Sunday, March 25, 2012

Always Watching

The instructors see everything.  One of the more subtle characteristics I've noticed about training in BJJ is how in-tune instructors are with the school.  This applies on a broader level in terms of  general vibe with the finger on the pulse of the team as a whole and on a specific level of each individual person training at that school.  It is a unique aspect of training that I've come to appreciate very much.  They push you harder when you're doing well and pick you up and dust you off when you are struggling.

Even when you don't think they are watching, they are.  And even if they don't directly see something, they will inevitably hear about it or it see it themselves soon enough. I liken it to a poker playing picking up every tell and action that's displayed at the table and acting accordingly.  I recall two distinct examples where I've experienced this first hand. 

Last summer, I was going through an intense period of training.  My momentum was good and I was hoping to get back into competition mode soon.  As such, my results began to show during live training and I was able to catch some guys that I had been having trouble with previously.  One guy in particular had been giving me a rough time ever since I started training with him and this day, and after I found myself on the successful end of one of our rolls, I looked up to see Jojo, on the other side of the mats looking directly at me.  He gave me an intent and acknowledging nod.  It was a quick moment that spoke very loudly to me.  He was aware of my struggles against this one particular teammate and immediately recognized the success I had just experienced.  He took me aside later and encouraged me to keep up the good work.  Similarly, I've often seen Jojo specifically fine tune other people's games, showing them moves that will fit well in their repertoire.  Jojo will often take time out of his personal schedule to work individually with students when he feels they need some one-on-one instruction.

I had the incredible good fortune to train with Bruno Tostes during my time in Albany several years ago. My game advanced incredibly during my time in Albany, but there was one day were things were just not going right.  I was getting caught by moves I felt I could have easily avoided and I felt I was not rolling to the best of my abilities.  My frustration must have shown because immediately after one of my rolls, Bruno asked me to roll with him.  One thing I've noticed about great instructors like Jojo and Bruno is that they know exactly when and how to roll with their students - whether to work with him to build certain parts of his technique, work him hard to develop his cardio or aggression, (or to spank them to bring them down a few pegs :) ).  In this case, Bruno rolled with me to regain my confidence.  He rolled with me in a way that allowed me to go for certain moves and remind myself that, in spite of my frustrations, it's not as if my technique went out the window.  Furthermore, after class he thanked me for rolling with him, remarking that we had a good flow in our roll and that my technique felt smooth.  HE thanked ME! I'm not going to lie, it was really, really awesome to hear and it was what I needed to hear at exactly the right time and he encouraged me to keep it up. 

I could go on with more examples like this that I have experienced over the years.  I would be very interested in hearing about some of your experiences like this.  So, please do share!!

Thank you for stopping by and happy training!


1 comment:

  1. Love it. My training right now is more focused on boxing, and I have examples from there, but your post reminds me of my brief BJJ training stint several years ago.

    My background was limited to high school wrestling and a devotion to watching MMA. During my introduction, I was getting increasingly frustrated by my inability to catch my rolling partners(in hindsight, understandable given no previous training) and tapping roughly every 45 seconds.

    Our instructor, who I am ashamed to admit I have forgotten his name, recognized this and had me roll with his assistant while he watched intently and pointed out easily correctable mistakes I was making.

    They focused on identifying what my training partner was going for and how to defend and counter specific moves. While this may sound rudimentary, it was absolutely critical in changing my perception of the classes from a glorified punching bag, to an enjoyable give and take.

    Sadly, I moved from the area and had to leave the gym and have since turned my attention to boxing. When I do reenter the BJJ fold however, and it is only a matter of time, it is due in large part to the individual attention paid by these instructors.