I also considered the title Shrimpin’ aint easy
First things first, Dave and Chris well done at the show you are a credit to yourself and too us all. Much respect also to all the fighters who go out there and put it on the line and cheers to John K for sorting us out with a great night.
As I have said before love to all my friends fasting for Ramadhan and for Naz and Yous who are still rolling my hat (and my hair :-)) is off to you. Finally James F you are a star Hollywood get well soon these chest infections can be nasty.
Well I am back and rolling and it got me to thinking about training and the way that we all learn and progress. There are of course a number of ways to learn BJJ and the various moves and nuances.
Books are good I have some really good ones which I do refer too and also keep my own little notebook about certain things I have learnt or the sequences of moves and how they link. Be careful what you buy and if you do want to go this route as with any other then it is probably good to check with your coach as he will be able to help you chose good suitable ones. Of course you are trying to learn a flowing moving art form from static words and pictures which is more difficult. I also believe that until you have been a few times and learnt a few things you will struggle to visualise quite how things look in real life, I certainly did.
DVD’s are also a good source of learning and again I do have a lot of these some of which I really rate very highly and try to use some of the moves in my classes and competitions. You have the advantage of many angles and of actually seeing the move done in real life, in motion and often with little variations and adaptations. It is a good way to work out what it should look like but of course it is someone else doing the move, someone who knows exactly how to do it and probably does not have the same body type as yourself, certainly true for me every time :-).
Then there are classes, seminars and private lessons these are great as they allow you to work with your coach who is after all the person who is there to help you develop. Also you are the one actually doing the move, you can put it into action and work out what does not work, find out why it does not work and put it right. You also get to see the move from the outside when it is demonstrated, much like a DVD but you also get to see it from the inside when you are doing it and these are poles apart as experiences go. Often I actually will ask John to do a move or submission to me, so I can see what it looks like close up and from the other side of the table, this I find helps me both in doing and defending. So classes and the rest are your bread and butter this is where you will learn the basics, the fundamentals and the moves that you use as your basics starting point. As I have written before I have learnt that I need to adapt some moves in a sparring situation to suit me and the action but without knowing the basic move properly you have no starting point to build from. This is why I will always try to attend both the beginner and the intermediate class that John holds at the forge as you always have something to learn and build on.
However I do honestly believe that your game will only go so far without the next part that I consider the hardest but also the most valuable for my game both in the gym and in competition. This is the rolling, free sparring, hard positional sparring and whatever else it is called where ever you may be. This is where you learn that one move works on one body type and not another, that you can get one belt with a move but another counters and taps you. It becomes clear that sometimes your basic defence or position works but at other points it doesn’t and that is where you need to build. Last night we were doing a half guard pass from the top, now for my whole time in BJJ, this has meant a slide into side control. Last night my good friend Fiddy countered this slide and almost instinctively I found myself on his back, hooks in and then a roll to nice seat belt grip. Everyone looked surprised, Hayden ever commented “since when did you take people’s backs?” and Fiddy said I was becoming a machine, which is true sadly it is a vending machine as I told him last night. However I was probably the most surprised of all, but it became clearer as I had a think about it, all those books, films and classes that showed me the way had allowed me to learn what I needed to do, so when finally pushed in a fight like situation it became almost an almost autonomic reaction. It just happened, and that is what rolling will give you, it will give you those challenges that you have spent all your time learning about, however do not get me wrong this does not mean it was as graceful, elegant and smooth as a swan, it was still like a 300lb combine harvester but at least it happened and worked.
So the point is that learn all you can, always, this is something I believe in as much in BJJ as any area of my life. Go to class, train and learn remember coaches like John or whoever your coach may be are hard to find and will help you go as far as you can, in the end for most of us we ourselves are our only limitation. Just make sure you always stay around for that sparring part, the rolling time, this is where you develop your game make it ready for competition, improve it for your next stripe or belt and add to your armoury. This is where your fitness will be tested, pushed harder than you will push yourself as someone else is also there dictating the pace so you have to keep going. These are the times you get to roll with the higher belts, often even your coach, John has kicked my butt many times, and you will learn so much from doing this, as I know at the forge these guys will sit down afterwards and go over what went on and what you could do. It is where you will earn the respect of the club and also learn what your body can and cannot do, where your boundaries are, which are often further than you think, it is at the end of the day the time where you will start to get ‘it’.
Finally to all at GB Sheffield, John and all my friends, BJJ keeps me well physically and mentally and is a big and important part of my life, my gracious thanks.