Just got home from my 5th class, the start of my third week of training. Had a long talk with one of my buddies I'm training with tonight and I thought I'd write a bit about our thought processes regarding why we decided to train, and some disagreements we had about our perspectives.
First, a little about tonight's class. In my last post I eluded to the fact that I'm not in the best shape; tonight I got my ass kicked. Marco (the instructor) decided that tonight we needed some conditioning. We always do warm-up drills, but today we did extensive drills, then a series of push-ups, crunches, leg-lifts, squats....it basically sucked. But I want to be good at BJJ so badly that I did my best.
After the ass-kicking, we got down to some techniques. I'm not the biggest fan of how the classes run - he usually teaches us 6-7 techniques a class, and I'm not sure I can internalize that many techniques. I'd be more happy with 2-3 techniques, some sparring, and some practice of techniques we've already learned. But I may be completely wrong, I'm brand new.
After class we hit the Subway on base, which has become standard practice. We still haven't had a chance to spar, I suspect because Marco is injured (shoulder). His requirement of rolling with him before we can spar is a good one, but it's holding us back because we feel ready to try out some of these techniques and we have to watch the sparring sessions and cannot participate. While we were eating, we discussed the sparring and how excited we were to finally hit the mats with a resisting opponent. One of my friends feels that I am too anxious to spar, but I disagree. I AM anxious to spar, but it's because I've already learned a bunch of techniques (as I mentioned, he teaches us a bunch every class), and I practice regularly at my house with a friend. My triangle is coming along, my arm bar is feeling somewhat fluid, I have an americana, kimura, guillotine (that one sucks for me though), rear-naked, multiple collar chokes, some guard passes and defenses to most of the above.
Don't get me wrong, I know this is only my third week training. The issue for me is that I like to learn by doing. These techniques, as fun as they are, are snapshots in time. I'm learning them as best I can, but I really need context. What I'm trying to do is try to figure out the why of every technique. Why does it work? How would someone defend it? If they defend that way, does another opportunity open up? This way, when things are fast, I don't have to think "I'm in the guard - which subs do I know from the guard?" I'll just work for position, and when an arm extends I'll try to take it. I mean, rather than have to learn an arm bar 5 different ways, if I can understand well how exactly the arm bar works, I can get it from different positions just by knowing what I need to do to make the leverage work. I know some positions require special knowledge, but that's my point in a way.
I want to spar so I can discover my weaknesses. Plus, as I mentioned, my main concern is sport jiu-jitsu. There's a guy in our class who's been training about 2 months and is going to compete next week in a local competition. I'm in my 3rd week and I haven't even sparred. I'm alright with it, I'm just arguing that I feel like it's hard for me to really understand the techniques when I don't understand the game because I've never been able to play. Any thoughts?
Another point we got on is one of the guys said he didn't want to compete. That's no problem; we're all in it for different reasons. But it was his reason for not wanting to compete that I didn't like. He said he didn't want to lose. He wouldn't compete because he didn't want to lose. If you spar and are worried about winning more than anything, you are succumbing to ego, pure and simple. I'm also a fan of chess, I play daily and am constantly working on my game. I constantly seek out players that are rated way higher than I, knowing that I'm going to lose almost every time. The point is, every time I lose a game against a stronger opponent, I lose nothing and I can gain a lesson. I can improve a bit. If I only played when I thought I was certain to win, how can I possibly improve?
I'll write more tomorrow, this post has already gotten long. I want to touch on motivations and personal growth, and more on how losing is an opportunity.