Sunday, July 18, 2010

Girls in Gis, in Austin today.. making rolls personal.

So I know I'm only supposed to post cheery, happy, wimmin-all-gettin-grapply-happily stuff about the Girls in Gis thing today.

It wouldn't be too hard: nice gang of women (maybe 15?) with a good range of experience and skills, from novice whitebelts to savvy purples and a brown.. a bowl of cold sliced watermelon to beat the heat.. a little warmup and then open mat.

One special pleasure was Lindsey's return to the mats after a 3 year absence (broken wrist and family time). She wore her white belt instead of her blue, but after 2 minutes it was apparent that she had every right to wear the blue one. I had a great time getting to know her. Another friend, a purple from a local school I used to train at who is now elsewhere getting her postgraduate degree, was so much fun to roll with because she is sooooo mellow, controlled, and methodical. I hadn't seen her in forever and in some ways, she's like a measuring stick for me. I keep waiting for the day when she reappears and I can actually pass her guard or make any kind of progress, really. Today was not the day! I better hustle because she'll graduate soon and start training regularly again!

I like seeing women with different games and approaches all get together and put aside competitiveness (like we don't see enough of that at tournaments) and just have fun with it. I was really in the mood for fun rolling. I took the 3 hr regular class before it, so I was actually pretty fatigued and looking forward to ... well, fun rolls, not tournament smash.

I'll describe the not-fun part like this: lady I grappled at the start of my career, who I beat on points, at least one weight class up from me, who I am told (by others, and once by her) was eager for a rematch ever since. Approached me for rolls. I had the feel that she was hungry for victory and wouldn't be happy without it. I wasn't in the mood to contest it so I decided I would let her work whatever she wanted and wasn't going to cry if I lost. Frankly I was pretty sure I'd lose. I let her pull guard, worked to pass, got muscled into a triangle, tapped to hair pulling but truthfully she had it tight and better than 50% likelihood of getting it. Basically played defensively (a hedgehog egg!) the whole 20 min or so. I think she tapped me with a kneebar too. Good technical (on her part) rolls, but not fun. Not fun because I felt this singleminded hostility from her. I didn't enjoy it, and have no desire to repeat it outside of a tournament setting again. Maybe I misread her, but that's what I felt.

I did another two hours or so of intense physical labor in sweltering heat, after the lunch with the ladies, so I came home thoroughly beat. The shower felt like heaven. The pizza tasted ambrosial.

So I'm wondering.. is making rolls personal something guys experience? only guys? only girls? is it common? Sometimes I'll have a goal that drives my training (Dammit, I will not let Rudy choke me while passing his guard ever again, etc. etc.) and that could be said to be personal, but that's not what I mean.

I mean personal in a grudge-match kind of way. It seems like it would be a common guy thing, but man, I don't see that happen much at our school. I definitely haven't ever experienced a cross-gender personal grudge match. Then I start looking at my perception that men are basically simple, direct and easy to get along with, versus women who tend to be more complicated, subtle, easy to offend, and devious... even passive-aggressive.. sorry, am I being misogynistic? simplistic?

Let's discuss :)


Meerkatsu said...

I've never personally had what you just described you had. Quite often me and a couple of my fellow purple pluma master fighters will mock each other on FB or forums just for fun and we all take it in the manner in which it was intended. I know where the real pecking order lies (among my peers) and of course I'm dead keen to improve my tournament record, but there's no personal grudge at all.
sorry you had to experience this whch soured your day a little. But hey, maybe she's gotten that out of her system now and can actually enjoy rolling with you the next time you meet (outside of the tournament setting). Let's hope anyway.

The Part Time Grappler said...

First of all, well done! You mentally worked your way thru a grudge match :) Don't judge these matches as good or bad. They are just there. Part of the game. If EVERY roll was like that then something is defo wrong.

As for mentality, you're not being any of those things. You're simply judging the situation as a picture rather than a movie.

You know when you shake hands people just before you start a roll. That's the best place to set the tone for a (potential) grudge match. It can be a mutual-respect-double-handed-eye-contact shake or a quick slap. But that's the beginning. If someone slaps your hand and then progresses to have a scientific technical roll, that slap meant nothing. However, 2 minutes into it, they could change pace to a higher one, and then back down to methodical.

