Weds 12th. A new week but the same drill – Me, Big Dean and Si training in a North Kent industrial estate on a cold December night. If you detect that my tone is less than chipper, you’d be right. More on that in a moment.
This week we briefly covered the escape from having your back taken when in the “turtle position” – again, something that I get 50% success with then get stuck at the vital moment – as demonstrated in my third fight at the tournament – just unable to capitalise on throwing the guy off. Key things here, grip up the elbow of the arm coming in for the choke. With the opposite arm, reach up and grab high on the back of the opponent’s collar. PULL IN TIGHT. Drop the shoulder to off balance the opponent. Re-grip and pull tight again. Walk round into the opponent to bring pressure onto his hooks. When everything is tight, shoot out the outside leg and this will facilitate the opponent falling off. Without this tightness or walking round, the opponent will often be able to simply roll you and take your back – something that has happened to me on numerous occasions. From here, switch the hips and drive back to take cross side. Because you have an under grip from the manoeuvre, you’re perfectly set up for a choke that I’ve described in a previous post.
All good. When I rolled I got choked by Si pretty much as soon as I’d started – hey ho. Rolling with Dean, I managed to get some reasonable positions, but was repeatedly frustrated by not being able to get round his open guard – it’s like a force field or some kind of Jedi Mind Trick – Dean (in Obi Wan voice): “you cannot pass” … Me: “ I cannot pass”. Will have to cover this at some point.
Now, onto the main business of the day. You may recall my post on apathy. It was meant as an observation of the state that the “club” (which is basically me, Dean and Si and a few casual members) is in, and a call to arms. With another year approaching of the same three people training in the same venue, it brought about a discussion over what to do. For me, on the one hand, it’s great – there’s a whole lot I can learn from Dean and Si for a long time to come and I’m getting 2:1 coaching for a very low cost each month. Fantastic. On the other hand, when I roll with the guys, it’s the same story every time. They know my game and the moves and the results are almost inevitable.
For Dean and Si, even if others have given up the ghost, they still want to train and develop, but with no one to teach them new things, their development will stagnate. Same problem with rolling against each other – perfectly demonstrated this session – an endless stalemate as each knows the other’s game inside out. So, the discussion went along the lines of whether, despite the desire to keep a Rickson associated club going, the continuation of training in this manner was conducive to meaningful development for any of us.
We’re not getting any new members, despite me posting on one of the most prominent BJJ websites around. That post has had over 200 hits at the time of writing. We’ve only had about 5 people get in touch and a grand total of zero people actually come and see us. All this despite us being the only Rickson school in the UK, one of only 2 in Europe. I have to say, the link to Rickson’s is getting more and more tenuous. The standards are high but contact with the States is minimal to non-existent. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. We need more members, but we need a new venue to attract new members, but we can’t afford a new venue because we need more members – then there’s the whole affiliation to the association thing. Nothing doing there either. The school is dead on it’s a…
So, the discussion basically ended up that the three of us will train once more before Christmas, then meet up briefly in the new year. The option at that point looks likely to be to let things go and we will all go off in search of BJJ elsewhere. It’s sad – we’re good friends and enjoy training together, but you can’t flog a dead horse. I’m sure we’ll find time to train together once in a while. I’ll still maintain my Association membership – that goal of a Blue Belt from Rickson remains. It’s just probable that I’ll do the majority of my training at Carlson’s in Tonbridge. No problem. It’s a bit more expensive, but the guys there are great and they’ve got a good core of good and dedicated guys and some very good instruction – at least there’s a bit of passion there and some chance of continuity.
I’M AWARE THAT IN E-ETIQUETTE TERMS, I’M NOW SHOUTING – I HAVE NOT ACCIDENTLY PRESSED CAPS LOCK. I AM INTENDING TO APPEAR TO BE RAISING MY VOICE BECAUSE I AM PISSED OFF. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? I WARNED IN MY APATHY POST THAT UNLESS PEOPLE SWITCHED ON, THIS WOULD BE OVER…WELL HERE YOU GO. A RICKSON SCHOOL ON YOUR DOORSTEP – SOME EXCELLENT TUITION IF YOU WANTED IT, RIGHT HERE, AGAINST A SYLLABUS CREATED BY THE MAN ACKNOWLEDGED AS THE PUREST BJJ TALENT THAT EVER LIVED. THEY SAY THAT YOU DON’T REALISE WHAT YOU’VE GOT ‘TIL IT’S GONE – WELL NOW IT’S LOOKING LIKE THAT REALISATION IS ABOUT TO HIT.
My vision for what I want to achieve remains intact and will be unaffected. I know I can get great training from the guys at Tonbridge and I’ll throw myself into their set up heart and soul as I always do with everything I do. I’ll fight in their name at tournaments and hopefully contribute to their haul at those events. I just can’t help feeling utterly disappointed that something that should have been really good has been allowed to just slip on by. If I could personally do anything, I would, but who am I? A white belt with a couple of years’ training…it ain’t going to happen and it sucks.
Some might say “everything runs its course” – but nothing has to so long as people change, adapt and stay focussed. This is such a wasted opportunity and that really grates. If people have lost interest and do not intend to train any more, that’s fine, but a bit of honesty with their mates and themselves to say “actually, it’s not what I want any more” would go a long way. The whole “yeah, I train BJJ at Rickson’s (but what I really mean is that I show up once in a blue moon)” is just dishonest. Like I said, train, or don’t train – makes no odds to me, but just be honest about what you’re choice is. Part of what makes all this so hard is that there are so many guys out there who have trained on and off – many of them very talented and likeable people, all of them with the Rickson patch on their Gi. But, when the chips are down, as they have been for the last year at least, they’re nowhere to be seen.
So, there we have it…unless something miraculous happens, that’s where we’re headed. At the end of the day, it’s not life and death, but for me, it is very much part of my life – it’s what I choose to do when I’m not sitting at a desk working a job that, given the financial freedom, I wouldn’t give a toss about. Some people define themselves by what they do for a job. I prefer to define myself as a husband, a father and someone that loves BJJ. That’s why it matters – it’s part of who I am.
Who knows what the future holds? Maybes something will happen and the phoenix will rise from the ashes one day. Maybe not. Al I know is that one way or another, I’ll still be training hard trying to be the best that I can be in BJJ. See you around. Soon I hope.