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Anton Emery
05-09-2008, 12:02 PM
Thought i would see if i could get some discussion going on this. Even though i have been training BJJ for a few years i still find that i deal with my ego alot. Not so much that i stomp around the mat and get mad when i lose, or that i try to slam my way out of subs. I guess i just get down on myself when i get tapped by someone who has alot less experience than me or that i feel i should able to beat. I look at it as a reflection on my lack of skill.

I've been at Straight Blast Gym in Portland OR about a year and a half. I got my blue belt after 8 months there. I had several years experience before that training alot of no-gi in Tallahassee Florida. There wasn't a black belt in town, just a bunch of guys who would get together and train, a few of them had blue belts from other instructors in the state. It was not bad training by a long shot, but training at SBG has helped my technique alot. I am not the biggest guy a 5'10" 160lbs, but i feel my conditioning is good and i dont get overpowered by guys my same size.

The other day i was rolling with someone in class, bigger guy, has not been there that long, but just super strong and aggressive. I went for a takedown, he sprawled, and ended up getting in the basic headlock position from top. This is one of the first positions we learn to escape from, and i kept trying to get out, but this guy had monster strength. Then he trapped my arm between his legs for the kimura/armbar. There was not much i could do.

Its frustarating, because i am more technical than him, and i knew how to get out and what to do, i just could not do it. I guess sometimes strength overcomes technique.

My wife trains too and talking to her about it she says not to compare myself to other people, its about comparing how i performed in the past to how i perform now. Its just tough, especially in a sport like BJJ, where your goal is to submit the other person, so obviously he becomes a basis for comparison.

I dont ever see myself quitting i just need to learn to see it all as part of the journey of improving, so i dont get frustrated after being tapped by less technical, though perhaps bigger and stronger opponents.


Anton

Mike ODonnell
05-09-2008, 01:40 PM
Even the best athletes lose. Once you can enjoy what you do...and not be focused so much on the outcome that has or has not happened....your overall performance will probably increase and you will do better and perhaps win more in the process. Focus only on what you need to do in the present moment where the ego can not exist...as it is too caught up in the past and future.

After every match...smile...go shake your opponents hand...tell him nice job...and know you gave it your best. Then just move on.....

Derek Simonds
05-09-2008, 02:11 PM
If nothing else putting it out there in writing helps to deal with it.

We all have ego and it is hard sometimes to deal with the simple things. Your wife is right and so are you it is a journey. There are a couple of guys on here with a lot darker belts than mine so I hope they chime in.

When I first started training it would bother me when I got subbed and I would try and use my strength to get out of them. Now if someone catches me and they do I will tap and try to learn from it. Someone told me or I read that every time you get tapped you should ask the person to show you how they did it. I also try to bring my attitude of gratitude to the mat and tell people upfront that I appreciate them training with me.

There is one guy at our academy who weighs around 260 and when we roll no-gi if I let him get away from me he just absolutely dominates me. He can basically sub me at will. I still roll with him whenever we are there together and I look at it as a challenge.

Dave Paton
05-09-2008, 02:56 PM
Well, sometimes sports just isn't "fair". And sometimes brute strength beats out technique. Do the best with what tools you have.

Allen Yeh
05-09-2008, 05:19 PM
This isn't meant as being a dick or anything.

Get stronger.

I actually have been in the position of being the less technical but stronger person in wrestling and I used to be able to dominate the other guys that were faster, more knowledgable and more experienced simply because I was much much stronger and bigger than most of the other guys in the wrestling club. Only when I was pitted against people that were about my strength did their skills shine through and I'd be wrapped up in a pretzel very quickly. It wasn't even just a weight thing because there were 2 guys that were my weight but bodyfat wise at least 10% more, so pound for pound I was stronger.

Mark Joseph Limbaga
05-09-2008, 08:15 PM
I had a similar experience yesterday.

I was rolling with a teammate that I believe I am more skilled compared to him, yet he outweighed me by around 25 pounds. I was trying an open guard sweep but couldn't pull it off on him and no matter how much I turned to my side in half guard, I always get flattened out. I also got tapped by a simple forearm choke, which I could normally defend.

Its true, sometimes if a guy is just stronger than you he can outmuscle you, the only thing left to do is to outthink the person or beat him to a move by 2 steps.

But, as one of my teammates said, if you wanna get better, its always good that you spar with guys who are very strong, and then mix it up with guys who are really technical. that way, you learn to adjust against different opponents

Gant Grimes
05-10-2008, 09:32 PM
This isn't meant as being a dick or anything.

Get stronger.

I actually have been in the position of being the less technical but stronger person in wrestling and I used to be able to dominate the other guys that were faster, more knowledgable and more experienced simply because I was much much stronger and bigger than most of the other guys in the wrestling club. Only when I was pitted against people that were about my strength did their skills shine through and I'd be wrapped up in a pretzel very quickly. It wasn't even just a weight thing because there were 2 guys that were my weight but bodyfat wise at least 10% more, so pound for pound I was stronger.

