Am I The Jerk?

No one is a bigger opponent of “douchey-ness” on the mat than me.

Etiquette matters, as far as I’m concerned, at least insofar as our need to watch out for the safety of our partner and those nearby. I’m hyper-vigilant about this, going so far as to apologize mid-roll when there’s a chance a knee bumping my opponent’s head might have hurt.

I’d always prefer to err on the side of being overly ginger. I’m a pretty nice guy, maybe, or maybe just someone who holds a high standard of etiquette so to be sure students of mine emulate the right behavior. Maybe those are the same thing, and I have early role models of my own to thank for both.

Or maybe I’m lying to myself, limiting my training potential, AND secretly a jerk.

We all decide at what octane we’d like to train. When we meet people who train above it, what do we do? Those people find their way out of our “favorites list” of training partners, or maybe we just resign ourselves to not roll with them again.

By setting “rules” about the acceptable level of intensity, and culling the list of acceptable training partners, who are we left with? Those our intensity and below. So, if I’ll only roll with people my intensity and below, where does that leave me? At the top of the chain.

Now who is the one pushing the octane envelope? Now who is mauling who? Man, how embarrassing would it be to find out I’ve been acting like a bully?

What about you?

Do you say you want a light roll, then crank it up when it suits you? Do you caution of your injuries pre-roll, only to come out full force? I think I’ve done these lately (but am truly surprised myself at how much my current injuries can withstand in my irresponsibly-too-early rolling).

I admonish myself for this only because it came up while noticing that I am not tapping often lately. Not nearly enough.

Tap More

Essentially, I’m ignoring my own advice to my students who have more opportunity than I do to train with people below and above them in technical ability. You’re simply not learning if you’re always imposing your game, and always in territory in which you feel confident. That’s definitely where I’ve been hanging out for a while now, while trying to tighten my top game.

It’s definitely time that I explore less comfortable territory again, and the edge of my positional and submission escapes. Of course, I can forgive myself the time I’ve recently spent in “offense mode.” It has been very productive, and anyway, I know we all sway between working our offense and our defense.

Changing Approach

Very early on my path, I was passed over by Royce for advancement when other newer guys than me got theirs. Feedback eventually reached me, possibly originating from Royce, that I didn’t show a “killer instinct,” and that I was letting the other person work too much. The experience made me conscious of this area of practice, and I’ve made corrections in both directions since.

Time for a correction now again; this time toward more defensive play, and submitting. I’m not sure I’ve worked on trust with my training partners that close to the edge in a while. I hope my they don’t feel I’ve been the bully I fear I have, that they believe I’ll tap, and that they take their vengeance with care!

5 Responses

  1. Rick Torres
    Rick Torres March 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm | | Reply

    When things go bad its good to know that CT is a waiver-less state. Those carefully worded documents we have all students sign will not save you if measures to prevent serious injuries where not implemented. On a personal note, my current injury (Torn ACL-MCL-Mensicus) happened while drilling!!

    Yes my YOUNG, BIG, STRONG bule belt partner decided to step outside the drill. We were drilling: Pisao to clinch, to street guard pull, to punch protection while holding guard. He decided to try osoto gari without any notice and instead of reaping my knee calf on calf, he sat all his weight on the left side of my left knee. Feeling my knee bend inward, the CRUNCH and the PAIN immediately told me my GJJ days where coming to a halt.

    In our current litigious society, dojo owner beware that when it goes bad even your insurance company will quickly bail out on you. HYPER VIGILANT should include: having someone ALWAYS monitoring folks while sparing, looking out for guys who wont tap, environmental hazards at your school, posted sparring rules everyone follows, no exceptions and of course setting the tone or VIBE at your school.

    Im 8 months post-op from an ACL-MCL-MENISCUS tear and my knee is FINALLY coming around this month. I already know it wont ever be the same so I only roll with a select few who REALLY LOOK OUT for my knee. For me, its a good time to follow what Ryron says and “KEEP IT PLAYFUL” Im pushing 54 years of age and should golfing or playing BINGO…LOL

  2. Jeremy Lafreniere
    Jeremy Lafreniere March 11, 2013 at 3:11 pm | | Reply

    I’ve developed some perspective on this over the years. It is so easy, even as an blue and purple belt, to get caught “off guard” by changes in the intensity of an opponent. Nowadays, I really don’t care what intensity a person comes at me with. Balls to the wall, or chill and flow…. I know that my partners aren’t going to get injured by me, but also that I won’t be caught off guard by them. What I do need to improve, however, is my teaching. I am so wrapped up in the moment: respond, adapt, leverage… that I don’t stop a person and remind them about how they noted injuries or other concerns prior to the match beginning. Yet, their intensity and approach is doing nothing to protect them from re-injury and frustration. Something I need to work on for sure.

    Also, when it comes to, “relax” VS “killer instinct”, I think this is something every practitioner struggles with. And it can be VERY confusing when you hear your coach tell some people to, “relax” and others to, “finish, control, stay tough, be strong….” I now use coaching cues and phrases like the following:

    Selective Tension = Respond to the ever changing environment of a grappling match by being relaxed enough to accept and feel those changes, and also tensing your muscles at appropriate times, to defend, transition, dominate and submit your opponent.

    Energy Differential = Our goal is to create an energy differential between us and our opponent. Always assess, “who is working harder.” Telltale signs are breathing (compare your breathing to their breathing) and warrior spirit (are they beginning to “accept” positions that they shouldn’t/don’t have to).

  3. Why I Like Wrist Locks (Less Abashedly Every Day)

    […] Feedback I get is, it’s annoying to my training partners, but there’s an overtone of respect for my execution in the comments, so I’m taking that as a begrudged “it’s annoying, but in the good way.” Maybe this is one of those places I should be asking “Am I The Jerk?” […]

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