I forgot to write about a moment at my gym not too long ago, but this is definitely worth reading. I have stated before that I have been rolling for a few years now, approaching my 5th year, that’s half a decade! Now, when I first started at Red River BJJ (November 2011) I had No-gi and MMA experience so I already a decent foundation but there was a lingering problem… I had the biggest ego you can imagine. I knew an armbar from a knee bar and triangles were second nature, but when you slip into the Gi, the world is completely different. While I knew I had a good foundation in No-gi the Gi was kicking my butt, literally! My instructor would tool me to no end and at times I would just blurt out, “I hate my Gi, it keeps choking me”! Two years later solid training in my Gi and I would be promoted to Blue belt, that is four years total training. While I had many seminars and private lessons along the way, the one lesson I would learn is probably the most important, because it encompasses my perception of how much I have changed and how far I have come in the Jiu-Jitsu game.
The juniors class was getting ready for a tournament and I have been in and out of the gym maybe a handful of times in between my personal (mommy duty) time. I was asked to roll with the senior junior on the mats, someone whom I have rolled with before and once went all out on this kid and caused them to emotionally break down. That moment, I realized I messed up… in that moment I realized that using brute muscle and weight was not the way to roll. In tournaments this is a key part of your game, but in general in your own gym against younger opponents this is a No-No. #1 I did not help him at all, #2 I possibly hurt him (yes that is apart of the game, but there is a difference between rolling and smashing), #3 as a blue belt, well… one word: Douchebag. I went home after that night and thought about what I did and why it was not effective and how I needed to change the way I roll with everyone, strategy and technique… This moment left a lasting impression on me because I definitely did not want to be that guy/girl in the gym who is a douchebag smasher.
A few months back, I was asked to roll with the same kid, and this time I was able to understand what I can do to help him, what I can do to not smash and play as if I was their size or their opponent. We were rolling really well, setting up a sub, defending, escaping, starting over… and then the kid transitioned smoothly into an armbar. My thought immediately was to stack the shit out of him and escape, but I had a moral conflict so we sat there for a few seconds, while I thought about the next step. My thoughts were if I was his opponent would this be set enough to submit? Is he in good position to defend the stack? He had everything lined up, it was beautiful and so I decided to take my pride and my ego and stuff it….. I gave him the submission. This was probably one of the most difficult task I have ever had to do…. because I do enjoy my pride and my ego.
As a blue belt, I think it is vital to the rest of the team that you can lower your own pride and ego and accept a good submission (even when you know, you could over power or smash your opponent). In turn this was a tremendous confidence booster for the junior student and that is what Jiu-Jitsu is about… helping each teammate to achieve their best, ego and pride set aside and acknowledge the art. Along the way, I’m sure someone gave me a confidence booster submission, it just had to happen. What I was able to give that one kid will be with him for life, because it was a win… an “I did it”, and that leads to an “I CAN DO IT”! Try to remember a moment on the mats when you lost and lost and lost, and lost some more… well that’s because you didn’t, someone at some point in time saw the moment that your technique was spot on and they acknowledged it.
My own personal experience, I know the last time I rolled with a black belt he (Robson Moura) rolled with me in the same manner and acknowledged the technique, and I knew what he was doing… that is a lesson I took and reapplied. The benefits of this are monumental to the continual success of each student and it is an absolute confidence builder! You have to be able to set aside your own pride and ego to help the next generation or even fellow teammates, however, this is a lot easier said than done. I was a toughie, and it took probably a year and a half for my ego to be totally broken, but I think once a person gets to that point a light goes off and Jiu-Jitsu becomes a whole different game… I view the sport differently than I did when I started, there is just so much you can learn from this sport, physically and mentally. I love rolling to no end, there is so much more than submissions, escapes, sweeps and defense… it will change your life if you let it.
~If you are in Wichita Falls, TX or just passing through please visit Red River BJJ and stop by for a class!!~
* Remember, you do not have to be GREAT to start, but you have to START to be Great!*