Still no kibble.

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Violence and the risk of violence goes up when people are insecure. Remember always that weapons embolden the insecure. –Rory Miller

Open mat at Edmonds.

Started with Georgette, no-gi…. she trounced me utterly and repeatedly. Found myself in that frustrated space… that one where I just need to call it a day, because both my performance and my mental state just go downhill rapidly from there.

Note that once in this place, I should really just VACATE the gym immediately, because if I sit on the wall, people bug me to keep going. If I beg off, it starts to look like I’m pouting like an asshole because I got tapped. Which I guess in a way I am. I think everybody could tell that I was frustrated, which frustrates me all the more because I am trying to hide it. Today, no disasters ensued from continuing under duress, but next time should just go. Haven’t really found a good way to deal with that state of mind, but continuing is usually not advisable. It’s the Point Of Negative Returns.

Anyway, I let Cindy use me as a dummy to do some drills and invent some new fiendish and painful contortions. Then she was rolling with Georgette, which she probably shouldn’t be doing with her shoulder injury, but you can’t keep her off the mat.

I rolled with a purple belt guy that I don’t know, who was flow rolling and doing some catch and release. Then Craig, whom I enjoy rolling with and haven’t seen in a long time: more flowing and catch and release, he wore his gi and let me let me wear my no-gi gear to make it marginally more even. Those were both kind of fun, even though my self-sabotaging mind kept flagellating me all the while with its I-wish-I-didn’t-suck-so-bad and why-do-you-bother-to-keep-trying-to-do-this refrains.

As a scientist, I am very aware that I am battling a very basic concept of psychology that just really can’t be battled: it is very hard to keep doing something in the face of a lack of positive reinforcement. My “higher function” brain can yell all it wants that this is actually useful and good for me and progress *IS* actually being made… but it feels like I’ve been pressing a lever repeatedly for five years (longer, if you count all of my MA experience and not just BJJ) and just never getting any kibble, ever. No rat would continue to press the lever this long. My inner rat is like, “WTF is wrong with you???!??”

I continue to not know what to do about this issue, and I continue to be very frustrated and discouraged about it.

Georgette pointed out a couple of things.

1)I keep giving up my back. She rightly parsed this as, “Most of your regular training partners are going easy on you, and failing to be heavy/tight enough to prevent you from squirming (technique-less-ly) out of back mount.” It makes me feel better that I had made this very same observation and come to the very same conclusion the very first time I rolled with her. At least I can see and interpret my problems, even if I don’t do so well at actually fixing them. I really need people to stop giving me slack here, as it just encourages my sloppy habits. Note that this is neither a happy nor a fun thing to face. I asked her to keep taking my back and subbing me, and to make it hurt a little.

2)She wants me to put more weight on her feet/knees etc while I’m doing standing passes. This is not the first time I have been told this, but as I tried it again, I was reminded of why I don’t do it- it feels way too vulnerable. Once I start leaning on the knees, as soon as the opponent pulls hir knees back, I’m going to face plant. Georgette says, “don’t let them pull their knees back.” I feel that there is no person on the mat older than four whom I could actually physically PREVENT from pulling their feet or knees back.

This leads me to a principle that has been a cornerstone of my game since I started: “You don’t have to move the other guy, you only have to move YOU.” Which I still feel is golden wisdom, for us teeny people. You can’t even begin to deal with a 200lb man on top of you in side control without embracing that idea. Otherwise you are just lying there helplessly crushed for eternity. And yet I begin to wonder if I have taken a good thing too far.

I have been aware for a while that I work under an assumption that I simply cannot move my opponent nor make hir do anything. This leaves me with a severely limited game that consists solely of 1)reacting to what the opponent does to me, and 2)losing all my options as soon as the opponent starts restricting my movement. I simply do not even TRY anything- ever- that involves moving the opponent, or making hir do something, or otherwise affecting hir. Like sweeps. And most subs. I escape. That’s all I do, because that’s all I *can* do that doesn’t really involve addressing my opponent in any confrontational way- because of course as soon as we go head to head on something, I am obviously going to lose. It’s not a fight. It’s not a contest. I’m not trying to beat anyone. I’m not even truly engaging them. I’m just letting them attack me while I try to escape.
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Ouch.
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Okay, I’m not sure what to do about this…. and it obviously is harking back to a lot of very deep-seated, ingrained, damaging conditioning from childhood on up. But it feels like a possible first glimpse into a different perspective on my defeatism problem. Which could be a first step.

Found that my Asics earguards do have a few spots where they start rubbing painfully at a certain point of a LOT of jiu jitsu over a two day period. I had to take them off, because it started to feel like I was more likely to get cauli from the earguards themselves than from going without. Note that I should start keeping a spare pair of (a different brand of) earguards in my bag.

