Friday, 17 August 2007

Practice makes perfect

So, this is my first post about training since I started this blog, so just want to reflect on how this week’s gone. Monday night we trained an escape from mount (with opponent’s weight fully on and down) and then just span off variations from this, moving into positional training from the same position (top person aims to maintain mount/submit, bottom person aims to escape mount).

Sounds pretty basic, but even after two years, every time I do this position I learn something new…it’s tough. It’s like something Big Dean (one of our Blue Belts) said to me a while back – “these positions are basic – doesn’t mean they’re easy, but they are your core moves”….very true. Monday was a really encouraging session. Richard (Blue belt, purple stripe) took us through the moves and was really helpful. Really gave me a sense of the details that I should be looking at in order to realistically train for that Blue Belt and how I need to apply myself to the training – very good advice and nice to know that I’ve got support.

Richard explained that I need to be at the level whereby I am aware of what’s happening and what options I’ve got, then selecting the right option – it’s a kind of deliberate approach to training. I’m by no means intuitive about what I’m doing – that’s a whole other level when you just “do”, but I’m pretty sure I’m no longer in the stage when I just do random stuff in the hope that something might happen. It reminds me of something I saw in work once – 4 stages of Competence:

I think I’m somewhere between conscious incompetence and conscious competence at the moment, depending on who I’m rolling with. My aim over the next two years is to get to consistent conscious competence, and most of that is to do with mindset.

It’s cool as at least I think I understand where I’m at. Richard put it that I need to think like a small guy – could be a useful way of looking at how I train and getting to grips with technique – tough one, but it’s got to be the way. Richard’s really good at getting across the movement and sensitivity required in BJJ – it shows in how he rolls and is a product of so much time with Dean T I guess.

At the end of the session, the guys gave me some good confidence boosting talk – stuff like how I’m “not stupid any more” – :D sounds like an insult, but really, if you’ve done BJJ, you’ll recognise that’s a big compliment as to how far you’ve come. Also “I can see you’re thinking” and comments about my level of commitment. All small things, but still nice to hear and make you leave training feeling a little bit taller. Cheers guys.

Wednesday nights - always a smaller group for some reason, but this is where I’ve been making my most progress. We’ve been drilling the basics over and over and with smaller numbers, I’m getting great tuition from Big Dean (Barthelemy - Blue Belt) and coaching from Simon “Super Kong” Roberts (Blue belt). Between them there’s got to be at least 12 years of BJJ. This week we covered Guillotine from guard, defence of same, kimura from guard, defence of, and cross-collar choke – always looks so simple and is one of Si’s specialities, but actually pretty hard to do well. Si’s cross collar chokes are so strong yet deceptive – it was to one of these that was the only time I’ve been choked unconscious.

Strange experience – we were rolling and Si took up the grips and the choke came on. I remember thinking “this is it…I’ll tap” and then, next thing I knew, Si was walking off the mat. I remember thinking –“where’s he going, I haven’t tapped yet” – unbeknown to me, I’d just passed out, dead weight on top of him, sort of spitting/snoring (very distinctive sound). To me, it never happened – the choke was that good and that subtle I didn’t see or feel it coming. Still a matter of mirth even now.

Dean’s got this weird kind of photographic memory thing going on so the level of detail in his instruction is great. This also helps in the coaching – if something’s not quite working you can try it out with Dean and he’ll tell you what’s wrong straight away – instant results. Wednesday was no exception.

Anyway, we finished the session with some light rolling. As usual, this was fun, if not a little frustrating – I tried to roll like Richard had said, like a small guy , using as little strength as I could. I actually found it more energy sapping!! It’s like Jekyll and Hyde – part of me knows that being gentle is the right thing to do in terms of my development right now, but there’s the other part of me that just wants to push and fight – it’s tough….physically and mentally. Just gotta persist.

Tonight (Friday), I went to a mate's house. I'd taken the day off work so it was a good opportunity to squeeze in some more training. Neil (I met Neil a few years back at CKD and introduced him to BJJ at my club - he now trains mostly at Carlson Gracie Tonbridge - more about them some other time) bought some mats of his own a few weeks back, which is great - free training! It's the weirdest dojo you'll ever see though - 9mx9m of mats in his back garden in the countryside of west Kent, with only a fence to separate us from hundreds of sheep. It's even weirder trying to explain to my wife that two men, around their mid-3o's are going to wrestle in a back garden! I think both our wives find it weird and just roll their eyes in a way that says "when are you going to grow up?" But hey, who cares, it's all good. As you can see from the photo (neil striking classic BJJ pose at his private Dojo), I ain't lying about the sheep - I'm sure it was the clincher for Neil when deciding to buy the house!

We just rolled for about two and a half hours - good fun and able to try out new stuff or just drill what we want. I was trying really hard again not to use too much strength, but it keeps cropping up.

I was trying to work on X-side and being under mount - still finding it really hard. I think I'm just gonna have to repeatedly put myself there until it clicks. Also found it really hard to maintain mount if I was going for a choke - something else I need to fix as I work real hard to get mount then lose it every time to a basic bridge!:(

Anyhoo - always a pleasure - cheers Neil. Something really nice about rolling outside on a nice day in the quiet of the countryside. And all perfectly normal (:o.


slideyfoot said...

Purple stripe on a blue belt? Interesting: does Rickson have a different grading system, as I've not heard of that one before?

Enjoying your blog so far, so cheers for linking it over on EFN. :)

Al said...

Hi Slideyfoot,

thanks for looking in...I've enjoyed your blog for a while now...

Yeah, Rickson's system is basically, white, white blue stripe, Blue, Blue Purple stripe and so on....

The stripe is a phase 1 test on the technical understanding an principles behind certain techniques so lots of demonstrating and explaining what you're doing and why. The phase 2 test (full belt) is all about the practical application and resistance tested competence of the student.

You do sometimes see guys with four coloured stripes on a belt - this usually means they did the phase 2 test but fell just short of the requirement - "almost there" kind of thing.

The technical depth of understanding techniques is very important with Rickson's, hence the emphasis on this.