White to Blue….learn to RELAX

The first month of GWC is coming to a close and I am pleased with the growth of the school.  We’ve got amazing students that work hard and work together in getting better each class.  We’ve got a full slate ahead of us in Dec with Birthday Parties at the gym, promotion ceremonies to attend, and even our own Grand Opening on the 18th.

When I first told the guys I wanted white mats and they were going to have to work really hard to talk me out of it, we all had a good laugh.  Eventually Cowboy and Kev agreed and thought it would look really good(Roy didn’t care either way lol).  I was just talking to my buddies yesterday that for the past 2.5 years with red/blk mats people hardly ever bled on the mats.  We get white mats, and wouldn’t ya know it, it seems like people are bleeding on the mats every class!

What Cowboy and I have been seeing during drilling/rolling is people going hard, too hard, muscling through moves.  I don’t mind rolling hard at all, but if you are sacrificing good technique to win a drill or catch a tap, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your jiu jitsu.  My instructors have said it, I’ve said it, Cowboy has said it, “We don’t care if you win a drill or tap someone.  That is not the end-all-be-all when it comes to growing your jiu jitsu.”  What exactly does that mean?  Here are some examples:

  1. Muscling through moves – Exactly what it says.  If you are having to exert too much force to execute a move, you failed in setting up the move or your timing was off.  I’ve seen a lot of it in the past month.  I’ve seen guys that outweigh some of the ladies by over 50lbs muscle through moves.  Will that work on a bigger and stronger opponent?  Are you gassing pretty quickly?  Next time you power through a move, ask yourself “could I have hit that on someone my size or more experienced than me?”  Better yet, can you hit it on Coach Porkchop?  He is a 300lb brown belt, strong, athletic as hell too.  Good luck with that.  You will end up gassed in under a minute trying to muscle through a move on him.
  2. Not trying out the move of the day – This is one of my pet peeves.  Is it difficult to run the technique you just learned in class that same night?  Absolutely!!!  Often times, people revert back to techniques they already know well in order to “win.”  I DON’T FUCKIN CARE IF YOU WIN!  Grow your jiu jitsu by trying new moves, even if it puts you in a bad position/situation or you get tapped.  This is how you learn the setup and timing of executing a new move, sometimes by failing over and over and over again(I’ve been there e.g. my story about learning how to play inverted lol).  I’ve been in this situation, that is why I know it all too well.  I was a blue belt for 4.5 years because of it.
  3. Injuries – This happens a lot when someone muscles through moves or it trying to do a move too fast.  I see it all the time.  I see guys try to rush through a technique in order to get it.  What happens?  First, the technique is sloppy as shit.  Second, more often times than not, either you or your partner will get injured(and probably a black eye or busted lip to go along with that.)  How fast should you do a technique?  As fast as you can, while still maintaining good tight technique.

I talked to GT Black Belt/Gracie St Pete owner Gabe Maldonado and my instructor Rob Kahn and asked them what they look for when evaluating white belts for their blue belt.  Of course they brought up knowledge of moves and terminology specific to GT i.e. shoulder pressure, what time is it grip, jump the shoulder armbar, S-mount armbar, Razor armbar, etc.  But they both talked about the person’s ability to relax when they roll.  Cowboy and I feel the same way.  You have got to relax when you roll, pick your windows, setup your techniques, go when you need to go.  I always say, 3 things need to happen for you to run a technique successfully: SETUP, TIMING, and EXECUTION.