Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The path to the purple belt.

It's been over a year I've got my blue belt, and so far, I've trained two years and a half, give or take. In the last year, I've trained quite a bit, and very regularly. I've been exposed to quite a bit of styles and moves, and gone through several stages so far. As new people would get their blue belts, I see them going through the same stages, so as a way for me to remember a few years from now how I've evolved, I'm writing it down.

First, I am a four stripe white belt. I submit weaker blues and start learning the bad spots, and how to avoid them. With time and patience, I feel the need to prove myself, so I kick ass as much as I can, with whoever I roll. People start to learn my name, and I'm kind of semi-officially part of the team. As weeks go by, I don't get any sort of promotions, but I know it's coming, Eventually, i stop thinking about it, and just stfu and train (hello ilovebjj.com!). Finally, I get called in front of the class for a speech and a new belt. The belt feels a bit weird, and I'm not even sure I deserve it. My ego was smashed quite a bit in the last few weeks. I seem to get worse and worse. But hey, it's a new belt, that's it.

So I get my fresh new blue belt, the class is over, and it hasn't seen war yet. The next day comes, and everything stops mattering. People start smashing through my guard, putting on evil cross faces, whatever. I don't really care, I am a blue belt after all. I just defend the submissions. I am completely open to new techniques, and my mind is like a sponge (hello prof. Bruno!), learning whatever comes, and practicing everything without questioning. As weeks go by, I accumulate more and more techniques.

At some point, something completely crazy happens. I find out this golden move, and god DAMN it works on everyone! Even higher belts get caught occasionally. For me, it's the basic scissor sweep. People start noticing, and I get a reputation for having a good guard. I sweep people some more, for a few weeks. Eventually, people get fed up, and develop a defence. Suddenly, the sweep gets much harder to do, people defend one move ahead of me. At that point, I kind of fake I forgot about it, and find a new move to complement the first one. I research DVD's and youtube for using my partner's reaction the best I can. I learn from the best these few options, DLR with knee on the ground, for instance, but it requires me to give up my super grip. This move is lower percentage, but it has so many options, it's insane. People get tangled in variations for a while. THey don't know what the fuck is happening, Andrei is getting better again, and again, they find the cure : stand up. Again, I have to adapt, because people just opened up the door to a whole new world : playing open guard with the opponent standing up. I realize that there's another killer move that works wonders for me : tripod sweep, and yet another : DLR to omoplata to tripod. People start noticing again, and they brace for that as well. This time however, I realize people stopped passing my guard a long time ago, and my reputation grows again. Everyone in the gym knows about my guard, because I train all the time.

Finally, I realize I've neglected my passing and my defence. What do I do ? I choose my rolls. If I know the guy, usually because I've humbled him enough in the past, I let him start form turtle/side/ back control and go from there. That's the stage I am at now.

Now, I see other guys going through the same motions as me. They find a move, it works on everybody, then people find defences, then they add a second or third move to it, find a few options, then people shut down their games, then they evolve again.

If a guy has a good move, He'll know how to suck me into it, and I usually find a way to kill it. If the guy is a higher belt, and I don't know him, I play a defensive/stalling guard. If it's a higher belt and I know him, I let him try new stuff, because he does the same for me. If it's a lower belt or the same belt, or I don't know the guy, A-game smashing time. After a few humblings (whatever the direction), he either gets put in the good training partners bin, potential good training partners bin, the kill list, or the avoidance list.