Friday, February 17, 2012

Growth and Development


I am going to be reprinting some old classic entries from my previous blog called The Angry Grappler. It will chronicle the evolution in my understanding of martial arts.
16 March 2010 @ 10:30 am

I have been thinking about is growth and development as a BJJ fighter. I look at some of the guys I train with, have trained with, will train with. I know their habits and tendencies so I sometimes use them as my guinea pigs to see learning curves and growth and how that works, just through observation. A lot of the guys who are really good, I can see them plateau when they keep doing the same moves, or keep creating the same themes in their BJJ game. Themes and moves I am already used to, which makes it less and less important for me to train with them in my own development. Whatever problems they pose, even if they got better at them, even if I have problems with it still, at the end of the day are still the same problems I've already been given by them. Problems I've seen that I have either already worked out or already in the process of working out.

No one likes losing and to say you can train with no ego is like saying you can train without breathing. Though of course I don't always want to be getting beat up or losing all the time...I do want to be posed with new problems, complex problems, things I've never considered.

So when I see good guys no longer imposing new questions to their opponents, then I see a problem in their growth.

I first contradicted my own premise by looking at 2 of the greatest BJJ fighters, Roger Gracie and Marcello Garcia. Then after further inspection my original hypothesis actually seems to hold true. These 2 guys seemingly finish ever opponent the same way, what about their development? They always impose the same problems...but like all sports, our memory is very short.

Marcello mastered the top game first through his judo background, as fighters got better, he mastered the closed guard, when they got savvy to that, butterfly, then x-guard. From armdrag to rear naked chokes to heel hooks from the x, to guillotines, to takedowns and passes, etc etc etc. There are definitely thematic growth here as a fighter. He could literally come out with a new instructional every 2 years. Even though he has a string of losses, he is widely considered the best because of his ability to constantly grow.

Roger Gracie is the same way. As someone who was impossible to submit, he became a great finisher. He had a great closed guard to triangle or armbar. Then later he was taking everyone's back. Now he likes to mount and finish. He still works on his judo.

His problems seem to last longer than others but that does not deny he is still growing. Remember his scissor sweep from closed guard or his half guard sweep from bottom? He doesn't use those much anymore because he has developed other areas of his game now.

Even Rickson had runs where he finished everyone in his closed guard, to everyone from the back, to the now famous, Rickson by armbar from mount.

Even if I am getting my ass kicked by a black belt; my mentality as a fighter like any good fighter is, this guy is within my reach. I will catch up. And if all the problems they are posing are the ones you already know, then their only reason for beating you is because they are better at answering your problems then you are at answering theirs. Which will still get you properly thrashed BUT there is light at the end of that tunnel. It's why eventually you will yourself become a black belt when you start catching up to them. It's why there are black belts and world class black belts, because most black belts have a hard time in developing after black belt. They have that judo mentality of learn a few moves and master them. World class black belts will always give you problems, then new problems, and never let you pose any of your own problems. I've heard countless stories of Rickson spending countless days and hours creating and developing new ways or refine old ways of doing something. That is why Rickson is Rickson...
About the Author:

Sam Y. is a Master Personal Trainer, Certified Nutritionist, Coach, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Corrective Enhancement Specialist, Yoga and Pilates instructor, and holds multiple certifications. He is also an avid Martial Artist, training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA. He is also the author of the popular fitness blog All Out Effort as well as the popular martial arts blog Inner BJJ. You can find him in the Los Angeles area personal training his clients, or at home annoying his wife, or on Facebook at his personal fitness page.

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