Anatomy of a slump

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Ultimately what I believe, or don’t believe, doesn’t really matter. The only thing that beliefs do for me is close my mind to different possibilities. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

For the next little while we are going to be taking a detour through SlumpLand. I apologize for being more dull and depressive than usual. However, if you are new to your MA journey and have never had one of these before, please do stick around and watch the show. It’s important to understand that this is part of the MA journey, and that they suck, but they do go away. I see a lot of people put down by their first serious Slump to the point where they quit. Don’t let it get you.

So the worst one one of these that I’ve had thus far was in Kung Fu, and it lasted a full 7 months. Man, did that one bite. Most of them tend to last a few weeks. I can only speak to my own experience with them- maybe other people’s slumps are different. I haven’t figured out, as of yet, how to make them go away. Fighting harder as they descend seems to make them worse. The law of negative returns kicks in. It’s like the Universe has decided to tap me out, and the Universe is a 350lb black belt with PMS, so struggling against the inevitable seems to only prolong the process. Tap tap tap. There ya go, Universe. You win. Now let’s restart.

The last time I had one of these, I had finally figured out that part about “fighting harder only prolongs the process”, so instead of spending a long while denying what was happening, and then struggling in futility and frustration like a fly in a web, I simply acknowledged that I was having a slump and validated my emotions about it. Then I tried a fresh tactic. Instead of increasing my training hours, I cut out all sparring and just did drills for a few weeks. I think it’s critical to **NOT** stop going to class. Your conditioning goes to hell, if nothing else. TV and video games start to look attractive again. Your diet goes out the window and the weight starts coming on.

Positional training actually is worse than free sparring at this point…. unfortunately, while it’s fairly easy to avoid sparring for a few weeks (with the exception of the odd class where the teacher decides that’s all we’re doing for that day), it’s impossible to do just drills and opt out of positional sparring unless I want to fake an injury. Being a straightforward person with a low BS tolerance, I don’t want to go there. So there will have to be some positional training, but I’ll just have to deal with it as best I can.

Avoiding sparring and just doing drills minimizes the amount of failure that one has to deal with on a daily basis. It breaks you out of the Deadly Failure Spiral. It’s critical to be able to deal with failure- in MA, getting our asses kicked repeatedly is how we learn- but when you’re in SlumpLand, it’s difficult to keep this in perspective.

Tonight- after pummelling, keylocks, figure-4 armbars and the same takedown we did this morning- I had to do positional sparring with Dave and two medium-sized white belts. Now, Dave has been a prince to me lately, and he only wants to help, and I truly appreciate his efforts. But I’ve been doing BJJ long enough to be able to tell when you’re handing something to me. It doesn’t make this better. It was actually easier to cope with being smacked down soundly by two white belts than it was to cope with Dave dialling his performance to just a half notch above mine and then handing me a guard replacement at the end. But it’s the thought that counts, and I have enough presence of mind to will myself to accept it- if not with as much grace as I would wish, at least without openly snarling at him. I once got snippy with Ben during a Slump- this was like three years ago- and I immediately felt awful about it and still do to this day, so I try really hard to be mindful to not take out my frustrations on my teammates.

I’m hoping to come up with at least one new tactic to experiment with during this Slump. Still looking for a method to actually make it go away.

Izzy got her first stripe today, which is awesome.

Next stop: Vanquishville

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Writing advice:

If you try to edit the passionate to make it more clear, you will ruin it.

If you try to edit the clarity to make it more passionate, you will ruin it.

Run with the type of good that you have.

–Rory Miller

129

That gal who murdered me at the comp last weekend got her purple belt this week. I should have her to fight in gi for future Revolutions, I hope.

I registered for Proving Grounds II for just no-gi.

Monday lunchtime BJJ in Kirkland.

KOTH from various positions.

Then Cindy and I drilled no-gi standup: one hook behind the head, other bicep grip of some stripe. Then duck under on the bicep side (keep very close to opponent, head up) and hug from the back. Gable grip. Place feet behind opponent’s feet, toes out. Situate center of gravity ABOVE opponent’s COG. Then sit, with opponent in your lap. (If you fail to place your center of gravity above hirs before you do this, you will pull hir down right on your belly.) Hooks in. Choke.

A little sparring with Cindy and Dave.

The Defeatist Beast was hanging hard on my back today. I couldn’t seem to do anything right, and I wish I could say that I even gave a shit enough to be frustrated. In the land beyond Frustrated lies the blighted kingdom of “Why Bother? I can’t do this. Fuck it.” I hate finding myself here, but it seems to be a regular stop on the tour. There doesn’t seem to be anything to do but put one’s head down and push through it.