Monday, January 30, 2012

Math and BJJ

So apparently when you go on vacation from work there is approximately 100x more things to do than when you left ten days ago. This has been the story of my life since January 3rd, but thankfully I've been able to train relatively consistently.

Shaolin has added a new BJJ drills class on Tuesday nights for the new year. It is largely a conditioning class based off of functional BJJ drills, like arm drags and takedowns. It serves a few purposes as it'll improve strength (I had to drag someone across the mat by their belt last time), conditioning, and drilling necessary techniques. There is no live rolling in this class at all.

I think drilling is a really underrated part of jiu jitsu. Many people (naturally) want to get as much rolling in as possible but I think it's really important to drill techniques your instructor shows you, especially since techniques often build off of and into various sequences and positions. In this way, I think jiu jitsu is a little bit like math. When you first start taking math, you learn what numbers are, followed by addition and subtraction. Slowly you learn addition and subtraction with double/triple digit numbers and move onto multiplication and division. This spirals you into Algebra, Trigonometry, Calculus, statistics, and other realms of math. However, you can't learn algebra without first learning how to add and subtract, and without algebra you certainly can't do trig or calculus. Similarly, in jiu jitsu, you start off with learning a few basic things, like what guard, mount and side control are, and moves like the americana and armbar. Then you learn how to use and manipulate open guard along with its extensions like spider guard and the de la riva. From there you have more sweeps and submissions which all build off of one another. But how could you have ever learned that spider guard sweep if you couldn't even figure out how to get there from closed guard?

Sometimes I think that's an issue with jiu jitsu. People want to learn fancy sweeps and submissions without first mastering the foundations. This is not to say that you shouldn't learn things like the berimbolo or inverted guard or even that you shouldn't eventually base your game off of them; I just think it's important that those things come after you've really understood the concepts behind more basic moves like closed guard, the triangle, etc. And even if you don't ever use something that intricate in your entire jiu jitsu career, it's important to have knowledge of them, because you will probably have to at least try and counter those moves at some point. I train with a few people who love the berimbolo and even they that's their go-to move, I still can't do smack from their closed guard.

I just registered to compete in the Long Island Pride tournament in the beginning of March. I'm anxious to compete again because even though the last tournament of 2011 ended on a high note for me, I know I can do much better and really want to redeem myself from my losses. Since I'm having a really tough time making the nogi classes, I'll be entering only the gi division.