Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Self-discovery

We all train for different reasons, and with different methods. All I know, the more I train, the more I find jiu-jitsu is about self-discovery.

My journey as a beginner white belt was all about creating distance between my partner and myself. I saw guard playing as more challenging, so that's what I focused on. In the beginning, it was all about surviving from side control. I had no guard. Then, as the months flew by, my fights were happening in a defensive half-guard. As soon as I discovered how to be offensive, I was hooked on spider guard. Note the increase of distance between my partner and myself. I was unsure of myself and keen on survival. My Bjj was about defense and creating angles for a sweep.

When I got my blue belt, my confidence started building. I discovered spider guard is pretty hard to play against most people since my legs weren't long enough for putting proper pressure, so I focused a lot on de la riva type techniques. As even more time passed, I closed the distance even more, preferring a type of open guard based on a cross sleeve lapel guard from which it evolved into cross lapel straight sleeve. I built a little game around that and called it a day.

Then one day, it struck me. I was in denial this whole time. My body type is perfect for a close type of bjj. Be it x guard, single leg x or butterfly was all I needed. Mainly because my cross lapel straight sleeve grips were still useful. The only modification I had to make is move my outer hook between the person's knees. That's exactly where I am now, and everything seems to connect from there. From knee picks to armdrags to loop and cross chokes, to overhead sweeps to x guard, it was aaaal there. The only missing piece of the puzzle seems to be a good defensive butterfly guard. That's exactly what I'm working on right now, and I can't wait to see how far this will take me. I just need to get passed another few hundred times, and I just might start building a coherent guard.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Purple

I guess that at some point at blue belt, everyone hits a significant plateau, and will ask themselves honestly what are they aiming for, why should they keep walking through that door given that they are not getting better. At that point, everybody has to find a personal, yet very strong reason for training, or they will quit. My personal reason might not be good enough for you. 

For me, there are two reasons that motivate me 1. Jiu-jitsu is worth sharing and 2. I can't think of a more useful and fun form of work-out.

Jiu-jitsu is worth sharing, means that there is always something to be learned, and that brings people together. The art is that good. It puts everyone on the same level : everyone is a student, exchanging techniques ! It just feels right. BJJ doesn't belong to any one individual or group. It's a living thing : it grows and evolves with every sparring match, formal class or informal discussion. 

We all know we have to work out. Our physical bodies demand it. As a species, we are inherently competitive, aggressive people. We're hunters gatherers at heart. I think safe martial arts with a live sparring component, can and should be practiced for long periods of time without any major injuries. I can think of Judo and BJJ as examples. Not only do I get a damn good workout, but I also learn self-defense, know my body, build networks, etc.