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let's leave it to chance

“… breaking my established patterns was threatening to my deeply ingrained selves and pricked me to a level of consciousness which is unusual, unusual since the whole instinct of human behavior is to find environments congenial to the relaxation of consciousness. By creating problems for myself I created thought.

I also created problems”

                           -Luke Rhineheart, The Diceman


This post is brought to you by a strange mixture of deep depression and weird exhilaration- the feelings one gets when one trains with a world class athlete. Exhilarated because you get to see what someone playing your sport at the highest level is capable of, and the depression of knowing how far away from you that level is.

In case you haven’t read any of my previous posts, Abmar Barbosa was here last week. He trained and rolled with all of us, he taught class, he was a great and easy guy to be around. I’m delighted to say I’ve made a new friend and at the same time, someone who in the 6 short days he was here, really helped me with my training. The best bit is that he’s coming back next year and we’re all already looking forward to it.

I got a lot from this week, not just in terms of the technique and experience of rolling with him, but a lot of good advice about coaching and developing your own level of jiu jitsu while being the coach too. It made for some interesting chats. Abmar is an intense sort of guy, he’s not afraid to tell you what he thinks is bullshit and what he thinks is wrong with your training either. Probably that would be offensive to a lot of people and Abmar skirted the line with me a few times in our chats about my motivation and training, but it was just what I needed. I came away with a lot of new technique, but much more than that, a new direction in my training. It’s time I stopped blaming my tools and got on with the important job of training to get to the top of the podium in January. I haven’t had a dressing down by a coach since I played football.


I should probably explain that. I suffer from a disease known as paralysis by analysis. You might recognise some of the feature of it in yourself; a tendency to examine everything that happens intensely, a tendency to overanalyse your weaknesses, and understate your strengths. At the end there’s too much information and not enough action. This serves me well as a coach. In fact it could be one of the qualities that helps me to train others. But as an athlete, my best times are when I have someone else pulling the strings. Clearly, as my own coach, I can’t do that. I’ve developed several mechanisms to combat it but the better I get, the less they work. I also bitch a lot about not having a lot of purple and brown belts to roll with, whine constantly about my injuries (I am a bit of a mess) and the end result is just a whole lotta bitchin. Some of it justified, some of it just a symptom.

So what to do? Well despite a ticking off from Abmar about my whining, I’m still more or less coachless. Robert helps me out from afar but he’s not on the mat every night with me, so I’m going to try something that takes the element of control out of my training and puts me at the mercy of chance. I can’t do anything simply and uninspired by something else (I probably haven’t had an original idea yet) so stealing a plot directly from Luke Rhineheart’s The Diceman, I’ve decided to let pure chance, fate or just dumb luck rule my training. I started last night and everyone else had to start with me. We rolled for an hour constantly, stopping only for the time it took to get the time of the next round and to adjust the timer accordingly. The method of deciding how long the rounds would be? Why a die of course. No sixes last night, but we rolled for anything between 1 and 5 minutes. I enjoyed it. On Wednesday, I’ll be using the coin toss to decide between a long round or a short round (that one should be familiar to everyone who trained at K.O. Martial Arts). I have a few other ideas too. I plan to let the dice or coin take me out of my comfort zone every night by giving it options on how I will play my game on the mat. For example I might say for playing guard, heads I go for sweeps all night and tails I play for submissions only. For more extreme cases I might give the die 6 options. Something I might do would be 1- play guard all night 2- pass guard all night 3- only play to sub people, even when it’s dangerous 4- only play to get points, no subs 5- allow people to pass my guard all night and work my escape 6- allow people to get submissions on and then work my escapes.

There’s always going to be a real humdinger in there when I use the dice, and I can’t imagine ever doing 6 to myself voluntarily.


So let’s roll the dice, see you on the mat,

Depeche Mode – Never Let Me Down Again on MUZU.


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