So here’s a concept that always sounded good but never quite took hold in my Jiu Jitsu game. It’s phrased in many ways but means essentially the same thing. You may have heard “flow with the go,” “be like water,” etc. and perhaps you even tried to incorporate that mindset into your game, I know I did with very little success. It seemed like the more I tried to “be like water” the more my opponent became the “overly large” kid doing the cannon ball. Yesterday something clicked and surprisingly it proved to be beneficial almost instantly. I remembered an old Judo saying where they elude to the concept of making your opponent feel as though they were wrestling an empty jacket when they faced you. How would that feel? Well first off the empty jacket wouldn’t resist all your power. It would bend, fold, and flow along with whatever your intentions happen to be. So I applied it against my first opponent in open gym who happened to be the instructor for the day. What better way to test something new than on someone way better than you right? Hehe. We started on knees and he pushed and pulled at me but I yielded to his every move. He came forward and I fell back but in a safe open guard position. He passed and tried securing a choke as I turtled up which almost caused me to snap out of my new state of mind but I stayed the course. I eventually rolled out and got him in my closed guard which lasted a good minute or so. It wasn’t until I attempted a sweep that he got out and eventually caught me in a footlock. I felt I could fight it since I had his collar but I conceded the tap, after all I wasn’t concerned about tapping, I just wanted to stay in my new zone.
After our roll he gave me a few tips and said there were many good things going on with my defense and even my submission attempts. The best compliment though was when he said he was trying hard to break my guard but noticed I stayed calm the entire time which was odd. I didn’t tell him about my experiment but thought to myself how things could have been much different had I fought and fought against his escape attempts instead of melting my moves around his actions. On a side note, I woke up the next day and felt about 1/4 of the soreness I usually feel. This alone was worth the change.
We have review class coming up next Sunday (four 20-minute matches to determine our rank) and though it may be bad timing, I’m going to apply this new mindset immediately and from here on out. I don’t care so much about tapping if the opponent manages to get something on me, but I’m done defeating MYSELF with the tension and the rigidity of my own movements. I’m going to be doing a lot more study with this and I’ll keep you updated on anymore breakthroughs I may have. Until then, stay calm and Do The Jiu!