions and how to survive. But should I have specific goals? And if so, what should those be?

? I feel I'm been overtaken by guys who started after I did. I know we all have our own journeys, and on an intellectual level, I understand that. But on another level, I'm disappointed. For all the fact that I'm pretty easy-going, there is a fiercely competitive streak in there somewhere, and it's not at all happy. That part of me wants to know if I'm just lacking drive or dedication or understanding, which are things I can improve on. Maybe I'm pushing against boundaries I can't shift, such as age, physical ability, ability to concentrate and absorb more knowledge. Honestly, I don't know, so I can't tell my competitive self whether I'm doing well under the circumstances, or whether I'm just a slack-arse who needs to step up a gear and stop complaining about how tough it is.

Soooo.... Not only am I unclear about where I'm going, but I also don't know how to go about going there :-) Methinks I have a lot more thinking to do. But then I wonder if I should spend so much time in intellectual self-debate, or whether I should just pull my finger out and get to work. Or in other words, just shut up and train...

? Hmmm..... !


  1. I talked with Val Worthington and Emily Kwok a fair bit about some of these questions when I did a womens grapple camp two weekends ago.. The most irking thing (yet I agree with it!) is that men tend to progress faster in jits than women do, and men of X belt level will tend to have a more deep/complex game than women of the same belt level. Grrr!

  2. Because of all the time I have to spend off the mats I end up justifying it and saying that I'm glad I have an opportunity to study the finer points. I record my instructor's technique, take detailed notes, and I now see things that I don't know if I would have seen before.

    I think if I were to choose how I learned something I would want to know a) the theory or reason behind it b) the mechanics of it. If I know WHY I'm doing something it can influence what I'm doing AND give me some reasons to try new things.

    I've discovered that I'm happy when I can survive and escape the big hulky white belts who do MMA. :)