Last night I got to roll with one of my instructors, James.
This is always a humbling experience and I’m quietly (unless he reads this) convinced that he chooses to spar with me right at the point that I am starting to regularly get submissions on others, just to remind me that I am still a very small fish in a big pond. It’s good though, as it reminds me to relax and focus on technique rather than speed or strength. I usually last about 3 minutes this way, until my body takes over from my mind, and I’m thrashing around again like a mad person. (At least I last 3 minutes now, instead of going mad from step 1, so I guess that’s some progress..;-)
Afterward we had a chat and spoke about this. He reminded me about getting comfortable under different positions, relaxing and waiting for the opportunities and not being so repetitive as to become predictable. One thing he said which hit home was this, “get comfortable under knee on belly, if you don’t get comfortable with it, you wont learn how to escape properly. You may get choked a few times, but so what, at least you are learning how to escape the position.”
Now someone who does not do Gracie Jiu-Jitsu might read this and go, “What? get comfortable under knee on belly, but that’s three points I would loose in a competition!!!! No ways”
And there’s the catch. If you are doing jiu-jitsu and you are sparring and worried about points, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. I guarantee you, an attacker on the street doesn’t care about how many points he gets, he just wants to take you out.
Which brings me to another side of the coin. As much as we do practice Gracie Jiu-Jitsu for self-defence, there is the competition aspect, which for a lot of us is the only way we get to compare our skill and technique against a live (non-friendly, and by that I mean someone who is out to either submit or beat you) opponent. So where do you draw the line, between learning to defend yourself against a street opponent and learning to prevent the loosing points?
Well, I’m of the opinion that, either way, focus on the street opponent. I’d rather loose each and every competition bout I enter that get beaten up in the street because my mindset was in the wrong place.To me, self-defence over-shadows all else. So thats where I need to keep my focus.
As for the competitions, well, I guess I’ll have to keep on practicing until I get to a point where loosing points doesn’t matter and I win by submission only each and every time……