Sorry for the delay in blogging. Last week I got hit with a pesky winter cold which derailed “The Train’s” training schedule, and business for me has been a little bit crazy as of late.
In the wake of Helio Gracie’s passing, I’ve been fortunate to have listened to some interviews on-line by people who actually knew, and trained with Professor Gracie. One of the underlying themes of these interviews has been Helio’s great attention toward developing an art that is solely based on technique whereby much smaller individuals can survive against much larger opponents. This sounds good to all of us, but I was struck by how profound this philosophy is while training with Darren Branch, my Jiu Jitsu coach this week. Darren’s really been on me to be much more fluid and less rigid when “rolling”. Darren and I have a pretty good relationship, and he knows that I respond well to harsh criticism at times, and this is often hard for him to give.
Darren and I had a private training session yesterday where I spent some time working some half-guard positions that I have wanted to review as well as a sweep from the “butterfly guard”. Of course, we had a spirited “roll” for about the last 30 minutes of the private lesson. He stopped me a few minutes into the “roll” and was pretty emphatic about me “breathing”, “relaxing”, and being more fluid with all of my movements. I’m generally pretty loose when I’m doing well in a sparring session, but at the first sign of trouble, I tense up, and as I like to call it, I “caveman” through the problem. “Cavemanning”, as defined by the LTrain, is the process of throwing all of what I have learned out the window and relying on brute strength to muscle through a predicament. In one of the interviews that I listened to, the interviewee was pretty adamant about Helio’s dislike for such an alternative, going as far as saying that “relying on one’s physical strength is not what I develop or teach”.
Those words coupled with Darren’s mild annoyance with me really helped drive that point home yesterday, and so I tried it—I just relaxed and focused on thinking about Jiu Jitsu principles and movements rather than “not tapping”. The result was an excellent “roll” with one of my favorite training partners. Ironically, I didn’t feel gassed at all after the “session”. My cardio is pretty good, and I generally can hang in there longer than a lot of folks who are quite a bit younger than me, but I really felt different yesterday. I totally felt as if I could go a lot longer, for I didn’t feel like I spent a great deal of energy or strength at all. Of course, I still had a good “LTrain sweat” going—but it felt so different yesterday. I’m out of town today, which is why I worked in the private lesson, but I can’t wait to really “tune up the band” tomorrow night and really start throwing all caution to the wind and focus on more fluidity, movement, and overall BJJ activity no matter what position I’m playing. As much as it pains me sometimes, the days of “Cavejitsu” are coming to an end—they have to if I expect to advance my overall GJJ game.
Larry, the LTrain