Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Peaks and Troughs; Strikes and Gutters.

Some days you eat the bear, and some days...he eats you.

Achievement and progress in BJJ and Judo are very cyclical. At least, it certainly seems this way. I remember in November, for instance, I felt like I was riding up a peak in BJJ, and just turning out of a trough in Judo.

Judo, right out of the gates was an experience where I walked away with a lot every time I went.

With Judo, I had a few things going for me when I started. I already had a sense of...I dunno... “fight intelligence” I would call it. I could tell when I was being forced into a bad situation, and when I was being baited. I also had good balance and timing from BJJ. Furthermore, I had a certain aggressive nature that I don’t think other people who are new to Judo carry into it. I was just plain unafraid of the throw. I (mostly) knew how to fall, and was able to fight standing without being overly defensive. I also understood the stagnation that is involved in not being able to take risks. I also had enough stamina and determination to fight, fall and get back up.

Things were great off the top. I learned tons. I developed a few (non-spectacular) throws I could get on the high belts if they got careless. Scoring these was a great confidence builder. I was picking up the technique fast.

The highlight of this period was when we had a regional practice, with a bunch of schools from all over the NCR (National Capital Region.) I worked with this green belt from another school in Randori (sparring.) I deeply value training with unfamiliar partners, so I wanted to make the most out of it. I was very happy with my performance. We both went at it hard. I managed to get a few throws that I had had limited success with in the past. It felt good to perform well, as it should.

Judo was also rough sailing at times. For about a month it seemed that throws that I used to have success with during randori didn’t work as well anymore, if they worked at all. This could be because of the fact that I train with some fairly accomplished guys. In this situation, they would likely allow the throws when done well by a new person, but defend them once the person has some time on the mats. If this is the case, it’s certainly fair. It may also just be a case of people becoming familiar with my “Game” standing. If I even have enough game to call it such.

Part of me sincerely doubts that this is the case though. They are probably going as easy as they ever were with me. I say this because some of my favorite throws seem to not even be do-able while we are doing technique. This can be enormously frustrating. A Tai-Otoshi that worked wonders the week previous is all of a sudden some sort of fiasco.

It’s hard to know why this happens. I have my theories though.

I started to turn this around by December, I had a number of good enjoyable classes. I think a lot of it had to do with risk aversion. I said above that I am aware of how an aversion to risk stagnates learning (you gotta take chances.) It’s all understood intellectually. Expressing that on the mats can be something completely different. The last night I was able to train Judo, I did a good job of it. I took risks, stepped in for the throws, made some and was countered nicely other times. That’s perfect.

As far as improving the technique portion of Judo. I’ve just got to think less. Your body has to think. Your brain has to shut up.

It’s the same in BJJ. Sometimes you just suck. Sometimes you suck for a long time. Other times, you show up and whale on people.

About the same time my frustrations with Judo were going on, a whole new level of...what do we say when we feel good about our game, but not with hubris?...confidence? Sure...a whole new level of confidence was developing with BJJ. Win or lose, I felt that regardless of the position and the actions of my adversary, I either had a response, or could think my way into one. What a good feeling.

This is a transitory feeling though. This I know. I will treasure the perspective that the next trough brings. You can make it into a bad/ego thing, or it can be your call-to-arms.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Hi folks. You'll have to bear with me as I get settled back in and get a rough approximation of my sched figured out. Recent Developments:

I decided, after great deliberations that when I return to Hamilton, I'd roll at a new club, Pura. Not a light decision. Actually, rather a heavy one. Why the change? I started with PJ (the guy at the helm), who I consider to be a good friend of mine. I'd always dug his game, and I wanted to see more of it. I'm only in Hamilton for 4 months, so the time for this is very finite.

Joslins, and all the people there, are still awesome. It will be a bummer to see these guys less.

Pura has been all Raindrops/lollypops. Very cool vibe, I love the instruction, and the people on the mats are great. It's fantastic to have a crowd of ass-whoopers like that, and have it all be sans ego. A fantastic group.

Lifting Heavy things!:
Terrible! Mohawk has the worst gym I've ever seen. I knew they didn't have a bar or squat rack of any type, but it has deteriorated beyond the acceptable point. I went today and managed to get a work out in, but it wasn't very satisfying. It's garbage, mostly just cattle equipment (treadmills, elipticals and the like,) broken/missing dumbells and 18 year olds doing bicep curls.

They are getting better equipment. Apparently someone ruined the Smith Machine (Thank you!) and they have decided to replace it with something useful. A rack and a bench-press. Unfortunately, I can't wait until mid March for it to come in.

I'm gonna get a YMCA membership and TRY to make it in. Proximity of the mohawk gym was what was going to make this do-able. I'm hoping I can still scam some time from my schedule to get under the bar.

Thoughts on leaving Ottawa:
I've beat it to death already, but I am going to miss those maniacs...

I didn't realize until training back at Pura how much RoninMMA had improved my game... I'm getting compliments on game "tightness." Awesome. The Ronin crew definately force a tight game...Be tight and technical, or they're gone.

Never thought of it at the time.

The strength training I did in Ottawa helped as will, I dare speculate. Grip strength has been noted by my new comrades.

Also, did some "from standing" recently. Felt wicked. Judo has done a ton for me. Can't really train it while I'm down here though...crappy...

And in other news:
I have a wicked, red beard. It's fantastic. Beards are fantastic. I'll never receed back to shaven-ness. Beard Power is Canada's greatest natural resource.