Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Beginner...

I was speaking with a beginner to BJJ. 4 weeks or less of training. We were discussing BJJ and what he had learned so far. We do not train at the same academy but the ideas are probably universal. One of the things he didn't like was the warm ups. As an adult, professional, and someone who knows what he wants, he doesn't want to pay for BJJ to get a 30 min hackneyed bootcamp, then 30 minutes of instruction. World class BJJ instructor being a mediocre trainer for half of the time. So some days he doesn't feel like he wants to do a warm up, or his body is physically not prepared for it so he doesn't go. Imagine you payed for golf lessons and the whole first hour was a bootcamp.

Another thing he realized was, after 4 weeks of training, he still hasn't learned any of the skills to defend himself against some muscle bound drunk retard in a bar. He had learned a series of submissions from dominant positions that he probably would never get to use at this point against someone bigger and stronger than him. He has some strong moves from strong positions but he has no way to get the fight into his strong position nor does he have any way to defend himself from his opponents strong position. So in that case, whoever fell on top of the other would win. I told him the saddest thing is when you see someone attain the rank of blue or above and know he would not have one idea how to survive a bad situation in real life.

Yes we think, okay I will take this guy down and mount him and choke him. Great if that happens. But what if you slip and he falls on top of you in a bad position and now hes squeezing you and hitting you with all his got. Now what?

I think even after 1 day of BJJ, a person should be able to leave with some sense of awareness in bad positions.

BJJ isn't supposed to make you win every fight, it's supposed to protect you and keep you safe against bigger and stronger opponents and help you walk away from the altercation unscathed.

People too often say Roger and Rickson have the same game. They don't. Speaking to Henry who is a Rickson black belt, he told me it is similar but not the same. And of course it isn't. Usually when Roger fights he is one of the bigger guys in the tournament, and probably biggest in his dojo. His concepts and goals would be different from a Rickson who is bigger than some but not as big as others.

People often say, even though he is a big guy, he has a small man's game. Or even though he is a big guy, he doesn't use his strength or size. Bullshit. The whole principle of BJJ is to use whatever strength and whatever weight you have at your disposal. Use whatever advantage you have, because that is efficiency, that is BJJ. Secondly the goals of a bigger guy and smaller guy is different.

The goal of a smaller guy is to move himself from under a bigger object, or move around a bigger object. The goal of a bigger guy is to move the smaller object from under him, or move through the smaller object. So Roger plays top, pass, mount, back, and from bottom closed guard. Rickson a lot of times had to move from under an opponent, get back up, sometimes scramble and transition, play open guard if he had to, have a versatile complete game. Why?

Roger will never have an instance where his opponent is so large that he cannot wrap his legs around them for closed guard. Rickson can have an opponent who is so large that he cannot close his guard effectively and has to play open. Or they are so large he cannot mount them properly. Or when he is on bottom wrapping his legs around their thigh is like a closed guard, so he has to play half guard. These are all situations and goals a bigger man has to not take into account, whereas a Rickson would always have to keep that in the back of his mind. You ever put a small child in your closed guard? Remember how easy it is to move them around? Because you have a big lasso around a smaller prey. So how can you say all closed guards are the same? The mechanics change based on leg dimensions and  the frame of your opponent within your closed guard. Now imagine a child putting an adult in their closed guard and how futile it feels. So hence open guard became a small man's game. Should it be their go to game? Probably not. But is it valuable? Yes.

A bigger man cannot have a small man's game. He can have a technical game yes, but not a small man's game. I think that is a common misnomer and misuse of words.

Now a lot of small people try to play this big man game, assume they will always end up in these dominant positions. Have all these finishes. What if you are 120lbs. Someone much larger than him can just grab him and lean all their weight on him and make him fall (unless of course he knows some wrestling but BJJ is supposed to be for the guy who knows nothing). He knows a triangle from bottom but he is being held down in cross side. So that triangle is worthless. Not only that he doesn't know how to escape this position, nor do his escapes work because he has practiced the triangle way more than he ever has practiced escapes. He can use escapes 90% of the time in sparring. He can use a triangle 10% of the time in sparring. Yet 90% of his time is spent on learning triangle lets say and only 10% on escapes. See how irrational this is? You went in there to learn to defend yourself in bad spots against bigger guys, and all you learned is how to finish a guy when you put them into that bad spot. The assumption is, you must be that bigger guy who is beating up the smaller guy, and now you need BJJ to help finish him. I don't think if you can naturally put people in bad positions, that you even need BJJ at all. You are doing fine as is. And that guy who doesn't want to get hurt in a real situation, may still get hurt after years of BJJ practice. Think about the ratio of submissions you practice or learn as compared to escapes or holding a position. Which will you use more often? Let me put it this way, in a roll you will get one finish. So you used that once to its full effect. Now before that submission, how many escapes and positions and sweeps did you have to use? So whats the ratio there?

I think from day 1 you have to talk realistically about the worst situations and let the student know, "hey, this is probably the position you will be fighting out of most of the time." Give him all the bad scenarios, then discuss what your options are, what is available to you, what can you do, what can't you do, what can they do, what can't they do, how can you use superior knowledge to your advantage? I mean the art is about efficiency but do we practice it efficiently?

