the last 2 months or so have been pretty awesome. my workload has been very light and i have been able to get some great supplemental training in. this couldn’t have come at a better time for me, considering my wife is going to go into labor literally any minute now. as awesome as it is going to be to have a new baby boy in the house, its definitely going to grind my BJJ to a halt for at least a few weeks. i have been getting in between 6-7 classes or sparring sessions per week and i feel like my game has improved so much just in recent months. its quite amazing how important mat time and experience really is in BJJ. my “normal” schedule since my wife got pregnant again has been 3 classes per week. taking 2 and teaching 1. i was starting to feel almost like a plateau in my progress until i stepped it up. this week felt like a pinnacle so far for me. friday i had two classes and a crazy intense hour of rolling with a very determined miss michelle welti, followed by a rough saturday morning class. i’m so incredibly sore and tired today, and still i cant stop thinking about BJJ.
unfortunately for my progress, not only is the baby coming, but my current jobsite is going to be finished this week, forcing me to go back to a more structured schedule at work, and no more definite day classes. there will be some here and there, but i wont know it until the day of. now, with that being said, once things smooth out on the homefront, i should at least be able to go back to 3 night classes and saturday class. that will be nice. i really feel like 4 is the magic number, anything less doesn’t cut it. whether it be teaching or taking, that amount of focused mat time seems to work for me. hopefully ill be able to get back into a good schedule quickly, considering a newborn baby requires very little attention. but its not the boy im worried about at this point, its the little girl who is jumping headfirst into her terrible twos!
people come up to me all the time and talk to me about teaching, offering condolences for not being able to take enough classes sometimes when our instructor is out. but there is definitely something to be said for teaching a technique. i have had this discussion with my instructor a few times. teaching a move makes you take a look at yourself and ask “how well do i really know this technique?” you have to be able to be comfortable enough with your own knowledge to answer specific questions about different aspects of the technique, like “what if your opponent does ___?” “why isn’t this working for me?” having the understanding to break down a movement and confidence that you know what you are talking about is paramount. whats also important is enthusiasm. when you have a lot of success with something, you really want to pass on that success to your peers as well. you end up learning more about the specific details in a single technique by teaching it to others sometimes than when you learn it yourself. now, im not saying i would just watch something on youtube and show it in class. i will only show things that i have learned and drilled many times myself, and used, with success in live sparring. i also greatly respect my instructors approach and style, and try to keep in time with his teachings. i wouldn’t show something that i know he wouldn’t, it has to be consistent in order to be effective.
Then there is always the debate on when to teach… When I started, I would not have felt comfortable learning from a blue belt. I know many people on forums still feel the same way. I don’t see a problem with it anymore since I have a much better understanding of the belt structure at my school. Other schools seem to reward people with belts due to time spent and how well they do against other white belts, not so much based on how the person has grasped not only the basic fundamentals, but how well they can implement them as they are needed. I think at blue belt you should not only have a firm knowledge of fundamentals, but should also be starting to build a more advanced game. Advanced guard work, guard retention, positions, etc, and also be incorporating them into their game regularly and starting to develop their own “style”. Are you going to play the quick explosive style, the smooth technical style, the aggressive heavy style, etc? I feel that once you have begun this part of the journey, you should have a strong enough basics game that teaching should be easy. For a white belt looking to get some color, I think some of these points should be food for thought. Ask yourself this as well, “if I got my ____belt today, and had to compete at that belt tomorrow, would I be ready?” If you are unsure, consider yourself not ready. Think about the positions that other ____ belts are playing. If you understand them, and know how to deal with them offensively and defensively, and not panic when somebody gets you in x, de la riva, deep half, spider, quarter, or any of the many other guards out there, it might be time. But remember, if your instructor doesn’t believe it, then there’s a good chance it’s not time yet. Keep working, have fun, and don’t stress about some silly belt color.
Remember, jiu jitsu is not a race, it’s a marathon.
i love my lazy sundays off, as exhausted and sore as i am, it gives me lots of time to think about the many things i have learned through the week.
to be continued, im sure…