Maciej Polok & Marcin Held: Awareness and the BJJ Body

I just saw a video posted on Facebook by the awesome BJJHacks, in association with Manto, called Polish BJJers invade Brazil, Maciej Polok & Marcin Held training and competing in Rio

It's a great little video (well, over 18 minutes!) that follows the two chaps Maciej and Marcin on their recent training trip to Brazil. Maciej and Marcin are Black and Brown belts in BJJ under none less than Vinicius Bittencourt Almeida Magalhaes, better known in the Jiu-Jitsu scene as “Draculino”, himself.

Maciej Polok and Marcin Held visit a number of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academies around Rio and the video not only shows them training at these and competing, but some interesting conversations with the pair.

Right, here's the weird thing that caught my eyes.

I've always felt that the biggest difference between a grappler and a better grappler is better awareness. When watching higher level BJJ players and grapplers roll, I'm not so interested in who wins or loses, but rather how does this awareness express itself.

I'm always looking out to learn what these grapplers and BJJ players use to:

1. Sense their opponent's moves and intentions
2. Sense and measure their relation to the mat and their opponent
3. Execute their techniques and counters

Look at this still-shot from the video. Look at it carefully. Can you see how Maciej shapes his feet to morph around his opponent's leg and hip. This is not a fluke. This is not irrelevant. Watch the video and you will see things like this everywhere but during this particular roll, down at Brazilian Top Team HQ, the camera angle happens to show it very clearly. This is an expression of higher awareness of both your body's capabilities and how you can use it to sense and follow your opponent.

This is the true magic of BJJ and Grappling.


Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

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A.D. McClish said...

Love this. The awareness that you are talking about is something I have been coveting lately. When I watch my instructor grapple, he is able to gently sweep even the biggest and strongest opponents because he is always aware of where their weight is distributed. He has been grappling 20 years, so I have to keep that in mind when I wish I could be his female clone. LOL! Looking forward to watching that video. I want to go on a Rio adventure! ;)

The Part Time Grappler said...

I've been seeing a lot of this high level awareness and it's always coupled with frames and pressures. Pushing and pulling. It's beautiful to watch.

You look at it and to an untrained eye it looks static but it really isn't. It's a cinstant movement and testing of base and weight.

Brendan @ BJJ Gi Reviews said...

Great insight Liam.

It's how they move before you to intercept, not counter. I rolled with a bunch of black belts this weekend and it was rough. They were always aware of my technique and would use the minimal effort necessary to cause it to fail.

Great points.

The Part Time Grappler said...

@Brendan thank you so much for the kind words.

Rolling with black belts can be very frustrating. All I can do is constantly tell myself "if it was easy then what am I training for?!" :o)