Headspace, evaluation, bollocks.

I had started to write a big post about my situation and my headspace and other early-90s pop psychology terms, but the words of Hywel Teague echoed in my head (sounding surprisingly like those gents from Dirty Sanchez and saying something like “You’re thinking too much, Matty boy. Leeks. Cardiff. Sheeeeeep.”) and I thought, bollocks to that.

Pat at MMALife, a fellow kakutougi blogger, wrote a pretty decent self evaluation here and here, which made me think I should do the same. But I am definitely not in the same situation as he. He seems to be pretty confident with his game at the moment, as he should be, coming off some good wins at the inaugural Rickson Cup tourney. The kind of self-evaluation someone coming off a win writes vs. someone coming off two losses is very different.

Plus, he seems to have everything in order. One of those guys that knows how many calories he eats or what HIIT stands for. (Have Internet, Imbibing Tea?). Unlike me.

So I thought, fuck it. I don’t need to do that.

I’m going to keep it simple.

Turns out, my foot is broken. I had an MRI at the weekend which revealed a squiggly line in the bridge of my foot which is apparently a BAD THING. One of the big bones was fractured but has begun fusing together again in the last week, which is good. No big deal though, there is almost no pain at all and I think I will be able to persuade the doc to cut this cast off in three weeks.

That gives me time to chill and think about stuff. I’m still scheduled to teach a few days at the dojo to cover my sensei while he is in America at the mundials, and I think I will still do that. Chuck the gi on, direct the class, maybe do a technique and some pressups and situps, but skip the sparring. I can do that with a cast, right?

As for my game itself. I’m going back to basics. Keeping things simple. When I’m healed up I’m going to attack BJJ with a new vigour, a new mindset.

Priority number one: FUN! When I enjoy something, I do it well. When it becomes a chore, I don’t. Competing had become a bit of a chore. The next comp I’m going to go out throwing uchi-matas, wild triangles and crazy scrambles. Who cares if I lose, as long as I enjoy myself and perform well.

Priority number two: THINK FAST. My physical game has reach a certain (not very high level), but my mental game has yet to get there. I know the escapes. I know the submissions. I know the sweeps. But I am always a second too late in seeing the opportunity. So I am going to work on my reactions, my mugen, my zen mind state thingamjig. See the moves before they happen.

Priority number three: WORK HARD! That means never to “settle” for any position, to always push harder than the other guy in the scramble, and basically, make the other person work really, really hard to get position on me.

I’m going to print out some really basic self-affirmations and stick them on my wall to look at and remind myself when I am doing a little training at home. Nothing too cheesy… Something reminding myself to think fast, to play the game, and that I can win.

Oh, lastly, I can heartily recommend bashing your students with chairs* if you ever want to let off a little steam. Look at him, he loves it, the little bugger.

* I don’t actually recommend this at all, dickheads.

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The Importance of Being Beaten Up

I had a very valuable lesson proved to me today.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve had mostly very skilled training partners. As I’ve been saying in a lot of my posts, the sessions have been pretty gruelling, the kind that end with me flopping around on the floor gasping for air under someone’s knee-on-belly like a dolphin who’s suddenly woken up in the desert and doesn’t know what’s going on.

Me getting owned at the All-Kyushu championships

In each of these sessions, I made sure that I kept pushing and pushing right up until the last bell. Trying that hip escape even though it felt futile. Going for that sweep even if I knew I didn’t have the energy to complete it. Trying to lock in the triangle despite my legs feeling like jelly.

These kind of spars are not fun. They are tiring and demoralising and a lot of people, myself included, avoid them all too often. As the bell goes between rounds and we search for our next partner, we size people up… should I go with the whitebelt or the new blue belt who I can throw around and dominate and submit and have fun with or should I go with the big strong purple belt or my coach who will likely tie me up in painful shapes? We all occasionally choose the former, but we probably know we should be doing the latter.

Of course, rolling with lower belts and people who pose you no real threat is good sometimes. We need a chance to work on technique, on attack, without having to worry about strength or being on the defensive all the time. And it’s good for the new belts to roll with higher belts, conversely.

Today, the last few sessions paid off for me. It’s simple: when you roll against someone much better or much stronger than you and you push yourself to try that hip escape or fight off that triangle, even if it doesn’t work, then when you go back to rolling with someone of your level, such as someone you might run into at a competition, you’ll find that the hip escape that didn’t work on your instructor saves your butt. The triangle that the purple belt laid on you and you were able to fight off makes the triangles that the blues and whites put on you feel like nothing. That sweep that you couldn’t nail against your coach but tried anyway, works against someone of your level.

Anyway, point is, it is true what they saying. If you aren’t tapping, you aren’t learning. And the other thing they probably say. What is it. Something about not taking the easy way. Or that hard work pays off. Train hard fight easy. Strike while the iron’s hot. Never mix orange juice and milk. Gear before beer have no fear. Or… shit. Anyway, you know.