I’ve been off the mats more than I’d like lately. Juggling my mat time between church, the love of my life, kids and school can be difficult. Sometimes we have things that are more important that we have to do. Like moving. Or, should I say, packing the house to make a move. Or buying groceries. Or studying for a big test. Or just spending time with the family because I want to. I’ve come to the conclusion that we can’t all do everything we want all the time! Big shock, I know! However, the key to becoming a great practitioner lies in consistent mat time. I’ve also come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to be the next Helio Gracie. Or any Gracie. Or anywhere close to one of the great MMA or BJJ experts. Hell, I’m not even concerned with trying to become a competition guy at all. I’m just trying to become the best Jiu-Jitsu student that I can on my own scale. I know if I hit it hard this week. I also know if I didn’t.
I think maybe since putting a blue belt around my waist I’ve been so worried about getting tapped out by a lower rank, or any rank, that I’ve failed to try to execute my own game plan. I’m pulling guard a lot more than I used to. Not even against guys I’m worried about or who outweigh me by 30 pounds or anything crazy. I need to stop caring if I get stuck in a piss poor position and throw myself into each rolling session to try to get the most out of it instead of just sitting back and playing defense. I think I had this sort of epiphany while rolling around with Head Instructor and brown belt Pat Vito.
He made it real simple for me by putting me in his guard and starting to play defense. It wouldn’t make any sense for me to try and pull guard from his guard (that would just be dumb) so I had to play a bit of offense. I had to advance my position to get anywhere or anything. So my sloppy technique landed me right in his triangle. ~choke~
Ok, lesson learned. Don’t be so sloppy. Again, from his guard, only this time I managed to survive a little bit longer. I ended up getting swept and on my back with him in side control. No big deal. Just remember the basics. And avoid the Kimura and Americana while down there. I kept trying to get to my side but it turns out this Pat Vito guy knows his stuff. Dammit. How does a guy who I have 30 to 40 pounds on hold me down, and hold me down flat on my back!? Dammit! Ok, ok. Back to basics. Create space. Insert knee. Got it! I’m in half-guard! YES! and he’s out… DAMMIT! Ok, again, create space and insert the knee. Half-guard! Is he messing with me? Is he toying with me? Focus. Pass to full guard. Nope. Lost it, again! DAMMIT! Okay, lets not push the pace. Keep it slow. Breathe. Keep the arms tight and don’t give him anything. How’d he get my arm? How’d he get my collar?! ~choke~
The point is, while thinking this whole thing over and over again, is that I can’t move forward while flat on my back playing defense. It doesn’t matter where I start or where I end up. I need to WORK MORE and try not to get stuck in this rut of just playing defense. I catch myself lying to myself sometimes. Oh, he’s just a white belt, he needs the practice against a guy that’s going to let him work. That’s crap. He needs to practice against a guy who’s going to make him work. I also lie to myself in other ways. He’s a higher belt than I am, if I can just play defense and not get tapped then it’s a win for me! Wrong. In Jiu-Jitsu, it might be a win if you don’t lose in a real fight. However, having superior defense without the ability to progress or advance position doesn’t mean you’re safe or winning. There is something to be said for winning the small battles on the mat but I don’t think I should be settling for just those small battles, or even trying to win them. Go big or go home, right? I’m willing to bet you learn more by losing anyway.
So why not lose? I think my goal this week will be to lose big. And learn big.