Friendly, Competitive Training Since 2014

The promise of the Martial Arts is to use knowledge to safely handle uncivilized behavior.

Do you think of yourself as a reasonable person? To what degree should a civilized person be educated in handling people? Notice that I asked about handling people and not hurting people. Can you handle a 5 year old without losing your cool? Why not an adult? There is no logic in escalating a situation when you could address that situation without anyone being injured.

De La Riva guard is a classic example of picking an angle and controlling the distance.

Are you an adult with responsibilities?

I’m glad to hear that. This is not an excuse to avoid training, but is an important idea to keep in mind when you are training. Sustainable training is imperative. Training partners are not disposable. Many untrained people like to point out that they can bite, scratch, and do other things that are not considered fair game. But how many times are you going to let someone practice these things? You can only practice an eye gauge at full resistance twice. Most responsible adults avoid the possible CTE that comes with getting hit at high repetition. I would suggest building your game plan with things that another reasonable adult will collaborate with you on, and can be tested to an appropriate degree of resistance. Human interaction is complicated. This will require time and deliberate practice.

We train with this guy, but I’m not asking him to hit me.

What exactly are we asking people to do?

Can you control a person without hurting either them or yourself? Simply put, if you and another person are both trying to accomplish this you are probably leaning towards Bjj. Many young people tell me that they played “tap out” with their friends as kids. They described it as MMA, but without the striking. But they still looked for submissions. We all study carefully exactly how to control positions and safely get a decisive tap. It’s the maximum a kid thinks he can get away with while staying out of trouble. This transfers very naturally into appropriate adult behavior for obvious reasons. As adults, we study a hierarchy of positions and understand situations in significantly better detail.

Half Guard is the most common position. You will want a workable plan on top and bottom.

You can learn more about the system by reading How do the Points Work in Bjj? A well defined point system gives us a clear path to navigate the positions. Generally, we are trying to stay on top and pass the guard.

Friendly and competitive huh?

When someone comes into a gym for the first time, it’s hard to know what to expect. I believe that we should all be constantly working to keep a balance. We need to be competitive enough to demonstrate that our system works. But we need to be friendly enough that new people feel comfortable joining with no prior experience. Our competitors are generally more relaxed training partners. A competition is a place to look for an even match. In the gym, we understand that our training partners offer a piece of the puzzle. A good competitor doesn’t care about winning or losing as much as safely improving themselves and those around them. It can be easy to mistake gym rolls for an even competition in the absence of a good competitive experience. I often say that I am not trying to be the best in Kansas City.

In a dynamic situation like this, there is usually a detail that serves as a tipping point. Understanding this will make both parties better the next time they find themselves here.

We all had a first day.

Everyone had a first day, and remembers what it was like. The movements are alien, and many people may or may not notice that we are there. But we all understand. You are not born knowing how to walk. Everyone wants to see you succeed. Most of the people in the gym are proud of what they have learned, and will gladly share. Don’t be afraid to ask anyone anything. Sometimes, I need to remind our friends that not everyone is ready for all of the information at once. It can be easy to overshoot our enthusiasm. You are also allowed to ask for some time to digest what you are currently working on.

I strongly suggest asking the upper belts for advice. This is a Brown Belt in his natural habitat with an apprentice.

We need varied looks at the game to get better.

When Cast Iron Bjj first started, it was 3-5 of us. Everyone knew that we needed more training partners. But we still got a lot done because of the small group. As the room fills up, funny things happen. Some people learn how to feel comfortable in a crowd. Others learn about people clustering into groups of similar people. It’s natural for bigger people to want to train with other bigger people, along with any other naturally occurring similarities. Friend groups cluster and slowly develop. I personally think it’s a good thing, but we need to remember that new people bring new ideas. Always be ready to learn from anyone.

A good day has a variety of training partners, and everyone gets better while training sustainably.
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