Second.

I did a sidebar article in the CFJ several months ago about this ("Strength on the Mat," I believe). If you're a BJJ blue belt, your technique is pretty squared away. Yes, your technique can improve, but it will take a longer time to make smaller improvements at this stage. On the other hand, it sounds like there are some things you can do about your strength in short order.

As far as ego, look at it this way: this guy has shown you a way that you can be defeated. Now you are able to shore up this weakness so that it may not be exploited again. By beating you, he shared important knowledge with you.

Michael Miller
05-11-2008, 01:11 AM
Look at this as a gift, not as a blow to who you are, or what you do...it really has nothing to do with eaither. Empty your cup, stay open to experiences like these, they really are the ones that matter the most. This will help you not to become stagnant in your developement...if you never got tapped, choked out etc you would never learn anything of value.

I cannot tell you how many times i have seen someone who is inexperienced do well against a more experienced martial artist...that includes guys off the street that virtually know nothing. Theoretically yes, a more experienced person should be able to do well against someone not as seasoned, but sparring, fighting, combat etc are so alive, there are really never any guarantee's.

Let go of all those pre concieved notions, then you will actually be free to enjoy the journey.

Yael Grauer
05-11-2008, 08:55 AM
That happens to me a lot a lot and it is super frustrating. I try not to see it as a reflection on my skill level. If my skill and techniques work on people around my size but don't work on the big guys, I just keep working it as conditioning for next time. I guess my only consolation is knowing what they're doing won't work on many other people... I also try to vary up who I roll with so it doesn't happen constantly... almost everyone at my gym is bigger than me but I try to find more technical guys when I can because it's more fun and they use way less strength (even if they are bigger).

I think the ego is always going to be there but just being aware of it helps.

Anton Emery
05-11-2008, 01:32 PM
Second.

I did a sidebar article in the CFJ several months ago about this ("Strength on the Mat," I believe). If you're a BJJ blue belt, your technique is pretty squared away. Yes, your technique can improve, but it will take a longer time to make smaller improvements at this stage. On the other hand, it sounds like there are some things you can do about your strength in short order.

As far as ego, look at it this way: this guy has shown you a way that you can be defeated. Now you are able to shore up this weakness so that it may not be exploited again. By beating you, he shared important knowledge with you.

Gant,

Yea, i read your article not to long ago for the first time. That and Mark Rippetoe's main article Strong Enough were good stuff. It gave me alot to think about.

So i guess i need to figure out where to improve my strength. I can deadlift double bodyweight, do a muscle up, i think standing overhead press 135lbs or so. Havn't done much squatting lately so i am not sure what my max is on that. I train at CF Portland, so my workouts are whatever is planned for that class. I know those lifts are not overly big but i think they represent a decent baseline of strength. Perhaps i need to do more odd object or strongman style training so it transfers more easily to grappling. Its not all the time i get straight up overpowered, but when it does its frustarating.

thanks for the replies and advice everyone. I am going to try hard to have a better attitude about it.

Anton

Yael Grauer
05-11-2008, 06:15 PM
I don't think you need to try to have a better attitude. It is what it is. I think you just need be aware of how you react, which it sounds like you are.

Plus if I was in that situation I would totally ask for a rematch. And I think that's perfectly acceptable.

Derek Simonds
05-12-2008, 04:21 AM
Anton reading where you are as far strength I agree I do think you have a great baseline of ME Strength. Tell Scotty what you are after and I am sure that he can throw in a little additional work for you.

Yael and I have both started threads on here about strength / conditioning training for MMA / BJJ. Mine was back in March of last year maybe? Where we discuss different training methodologies for what we were trying to accomplish.

I believe that there is sport specific strength in grappling that is more comparable with what I think gymnastics call static strength (maybe). There are a lot of times when I am grappling that I think I am an anaconda and just slowly add more and more pressure on the move I am making every time my opponent gives me room. You have to be able to be under tension for longer periods of time to finish some moves.

Great thoughts from everybody btw.

Yael Grauer
05-12-2008, 06:50 AM
Oh yeah, I almost forgot.

http://www.grapplearts.com/2005/09/larger-stronger-opponent.htm

http://www.grapplearts.com/2006/12/beating-big-guy-again.htm

prolly you know all this already but it's a good reminder

Rob Harris
05-12-2008, 07:26 AM
Maybe try a different outlook on things? Try and realize that everyone is there for the same reason, to improve. When you're rolling/sparring, remember this and don't look at it like win or lose. If you always tap out the newer guys and only tap to more experienced partners, you are holding yourself and those you spar with back.

