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.

Visualisation

I have had the flu for a week, so haven’t been able to do any physical training. However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t done any training.

I am a decently strong believer in visualisation. There are two main kinds that I use in my training.

Visualising a technique in the same way that I would drill it. Drilling creates the muscle memory, and shouldn’t be overlooked (which it is by the VAST majority of BJJ practitioners). Visualisation creates mental memory. You see, when I can’t drill something live, like when I’m on the train, at work, in the bathroom, on the plane, in the car, in bed, etc, etc, I just drill it in my mind. I go through the steps. I think about it so that it becomes something natural.

Then, when I get to live drilling it’s not about trying to remember. I can let my muscles do some work, feel the technique, and create the muscle memory. I don’t have to stop every step and think, “Alright… what’s the next step?” It’s already all in my head. As I drill, and feel the technique I can adjust my mental picture to work with what I’m feeling.

This leads me to my second kind of visualisation.

Because I don’t have to think about a technique while rolling, and I have drilled it enough to not have to worry about the feel, I can start thinking in depth about it.

If you study the games of the best BJJ practitioners in the world you will see that they have extremely deep games based on basic moves.

Marcelo Garcia is a great example. He has a dominant hooks sweep from butterfly guard.

Hooks sweep from Butterfly Guard is a great example of this depth concept. If you study his game you’ll realise that he’s taken one of the most basic sweeps in jiu-jitsu and turned it into a powerhouse. Here’s why:

Every technique has a counter. But, the glory of BJJ is that every counter has a counter. When you know a technique so well that you don’t have to put any thought into it you can start to see how people are countering the move. When you can recognise the counter, you can develop a way to counter the counter.

Garcia’s hook sweep from butterfly guard has an entire series of counters to counters. If you block by posting low with the leg he has a counter to that. If you block by posting high with the leg he has a counter. If you block by posting the arm, he counters that. If you block with posture, he counters. If you block with weight, he counters. He also has developed ways to force you into the posture needed to get the hook sweep. It’s amazing

It’s an example of one of the most basic moves in BJJ being turned into an unstoppable method of sweeping.

Watch the 2010 World Champs. Garcia wins the middleweight division with a hook sweep from butterfly. He’s produced books, and DVDs, and a web site laying out his ENTIRE game, and this basic move still can’t be stopped. Why? Because, he has given it depth.

Roger Gracie has the most devastating cross collar choke from mount in the world. Basic submission turned into a powerhouse through strategic thinking. He’s added depth.

So, in my study of the scissors sweep I have spent my sick week visualising variations, counters to counters, and set-ups from any position. I have focused on the depth of the move. The next time I roll I am going to try my set-up from being pinned in side control. I am going to try my counter to the common counters I’ve experienced. I am going to work on what I do when they won’t give me the grips I want. What I do when they’re postured well. What I do when they counter a counter. This will all be noted mentally, and visualised some more.

All of this has come from visualisation training. Just taking the time to think in depth about a move. I go from seeing a basic sweep from one position, with one set of grips, and one posture, into seeing an entire game plan.

It becomes this immense web of strategy and movement all based on one of the most basic techniques in BJJ.

This is possible because of time invested in visualisation.

I lost my keys one week. I kept having to borrow my wife’s. Every morning I would say, ‘Bah, don’t where my keys are.” I would then grab my wife’s off the table and go to work. Every morning my wife would say, “Have you looked for them?” to which I would respond, “No.”

That’s simple, isn’t it? Of course I haven’t found something that I’m not looking for. Sure enough, once I actually looked for them it took me about 5 minutes to find them. 

A couple of months ago I decided to do a study on the guillotine choke. Now, if I were to ask you where a guillotine choke is put on from most would probably say from guard. That’s not a wrong answer, but it’s not an accurate one either.

The mechanics of the technique allow it to be done from almost any position. But, if I believe that it can only be found from guard what is the likelihood that I will find it in other places?

Minimal.

Why? Because I’m not looking for it in other positions. If I’m not looking for something am I likely to find it?

No.

If I never look for the keys that I’ve lost it doesn’t mean that they’re not there. They could be right in the middle of the lounge floor. But, if I have come to believe that you can only find missing keys in the cushions of a couch, I will only look there. I won’t look in the middle of the lounge floor.

So, what if I decided that I wanted to find a certain submission from every position? I learned the mechanics of the technique, understood what was needed to make it work, and just went hunting.

From that ‘couple of months ago’ the guillotine has became my go-to submission. If I just really want to tap someone, I go to the guillotine. It’s become quite reliable. In the past month here’s where I’ve gotten them from.

Head to Head, Closed Guard Bottom, Open Guard Bottom, Turtle Top, Side Control, Half Guard Top, Mount, and Knee Ride. I also have figured out how to transition into them from Side Control Bottom, Mount Bottom, and Back Control.

That’s not counting the same mechanics used from north-south (north-south choke) and the back (gable grip rear naked choke).

My favourite place to get the guillotine is from half guard on top. But, I never would have found out that you could do it from there if I believed that it was just a guard submission.

I didn’t just open my eyes and look around the house when I couldn’t find my keys. I thought about it. I started looking in the places where I know they could have ended up. The couch, desks, tables, chairs. The top of the fridge, behind my bedside dresser, gym bag. Places that they would have likely been.  I used analytical thinking to determine the places it could have been.

It’s the same with the guillotine, and just about every other technique in BJJ. Pick and technique and start seeking it out from everywhere.

John Will writes about this in an ebook he has about luck. It’s a great read. Check out my blogroll for John’s blog.

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