Monday, 20 May 2013

Transitions and change and losing

First off, I want to say,  I am NOT trying to  make excuses for all the losing I've been doing lately.  I'm more trying to figure out why I've been having such bad "luck" lately  and convince myself that I'm not terrible at Jiu Jitsu. 

I don't even really know where to start.  I suppose, at the very beginning, with Judo and my first transition to Jiu Jitsu.  It went decently,  I was able to use my judo to get a take down most of the time, and then flounder my way through the rest of the fight.  If they had a decent guard I would spend most of the match inside it.  I gave up my back a lot those days because I had instincts ingrained into me from the Judo rule set.  Mount/Side control, North South, and most other positions where I'm on my back, and they are on top (without a guard), I was 20 seconds away from losing.  Back Control, in Judo,  isn't points and if you can hold off the choke for 5-10 seconds you get stood back up.   It took me a long time to stop doing that, and it cost me a lot of matches.  I still do it sometimes, but quite rarely.

Everyone around here got savvy to my Judo pretty quickly and everyone started pulling guard before I could even get a decent grip.  This was pretty frustrating, because I was (and still am)  pretty bad at breaking and passing a closed guard.  Let's be honest,  It's really hard!!  Anyway,  that made for a big turning point in my game,  I started pulling guard instead of letting them pull guard.  It was awkward at first, but I got the hang of it, and started hitting a lot of armbars from there.  I still love going to closed guard, but I'm working on other things now...

Next big transition was switching schools.  This was a hard decision to make, but since retiring from MMA, and wanting to focus on BJJ, being only able to train 2x week wasn't going to work out. I could always go to the affiliate gym, but that was another 20 minutes (on top of the 40) to get there.  I know there are people out there who drive 60 min to train on a regular basis,  but with a full time job, and the dojo's being in the opposite direction of home from work.  It just wasn't really viable.  The switch came off a pretty long layoff from injuries and when I hit the mats for the first few months at Pura I felt like I didn't know any Jiu Jitsu.  It was awful!   I felt embarrassed to wear my blue belt because I was so awkward and awful.  Turns out, a year off from injuries, and switching to a school with a very different style will do that. 

That is the second last part of the transition/change/making me suck.  Jiu Jitsu is constantly evolving, and Pura is at the front of the curve with Professor Rafa and Gui designing the curriculum. It's "Modern" Jiu Jitsu as they say and it doesn't really involve a lot of arm bars from closed guard, my bread and butter and winning formula.    At first, I just drilled and worked the technique in class, and when I rolled still went back to my old game.  At competition pretty much all of 2012 I didn't use a lot of the new stuff,  but towards the end of the year, I started adding it in, because like earlier in my journey, people got savvy to my style.  I am really bad at this stuff still, and I'm at a weird point where I don't instinctively go for my old game, but still have to think about my new game.  It leads to a lot of fights like my fight in New York where I went for something, had to pause to think, it failed, and shortly after I was taking a nap. 

The final key to my being terrible at Jiu Jitsu is the insane jump in the level of competition from Blue to Purple.   It's partially because there is so few local girls for me to compete at, so I have to travel to the bigger competitions, and the only people that bother to go to those seem to be people who are really really good.  I'm not saying the local girls aren't good.  But when you go up a belt, and go from the local, to the non-local scene. It's like 2 giant steps instead of just one.  That being said,  I lost to a blue belt a few weeks ago, in Montreal,  so, there goes that excuse.  Anyway... I was talking to a few people, and the general consensus is that the step from blue to purple is bigger on the women's side than the men's.  I've been trying to figure out why that is, but I haven't been able to come up with anything concrete.  

I'm trying to figure out if my size is also part of the problem.  I've been steadily shrinking and often still competing against girls in medium heavy, and heavy, just because that's the way absolutes and +whatever divisions work. I have also lost to smaller girls, so it's certainly not the only reason.  I think I haven't quite adapted my game to my smaller size.  I don't have the weight to throw behind things and to use in top positions and it takes less work for the competition to get things to work on me.  This seems like a pretty weak excuse/explanation but, I wasn't even the one who came up with it, I forget who it was.  

When I got my purple, I had all these grande schemes in my mind. I would travel to New York, Chicago, Boston and California and get lots of fights and experience and wins.  I would continue winning almost all my fights, and maybe pick up some serious sponsors along the way.  Instead, I've been floundering on, getting 1 or 2 fights per competition, mostly losing, and feeling like I've been wasting my money and embarrassing myself, and my team with my "performance" or lack there of.

I keep trying to tell myself it'll get better, and I'll find my place in the purple belt world.  But I'm getting pretty sick of losing.  I hate it.  I hate losing at anything.  When I was a kid,  I got 2nd place over all in my class for track and field day. I threw out the ribbon because It wasn't first.  I'm competitive at pretty much everything I do and I despise losing.  When ever I play a board game, or card game, I get caught up and have to remind myself it's just a game. 

I need to put all this negativity behind me, maybe actually listen to my own advice from my blog series on the mental side of the game.  I've gotten away from a lot of my pre-comp and comp day habits.  I have been doing a lot of the opposite of positive self talk, and not a lot of visualization and whatnot.  I need to stop making excuses and trying to explain away the holes in my game and my lack of ability to implement my game plan, wait, I'd have to have a solid game plan to implement it. So, I guess making and drilling a solid game plan would be a good start.  This blog post is the last you will hear any of this negative excuse like bullshit. 

Worlds is just under 2 weeks away.  We are leaving Friday to train at Art of Jiu Jitsu for a few days then competing on Thursday or Friday. The Pre-Schedule has me fighting on Thursday or Friday.  Jon will be fighting Wednesday or Thursday.   My division has 9 people in it!  It's the best opportunity I have to have multiple fights against girls my size and level. 

After worlds is Five Grappling Ontario 1.  This should be a pretty cool event.  They are giving out lots of swag, and having prizes for submissions.  I think that's a cool idea, and hopefully it will get people to push the pace and not win on advantages. Oh, wait, there are no advantages!  They are following basic IBJJF rules except no advantages.  I think this will get people to screw around a lot less, but who knows. Jiu Jitsu is at a weird place right now and hopefully events like this will help steer it in a good direction.  Part of this tournament is a super seminar with Marcelo Garcia AND Xande Ribeiro.  That is going to be amazing! 

Also coming up this summer, is Grappling Industries: Summer Havoc.  They are giving away a whole bunch of trips this time around and 2 of them are going to the ladies!  I will be competing in the Gi and NoGi portions of this event to try to win a trip to Atlanta and Nogi pans.  I will also be refereeing!  So that will be a pretty busy day.

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