BJJ /Grappling Training: An Evolution of Consciousness

Thanks to the technical detail we've been spoiled with, the Labs@Fighting Fit has organically evolved into a physical chess club of sorts. One of the most common phrases I hear on the mat is "of course, that makes sense!". Also, when I look around me after showing small technical adjustments (to quote Rener Gracie "the make it or break it detail") I often catch people smiling, like a light just went on or a veil was pulled off their faces.

On the other hand, I sometimes catch people lingering. I know I do it. By lingering I don't mean holding onto positions, submissions or anything physical (although that can be one manifestation of it). What I'm referring to is realizing when a position is lost, or at least well-defended, and moving on. I often catch people sighing, tensing up or otherwise expressing frustration that all their work passing guard and mounting was for nothing when they get reversed with a good, technical and well-timed upa.

Don't get me wrong, I’ve dedicated months and years to working top game maintenance and would still rather be on top than play guard (and even there, my main mindset is sweeping and getting to top!) but when you’re going over you’re going over and there are two things you can do:

   1. Sigh, tense up and curse (or even worse, complement your partner on his strength and explosiveness!)
   2. Move your hips so you land in a more favourable (for you) position

A lot of people at the Labs know this already and, thanks to Martyn harping on about it, it has become kind of a “thing” that we work at. If you’re going from to A to B and you get blocked, you move your hips and end up is C, rather than going back to A again where your opponent is expecting you. For example, If I go from side control on the left side to a knee ride and my partner escapes it, I don’t go back to side control but rather to either skull ride (usually on the chest or shoulder), North-South or even side control on their right side.

But “knowing” is not always enough. What I mean by the title Evolution of Consciousness is that while we might “know” how to do a choke and “know” how to do an armbar and even “know” how to switch from the choke to the armbar, our consciousness when we first join the wonderful world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu / Grappling is nowhere near as sharp and perceptive as that of someone who’s been rolling for a while. We look at the same picture yet miss out so much. We mount the experienced player but register so much less of what’s going on than when they mount us.

I think that this is why people like Gunnar Nelson, Roger Gracie et al get away with so few techniques. Yes they have a higher technical knowledge of the techniques, positions and transitions of BJJ / Grappling, but I think it’s more than just that. They have a highly developed “feeling” of these techniques. A higher evolution of consciousness that is the result of hours of intelligent training and a solemn resolve not to settle for “good enough”.

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A.D. McClish said...

I am just now starting to understand a lot of the things you were talking about. I take notes about positions in a notebook that I call my "nerdy book". One day, my instructor Ben commented on how, in a few years, I will look back and realize that I notice completely different things about techniques than I do now. :)

The Part Time Grappler said...

I told you you are perfect! Did you listen? Did you heck! :o)

I like how Ben didn't necessarily say you'll see more things, just different!

That's the thing. I know this sounds corny but both the Buddha and Jesus (and many other smart peeps) tell us that we are perfect just the way we are, it's just that we are in a constant state of change and evolution. The set of "things" that we see, feel and notice are always changing and since these "things" are the results of our senses and interaction with the world, they end up defining our world.

What I'm saying is that we don't get "better" at jiu jitsu. We just see different "things" the more we train and that changes our perception of what is happening on the mat. Sometimes we see/feel more, sometimes less and along the path we evlove and change.

It's wonderful, that's all it is.

Robbie Fallon said...

Good read Liam, cheers!

Robbie Fallon

The Part Time Grappler said...

You are much too kind Robbie.