BJJ is about dealing with all of it. Not necessarily match it, but flow with it. IF you wanna match it but do it knowingly. You often hear "don't get dragged into grudge matches" and I agree, but if you want to knowingly match them then that’s fine. That’s honest. That’s pre-agreed.

I have had rolls where someone has said “I wanna take it easy coz my ankle is hurt” and then proceeded to do the opposite. I have tapped in the middle of their flow and told them they are going to really hurt their ankle if they carry on at that pace :o) that usually puts a smile on their face and they tend to slow down.

People are not good or bad. They are just scared and attached to images and illusions: (if I can make him/her tap then I’ll find happiness and self respect!) and BJJ makes promises to make people feel better about themselves. It’s only after you get hooked on it you realise the price you need to pay: you need to face that self in all its nakedness.

leslie said...

I've had a few rolls like that in the women's events I've attended. Where there was some kind of shared history, and you knew immediately that she wasn't going to play around and that she wanted to rip your head off. In those situations, I've backed off and played light and defensive. If I tap, I tap, so what. I don't think it's worth it, especially at a wimmin-all-gettin-grapply-happily event, to let the drama escalate.

I've had aggressive, no-friendly-banter, intense rolls at these events, too, much more similar to tournament smash, without feeling that level of direct hostility. And even most girls I've rolled with in tournaments, I don't feel that hostility from them. They're aggressive and want to win and will rip my head off to do it, but it's not the same personal vendetta feeling.

I think it can be cross-gender, too: we have some guys who come after me that same way, where I'm feeling the "You killed my father, prepare to die" vibe from them. (Guy on Saturday came out that way, too, though I scarcely know him.) I do not like rolls like that.

Anonymous said...

(Dammit, I will not let Rudy choke me while passing his guard ever again, etc. etc.)

That's the only sort of "personal" I get, and it's not about any hostility toward the person him- or her-self. I do get frustrated (with MYSELF) when someone gets me eight times in a row with the same sub, or the guy with the closed guard that I have never *once* been able to break- and it becomes a bit of a personal mission to change that pattern.

If somebody was doing "douchebag-but-technically-legal" moves on me in a comp, it might be different. My teachers are of the mind that if someone does a "douchebag move" on you, the proper response is to vigorously repay in kind. I haven't had that happen as of yet, but...........

Triin said...

Ouch :(

Georgette said...

@Seymour: too right. I did get a warmer vibe from her over lunch, so perhaps it's out of her system now. I think she just needed to feel like she was the alpha male! So I rolled over, showed my neck, and hopefully that's what she needed.

@Liam: your last paragraph was really powerful. I had to read and re-read it a few times. That's good stuff-- and it's spot on.

Anne said...

Unfortunately, I have to admit to having had a grudge match with someone at a women’s grappling event. It just so happened that a girl who broke my friend’s arm was attending. I wouldn’t have known if she hadn’t mentioned this fact. Knowing what she had done, and that she was talking about it (not to the point of bragging, but close enough) just set me off. During competition training I decided to arm bar her repeatedly during our roll. I didn’t try to hurt her, and I didn’t crank the submissions, but I did keep on catching her with the same submission over and over again to try to teach her a lesson. I probably accomplished nothing.

Looking back, this was wrong, and I’ve matured as a grappler since then. I now have a much more focused approach to rolling, trying to get something out of every roll, but accepting every roll for what it is.

Anonymous said...

I suspect it may be a harbored behavior especially among females who are typically the best female grappler (out of the 1 or 2) in class. It's silly, really. But it doesn't help when the instructor may be treating his only active female competitor like a star pupil. If that's the case, I would imagine she feels a lot of pressure to live up to it.

Georgette said...

@Anony: I think you're right. I know she has gotten a LOT of attention, even in magazines, and for a while I was getting the same kinds of pressure and expectations. It's the nature of the competitive scene to set up some rivalries. (LOL, invitations to be in superfights as a blue belt! tee hee) I think she's probably a nice person who gets caught up in the ego of the moment. Not like I don't. When I was trying to pass her halfguard, I was not doing a gentle crossface, you can be assured.

