Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Submission Only Greensboro

This weekend was Submission Only Greensboro, one of the few submission only jiu jitsu events within a  drivable distance from me. I love submission only events for the following reasons:

1) I feel like it's a more pure form of jiu jistu than points tournaments (although, truth be told, I love those too). Jiu jistu is about using technique and leverage to submit bigger, stronger opponents. Under the constraints of time limits, there's not always time for this to happen. The Valente Brothers discuss this on their website:

"According to the Grandmaster... the awarding of points for positional superiority and the institution of time limits prevented the utilization of a defensive strategy from the bottom, which is what had enabled Jiu-Jitsu representatives to defeat their biggest and toughest opponents.  By examining some of the most important fights in the recent history of Jiu-Jitsu, such as Rickson Gracie vs. Zulu, Royce Gracie vs Dan Severn and Nogueira (Minotauro) vs. Bob Sapp, one can conclude that the utilization of a defensive strategy from the bottom enabled the Jiu-jitsu representatives to tire out their opponents and defeat them once they committed a mistake, as predicated by Grand Masters Carlos and Helio Gracie. It is important to note that all three Jiu-Jitsu representatives would have lost if the sport Jiu-Jitsu tournament point scoring system and time limit had been applied in those fights."

2) It suits my game. I put position first, but I constantly look for submissions during tournaments. In fact, the vast majority of my wins have been by submission. I rarely win by points and when I do, I feel like I didn't really win. And on the other hand, I've lost more matches by points than I have by submission. I think I have good survival positions and escapes. But besides that, I have way more slow twitch muscle fibers than fast twitch fibers (so my endurance is good, but I'm not super explosive). So no time limit rolling suits both my approach and my body type best.

For these reasons, I really, really  wanted to compete. But, as Chrissy Linzy says, knees are jerks. And my knee is still acting like a nagging, temperamental bitch.

I still went to the tournament to watch my teammates kick butt. In the process, I ended up learning a couple of things too. I'm usually in my own little world at tournaments, unable to focus on much else besides my own rolling. I never realized how much I missed what was going on around me!

1) I get more nervous watching my training partners (specifically my husband Mask) compete than when I compete myself. Part of it is probably because I have less control over the outcome when I'm not directly involved. But also, it gives me no outlet for my nervous energy. It's basically hours of standing around with no way to tire yourself out. Your adrenaline is pumping, but you have nothing to do but wait around.

2) You can learn a lot  by coaching people and watching them roll. For example, as a blue belt I know that I should put a knee up as soon as someone opens his closed guard. But screaming "the guard is open! Put you knee up!" a dozen times or so, reinforces it in my own mind. It's made my own reaction time just a little bit faster.

On another note, we adopted another dog this week. I've discovered a fun new way to develop grip strength. Meet Teddy!

P. S. I haven't abandoned the motor learning posts. But part 3 will take some time and other things have come up. Please continue to stay tuned!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

"I don't think of you as a woman anymore"

Comments like these may be intended as complements, but for a lot of female BJJ players, they are extremely insulting. And they should be. Just because we are involved  in a male dominated sport does not mean that we want to be dudes.

A post by one of my favorite bloggers discussed the subject:

A lot of what she says is summed up here:

 "... Men and women are different. Women in BJJ do not want to be SEXUALIZED. Sexualization and femininity are NOT the same thing. Many women want to be feminine. BJJ is not feminine. Women who do BJJ either do not care about it or they do care about it. Let me sum up:" She illustrates her point with the following graphic:

When in doubt, assume that your female training partner falls into the middle realm. For those who fall into the blue realm, more power to them. But that still doesn't mean that they want to be dudes.

So how can you tell if your female training partner cares about being a girl? Here are some clues:
- Despite the threat of mat hair, maintains a female haircut
- Buys a female gi or glams up a regular gi with girly patches
- Tries to avoid, rather than develop, cauliflower ear
- Generally burps and farts less ostensibly than her male counterparts
- Responds to the personal pronouns "she" and "her"

If you answered yes to any of the above points, then your female training partner does, in fact, want to be considered female.

But won't treating her like a man make her feel "equal?"

No. If a person has to be male to be your equal, then you have a pretty sexist world view. I have plenty of Black training partners who I obviously consider my equals. And I don't have to think of them as white in order to do so.

Imagine what would happen if someone approached a Black training partner and said "I consider you my equal. I don't even think of you as Black anymore." Obviously that would not go over well.

The best bet is to treat your female training partners the way you would treat your sisters. You're from the same family, so it's ok to beat each other up a little. But you always have each other's backs when it comes to outsiders.