Thursday, March 28, 2013

The eternal debate

While we all train jiu-jitsu with the belief that it has to be useful in a real self-defense situation, the jury is still out on the gi vs no-gi debate. There are various arguments for each being better suited than the other, so let's examine some of my favorites.

If you want to be good in no-gi, train only no-gi, right? The adcc, arguably the highest level no-gi competition in the world, which is frequented by grapplers of various disciplines, is dominated by bjj guys who train in the gi, year after year. These professional athletes choose to train in the gi most of their time, only switching to no-gi a few weeks before the competition. And they do well. Too well.

People don't walk around in gis, do they? Training exclusively with the gi develops bad habits. People get too dependent on the grips. They develop specialized games which simply fall apart without a gi. As a result, people have the burden of developing two distinct games to be successful.

While people don't walk around wearing gis, they don't walk naked either. A simple t-shirt is more than enough to choke someone out a few times, especially if it rips a little bit. That is, unless the person wears a shirt which just happens to have a collar, or a good coat.

In closing, you have to make up your own mind as to which style suits you better. Some may argue that no-gi training is still much much better than not training at all. Your call.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

On introspection

Training time is limited. We all have just a few hours to dedicate to the art per week, but we also want to improve, as fast as possible. The school already takes care of the instruction part, but what about rolling ?

Beyond the obvious advice like using technique instead of strength, trying the day's moves, I believe one aspect is rarely talked about: observation, and I don't mean sitting on the sidelines here.
I believe chains of techniques are like streets in a European city. I face a new choice at every intersection. Do I go left or right? At first, I have no idea where the street leads. I spent most of my time as a white belt in that phase. As a blue belt, I would often would forget how I got in a specific position, only to make the same mistake again.

But that wasn't the end of it. At some point, my mistakes started playing in my head in slow motion, even a few hours after a roll. Observation is just that : recognizing the earliest point I messed up and remembering it. This didn't come by itself, however. I started asking people what I did wrong, and that alone was immensely helpful.

So next time you get caught in a bad position or submission, visualize how you got there, what the grips were, where was the weight positioned, etc. You will learn so much more from your rolling, and hopefully make better use of your time.