Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Spazzing

I will fully and once and for all admit that I have spazzed.

Spazzing, or “being a spaz” (for those of you not aware) is engaging in idiotic and unintelligent grappling. Using strength instead of technique. Cross choking peoples noses and the like.

Being a turd in the punch bowl, grappling wise.

The problem with this behavior is it is risky to the person doing it, and to the person who they are rolling with. Rolling like a maniac can very easily get people hurt.

To the Spazzer, this behavior might seem justified at the time. They don’t want to lose, or someone with less experience is getting the better of them. These aren’t really good justifications though, they’re a function of an ego.

The goal in all BJJ (well, I guess in my opinion) is to think and plan your way through the game, whether you employ a particular game plan, or are an opportunist. The idea is to employ techniques, feints, and strategies to make the other person make a mistake.

I can remember this one time, rolling at My old club, when I was clearly being a spaz. I was rolling with this escapes me. Anyways, he was MMA oriented (and quite good at it) and had a good deal of No gi experience as a result. I’m primarily focused on the Gi game. We were rolling No gi, and despite the fact that he had less cumulative time on the mats, he was getting the better of me, and it was annoying me. I was losing my cool a little. I thought I was keeping under control, but I was just scrambling around moronically.

Another training partner showed up in the doorway. An experienced purple. I saw him there and said hi. He said hi, but sort of looked at me funny. I didn’t think anything of it.

I like this guy, make no mistake, but it warrants mentioning that this guy is one of those guys who doesn’t mince words. I mean, at all. He doesn’t care what you think.

Gi class came after the No gi class. I changed out and we worked. For sparring, I partnered up with Mr. Brutal Honesty. He beat me good, but because he out ranked me significantly, I didn’t mind. I asked him if there were elements of my game that I could improve. He said:

“When I walked in the door, you were rolling in the most unimpressively idiotic manner I’ve ever seen you do. I was hoping we’d roll and you’d lose your cool so that I could beat the bejesus out of you for it.”

“…..ahm....” I was stunned.

Guy had a good point. It was hard to hear though. I had lost my cool a little bit. I was very unhappy with it. It had all seemed appropriate in the circumstance, but that idea wouldn’t stand up to any real introspection.

There’s a difference between rolling aggressively and spazzing. A spaz uses no appreciable technique and pure strength (keep in mind that strength is appropriate when used appropriately) to muscle out of and into things. Aggressive rolling implies a method of fighting that utilises speed (appropriately) and an offense oriented method of rolling that seeks to keep the opponent on their heels.

It’s been a challenge for me to balance these aspects. I feel though, that thanks to the honesty of my purple belt friend, and a few other situations, I’ve really come a long way. I’m not perfect yet, “I am only an egg.”

Leaving the ego behind can be difficult for the less experienced. Speaking from my above experience, it can be brutal to hear that people think you are being a spaz. It’s commentary that cuts beyond your technical prowess, and criticizes the way you think and behave. That’s rough. I know there are people out there “Angst Rolling.” I see them, where ever I go. I think we, as a community need to develop methods for teaching people that BJJ is beauty and technical prowess expressed through physical contest.

The aim of BJJ isn’t violence after all; It’s making the other guy give up...without hurting him.  


  1. I think flailing counts as spazzing too.

  2. I'll admit right now that I have the opposite reaction of your purple belt friend. (Even though I never had a friend that wanted to beat the 'bejesus' out of me.) When I see someone spazzing I do my best to avoid grappling with them.

    Let someone else teach them a lesson. I am trying to grapple for decades so I let the spaz whisperers deal with it.

  3. Ash: What do you mean by flailing? I have an amusing picture of this in my head.

    365: I agree. I avoid the hell out of behemoth spazzes...Unfortunately, these guys see success as a result of spazing, and are the hardest to get to chill out as a result.
    I let the higher/bigger guys deal with them.

    The reason it worked out the way it did for me was because I was the same size as my Purple friend, and he was significantly better than me. Ultimately, what he said stunned and hurt me, but it was the best thing for the circumstance, looking back.

    You have some very cool looking books on your blog. I don't know if I'd class myself as "Lazy," but I like the idea. Sounds humorous. (points to arm.)

  4. Good post.

    The spazzing/aggressive line is one I tend to blur in my head when I see it, which is definitely part of the reason I dislike aggression so much. I can't think of anything worse than being told I was a spaz, so I can imagine how horrible that must have felt.

    The flipside is that people can end up going too far the other way, which isn't a positive way to develop your jiu jitsu either. Difficult balance to strike, although I think I prefer being too passive than being too aggressive (then again, I did manage to accidentally elbow and knee my training partner in the face last lesson, by being really sloppy during drilling, so they might disagree ;p).