Professor Pedro Sauer (Red and Black belt under Helio/Relson) says to 'sponge moves off of everyone' and tap as much as you can. That way, you see everyones game and learn what they know.

Easier said than done I know, but it works.

Yael Grauer
05-12-2008, 01:16 PM
I don't understand what's wrong with sparring with the intent to win. I spar with the intent to win and I lose all the time and the world keeps spinning. But I mean, as long as you don't get unhinged and lose sleep over it if you don't win, or act like a jerk when you do, why is it wrong to want to win?

I like the Art of the Tap (http://www.grapplearts.com/2008/03/art-of-tap.htm) article and working with one's partner instead of against them but I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to win. In fact, what's REALLY annoying is people who you can tell secretly want to win but they pretend they're all enlightened and don't care. They are the ones that will stop in the middle of the roll and start coaching if they are losing, or will use all possible strength after going way too easy if you catch 'em in a mistake. I think being honest about it is a lot healthier than being passive aggressive.

Sometimes I roll to win, sometimes I'm working on a specific skill or position, sometimes I am working to help a newbie improve their game, sometimes I just want to not think. It's all good.

Derek Simonds
05-12-2008, 01:54 PM
Oh yeah, I almost forgot.

http://www.grapplearts.com/2005/09/larger-stronger-opponent.htm

http://www.grapplearts.com/2006/12/beating-big-guy-again.htm

prolly you know all this already but it's a good reminder

Those are great links Yael. I have seen them before but like you said it is a great reminder.

Anton Emery
05-12-2008, 02:55 PM
Yea, i think alot of grappling is static strength, or sub-maximal isometric contractions. Like when i taking someones back i try to get the over/under body lock with my arms and keep my chest pressed up and inline with their back. Other parts of the game seem to be more explosive, like takedowns.

Thanks everyone for the advice and tips. I am going to keep working on it all.


Anton

Anton Emery
05-12-2008, 03:10 PM
I look at rolling kind of three ways. If its someone less experienced i can work on stuff and put myself in the same position repeatedly because its easier to control the direction of the roll. It does me and the other person not much good if i just crush them the whole time, better to open up my game and experiment and give them the chance to escape and work on different parts of their game.

If its someone of my own level or close they are probably going to bring their A game, so in that case we are both rolling to win. I am going to work towards my strongest positions and submissions.

If its someone more advanced i am in survival mode. I'll be happy if i can get on top or go on the offensive, but mostly i am just trying to survive.

The thing i guess i have most trouble dealing with mentally is that guys with less experience than me seem to be picking up the game faster. I've had my blue belt about a year, and there are guys who got theirs a few months ago who now dominate me in rolls. I can catch them in subs some, but i am usually always fighting from bottom or escaping. I think the top game is something that is going to take a while for me, i don't have an easy time "getting heavy". I guess everyone advances at a different rate, and that time in the sport is not the only factor. If so those that have been doing BJJ longer would always win.

Nothing else to do but keep working on it.


Anton

Yael Grauer
05-13-2008, 12:14 AM
I think I've got an okay top game for a beginner, except that everyone has thirty or more pounds on me so I get flipped over all the time even when I've got good position and am doing things "right". There's one girl that's only 150 but she wrestled in college so I always end up getting spun in circles. She's really good but she makes me dizzy. lol.

I hate playing bottom esp. when the guys are bigger and new so I get smothered without them even noticing. I know I could just shrimp out slowly and eventually work my way out in about fifteen years. And then as far as subs go I can't get a triangle because my legs won't fit around their shoulders, and whenever I try to go for an armbar I get my knee smashed in my face and end up in someone's side control and none of my sweeps ever work. It sucks. I am trying to position myself against our padded walls so I can get my feet up and do that flippy thing and end up with side, which is the funnest move ever. Plus I can hold side pretty well. I can also sneak into mount sometimes if the guy's thinking too much about why I can hold side and isn't paying attention, but then I get flipped. I need to gain like eighty pounds or something.

Some folks at my gym will talk while we roll, which is great, because then I can tell them they are rolling the wrong way or need to get their hooks in before trying a sub because that's why it didn't work, and they can tell me the reason I am getting thrown like a rag doll is because my base isn't wide enough. I guess I am helping them get better, which is hard when they're new and we're almost evenly matched, but I figure if their technique improves they will use less weight, which will help me.

I think MMA is like the most frustrating thing ever, but what probably cured me from the run o' the mill frustrations was training at a gym where every guy there was an asshole. So now I am just happy that people will roll with me without me begging them and having to set up mats next to their mats so I can do my own drills as I get sat out over and over and over again. So maybe that's what you need. Go to a gym where everyone's a jerk for a while. ;)

Anyway, I guess I was surprised to read these issues still come up even after you're at blue belt level... I figured it was just a newbie awkward stage I hadn't gotten through yet...