Loss = Win #2

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I wanted to take quick advantage of my previous post by highlighting an experience. 

Last night I went to a new gym down in Christchurch, New Zealand. At this gym I experienced a lot of loss. I felt very slow mentally and physically. My technique ranged between sloppy and non existent. I am also not in getting-crush-fitness. It’s amazing how quickly your body adjusts to not having people trying to crush the breath out of you and help you pass-out. 

All of that is just time. I will get back into shape. I will get used to the physicality of the game. I will get my movement back, and my mind will sharpen. That’s all fine.

What I realised is that I have some major holes in my game. Much of this has to do with the kind of gym I come from.

Now, before I get into it I need to make it understood that this is not criticism. This is observation. Things are not better or worse, they are different. The difference simply create realities. 

The gym I’ve been training at my entire BJJ career is (generally speaking) a defensive, arm-drag, head-to-head kind of gym. Guys don’t play guard, they get back to their knees and re-engage from bottom. They attack from side-control, and don’t (again, generally) tend to shoot for mount or attack the back. Why is this? It is because every gym will look like its teacher. My instructor plays this kind of game. A lot of guys at the gym are big and strong. Therefore, as the small, weak guy I spent a lot of time on the bottom and chasing submissions through transition, especially when guys were in bulldozer mode. That’s how I’ve learned BJJ. 

This new gym is very different. These guys play a lot of guard. Most of last night I was put in a position of dealing with the guard. I’ve spent 2.5 years playing guard. I quickly realised last night that I didn’t have a passing game. Another issue is that I’m seeing guards that I’ve never had to deal with before. There were spiders, and De LaRivas and seated guards. I was, quite simply, stuck without a clue.

Hole #1- Guard passing, specifically of open guards. 

I got quite good at attacking in the guard. However, since my old gym wasn’t a guard playing gym there weren’t many guys great at passing the guard. It’s not bad, it just isn’t needed. At the new gym, since people play the guard, guard passing is a fundamental part of the gym’s game. I got passed like my guard was a small plate of warm butter being cut by a knife on fire… yeah, a fire-knife. 

Hole #2- Guard Maintenance and pressure. 

I lost a lot last night. But, I can see where I’m losing and adjust. Therefore, Loss = Win. 

I will now look at drilling guard passing, of various guards. I’ll build a game plan out of that for dealing with the things that I’ve seen so far. From there, I will simply add and adjust to whatever else I see. The idea is to have 1 or 2 main passes that I learn to get to from different guards. I will also drill my escapes. Drilling escapes give good fitness and deals with a lot of basic BJJ movements that are useful everywhere. It’s never a bad idea to drill escapes. I will also pick a standing guard, and a kneeling guard to focus on. The focus will be movement and maintenance along with a submission chain and a sweep chain (chain = 2 or 3 techniques that work with each other). 

When you experience loss, if you adjust what caused the loss, it will become a win. That’s the beauty of BJJ. 

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Loss = Win

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I learn more from a loss than I do from a win. 

I remember having to learn an escape from headlock side-control because a brute of a man at the gym I was attending used it really well. It was uncomfortable to have all his weight on my chest as he methodically went about dismantling my pathetic defenses. If I didn’t get out of that position early, and with gusto, I would tap every time. 

I remember having to abandon the deep-half game because the sweep that I knew got countered by a good friend, and training partner. He turned my go-to sweep into a counter armbar. I wasn’t willing to invest more into the deep-half so I had to find another way to sweep. 

I remember getting dominated in a guy’s guard so often that I one day decided that I just wasn’t going to go into it anymore. It changed the way I looked at guard passing, and the rules we seem to create around engagement. It was the first time I was forced to apply the, “if it happens every time you go in there, why do you keep going in there?” logic. 

I remember getting caught with a figure four every time I moved when rolling against my instructor. It meant that I was moving with chicken wings hanging out. I needed to move less like a chicken trying to jump over a fence and more like a guy who’s elbows were sewn into his ribs. 

I remember, very early on, that I decided that I wanted to last long enough to be able to play the game. That forced me to look into postures and survival and escapes. 

I remember very few wins. 

Loss has caused me to take far more significant steps to growth in my Jiu-Jitsu than any wins that I might have experienced. Winning has provided me with a minimal ego boost for at least ten seconds each time, but that every loss has resulted in a better game.

The great reality to this beautiful, gentle art is that a loss is far more of a win than a win will ever be.  

Comeback

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Hello again, Jiu Jitsu world!

I am done with full-time study and am headed to my first appointment as a Salvation Army Officer. My family and I head to Rolleston which is a town 25 kilometers outside of Christchurch in New Zealand. I take with me my lovely wife, Naomi along with my two sons Josiah (4) and Noah (2). With that comes my BJJ blue belt and a stack of nine mats (thanks to my coach, Glen Tarrant).

As a new chapter in my life starts it also brings with it a new chapter in BJJ. I am no longer able to continue with my original coach. This is sad, but was always on the cards due to the profession I am committing to. So, the comeback begins.

I have been on a jiu jitsu break for about six months as I finished my studies. I am now in the worst shape of my life (thanks lazy-time break!). My game is slow and limited, mentally and physically. So… here goes my list of BJJ goals for 2014 (seeing as it is the 1st of January)!

#1- Find a gym There are various gyms down in Christchurch and I plan to check out a few. My goal is to to find a good place, with a good mat culture made by a group of good people in order to step into my next goal.

#2- Get into shape- I have a ways to go to get back into shape. I have to start somewhere. I will start on the mats. I have played sport my entire life and I can say with all confidence that I have never been more fit than I was when doing jiu jitsu. It gives you great core strength, mobility, flexibility, and (unless you adopt a lazy game, which is very easy to do) good cardiovascular conditioning. It is also the only time I haven’t had a sore neck and/or back. The reason is because you need neck and back strength to do BJJ. I want to train a lot, stretch every day, drill on non-training days, and get back all that child-like mobility.

#3- Find some partners- After I get into shape and establish a relationship with a gym I plan to start finding some training partners. The reason for this is because Rolleston is well enough out of Christchurch to be its own gym eventually. I don’t have much of a desire to start a gym though. I want to find people that want to train. So, I’ll be matting out the garage and going for glory with recruiting people who want to learn jiu jitsu.

#4- Get back to blogging- Finally, I want to get back into regular blogging about my BJJ experiences. I miss it, and it feels like it’s time for a comeback.

The next time I post will likely be out of shape and sore… but glorious.

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