I think it was inadvertent, but I got a good lesson from a white belt last night while rolling. This guy is a great athlete–college wrestler who’s been training for a couple of months. He really works hard at learning BJJ and not relying on his athleticism to get him through. I know how tough it is for him to be on his back and not just launch me across the room, but he instead works on the escapes we’ve learned in class and his technique.
Anyway, I had his back last night and was about 80% there on a bow and arrow choke, which is a pretty high percentage finish for me. Well, he was able to fight that off and let me know that, “No sir…not today. Not going out with that.” Of course, my first thought was, “Oh…really?!”
Of course I spent the rest of the round trying to get that exact choke, hand fighting with a guy in his early 20s who has already spent more time hand fighting that I will for the rest of my life. And I didn’t get the choke.
What I SHOULD have done is transitioned to something else, like an armbar, or whatever he gave me. He was so focused on not getting choked, something else was surely there. But I didn’t see it until after the round. He tricked me into going for the exact thing he was prepared to defend.
Now, the real question–do I go for the bow and arrow next time we roll? I hope not. I hope I go with what’s there instead of what I “want” to be there.
The other day I wrote a post on “What Makes Jiu Jitsu Fun For You?” laying out my top personal reason for continuing to train. As I was writing it, I had a realization and line of thought that didn’t really jibe with that post, but is something I wanted to pursue separately–there’s more to why I train than just the fun. Don’t get me wrong–it’s mostly about the fun. But there are other reasons as well. And one of the biggest is the concept of “Perfect Jiu Jitsu.”
I’m not sure if there’s an “according-to-Hoyle” idea of perfect jiu jitsu, but I have one that I’m able to wrap my tiny little brain around, and it’s pretty freaking awesome.
Perfect jiu jitsu is, while playing in the rules of jiu jitsu, the ability to convince your opponent they have no hope of survival. Perfect jiu jitsu achieves this by doing nothing other than accepting the choices the opponent makes and responding only in ways to which the opponent does not resist.
So, obviously, no striking or biting or anything like that. But…wherever they want to place their hands, you allow it. Conversely, you allow them to object (by resistance) to ANY hand placement you choose. Same goes for feet, head, legs, etc. They are allowed to do whatever they want. You don’t do anything they don’t allow. And you still get them to tap. Oh, and the person you just defeated can effortlessly beat everyone in the world except for you.
Now, that’s PERFECT JIU JITSU. I know it isn’t possible. It’s just an aspirational goal–people may aspire to achieve, but no one will actually get there.
There are people who dedicate their lives to achieving perfect jiu jitsu. They are aware they’ll never get there either, but it’s a concept that is so powerful and alluring, that they feel it’s worth a lifetime of work to reach for.
I’m not one of those people.
So, if it’s not something that’s achievable by anyone, and I’m not even one of the people who’s willing to dedicate myself to achieving it, why am I even bothering to write this post? How does the existence of the idea of perfect jiu jitsu even motivate me?
Because I see the beauty of the idea of perfect jiu jitsu. I’m aware of how effective jiu jitsu is when done poorly, by someone without special talent, who trains a few times a week, holds down a regular job, takes their kids to activities, eats an imperfect diet, and has a million other things going on.
That may sound like a pretty accurate description of me, but I’m not talking about me. The guy I just described will utterly destroy me at jiu jitsu. That’s how magic it is. If they guy I just described can beat me so easily, what must close-to-perfect jiu jitsu look and feel like.
I can’t fathom what that may be, but I want to be a part of the movement towards it.
And the reason I really wrote this post is that:
The concept of practicing something that can be abstracted into an idea that is beautiful and yet unattainable scales both horizontally and vertically, and it’s the stuff that a meaningful life is made of.
Maybe it’s not fun for you. Maybe it’s a “have to” for some reason or another. But I haven’t encountered many people who feel this way about it. I think it’s a pretty fun activity for most of us.
It’s ironic, because a huge amount of time spent in jiu jitsu is spent losing, suffering, dealing with discomfort, being humbled, feeling vulnerable, taking steps backwards, plateauing, getting bruised and mat-burned, and suffering from the occasional minor injury and constant back/hand pain.