I told the beginner he has to know what his role is in the altercation at all times. In tennis if you try to win when you should be rallying, you will lose. You misread your role and the situation. Same with BJJ, if you try to attack when you should be defending, bad things will happen. You have to assume you will be losing at first, that is the safest best. If you happen to be winning from the start, you can skip those other steps, but at least you would have them if things turn sour or things didn't go your way to begin with.

I told him when you should be surviving, focus on surviving. When you should be defending, defend. When you should be reversing, reverse. When you should be attacking, attack. And only attack when you are supposed to or you will lose the whole match. You have windows, seconds, do the right things at the right time and if you always do and they always don't, you will create incremental advantages.

Whatever I learn in BJJ, I apply to life. Now if someone who comes from a rich family and starts a business and it succeeds and tells you to do the same thing when you are poor, can you? Maybe. But is that the most efficient way? No. Because he has way more advantages than you do. So a bigger man telling the smaller man to apply his game and do this and that in that order, does that make sense? He has all these natural advantages you don't so how can you do the same thing he does? Its why when you see so many books and infomercials about people who have succeeded and when you apply their secret techniques to getting rich, it doesn't work for you. Because you are not them and you don't have whatever advantages they had to begin with. The biggest mistake I see is people see how 1% of the population accomplished something and try to do what the few have. Instead of doing what 45% of the population did to accomplish something. So many people I know wait to succeed over night because they know someone who has. Yes we all know someone who has. But we all know lots of people who succeeded through great sacrifice and over a great length of time. So that's proven to work. Why not follow them instead? Instead of that one guy you know? Oh yeah because it's human to be stupid.

A person with 0 dollars can't succeed the same way a person with 50,000 dollars can. And a person with 50,000 dollars who has succeeded, doesn't know any more than a person with 0 dollars how to get rich with 0 dollars. That's not where his skill set lies.

So then what happens? Far too often I see people then trying to adjust their own weight or their strength. Things outside of BJJ. BJJ is supposed to take whatever you have and make it functional. Now people are trying to become the bigger stronger guy, (instead of beating them they are joining them). Why else would they weight cut for their division? They want to be the biggest guy in their division. So WTF happened here? And of on top of that, if you had gotten bigger and stronger prior to BJJ, then you probably didn't need to spend 200 a month to defend yourself. But you had to spend that just to learn that, "man I need to get bigger and stronger after all, I thought by learning a martial art I didn't have to but I guess I was wrong. What an expensive lesson." It's like all this time and money spent to get back to where you started, being the smaller guy getting smashed by bigger guys.

I spoke before about how some get better at BJJ (meaning they can beat more guys) while their life becomes stagnant. I think originally BJJ had certain tenets. If your BJJ grows richer (not so much better in beating people) and you know those original tenets, your whole life will improve. I may not be winning all these tournaments, so those guys get that glory or ego thing. What have I gained from BJJ? Well everything I discover or learn I apply to my life and I have started my own business and made more money every month than the previous month since inception of my business. I think that's the true success of BJJ. Terrere is a legend in BJJ and has won everything. So has Margarida. Rorion Gracie has won nothing as far as I know but he is super successful in life. Same could be said with Lloyd Irvin or John Danaher (GSP's coach) or Greg Jackson. Or who's really doing better Josh Waitskin or Marcelo Garcia (they are business partners, one is a best selling author, one has won The Worlds in BJJ). Or Tim Ferris, that BJJ student at a school with a bunch of famous MMA fighters who no one knows, who happens to be a huge business mogul who travels the world and goes from adventure to adventure and is retired in his early thirties and speaks at the TED conference...

I was speaking with a friend about this. That guy who lives at the gym, I mean literally lives at the gym because he is so poor but wins everything. BJJ guys will actually envy him and say he is the man. Then there is that other guy that no one knows about, uses BJJ and makes some videos, sends out some e-mails, and makes good money. To a BJJ guy, that guy living on the mats is the man and the video guy is a loser. But life may judge that the video guy is the actual winner, even though he gets less glory. One lives for BJJ, the other lives OFF of BJJ. It doesn't have to be a video. It doesn't even have to be about money. It's about richness of life and creating those incremental life advantages, not just advantages on the mat. In Thailand, fighters cry because they have to live on the mats and have no other skill than fighting, but they HAVE to do it to feed themselves and their family. In BJJ we do it voluntarily. It's like in famine they HAD to eat potatoes, now we eat more potatoes than ever voluntarily.

I talked about knowledge and transfer to application. Guys who can take their knowledge and apply into their rolls do the best. But out of all those guys, how many of them can transfer what they learn from sparring into their life and what is the transfer rate there? It becomes a series of doors that seems to get smaller and smaller.

So maybe you shouldn't just be able to defend yourself with BJJ from day 1. You should also have a richer life from day 1 of BJJ. Or at least that's what I would like to offer to people some day. I think BJJ changes and skews your set of real life values, when originally BJJ was supposed to ENHANCE your set of real life values.

I am sure over time I can expand on these ideas more eloquently and with fewer typos. These are the concepts though I am personally trying to develop. I guess the Inner Game of BJJ.

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