Wednesday, November 14, 2012

BJJ Method Vs. BJJ Imagination

What happens when you are rolling with your opponent and you get to a position that you haven't drilled before...

What normally happens is the person who has drilled that position to death will end up coming out on top, most of the time.

In acting there is something called Method Acting. This is where the person immerses themselves in a role, tries to become that person, researches, practices, tries to live like that person, etc. They become a robot of acting, they become a clone of that character. Not a new envisioning or re-imagining, but a doppelganger of what has already existed. It's why historic pieces or movies based on real people and events bring out the best in these actors during Oscar times.

Then there are the actors who use their imagination and make it up...

Once in the movie Marathon Man, Dustin Hoffman who was quite Method at the time ran around the studio to get ready for a certain scene. Sir Laurence Olivier asked him what he was doing. Laurence Olivier is considered one of the greatest actors of all time. Dustin Hoffman responded by telling him he wanted to make the scene more real, get "into" character as he put it. Sir Laurence Olivier in his British accent simply stated, "have you tried acting darling?"

Meaning instead of being actually tired from running around, act like your tired from running. You ARE an actor after all.

How does this relate to BJJ? It's the same thing happening and as Method became the popular form of acting, same is happening for the Method style of BJJ. Constant drilling, repetition, positional drilling, specific training, etc. Which makes for really excellent BJJ players. It also sometimes can lead to boring matches.

On the other end are players who are imaginative. Who just rely on their base knowledge and martial arts skills and kind of make it up as they go. In MMA, same thing. There is the Team Jackson style, and there are people like Anderson Silva and BJ Penn who don't believe in game plans and paint their picture as they go on the octagon canvas.

You see this all the time in BJJ, when people do a move and its amazing, and someone asks what they did? And they can't tell you, it's why some BJJ players can't teach. How do you teach imagination?

There's the story of a dying king who spent his whole life looking for the Holy Grail. In his dying hour he asked a fool for some water, the fool brought it, and in drinking it the king began to heal. He looked at the chalice and it was the Holy Grail. He asked the fool how he was able to find what his smartest, his best, his brightest, his most learned couldn't? The fool just said all he knew was the king was thirsty, he didn't know how he got the chalice... Creativity and imagination is that x-factor you can't always quantify but you can develop. It's what Einstein said was the true sign of genius.

It's what made people get into BJJ, it's what makes it fun. It's what makes acting fun, you get to make stuff up as you go.

So here is the other question, what happens when you get into a situation that neither person has drilled? Who will do better in that situation, the BJJ robot or the BJJ imagineer? Who is willing to take more risks?

It's hard to name names of what players are more method and more imagination, both drill and both use creativity. Same as it is hard to say which actors are method and which aren't. But both are aspects of BJJ training I think that needs to be cultivated.

But you definitely get the sense that some guys need to follow a tight script, and other guys have a general guideline and make up the rest. Is so and so good because he drills 6 hours a day, or is he good because he just trains BJJ 6 hours a day? Hard to say. Is it easier to train all day when you make it playful as Rener and Ryron put it? Probably. Is it hard to train BJJ countless hours with just repetition and focus? Probably. Just as it is hard to code programming language for hours and hours without break but some rare people do it and it's why we have companies like Apple. It's not for everyone but the ones who can do it are great...at improving. Just as China is great at mimicking and improving, but America is still king of innovations. You almost can't have one without the other.

Everyone needs to drill, its mandatory to get better. But all the new moves are created by imagination... So think about that as well. Innovation or replication, improvise or improve, man or machine, robot or robot fighter. There are always trends in BJJ where new moves become popular, are you the guy who follows trends or the first guy to become successful with the move?

Helio to create BJJ as it is today was imagination first and so is every white belt who first steps onto the mat. The first step Helio took was to use his imagination to figure out how to apply this art to his own body's limitations...

About the Author:

Sam Y. is a Personal Trainer and also an avid Martial Artist, training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA. You can find him in the Los Angeles area personal training his clients, or at home annoying his wife, or on Facebook.

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