And I didn’t even mention that some of us are daily forced to deal with the fact that we are old and quickly declining.
Have I convinced you to start training yet? 😀
Somehow, it’s fun. It’s the thing that always puts us in a good mood and makes us smile. For some, it’s one of their only sources of happiness.
I can’t answer for anyone else, but for me jiu jitsu is fun because it’s magic. As much as it taxes my body, it is constantly tickling and amazing my mind. It’s constantly causing me to question what I know.
How can someone so much smaller than me control me that way?
How can they continue to control me in the exact same way, even after they’ve shown me exactly what they are doing and how to stop them?
Why did that simple adjustment that makes all the difference elude me for so long. And it’s so simple and obvious–why didn’t I see it myself?
Why are so many of my natural intuitive motions so incorrect?
Why is this guy asking me for advice–can’t he see I know nothing?
Why am I giving this guy advice? I’m 100% positive there’s someone out there who can show me why everything I just said is absolutely wrong.
Is he even trying this round? Did he just give me that? WHY did he just give me that? Is this a trap? Does he think this trap is going to work? Why didn’t I see the REAL trap?
I guess, for me, the reason it’s fun is because it’s a series of difficult puzzles that, once solved, reveal themselves to only be a small part of an infinite number of larger, increasingly difficult puzzles.
I realized a while back that I’m not an outcome-driven person. I’m an experience and journey driven person. Endless puzzles with ever-changing parameters…where do I sign up?
More than once in the past 10 years, we’ve had a discussion in our house about eating meat. I live with four women (don’t bother setting up a GoFundMe on my behalf–money is not the answer), and they’ve all expressed regret/guilt over eating animals at one time or another.
My wife and my girls are all big animal lovers. They have a ton of compassion for just about any kind of animal, excluding spiders for one of them. I see this as a strength. From their interactions with animals, I know they are all growing up to be young women who will be loving and nurturing mothers. I mean, if you feel this way about animals, just imagine how you’ll feel about your own babies, right? I love animals too, but outside of our dogs, my connection to them isn’t on the same level as theirs.
Anyway, every conversation around the morality of eating meat usually contains at least one instance of me saying, “Well, in theory, you shouldn’t eat any animal you aren’t willing to kill yourself.”
Seems logical. Seems reasonable. But it’s wrong.
As the girls have matured, we’ve started having other conversations about the differences between men and women and how they lean towards certain traits and behaviors. We not only talk about the difference, but how these differences compliment one another. We talk a lot about how our differences help us fit together like puzzle pieces.
My kids often see me as a brute, especially when my thoughts and actions are held up to their more empathetic and nurturing tendencies. The idea of doing something like hunting down an animal, killing it, leaving its guts in the woods, and cutting its carcass up sounds absolutely barbaric to them.
I grew up hunting. We didn’t hunt “just for fun.” We stocked a freezer with the deer we took down every year. My personal experience with hunting was that I didn’t enjoy it all that much. I liked being out in the woods and just sitting quietly, I just didn’t like getting up early and being cold. But I never had a problem with killing an animal, because I knew we were going to eat it. In fact, it made me feel like I was helping to provide for my family whenever I killed an animal. In that way, it was really good for me, and overall a very positive experience.
I haven’t hunted at all as an adult, but I’m all for it. And I feel confident in knowing I could capably do it again if I needed to. And that, coupled with the knowledge of the different strengths men and women bring to the table, is why I was wrong to say they shouldn’t animals they aren’t willing to kill.
The truth is…
They should not eat animals that Iam not willing to kill.
