BJJ Practitioner, Gi Designer and Amazing Illustrator Mr Evan Mannweiler's Guest Article

The amazing artwork above is by today's guest article writer, Mr Evan Mannweiler

My plan for today was, as indicated earlier, to give you part one of my Part Time Grappler interviews with the three winners from the Crazy Ass BJJ Gi Design Competition (and I think I still will do that only later in the day or perhaps tomorrow!). When I openned my email inbox this morning, however, I was very happy to see the article below from Mr Evan Mannweiler as a response to my previous post on BJJ being a Journey Shared on the Mats.

I feel so honoured that Evan took the time to produce the peice and that he agreed to me publishing it here on the Part Time Grappler blog. While Evan and I differ on some points, I am very excited by his passion for the topic. If the article resonates with you (or perhaps you want to raise a question or two) please feel free to leave a comment, send an email or even better, use the share function below the post to spread the word on facebook, Twitter or whatever floats your boat.

Hey Liam

I wanted to offer another perspective on the recent Fightworks Podcast poll that you mentioned in your 4-Nov post. Personally, I was hugely dismayed at the results of the post. The results suggest that nearly 75 percent of BJJ practitioners would continue to train if they knew they would never improve. That is incredibly depressing.

An awful lot has been written about dealing with and getting past plateaus in training. We've all experienced periods of rapid improvement that level out into utter stagnation in our training. Try and try as we might, we can't get over the feeling that our training partners are getting better than us, and faster. We feel loose, uncoordinated, our cardio is out, our strategies fail- it happens to everyone and everyone is equally frustrated by it. The scenario set out in the poll suggests an eternal plateau that will mire you exactly as you are no matter how hard you train, no matter what strategies you employ, no matter how you change your physical training, diet, personal habits etc.

There is nothing that could be more frustrating.

You made the suggestion that BJJ is a Journey Shared on Mats. I agree it is but journeys have change. That change of scenery, and the growth, development and shared experiences that go with it are essential. If you were to never improve you would not be on a journey. You would be a tree or a trail marker for everyone else on their journey. There would be no sharing involved in such a situation.

I agree with you in that sharing a social element of grappling is an incredible perk of training. Being a part of a brotherhood of warriors (or sisterhood, as it may be) is one of the most rewarding elements of continuing to train and one of the things I look for primarily in a gym. That being said, the reason I continue to train, personally, is to make fewer mistakes each time I get on the mat. That has nothing to do with winning or losing, tapping my partners or being tapped. It has to do with trying to solve the complex problem grappling presents. Were you to never improve, to keep making the same mistakes, why train? Why deal with the heartaches, the bruises and the blood without any of the highs you get from knowing you're learning? If BJJ were purely about the social element we could join a frat. It'd be both easier and cheaper in the long run.

I think a lot of people answered the question based on the answer that sounds good without considering the ramifications. The poll was presented on a site where BJJ reigns supreme. Very few people come to the podcast with only a casual interest in BJJ. I think most people wouldn't ever want to admit that they'd quit BJJ in an environment like that, both because they don't want to be judged by the peers (silly because its an anonymous poll but I know I always consider how others would view my answer- I'm sure others do the same) and because they're usually riding high on BJJ when they look for the new podcast/poll. This particular poll is tricky because it sounds bad to say you'd quit training.

If you are to really examine the prospect of never improving despite effort put in you really negate the point of studying a martial art at all. I think that would be true for nearly everyone who trains, whether they train for self-defense, sport competition or fitness.

No one wants to become the Sisyphus of BJJ. There is a reason the Greeks considered that to be a hellish punishment.

Once again I want to thank Evan for the awesome peice and for giving me his time. I will share my 2 cents worth in a future post.

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SkinnyD said...

I gotta say, Mr. Evan and I think a lot alike on this point.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Haha I knew you'd like that sir!

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