Saturday, April 03, 2010

I can even analogize jiu jitsu and math.

I love how jiu jitsu is like a fractal.

That's a Mandelbrot set, a famous example of a fractal. A fractal is "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole," a property called self-similarity. A characteristic of this and other fractals is that the pattern repeats itself in the finer and finer detail. I think it was Swift in 1733 who anticipated it:

Big fleas have little fleas
on their backs to bite them,
and little fleas have lesser fleas,
and so ad infinitum.

Jiu jitsu is like that because first you grasp the rough outline. Then you look more closely, and you see greater and greater levels of detail, finesse, and particularity... but they all relate back to the bigger picture in a similar way. The longer you continue the iteration process, the more intricate the tiny detail in the pattern becomes.

Example: basic knee-through guard pass. Big picture is you pop open their ankles, get your knee up, push your knee over to the ground, and get past their legs. The more you focus on the details, the counters, the recounters, the more deeply into the forest you go... but all those details are just microcosms of the big picture. All the (infinite) permutations of base, pressure, posture relate back to those principles of open, knee up, knee over, through.

The better my teammates get at defending and defeating my iterations of guard passes, sweeps, attacks... the more iterations I am forced to explore, test, and throw their way. Pretty soon we get waaaay out there on the teeniest branchlet of the leaf.. but they're all offspring of the same parents, related back and intimately connected to the first generation, if you will.

So thanks to my training partners, especially lately, for all the mentor rolling and the pursuit of finer and finer levels of detail.


Deborah Clem said...

Positively beautiful Georgette. You have articulated with diamond clarity one of my favorite aspects of BJJ, the unseen details of the game that dictate the fight.

William said...

Wow, very well put.