I’ve been working on this for a while, but sporadically. I don’t know if it’s finished or if it ever will be finished. This is really scary for me. But here’s what I got so far…
I’m from a hillside bushed by more wild black berries than your belly can bear From the hottest two weeks of July From an big orange ‘mater patiently ripening itself on a windowsill From yesterday’s sweet tea From cold banana puddin’ From a fried baloney sandwich on white bread I’m from a mess of turnip greens in a paper sack
I’m from lightnin’ bugs From June bugs From grasshoppers From tadpoles From crawdads From house flies
I’m from skeeters From ticks From chiggers
I’m from a section of gravel road darkened by a dense deciduous canopy From the car-caused rattle of a one-lane wooden bridge From going up the hill in 2nd From going through The Holler in 4th From stop signs that everybody just kinda rolls right through I’m from within walkin’ distance of the County Line
I’m from a gulp of chilly October air spiced by a simmering barn-pot of dark fire
I’m from a ghost man on first and a five Mississippi rush
I’m from hayrides From cake walks From turkey shoots From bonfires From fish fries From going to church after school to watch a fight I’m from leaving in a hurry when The Law comes
I’m from potluck dinners and living room jams From country and coffee From bluegrass and butter cookies From a good-hearted woman From a fox on the run From a real life cacophony of Cadillac Cowboys I’m from, “If you get lost, go back to G and wait on us”
I’m from climbing higher than I want to in a tree From being more scared of not climbing it From everything looking different after daylight From Hank Jr. and Haggard on loop I’m from leaving the tailgate down if you got one
I’m from the smell of chainsaw fumes mixed with sawdust From sledge hammer stings on cold hands From armloads of kindling From emptying the ash box I’m from the warmest spot in front of a wood-burning stove
I’m from walking The Creek with a Zebco 33 and a Winchester 22 From splashes at a rope swing From handfuls of cold sips at a spring I’m from having a sharp eye for good skippin’ rocks
I’m from always carrying a knife From an outside dog as a running buddy From a healthy respect for barbed wire fences From knowing I can handle pretty much anything on my own
I’m from figuring out the day as I go From more space than I know what to do with From having plenty of time for all of it
I’m from having my name known by men Whose names are known by everyone I know
I’m from no gloves From no sunscreen From no complaining From a big spread at lunch From having to work hard to scrub hard work off your hands
I’m from being led not into temptation I’m from being delivered from evil
I’m from never thinking my childhood Would be much more like my father’s Than my children’s
I’m from the realization that what I’m from isn’t there anymore I’m from the regret of not taking it with me when I left I’m from the comfort of knowing it came with me anyway
Social media is so weird. I primarily use Twitter. I have a presence on other platforms, but I’m not active. They are mostly there so I can loosely keep up with rugby and jiu jitsu people from my past.
But to say that it’s a free exchange of ideas and a platform where everyone has a voice is kind of silly. Not everyone has an equal voice. For example, I could have a really good (or really bad) idea that I want to share…
I could tweet, “I think ______.” and get no response.
YouTock McInstagram could tweet the exact same thing a month later and start a huge conversation around it.
I’m not complaining here–I don’t want all the attention, responsibility, and eventual grief that would go along with having that kind of presence.
But I think it’s funny that I’ve basically shadow banned myself on Twitter simply by being so boring and unengaging. I don’t think there’s any amount of novel ideas that could reverse that situation.
I don’t like to do this, but I had to take somebody down a peg or two in training last night.
Background – How I Usually Roll
I have this thing that I try to do when I roll with lower belts–I try to focus on giving them something in the 5 minutes we have together that will help them improve. I do this because I feel like higher belts often do this with me, and I really appreciate it when they do. I feel like they are, in some way, donating a little piece of their time on earth to me.
I know that’s not 100% the case–we actually both get something out of them “being nice”. Being on the “giving” end of this equation more often as I grow in jiu jitsu, I’m aware that setting the tone and path of a roll with a lower belt can greatly benefit me.
For instance, if I’m rolling with a lower belt who likes to transition and move a lot, I could just put the brakes on them. Well, some of them anyway. But I usually don’t. I try to make the roll as active as I can. I need to get better at transitioning and movement too, so it’s a win/win in a lot of ways.
It’s sort of an extrapolation of the idea I wrote about earlier describing how I like to roll with baby white belts and keep the “vocabulary and syntax” of the roll simple.
I had a discussion about this with Professor Dave the other day after training, and his position on that was, “Yeah…that’s not a bad thing to do, and it’s really nice of you, but you can’t be nice all the time. They, especially the guys, need to understand how powerful jiu jitsu is, and it’s your responsibility to be a part of making it clear to them.”
The Sappy, “Feelings” Part Of This
I don’t feel like I’m very selfish about jiu jitsu. At least, I hope I’m not selfish.
