It’s a Vicious Circle

Monday afternoon I trained and then worked Monday and Tuesday night.  My oldest son was robbed at gunpoint Wednesday (He wasn’t hurt, kept his cool and gave them his wallet and cell phone).  My youngest son’s 20th birthday was Thursday.  Tonight I have to go back to work.  Needless to say, I didn’t get much training in this week.  However, I did review the videos from the tournament and found that I’m stuck in a “vicious circle”.

A little over a year after transitioning from standup to BJJ, I still don’t feel like I’m doing BJJ.  In my mind’s eye, I’m flailing about like a fish out of water.  To overcome this feeling I needed to identify areas that I am deficient and work to improve them.  That was one of the reasons for competing.  It’s very hard to identify one’s weak points when you are training with people who are twice your size, ten times stronger, and way more experienced.  A competition where I was pitted against my peers was definitely the first step.  Because of the competition I was able to identify my technical weaknesses.  First, I found that I completely suck when stuck in someone’s guard, no matter their size or strength.  Second, I found the “vicious circle”.  The “vicious circle” bothers me more than my lack of guard defense.

My goal at the competition was to get to side control and work submissions.  My first fight I did get to side control, but she managed to transition to half guard.  In my mind I was thinking, “That’s OK, I’ll let her distract herself with maintaining half guard and I’ll go for her arm.”  I didn’t seek a dominate position such as side control or mount.  Because of this, I was unable to control her body, and therefore, unable to complete the americana or straight-arm lock.  If I had taken the time to establish a solid side control, I would have been able to finish my first submission attempt.

This realization made me analyze myself and my rolling habits.  I found that I rarely if ever seek dominate positions.  So I asked myself why do I never seek the dominate positions?  The answer was that I’m not comfortable / confident in dominate positions.  I’m not comfortable / confident there because I’m not accustomed to working from these positions.  I’m not accustomed to working from these positions, because I rarely seek to obtain these positions.  It’s a “vicious circle” that I have found myself.  I have to break this circle, and to do that I have to change my mindset.

Why does the “vicious circle” bother me most?  I think because it indicates a defensive attitude, which is a mental weakness.  How do I change this?  Make a plan and stick to it.  Let my instructors know about the “vicious circle”.  Which they probably already know about and have probably tried to fix it.  I’m just very hard-headed.  OK, so first stop being hard-headed, at least some of the time.  Second, listen to my instructors.  Third, make a conscious effort to obtain dominate positions, specifically mount.  Fourth, escape guard.

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3 Responses to It’s a Vicious Circle

  1. Pingback: Squish, Tap and Repeat | Combat Sports Review Blog

  2. Kintanon says:

    This is actually very natural.

    When you first start out, especially if you are smaller than most of the people you work with, you will spend most of your time on your back. Your entire first year of BJJ should be spent worrying about how to get out of bad positions. Escape from under side control, escape from under mount, etc… Once you can regain guard from those positions reliably you start working to stop people from passing your guard. That’s the rest of white belt. You just work on being able to prevent the guard pass.
    It was a solid 2.5 years before I started truly being offensive with my guard and working to sweep, and almost another year before I really started being comfortable working on top. So it’s only been the last 4 months or so that I’ve really been developing my top game.
    Don’t expect to be able to successfully work your top game against anyone with more than half your training time. At the beginner level everyone has better defense than offense, so you’re generally going to have a harder time breaking guard, passing guard, and maintaining top position compared to holding guard and escaping on the bottom. It’s the natural progression.
    As Sun Tzu said, “First become invincible, then destroy your opponents invicibility.”
    And as “Bear” Bryant says, “Defense wins championships.”

    So concentrate on your defense for now. Own your defense. Find Damian Maia’s “Preventing the Guard Pass” video from Science of Jiujitsu and watch it a dozen times. Once you can escape from under mount and side control against every white belt in the club and some of the blue belts, Once you are stopping all of the whitebelts from passing your guard, THEN is the time to really crank down on learning your sweeps and attacks.

    That doesn’t mean ignore your attacks completely, but they aren’t your priority for the first 1-2 years.

  3. @Kintanon – That helps so much. Thank you. You just filled a big black hole. What you just said explains the progression of a white belt. I have been trying to find some sort of list or article to explain that to me. Now I have my very own copy. 🙂 Now I know what I need to focus on and in which order. That is such a big relief. Thank you, again.

    Take care,

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