Frank said...

Dude, that sucks. I'm glad I've never been in that position.

I think this may happen more with women because there's fewer of you than us guys, thus things get more personal. There's not normally tons of dudes at my weight class, and I'm starting to recognize them by sight, and I could see the potential for something happening in a situation similar to yours. Not due to my instigation of course.

Also I think it depends on the type of gym that you train at. Some gyms use training or rolling as an opportunity to errr, enforce a few life lessons on students or lower ranks, and this sort of attitude can trickle down and end up as people training inappropriately.

I try very hard to leave all personal feelings about my partner out of our train. This is harder when you've had a bad day, and you think it might make you feel better to smash someone's face, and your partner happens to be someone you're not terribly fond of, but we're all human.

If someone comes into class with a smelly gi, tell them verbally. No need to crank submissions or make their time in class unpleasent. Chances are it won't have the effect that you want anyway.

Ryan Peterson said...

Great post, Georgette.

As a male I only think I'm qualified to comment on my gender, so that's what I'll do.

In general, I haven't experienced many grudges that last *after* the roll in question, but I've had events that make me be careful with who I roll with in the future.

When I was a white belt and started to improve in defense (as white belts do at some point), I experienced intensity/anger from some other, more experienced students a couple times, who I can only assume were frustrated for whatever reason. With students like this I'll usually try to avoid rolling with them in the future - because to me, getting angry in BJJ just isn't worth it in terms of ego - and more importantly, safety.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to offend you, but I really think you need to lighten up. You let yourself be bothered by this woman. I've never experienced anything like that in 3 1/2 years. Neither do I roll with other women often. I think it's possible that "grudge match mentality" happens more among the guys than meets the eye, but goes unnoticed by the target, or forgotten about in a moment or a day. The other guy's attitude is irrelevant. Getting emotional just opens yourself up to bad judgment and injury. We wouldn't be doing bjj long term if we didn't enjoy it. But I don't step on the mat thinking I'm there to have fun. I step on the mat thinking I'm going to get better, do better, try to work a certain technique or strategy, improve my body and mind in some way. Whatever the opponent brings, even if it's a "dirty move" (definitions of this vary, of course) is just another learning opportunity. Only after the fact do I realize it was a satisfying experience. Even if it sucked. So don't think too hard and just roll.

Georgette said...

@Anony: you don't offend me! :) LOL. But on the other hand, everyone is different. There are many correct approaches to jiu jitsu; many correct goals to have on the mats. Mine seem to be different from yours, but that's okay. I train 7 days a week, minimum 3 hours sometimes up to 8 hours a day. If I only stepped on the mat to win, I don't think I could keep up the pace.

At a womens-only open mat, sure I'm trying to use technique, improve, work a certain strategy etc. But I am definitely also there to have fun, make friends, chill out and enjoy. After all, at my size, even when guys go light it's usually full-on effort for me. I was NOT looking for tournament-strength intensity.

And I think there's nothing wrong with noticing the emotional energy of your training partner so you can protect yourself. If I had not paid attention to her vibe, I might have left something sticking out somewhere and gotten it cranked on (I don't KNOW that she would have, but better safe than sorry.)

While I would have liked to not perceive the hostility, it was unavoidable. Oh well. I've moved on. :)

David said...

Good Post!

When people take training personally, it's because their ego is in the way - they want a promotion or they want to be top dog at the gym. Maybe they are seriously training for a big tournament.

Their motto is : Train like you fight.

People will do what they want, that's cool with me. I deal with someone with a point to prove all the time on the mats. i have a different take on it though. Jiu-Jitsu is a way of life for me. It's taught me not get caught up in the ego trip and to train to improve myself a little each day in all aspects of my life.

My Motto:Empty your cup!


Anonymous said...

Ha ha. I was going to say I don't experience this. But now that you mention it and I read the comments, I think I have experienced it a lot.

My response is to be careful to protect myself if the person is careless, and to pay back, within reason, when I get the opportunity.

It saddens me in competition though. My division is small and in the long run I would have expected more cameraderie. In the adult male divisions I wouldn't expect much - too many people to bond. But in smaller divisions, we all need each other too much, if we are going to have decent matches at all.