I don’t need to win every round. In fact, I don’t need to win any rounds. I just enjoy training. It’s not all about me and my journey for me–it’s about us. I want people to look forward to training with me, not dread it.
I think I feel this way because I’m not the best at interacting with people in normal social situations. Jiu jitsu gives me a way to connect with other people in a way that’s more natural and comfortable for me. I want to foster that experience because it is so much more rewarding to me than winning.
That may seem very strange for a lot of people, but it’s true for me.
I don’t get to be in many situations where I feel like people understand me. Just writing this post has made me aware that the ability to share an experience with another person is probably the number one thing I get out of jiu jitsu.
Wow. That will have to be another post.
Back To The Story…
My talk with Professor Dave was on Saturday. Last night was Tuesday.
There were four “big guys” in class last night. A really tough and hard-nosed brown belt, me (purple), and two 3 stripe white belts. “Brown” and I both took a white belt as a partner for drilling and technique.
The guy I was with is a really good guy. I like him a lot. I enjoy training with him, both for technique and in sparring. He’s about 50 pounds heavier and 20 years younger. My cardio is much better than his. Of course, there’s also a skill level difference that can mostly be chalked up to time on the mat. If this guy keeps training, drops some weight, and commits to building a cardio base, he’ll be WAAAAAAY better than I am right now by the time he’s my age.
I really want that to happen for him.
We’ve rolled together several times, and it’s always fun. The usual script is that I take it down a couple of notches, chill, and pay attention to what he’s trying to do. I exploit his big mistakes, flow with it when he’s on the right track, get into spots that let me work on escapes, try and develop some newer stuff I’m working on, etc.
Maybe for the last minute I’ll shift into a higher gear for a bit. Again, the goal is to be in a roll that helps both of us get better. Of the two of us, I’m the one who has more ability to create that situation, and that’s what I try to do. I feel like it’s my responsibility.
But last night, I was sensing that my man was getting a little too big for his britches. I started realizing that he wasn’t aware of the size of the gap between us. Maybe he wasn’t aware of what was actually happening during our rounds?
And I realized it was my fault. I’m the one who has been dictating what happens during our time together. I own that situation–not only the physical part, but the mental part as well.
We started drilling the night’s techniques, and our boy started coaching me up from the get-go. Now, granted, we were working some stuff I’ve not seen recently, don’t attempt very often, and am not especially suited for physically. In short, we were working on what are probably my greatest weaknesses. I actually did need a lot of the help he was offering.
When drilling, I often pause and think about what’s next, if everything is in the right place, what my other options (that better suit me) could be in this situation, how to make this easier, how to make it “click” for me, etc.
Every time I’d pause, he’d correct me. Every time.
I’m actually good with that, every night, every technique, from any belt. Most people don’t do this because it’s considered bad form, but when they do, I’m fine with it. They just watched the same demonstration I did, and they undoubtedly picked up some things I didn’t.
My line of thinking is, “Hey…he’s paying attention to what I do and going over the steps as I do them. Actually, it’s pretty freaking awesome–he’s getting mental reps during my physical reps!”
That’s a great habit.
And he really did help me a couple of times by mentioning something I’d left out or reminding me what I need to do next. But a white belt coaching someone during drilling is a bit of a red flag, especially when it’s excessive. And it’s not something he’s ever done in the past. It crossed my mind that, “Dude, there are lots of purple belts (mean ones) who would not be cool with this. At all. Keep doing the mental reps, but you should do them in your head.”
Whatever. It was working for me. If someone else has a problem with it, they can deal with it when he’s their partner. It’s more about etiquette than anything else, and I don’t put a ton of stock in etiquette. If what you’re doing is helping me, etiquette can go pound sand.
But then, there was that one remark that bit me. I’d released a sleeve grip (mistake), and he showed me his sleeve, shifted a bit, and said, “See…I’m out. If you let go of this sleeve, you’re screwed.”
Pride and ego were setting off alarms. Now, I’m keenly aware that my pride and my ego are MY problems, so I HAD to let that statement go. I had to let it go for myself–it’s a discipline thing. I don’t want to be a person who gives someone else the power to goad me into a reaction over something as silly as an offhand comment.
