Thursday, November 8, 2012

Recongizing bull-oney

There are important barriers that we all must cross in jiu jitsu. Surviving our first roll...getting our first submission...winning our first tournament match...getting our first stripe...crossing the great Pam Barrier...bleeding on the mats for the first time...getting our first injury...getting our first belt promotion.

Crossing these milestones is met with a certain sense of pride. We earned each of these rites of passage. But there is one barrier that I crossed without much thought. Indeed, I crossed it without even realizing it - and that is developing the ability to recognize bullshit.

See, when I was brand new to BJJ, none of the techniques that I was learning worked for me (read: I hadn't spent enough time on the mats to be able to pull off anything legit). The problem, I assessed, was that my teammates had been training longer than me and therefore knew more moves than I did. What I needed to do was learn a move that nobody else knew. Then I would finally start tapping people!

So, after my first week of training, I scoured Submissions 101 and found something that I had never seen at my gym...a gogoplata from mount! NO ONE would see this coming! That meant I might actually pull it off. I tried the move on a higher belt (someone nice enough to let me get to mount in the first place) and was surprised when it did not go well.

To the untrained eye, this might seem like a viable move. But to anyone with even the slightest bullshit radar, this move is ridiculous. If you could tap somebody with this, then  you are so much better than them that you could tap them with just about anything.

But when I was brand-spanking-new, I had no bullshit radar. So I couldn't tell a legit move from complete nonsense. Of course, I would have been better off watching videos of basic mount escapes than of low percentage mount submissions. But I had the outlook of a typical, athletic newbie. I didn't like being bad at something, so I wanted to find  a way to start winning as soon as possible. And I failed. The only thing that made me better at jiu jitsu was time on the mats and sound instruction.

I don't watch a lot of instructional videos anymore, since I'm not much of a visual learner. But I'm happy to say that my bullshit radar has improved substantially since I started. When I see something that's totally out there, I can see it for what it is - nonsense.

Take these past couple of weeks, for example. A new gym was opened in the triangle, one that claimed to teach a hybrid of Brazilian jiu jitsu and judo. Upon watching a few of the instructor's videos, it became immediately clear to me that he had never trained in either.

courtesy of Boomer, from Cageside MMA

the lugnut

armbar defense

Something for my judo friends...

but what happens if the guy doesn't roll?!?

It was with watching these videos that I was pleased to discover that I now do, in fact, have a bullshit radar. These might look like valid techniques to the untrained eye, but I can tell you with confidence that shit don’t work. Of course, so can anybody else who knows a lick of Brazilian jiu jitsu. People are pretty pissed about this guy. And I can’t think of a group of people that I'd want to incite less than a gang of Brazilian jiu jitsu brown and black belts. 

One instructor in the area went as far as to propose the following: 

Billy Dowey's challenge to James Paredes

So why are people so upset? This is what Royce Gracie brown belt Roy Marsh had to say about it: 

"The reason there is so much anger is that he is clearly fraudulent in his claims. Why does this matter to us so much? It is not about him. It is about protecting the art we love so much...Our problem is that his students believe that they are learning to defend themselves with jiu jitsu and if they get into a situation and can't defend themselves, they will blame jiu jitsu, the art we love and represent, and not a fraudulent instructor. THAT is why we are so upset...To say that you have created a hybrid style out of two styles you have no real experience in is straight fraud. It's as if someone who never trained Shotokan or Tae Kwon Do then went out and claimed to teach a hybrid of those two styles and gave himself a black belt. And, in the jiu jitsu/groundfighting world, faking rank has a very serious repercussion because we are combative artists; by which I mean we have to back up our rank and be willing to explain our lineage…I have trained nearly 12 years and do not have a black belt but to the average person, James is more accomplished at this art than I am."

I am a lowly 2 stripe blue belt, but even I can see this bullshit for what it is. I am glad that the upper belts are protecting our hard-earned rank system by calling this guy out. There is a lot of nonsense out there on the internet, and that is fine. But if you try to disguise your nonsense as Brazilian jiu jitsu, you are asking for trouble.

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