Month: July 2013

Edison would have been proud.


This week I started to have a number of lightbulb moments.  (hence Edison geddit?) I know there are a few people that read this that have these same type self aware occurrances and I am really pleased that my jiu jitsu is bringing these out.

Where do I start with this? How about something I have struggled with for a long time.  For ages people have been telling me that I will feel my opponents moves.  The weight shift of my partner that will indicate what they are going to do.  Well this week I actually started to feel my partner whilst rolling.  I could feel what technique he was he was thinking of by his movement, which enabled me to adjust my body to better prepare my escape when he tried to transition.  Actually realising what I am supposed to be feeling, but also be being calm enough to recognise it was a small win for me this week, which I am definitely pleased with.

One of the other small wins this week have been the application of some new techniques I have been learning. I have been having private lessons in addition to the regular classes, with a super cool coach called Adam Adshead  He has been working not only on technique but some concepts of BJJ as well.  I have now started to put into effect some of the techniques and concepts I have been shown by Adam.  I wasn’t able to finish, but hey these are new techniques.  Getting three quarters of the way through them I see as an achievement.  As I have been able to incorporate them into my game and once again have the calmness of mind to recall them, I see as another win or lightbulb turning on.

Another lightbulb is what has been helping with my guard retention.  I’m not saying I am awesome at the moment, but since I have been back everyone has been blasting through my guard.  I appreciate I have not trained for a long time and I have been back a few weeks, so I’m still getting back into the game.  But I was disappointed with myself.  This week using some of the concepts Adam has taught me I have been able to stop my guard being passed as much, or if they did reguard pretty quick.

My final lightbulb may sound a bit weird, hey the weird one for last.  But I have for years felt funny about “hurting” my training partners.  I am quickly going to clarify this.  What I mean by “hurting’ are things like pushing a frame into a neck, which is part of the technique but I feel bad about applying.  Or when doing knee on belly, I leave my toes on the floor, so all my weight doesn’t go through my partner.  These may sound weird for an Old Munki that weighs 83kg/182lbs but that has been my mindset.  I have now realised that it is ok to do these things, as long as they are part of the technique.  I did it in a roll and the guy actually said how well I had kept him off.

Overall it has been a very illuminating week with all these lightbulbs pinging.  I wouldn’t say that I am as good as the other blue belts at my school yet, but I am starting to feel that I have got a few more steps closer to them.  With each of these steps I get closer to living up to my own expectations.

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Not quite the big bang theory.

Having been back at training a short while I have now finally started rolling again.  A big part of this was the positive experiences I had with each of my partners.  I pointed out about my bad shoulders and the guys were great with me.  They still whooped my ass but at the end of each tap I was still smiling.  It really was a good reminder of where I have to get back to prior to my surgeries.  I know I have a lot of catching up to do. But that’s not an issue it gives me a target to motivate my training, which has served me well in my other training.

Whilst writing this I happened to read another blog post by Liam Wandi which you can find here.  He is a super nice guy (Mrs Munki’s coach) and has a training philosophy that I can happily relate to. This, along with the Marcelo Garcia video (below) included in the post got me thinking.

I do need to approach my training as a learning experience, as well as just fun to get the most out of each one. I do have points to take away from each session, but application in rolling is different to learning a technique in class. Personally I then have to learn to practically apply it too. I had started to consider what I was doing/not doing in rolling.  The list includes, controlling the inside space, not over extending myself and stay relaxed.  But also considering these other points I have realised I need to apply my game more.  Not just defend and see what happens, but try and apply my knowledge and see what works and how to adapt.  Some of that self experimentation I have been posting about previously would not go amiss here.  Thinking about what Liam said it is just a scientific approach of trial and error, learning from my mistakes and not just flailing around trying to defend myself.

Now all of this could sound like I’m taking things a bit too seriously, but I have quite the catch up game to perform. My big break from the mats, has left me feeling a little bit of a fraud whilst wearing a blue belt.  This is a bit of a self indulgent personal issue I know and I am doing the wrong thing comparing myself to others.  However I know in myself that I am currently not performing to my expectations and this change in attitude/focus/psychology call it what you want, might just take in the direction to improve this.

I do acknowledge the positives in each class and I am being negative about my situation. Understanding what comes next in the experiment and having the self awareness and the desire to improve are what are important at this stage and the rest will flow. A bit of Old Munki philosophy there.

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What colour is your technique?

