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The things you love to hate

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve updated thanks to being busy at the European Championships and busy in general. I want to write a post on the things I love to hate about training; that is to say the things I love about training but can’t admit to loving. But first, the European Championships.

I went out in the first round of my division, beaten by one advantage and one penalty point by a Czech opponent. He was pretty good (everyone at the Euros is really). The match went okay for me except for the fact that I couldn’t pass his guard. We started with him pulling closed guard and working for a flower sweep. I knew it was coming, I tried to break grips but he really wanted the sweep and he got it. He tried to go straight to mount but I scrambled, went to Anaconda guard and then to X-Guard and got a sweep of my own. 2-2 on the scoreboard. Almost immediately he went for a cross collar choke which was on my forehead and not my neck, but he impressed the referee enough to get an advantage for it. After that, despite having a grip on his sleeve under his hips looking for my closed guard pass, I was called for stalling, misunderstood the referee, (I actually thought the initial warning was against him) and then got a second warning which resulted in a penalty. This put him well in front meaning I need a pass or points of any kind. The rest of the match was me scrambling for that pass but his spider guard was really good and I was under pressure to pass in time. If I had another 30 seconds I think I would have had it. If. Honestly, and here comes another if, I think if we did that match 5 times, I would win 3 out of 5. That’s not being disrespectful to my opponent, that’s just the way I feel about the way the match went.

So disappointment is the prevailing feeling but I have a lot of positives to take from the experience. Firstly, my training was great in the run in. I learned a lot from just training and rolling as much as I did in the run in  towards the tournament. I also enjoyed the tournament and the experience despite the result. I intend to go back next year and do better.

So this seems like a good time to talk about those things about training that irritate me, but that also form a huge part of why I love to train.

1. There’s always someone out there-

It seems like every time you get some momentum, every time you think to yourself, “hey, I think I’m getting good at this game”, someone comes along and just blows you out of the water. They can be someone superb at the game, or could be some guy who walks in off the street who is just strong enough to stop your techniques in their tracks, or it could be just the guy who has your number and everyone knows one of those. Either way, it’s irritating. But it’s the process and it’s what keeps us coming back for more. Rolling keeps us honest, and keeps even the largest ego in check. Once you understand that being tapped is a positive not a negative, you start to improve, ask the right questions (how do I do that? How do I avoid that? How did you get good enough to tap me so easily?) and when tapping is no longer a blow to the ego, you begin to enjoy the game much more.

2. Everybody’s gotta learn sometimes…

I’m as guilty of anyone of having affection for certain things, but then refusing to let them go. For example I love to play guard. Love it. But my love of that game is to the detriment of my passing game (see above!). I need to force myself one session in 3 to only pass guard. It’s hard. Not because it’s an effort to pass, it is of course, but because I’d sooner sit to guard and start to play with a new De la Riva sweep I saw. Learning to detach yourself and view the game as a fully rounded player is difficult when you have an particular love for one aspect. This is common in all sports. What I’ve had to do is accept that my love for that one position will mean that it’ll take care of itself and I have to work hard at passing.

3. Everybody hurts…

Training hard is sore. Sometimes during, and almost always after. When I wake up in the morning after a hard session, it takes a few minutes for me to get my hands closed. This is part medical and part because it just takes so much out of everyone to constantly grip during sessions. Then there’s the inevitable back and neck issues that almost every BJJ player has to some degree, knees, ankles, ears, hips… yup, the body takes a beating. But, and let’s be honest here. There’s nothing quite like getting up the morning after a hard session and feeling the aches and pains of an honest night’s effort. I mean that. If I didn’t feel a bit stiff the morning after a session (get your mind’s out of the gutter) then I would miss the feeling. I could do without cauliflower ear and mat burn though.

So that’s it. I have a few articles I’d like to write regarding some technical matters and I think I’ll do the first one next week, I’ve just been needing some images and I’ve a new phone with a good camera on it now so I’ll work on those during the week. Just to reiterate my stance on these things, I’m not one for posting “expert” videos on BJJ technique online. I’d hate to think I missed even a minor step in a sweep and that some guy in his garage was copying my video with his friends instead of going and buying a good instructional or getting some coaching face to face at a good gym. Instead I’m going to make some more personal videos and articles about my game, my coaching and my knowledge, such as it is.

Speaking of instructionals, my friend Abmar Barbosa has one out right now called the Jiu Jitsu Outlaw. Abmar’s one of the craziest people I’ve met in this game and his game is unbelievable. His approach and attitude is great too. I got my copy in the door yesterday and I’ve been watching it over the last couple of days. It’s got great material on it and I’m already looking forward to his visit this year. I’ll have more on that when I know his schedule.

Anyway I think I should leave you with some music today. You can expect this at BJJ this coming Wednesday.

See you on the mat!

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