Friday, October 07, 2011

Improvising in jiu jitsu.

Before I tell my story, check out this post by Mauricio Zingano about his and his wife's experiences competing in ADCC the last 3 go-rounds. Found it on reddit, and I agree with some commenters-- changes on the part of both parties could have resolved a lot of this. But the metaissue for me, as a competitor who has had to cut weight for almost every tournament I've ever done, is-- what would it be like to have to make weight 3 times or more over a span of 3 days after a transAtlantic flight (flying always makes me retain water like a beast)-- or shoot, make weight multiple times over 3 days regardless? That's just tough. Unless you're naturally in that weight category, which invites the question-- is it fair to "force" someone to compete at the bottom of a weightclass, or is it fair to your opponents to cut and fight at the top of the next weightclass down?

Also-- hooray! Pandora isn't limiting the free listening to 40 hours a month any more! :)

But back to my story.

I have not been training too much since work is crazy busy. Maybe once a day, even had to skip a day or two. But I got to roll some nogi with my good friend Tom yesterday. He was instrumental in getting me into jiu jitsu and he always demolishes me, but with a good spirit. He's not much bigger than I am, AND he's got stomach cancer, so you'd think with the chemotherapy he's been enduring for months now that I might have a chance!

But you'd think wrongly. He's a badass. If I don't roll with him regularly, it's very diagnostic for me to drop in and roll with him, because I can mentally compare myself and how he felt to the last time and see changes that, with a shorter intervening timespan, would be invisible. Yesterday was no exception.

I've always naturally been a top player, and he used to fuss at me for not being more aggressive off my back. I've been back at the drawing board scribbling furiously for the last 9 months or year or so, attempting to take my sub-white belt guard up a notch or two. It was a great feeling to play yesterday and realize that I was on my back AND identifying and flowing from submission attempts and sweep attempts. I also am seeing something eye-opening-- that (at least from this bluebelt perspective) it seems it's less important that every move I make culminate in a fully-fledged sweep or submission but at least DO SOMETHING. Used to be I wouldn't start to do something unless I was sure what I would do next.

If it were a cooking situation, my whitebelt/new blue self would go like this: I wouldn't start to do anything in the kitchen until I had a recipe in front of me and had read it through once.

But now, with a little more cooking under my belt, I know more or less what's in the pantry, and even if I don't know what I will make for dinner, I know it probably will start with me getting [a pot/a pan/a mixing bowl/or a cutting board] out and then [reach for an onion/some garlic/ or olive oil] and so on.... I can improvise with most whatever I find in the pantry because I have more than "recipes" in my head-- I have cooking skill. So I know how ingredients work, what techniques go with which, which spices go best together (in my taste!)...

In grapplespeak, this is-- even if I don't know what I will end up doing, I can [brace my forearm on their throat/get an underhook/get an overhook/get wrist control] and then [move my hips/break their posture/sit up into them] etc etc.

It's all about having a bigger vocabulary of principles and seeing the flow chart of how they each can originate from different approaches and flow further on into a number of different possibilities and outcomes. It's improvising. I feel like I'm finally "getting it." Everything I do doesn't have to be carried out to the ultimate finish and in fact it isn't, most of the time. But if I don't do something as a first step, they're GOING to do something worse to me. If I get my first step going, it deters them, and even if they foil my first step, their reaction invites MY reaction, and it's a cascade of beautiful (or not-so-beautiful!) chess moves all over the board.

I know, I know... this is the most obvious recitation of jiu jitsu. But it's all exciting and wonderful to me.

Also, thanks to Jodi at CombatSportsReview for making me reread Kintanon's great post on Hip Control.

Headed to Houston tonight for the Rener seminar, then tomorrow is Grappler's Quest (no I'm not competing are you crazy) and UFC. Be back Sunday. Working like mad to be ready for my hearing, which will have me in lovely El Paso all next week.


Kintanon said...

I'm glad people are still getting use out of that article. I reread it after she linked to it and ended up fixing a couple of issues I had been having passing. Made me feel better about my passing again. Though still not as good as I want to feel.

Tree Frog said...

I too read that account of the ADCCs by Prof. Zingano. It's a shocking tale he tells, however, as of right now, it remains unconfirmed.

Furthermore, only Rani Yahya was disqualified for not making weight and he was nine pounds over. Palhares initially had some trouble, but made weight. That's it - all the other competitors made weight.

I'm not saying the Zinganos are making stuff up, but there's usually more than one side to the story. I'll see if I can get anything out of the ADCC people and update you accordingly.

Anonymous said...

it's awesome. ive been trying to incorporate that and chaining techniques but i've got such a looong way to go it seems

Anonymous said...

dammit ofcourse i commented on the wrong post,oops georgette i meant to put that comment on ur other post

Anne said...

One of my toughest training partners at my old club was also a stomach cancer victim/survivor - I guess bjj is easy compared to chemo!

I really like your cooking analogy for bjj, specifically playing guard. I'm also a seasoned blue with a predominant top game who has a sub-white belt open guard, so vocalizing what you are going through "do something, even if you don't know where you'll end up" is very helpful.

This post was a perfect combination of bjj and kitchen talk!

Georgette said...

Thanks Tree Frog and Anne!! :)

BJJ CailĂ­n said...

I read Mauricio's post. I have no reason to disbelieve anything he said prior to Cat's issues cutting weight before the tournament a few weeks ago.

But the thing is, it was announced a long time in advance that the competitors would have to weigh in 3 times.

I remember discussing it with Ryan back in August. I personally read it on the ADCC website way back then. Ryan started working with a nutritionist 5-6 weeks prior to ADCC specifically because of this new rule. He knew he would have to diet down so he would not have to actually "cut" weight, knowing it wouldn't be possible to keep that up for 3 days and compete.