Hello friends, foes and other hoes. A few of my closer friends have asked why I haven’t written anything for a bloody long while.
I’ve been pretty busy scrapping on the floor as much as I possibly can, but the honest answer is that I normally write when I’m in a darker place mentally with my grappling; if things are going shitty – it’s far easier to write something from a self-deprecating point of view. If they’re going well – it’d be all rainbows and unicorns – and that’s just not what I’m about, son.
When I started this blog shite, it was a way of venting my frustrations. There was also some catalouging of progress, etc. but now, I’m in a better place more often, so my frustrations are squashed when I next train. If you get my drift.
With that said, I wouldn’t be writing this pish if I didn’t have something to vent.
On a weekly basis I spend as much time on the mats as possible, sharpening my own skills, coaching and doing my best to positively influence others. I will not lie – This can be a fucking grind. I’m hardly a ray of positivity, and tend to lead in what could be called an informal manner. Bit of a bastard, innit.
The balance between training and coaching is a difficult one to strike, and people are vampires. You’ll quite often see coaches get bogged down by their own game, because they’re so focused on everyone else in the room (one of my head coaches is guilty of this, even though he’s a technical monster – you know who you are, you fuck).
When this isn’t your main gig, and you have to work for a living, being sensible in your approach to training is vital. I only have so much time in the week and with that it’s an almighty balancing act. Watching, thinking and doing Jiu-Jitsu is only enough if you’re investing your time wisely.
I’ve taken the following approach; I attend three classes a week and teach one class. I’ll usually try and muscle in something additional to that too, a bit of extra sparring for instance. That only accounts for a linear view of the learning / coaching split.
Being a senior grade comes with an expectation to lead by example and to impart that fabled ‘wisdom’ they talk about in the movies. So quite often, I’ll be coaching within classes in an assistive manner to the lead coach – or one on one with various students. My primary focus is still learning, and it always will be. I want to make it clear that when I get that illusive black belt in the years to come, I’m not going to fuck off into the sunset. I’ll still be in classes regularly, learning like a dirty little white belt – I’ll have just been here longer.
In addition to the learning and coaching, I try to roll as often as I can. I find it interesting to see what approaches people have to certain techniques. We’re all built differently, so there’s micro-adjustments that we all make to try and get shit to work. Some people kill you slowly and methodically. Others are bulldozers. Some wrestle. Some invert. Some people are straight up ninjas. Techniques are only guidelines in Jiu-Jitsu. It’s you that turns them into a game.
Over the years, I’ve invested a fair few hours into this hobby of mine.
My own progress aside, in return for my invested time I’ve seen countless people progress into absolute warriors, but I have also seen people come and go. That accounts for great talents, average Joes and the truly abysmal.
Of those that stick it out, again there’s a split of great talent, average Joes and somehow a small bunch of ham-fisted thundercunts (bless their hearts).
With that in mind, knowing who to invest your time into is difficult, because you just don’t know whether they’re going to stick it out. It’s an absolute fucking cunt of a thing. Everyone’s all about that #JiuJitsuLife throwing up selfies and shakkas when it suits their social media, but let’s face it our turnover rate at white and blue belt is bloody embarrassing in this Martial Art of ours. People can, and often do very quickly fade away into obscurity. That’s not to say I don’t love a bit of self-indulgent social media, but I train, so it’s allowed.
Having a pool of people you can rely on is seemingly hard to come by, even with a fairly large team. People break, they holiday, they family, they relax, and at one point or another I have been guilty of all of these things. Life somehow finds a way to ruin grappling. Let’s not forget I used to bin training pretty frequently for a new game on the XboxStation. Don’t be THAT guy.
I haven’t yet worked out how the hell we’re meant to get people to stick this shit out. I’ve seen so many brilliant grapplers dissipate into nothingness over the years. I also often look back on people with a what could have been mentality, that gets me down. I can control my own training, and I can try and make my own classes engaging, fun, whatever – but sometimes it just seems like we’re fighting a losing battle. People are going to quit, because people are shit. Also, there are people that you haven’t invested enough time into in the early days, that have pushed through the shit and are now high level blues and purples. What’s all that about?
As good as our current roster is, I don’t feel I can genuinely rely on a lot of these goons to stick around and continue to drink from the Jiu-Jitsu Kool-Aid.
My biggest worry currently is whether those that are on the cusp of new belts are about to fuck off into the ether forever. This is commonplace in Jiu-Jitsu, and one of the great ignored realities. I’ve walked a fine line recently, trying to ensure I’ve been good with the students and I’m not ignoring people or just rolling and engaging with the same people over and over again, as was the norm in the good old days – but I just don’t know if that’s enough.
I felt compelled to write this so that you know where I’m coming from. If you’re not engaged, please don’t just give up. Speak to a coach, speak to your training partners. There are slumps in this thing. Jiu-Jitsu isn’t easy. It’s a bloody grind with very little loot at the end for us hobbyists. Let’s try not to lose any more people from our fabled little Martial Art, stick this shit out and all be really terrible black belts together. I need people to roll with in the next god knows however many years.