I recently read a facebook post by Henry Akins that really made me think and focus. The conclusion of the post was basically “not to worry about what colour your belt is, but focus on improving as a person and becoming efficient with the techniques of Jiu Jitsu”. ( I have butchered this a little to summarise it, please forgive me). But it is this philosophy that really focuses me.
But it is this philosophy that now inspires me as part of Jiu Jitsu. When I was younger I did Taekwondo and the obsession was always to pass your gradings and reach a higher rank with black belt being the goal. This was good it gave me an external sense of achievement, oh and I got to move further up to the front of the class, but it certainly did not make me a better person. So personally I think the patience, perseverance and the often quoted “journey” aspects of jiu jitsu are what attracts me to it and has kept me wanting to get back.
This wasn’t always the case though. When I first started I had the same attitude I had with my previous martial arts and I had a big shock. This was not the frame of mind to approach jiu jitsu with. This did change after a year or so of training, but I think the long break I have had has been even more beneficial for this. (Although it didn’t feel like it at the time….ask Mrs Munki how grumpy I was). It has helped me break old habits/mind sets and start creating more positive new ones. Like open mindedness, learning styles mainly the stuff I have written about before. I think everyone acknowledges it is not an easy process, even for those who are young and in good physical shape to take up jiu jitsu. It does create heart and exercises your will power muscles heading back to the mats, session after session coping with the good and the bad. Until that day when it starts to click and to techniques you are aiming to use you can actually carrying out. I think acknowledging this as a personal success and getting in the habit of finding the personal positives in every session makes be a better person and enjoy my jits more. If all I am bothered about is the next stripe or belt then I am always looking ahead and not enjoying or valuing the now. As an old munki I really value the now, as I don’t want to wish the remainder of my life away.
Even looking at it realistically I have no control over when I get my next promotion that is up to my instructor. What is in my control is my Motivation, Understanding, N…effort, Knowledge and Interest I apply. (Yes I couldn’t think of anything starting with ‘N’ to make them spell MUNKI). These will all improve my techniques, but in achieving these it will improve me and my life in general.
So back to the philosophical quote I butchered at the beginning of all of this. Getting a nice piece of coloured material to wrap around my waist is not going to keep me coming back and it is not going to make ME better. Focussing on learning, enjoying and applying technique will, because it makes my training fun and makes me less grumpy (Mrs Munki is thankful for this!), but most of all for and old munki keeps my mind, body and spirit feeling young.

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Judo munki

So I have actually convinced Mrs Munki to start training BJJ, yessss. Or as she puts it “turned her to the darkside.” This is because she was a Muay Thai munki for a good number of years and thought this was the best thing since coconut water. Her motivation for the change in attitude is because she wants to do an MMA fight before she hits 40 and she realised that learning a ground game is going to take her a while. So she has been training both BJJ and Judo for about a month now and it is interesting to listen to talk about her training.
To begin with she was very hesitant about the training and felt like she was “betraying” her Muay Thai instructor and she wasn’t convinced about how well things would stick. The Judo was easier for her to grasp initially. As the following weeks progressed, she was starting to enjoy not being punched in the face so much and was starting to grasp the BJJ techniques (helped by some instructional). She was also seeing the overlap between the Judo and the BJJ, which she liked.
She did come up against some niggles that are going to take time. Like the male class members really trying to avoid partnering her. (she experienced this in Muay Thai so it’s nothing new) So she would have to grab someone and tell them they were her partner. The other thing was that her partners were too gentle with her. I explained that is not necessarily a female thing, I’ve had experiences of where training partners have put up little or no resistance. When what you actually want is about a 70% resistance to help the technique work.
She also is now starting to relish the learning involved. She is an academic person and the learning challenge is very different from Muay Thai. I think the way we discussed it was with Muay Thai there is a right and a wrong way to do stuff. Being a striking sport, do it wrong and it hurts you, do it right and it hurts your opponent. With BJJ there is a right way to do a technique, a better way to do the same technique and how you do the technique so it works for you. A bit like the levels of learning :
Unconscious Incompetence (You get stuff wrong but you don’t know enough to put it right)
Conscious Incompetence (You still get it wrong, but realise its wrong and try and correct it)
Conscious Competence (You are getting stuff right but have to think about what to do)
Unconscious Competence (The Flow, it all just works)

I hope that bit made sense? Its the way I see it anyway

So after four weeks she has started a weekly private BJJ lesson, bought her first gi and is planning her next (Storm Kimono) and is planning when she will be ready for her first Judo comp. Yes she is very enthusiastic, but after the physical battering she was getting when she trained previously this feels easy and fun. Plus I have the benefit of her coming home happy and not in tears, like she did when she first started Muay Thai. Plus we get to have training holidays now…bonus!

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