How to Do Jiu-jisu (a listicle)

I know, here we are almost a year into the Covid pandemic, we’ve survived this far, we’ve just got to get the majority of us vaccinated now. In the meantime we struggle to keep classes going and hope for the best. The old style open mat work outs are still on hold with me, there’s no sense in gym mixing right now. We’ve come this far, it’s just a bit more to be safe.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how new folks end up beating the crap out of one another’s faces when they play. It’s often disturbing to watch the desire of new folks in the guard trying to pin down arms, and running sideways like tethered dogs chased by bees. I keep trying to imagine there’s a way I can say “just relax!” to people that’ll actually reach enough of their neural pathways to instigate a motor response . . . but, I seem to be fooling myself. The reality is, like reaching into flames to see how hot fire is, the newbies must smash one another’s jaws, and nut one another with the frequency of hitting potholes on NC backroads. At any rate, here’s my short list of somewhat sarcastic thoughts for assisting in your jiu-jitsu goals:

  1. Come to class. Seems self-evident, yet I’ve got people who complain that I neglect them, people I haven’t seen in class in months to years. I am apparently not doing much for them. My friends, if you’re not in the class you’re not getting my attention. I can’t help you with the rolling you did someplace else. I am not interested in some gym hero story you want to tell me about this time you went and worked out at so and so’s macho muscle BJJ academy. Sorry, I need to see you working in person before I can help you at all. PLUS, the more you can be on the mat the better you get. It’s a simple direct relation. It’s more direct than gravity (which is an inverse proportion), get on the mat, and you will incrementally improve.
  2. Patiently drill. Drill the moves the teacher teaches you. Your train of thought and your interest in how many moves you can come up with (like alternatives in a rhyming dictionary) exercise your memory, you’re in class to exercise your techniques. Techniques require muscle memory to improve. Drill the moves, do ten before you even ask a question.
  3. RELAX. Relaxing allows you to perform, it also takes the tension out of the wound up springs your arms and legs become when you’re tense. Those springs have a habit of finding faces and nuts to fire into – plus, when you relax you remember things, your mind flows, your improvisation skills can come into play. Jiu-jitsu is improvisation, you can’t make your opponent’s game into a flow chart before he shows you what his plans are. Sorry. There are no process lists for everyone you’re going to run into. You must learn to jam like a jazz artist. When Wynton Marsalis points at you for a solo, you can’t just tap out.
  4. Stop worrying, in relation to that, don’t panic. Fear is the mind-killer! Ovid wrote that worry is a useless energy, instead use patience and toughness. Say it with me, “patience and toughness”. This will get you through everything. We’ve known about it for more than 2000 years. It’s why we’re still here.
  5. Don’t watch instruction videos watch the black belts fighting at the Mundials. Just collecting more and more moves makes you a move recognizer, and not better at jiu-jitsu. Watch the jiu-jitsu you already practice being used to advantage. Plus, too many instructional videos are simply commercial advertisements for careering kids and will not improve your skills. Watching is 100% NOT doing.

OK my mat friends see you soon!

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