And I knew he didn’t mean anything by it. I knew it wasn’t said with a disrespectful intent.
At the same time, “Does he know that lots of guys would take this as a sign of disrespect?” Again, they can deal with that if they choose. I’m here to drill, not enforce manners.
Time To Roll
At our gym, we start with ladies choosing their partners for sparring first, then upper belts, straight down the line. I’ve been out of town for a couple of months, so of course, Big Brown smiles and chooses me for the first round.
And he put it on me. That’s what I like about this guy actually…no nice rolls. For anybody. I mean, he’s very respectful with ladies and smaller white belts, but if you have a colored belt or any kind of size/strength, he’s going to let you know what’s up.
Brown was probably going to pick someone else for round two, and I was hoping he’d pick my technique partner so that I could choose that other 3-stripe white belt to roll with. He’s bigger than my technique partner, and he just moved to town and is new to our gym. I’d never had a chance to roll with him, and I absolutely LOVE rolling with new people.
But coach shook things up and let the white belts pick their partners.
My drilling partner immediately pointed at me with a big grin on his face and rubbed his hands together. The body language said, “I hope you’re ready because I’m gonna get you!”
That’s when I really had to come to terms with what Professor Dave had told me on Saturday. “This guy doesn’t understand how real this ‘murder simulation’ game we’re playing can be. He doesn’t know, truly know, how vulnerable he his. He thinks that because I’m friendly, old, slow, and smaller than him, we’re on the same level, or at least close.”
“He thinks my position in this room is just honorary. He doesn’t see me as ‘real’.”
I realized that I’ve made our time together so “fun” that he wasn’t aware that he’s a rest round for me, even when he’s trying hard.
He thinks he’s been getting all those sweeps, passes, top positions, and submission attempts by himself.
He thinks my 75% top pressure is my 100% top pressure.
He thinks I’ve been releasing that pressure because he’s making me, not because I’m voluntarily moving on.
This was exactly what Professor Dave was talking about. I realized I was going to have to make this guy a tapping machine for the next 5 minutes.
I wasn’t very happy about that, but…
Bell rings. Slap five. Fist bump.
It did not take the entire five minutes for me to clear up the situation for him. At least, I hope it’s now clear to him; it should be. It was a pretty epic beat down–a big-guy-jiu-jitsu, tap-you-with-pressure-(again) beat down. It should have been apparent to him after about 90 seconds that this wasn’t just him having an off night. I do know that he didn’t want to complete the round–he declared “no mas” with about 40 seconds left.
But, being a good partner, I encouraged him to keep going. 🙂
I didn’t talk to him about it afterwards. I just said, “Good job, man. That was a tough round.”
I have no idea what he was thinking about during the round. I’m not sure if he went home and thought about it afterwards. He’s a pretty smart guy, so I have to assume it made an impression.
But I’m almost positive he won’t be smiling, rubbing his hands together, and licking his chops before our next roll.
I didn’t get an Instafest from YouTube Music yet, but I was able to generate one based on my last.fm account. Actually was able to generate a different one for lifetime vs last six months. I’m happy with this one.
Two things of note here:
There’s no way I could afford a ticket to this festival
I hope we soon get to a place where people decline to fight in public because they know someone will film and post it, and they don’t want to look like morons in front of the world.
These two are pathetic. What are they even doing during this “fight”? I’m honestly surprised that they had enough gas in the tank to go this long, and if you were to ask me who won this fight, I’d say “cardio”.
Of course, guy in black sweatshirt can’t go out with a draw in the dummy contest, so he says “HOLD MY BEER–NOBODY KNOCKS ME OUT BUT ME!!!!”
I also really like the wife/girlfriend of the other guy coming up and hugging/congratulating him as if he just did something.
The only injury that could have come out of that confrontation was chaffing from these two rubbing their fat bellies against each other.
People…please stop fighting in public. If you want to embarrass yourself, start with dancing and singing. Baby steps. There are levels to this game.
Ok. I’m weird. I’m the guy (the only one) who uses YouTube Music as my primary streaming service. I’m insanely jealous of all the cool Instafest auto-generated music festival posters I’ve seen lately, and I’d love to get in on the fun.
