American readers: Happy Independence Day! Non-American readers: Happy weekend!
Jiu Jiu’s Note: Big news in my household: we are NOT moving this fall. My husband’s orders were rescinded, as the band he was going to move to is shutting down. Most likely in response to this amendment which would ban military bands from playing any social gigs. We will stay another year in Virginia, then our next post is to be determined. I will be training with Diego Bispo both at Diego Bispo Academy and at MAMMA’s Boys…
The first week of summer was hectic. We enrolled stepson in a BJJ kids camp at Diego Bispo Academy, and I helped out! It was Monday through Friday, 9am to 1pm. In addition to helping out the kids, there were lots of bits of advice I gave out that I think is helpful even for adults.
1. IT’S OKAY TO CRY, BUT DON’T DO IT ON THE MATS
I’ve been guilty of this myself. When I got my black eye, I sat in the middle of the mats and cried. After that, though, I made it a point to cry in the locker room, away from the mat.
What happens when you cry on the mats: things stop. People get worried. It feels weird and callus to just go on and ignore it. It’s normal to want to check on someone. It’s also normal to want to be alone when you cry.
What you should do: Just get off the mats. Excuse yourself quickly. Walk off the mats. Have a good cry. Tears have been shown to have positive benefits: getting rid of negative chemicals, reducing stress, etc. Come back when you’re ready and steady.
2. DON’T ROLL WHILE YOU’RE MAD
What happens when you roll while mad: people get hurt, either you or your partner. When you’re mad, it’s easy to interpret normal partner actions as intentional and aggressive. When you’re mad, it’s easy to respond with more force and aggression. I’ve never had a good outcome when I rolled while mad. Instead, I got more frustrated.
What you should do: Excuse yourself from training. Tap out, say “I need a break” or “I need a minute.” You don’t need to explain that you’re pissed off. Calm yourself down and roll when you feel more normal. That might mean that you’re done for the day.
3. HOW YOU TREAT YOUR PARTNERS AFFECTS HOW YOU ROLL
Jiu jitsu is a very physical sport. If there is someone who you don’t like, or who doesn’t like you, there is still a very good possibility that you’ll be partnered with them at some point because jiu jitsu is still a very small sport.
What happens when you treat your partner negatively: It makes rolling personal. It escalates the negativity, which directly translates into a worse experience on the mats. It also means that it’s unfortunately easy to go harder to get back at someone, or to feel like you’re physically being bullied if the person is going harder and stronger than you want.
What you should do: If you know you can’t get along and you just hate that sonuvabitch, treat them like a stranger. That is to say: Don’t be rude. Greet them, say your pleases and thank yous, don’t go extra hard, and smile when you see them. These are manners. If you are somewhat neutral, do the same, but engage in friendly small talk. In both cases, you might consider asking them to do you a favor. It’s been shown that if you ask someone who hates you to do you a favor, they end up viewing you more favorably.
4. BE THE KIND OF PARTNER YOU WANT TO HAVE
Oh man. Kids were HORRIBLE about this! Boys would get all weird when paired with girls, the little girls would be overly dramatic with their “ow ow ow”s, kids would take a million years to do their drills, kids would actively resist while their partners were trying to drill, and when rolling, they’d pwn the new kid.
What happens when you act weird to your partner: They have a sucky time. This means you are actively contributing to their negative experience in jiu jitsu. It means you may find it hard to find a partner if you act weird with some people.
What you should do: Have empathy for your partner. Don’t waste their time. Try to be helpful, try to let them use their time effectively, etc. If you’re partnered with the weird/different kid, treat them as you’d like to be treated at a new jiu jitsu gym. We don’t always get our ideal partners, so we should remember that we are someone’s less-than-ideal partner as well.
5. GIVE YOUR PARTNER THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT
It happens again and again – online, in person – someone says “They did it on purpose!!!” It’s true for adults as well as kids.
What happens if you don’t give your partner the benefit of the doubt: You will build up animosity, convinced that they intentionally tried to slam you/hurt you. You will get frustrated and mad. You will make an enemy.
What you should do: Remind yourself that people often don’t realize how hard they’re going, and even though you might feel like you’re matching them, you may be contributing to them going even harder. Remind yourself that new folks (ie. white belts) aren’t as physically in control of their bodies as blue+ belts, who have generally been doing this longer. Remind yourself that accidents do happen and you’re probably going to accidentally hurt someone at some point. Finally, communicate with your partner. Use your words. “Can you go lighter?” “My shoulder hurts – please go slowly on shoulder locks.”
Jiu Jiu’s Question: What advice was helpful for you when you started? What advice do you tend to give (or get) a lot? Please share in the comments below!
Hi!! I am need of advice.
At our small small gym, I am the only adult female. And well, the only one who does gi. We are trying to get more people in,but the culture here is the problem( Iive in Taiwan).
So our coach does a class for just me,though it is a beginner class,but he knows I love bjj. Do youbuabe any suggestions for doing things at home to help me? Being a mom of 5 and working, sometimes,like this past month,it just doesn’t work out to go. But hopefully back on the mats soon. Anyway,ideas of ar home alone things?
The most common advice I give is ‘relax’, as everybody always goes too hard when starting out. Most common advice I get is probably (and I guess to an extent, conversely) ‘be more aggressive’, which as you know is problematic for me: I really, really hate aggression.
What I’m actually doing at the moment is trying to follow my own advice. I think I’m pretty good at staying relaxed with lower belts and people my size or smaller, but I have a bad habit of clingining on and straining if I’m put in bad positions by people my level/size or better/bigger. So I’ve been making more of a conscious effort to let stuff go,instead of ending the roll with screamingly sore arms. I.e., if somebody has almost passed and the only reason they haven’t completed it yet is because I have a death grip on their trouser leg, I have been telling myself to simply let it go and try to adapt. That hopefully means I can learn something about how they pass (and therefore how I might be able to stop it happening next time).
This is great advice, although I remember when I started, I didn’t understand what it really meant. When I’d relax, I’d basically go limp. However, I think what ended up helping more is to focus on my breath. If I’m breathing super hard, I’m working too hard and straining too hard.
Ah, the death grip. It’s hard to know when to give it up and when to hold on. I think it’s just something that takes time – and you’ve helped confirm that notion.