Thursday, November 18, 2010

Leaving my ego at the door.

I'm too competitive when I roll and it's getting in the way of my learning. Allie just wrote a great blog post dealing with perfectionism and its impact on training, which prompted a LOT of reflection and self-analysis on my part.

I've never been a girly-girl in the sense of being intimidated by close physical proximity. I say that because if I had, I think a little extra smashiness would be acceptable from me (even worth encouraging) just to compensate.

But I stepped onto a slippery slope a while back and just realized how far down I've tumbled.

I don't have a good enough anything to merit compliment, except for maybe my crossface. But I am easily motivated by praise. (I'd rather let a pack of wild dogs eat me alive than run more than a few miles, but if you tell me I'm a good girl, I'll keep running, and running, and running..) So, a while back (months ago) during a roll here and there with some people known for their rough, smashy, even rude style, I know there were times I got pissed off by their crossface, their wristlock, their overall smashy style. So I tried to smash them back-- and they said "good girl." A monster was born.

I couldn't hold people down or make them give up what I wanted, but I discovered a blend of pain compliance, legit pressure, and roughness that seemed to help make up for my lack of real size or strength. I passed halfguard without getting swept as much, I had more time to work for arms and necks in cross sides, I got free from attacks. This positively reinforced my roughness.. and then I started getting these rueful, bantering comments and smiles about my mean crossface and my incredible pressure. Well, that's just like watermelon on a hot day...quite the reward.

But now I'm finding out that I don't have the body type to be a legit smashy player (especially against my guy teammates) AND when push comes to shove and people get irked by things I do which hurt, they don't want to roll with me as much. Or when they do, they go a little harder, a little heavier. And then a cycle is born. I go harder in response, but I don't have the same physical attributes or skill set, so when they win, we're probably BOTH upset and frustrated; I blame it on being muscled, I push harder next time, rinse, repeat.

I crested that cycle the other day when a good friend got mad at me. I was going for a farside armbar from cross side and I "stabbed them in the heart" (as instructed) with my hipside elbow as I rotated around. Apparently I got right into some tender cartilage and they yelped... and then they got mad because they had sensed my tension (frustration at not winning!) and interpreted the move as retaliation.

Well, nothing tells you that you have a problem quite like a friend thinking you'd do something to hurt them on purpose out of childish anger. I've done a lot of soul searching since, and another friend and training partner told me that yes, several of my favorite people feel like I am pretty rough.. not that I do it on purpose to cause pain, but it is painful.

I was crushed. What I want above ALL else in jiu jitsu is smooth elegant fluid effortless jits. I want to work WITH my partner and my attributes. I would love, someday, for someone to say that they simply couldn't do anything I didn't allow, that they had only one option for movement, but that I seemed to use no force or energy to accomplish it. And I want to have joy on the mats in the meantime. Joy with my friends and eagerness to train together. I don't want to be a meathead. It doesn't matter that I'm short, soft and small-- my knuckles still hurt and my gi can still smother. And training isn't a tournament.

Aside from all that, I want to be happy while I'm training. So maybe I need the whole self-talk about learning is more important than winning, and no matter how hard I try I can't "make" myself learn any faster or do any better just by pushing harder.

I need help backing off of the competitiveness that has been a part of my psyche since forever. I want to keep on loving jiu jitsu without being sad and frustrated and mad.

So, open apology to my training partners for those times you thought to yourself that I was being extra rough. It wasn't intentional, I was just being ignorant, too hard on myself, and too accepting of sloppy, imprecise bullshit. Call me on it please, so I can learn how to be different.


clinzy said...

I have often feared that I am being too mean or too rough just to get my way in the gym. I know if a guy did it to me, I'd be mad. I also know I've justified that little extra bit of shoulder pressure to their size and strength difference more than once, and I really try to remind myself of that whole "be like water" thing, even if it means I lose. The whole problem with that is that losing sucks.

With these stupid blue belts come these insane thoughts (of ours, not of our instructors) that say "you must now be impervious to all white belt jiu jitsu". Sadly, that's just not the case. So, we beat ourselves up and get a little meaner with the shoulder pressure, and so on. It's hard to find the balance and even harder to just let go and let things happen during a roll. I think you talked about/experienced true flow rolling recently. Maybe you can try more of that for a few weeks, until the monster has been tamed?

Dev said...

Awesome post. I have nothing to add.

Sean said...

I think it says it all that it was alarming to hear that from your jits friends, and treated it as something to address, instead of having the attitude of "deal with it, that's my game."

Zen Mojo said..., I am very encouraged by the way that you have responded to this that you will make a full and complete recovery.

Keep reaching for that joy and make some beautiful jiu jitsu.

Georgette said...

Thanks everyone :) xoxo

Anonymous said...

Courtesy certainly has its place on the mat. . . . But, uh, we Fight people for fun . . . Hello? Anyone else notice this?

I don’t see anything wrong with a “cycle” of going hard and being pushed harder in return. I think the problem is that you or your training partners get upset and frustrated about it. It’s just all in a day’s practice. I seriously doubt the road to “smooth elegant fluid effortless jits” is paved with technique alone.

SavageKitsune said...

If only you and I could breed, we might make one decent BJJ practitioner between us. One of my teachers is tearing her hair out in frustration because she can't get me to do anything that I view as "mean".

Deborah Clem said...

Georgette, this was spot on. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in getting the submission, being extra tough, making sure that everyone KNOWS exactly how tough we are, that we start building 10 foot walls on our path.

Josh Artigue said...

There is a time for all parts of the game. When you are learning smashing is bad when you are training for competition then smashing is good.

Do not ever ever regret smashing someone in practice that is your level or higher. It is their job to learn to deal with it. In all actuality you will be doing them a disservice by not playing your game when you are preparing for a tourney.

Megan said...

Can I borrow some of your meanness?

I totally said, out loud "oh no!" when you said you'd heard complaints from friends. That has to hurt. It hurt me. I'm sure though, that as guys, it's probably not half as big a deal to them as it is to you.

Thanks for the post though. I think it's helpful to any woman on the path of increasing aggressiveness.

slideyfoot said...

Interesting post: I always try to avoid anything even slightly aggressive (hence why I wrote this on the topic), but I have to admit I don't feel as bad if the other person is a lot bigger.

I'm really keen to develop technique above all else, which is probably why I tend to slip into a very passive, defensive game. Does mean I get squashed a lot, but I prefer that to being hyper-aggressive (though I'm sure I'd pay for it if I actually competed, as I'd probably spend the match either flopped under side control or getting submitted).

Ashley said...

The Part Time Grappler commented in Megan's post on managing aggression that it is about "awareness".

This post demonstrates an incredibly raw and admirable level of awareness; it's awesome.