Unfortunately, when I try to generate one with my Spotify account, I’m 0-fer. Even if I use the “All Time” setting. I used Spotify a lot back in the day…even had a fair number of subscribers for my Damn Good Texas Country playlist.
Even if I could get that to work, it wouldn’t reflect all the new stuff I’ve been listening to since moving platforms. Yes…I’m aware Spotify’s user experience is slightly better, but it’s hard to move away from ad-free YouTube.
If any college student has some time, please write an Instafest-For-YouTube app.
These are good ideas if your boyfriend/husband is anything like me. If he’s not, I guess something like Yellowstone Cologne would be good? Can’t imagine what this would smell like, but I couldn’t find a cologne that is associated with any other soap operas. Yes…this is a real thing.
And if not cologne, I guess some kind of primping beard product or some such? It’s hard for me to say. This will give him something to do while you’re out looking for a new boyfriend.
But here are things I’d appreciate:
All the useful kinds of tape. Scotch tape isn’t in here because it’s not all that useful. You could use it to wrap these gifts I guess, but it’s not really necessary.
Cliff Notes Classics–it’s possible you’ll have to read these to him. I’d like to have these just so I could bring these books up and sound like I’m smart, because the other person probably hasn’t read them either. You could buy the real books and make him feel like a failure for continuing not to read them.
Nine volt batteries. Smoke alarm batteries only go bad at night. The guy always seems to be dealing with it. Buy these batteries and hide them–don’t give them as a gift. The real gift will be when the stupid alarm start chirping and you tell him you have batteries set aside for this situation. You’ll get to go right back to sleep, and he’ll be really appreciative that you thought ahead and made his job easier.
If I could pick one Christmas with to be granted this year, it’d be to go back in time and change my relationship with enterprise and/or solution architecture modeling tools.
Instead of starting my tool usage with unlimited options for modeling standards and trying to navigate all the possible ways to model the environment, I’d like to start with a small set of modeling standards and trying to figure out a way to model what I need within those parameters.
I’m thinking Archimate, UML, and BPMN.
I’d like to make this the box I’m willing/allowed to play in, and figure it out from there.
Luckily, whether or not this happens now is mostly within my control!
Lately, I’ve been approaching my rolls with new-ish white belts as a conversation in a language we are both learning. I’m not a native speaker, but I’m more fluent in the language than they are. And no matter the differences in our ability, it’s on me to make sure we both enjoy the conversation.
You’ve probably seen the old analogy regarding BJJ and language:
White belt is like learning the letters of the alphabet
Blue belt is like learning that the letters make words
Purple belt is learning how to construct sentences out of words
Brown belt is the ability to write cogent paragraphs
Black belt is the ability to write poetry
I like this analogy on one level, but on another level I think there’s something missing. This analogy is all about your personal relationship with a language, but BJJ is about interacting with others–it’s a conversation.
And it’s not like anyone begins BJJ with zero knowledge of how their body works and can move. It’s not like people don’t have arms and legs that bend before their first class. And they’re aware of other people’s anatomy as well, even though they may not understand how to manipulate it. They’ve probably even played other sports at some point.
In other words, people are already aware of the CONCEPTS of letters/words/sentences/paragraphs/poetry. They just don’t know how to construct those things in THIS LANGUAGE.
So I think a better analogy than the one above is that BJJ is like achieving fluency in a foreign language. When I think of it from this perspective, it gives me a mindset I can actually take into training.
While I’m just a purple belt and can’t have a high level “intellectual conversation” with a black belt, I feel like I have a decent grip on the “language”–think someone whose native language is Spanish, but has lived in the U.S. for 10 years or so. There aren’t many situations where I’m completely lost, but I’m also keenly aware when people are talking over my head.
I incorrectly conjugate verbs every now and then (bad grips). Some verbs I do this with habitually.
I have a thick accent (leave out finer details in techniques).
I revert back to Spanglish sometimes when I get stuck expressing myself (muscle through stuff).
But I can roll with brown and black belts and they know what I’m trying to do/communicate. They are aware of all the stuff I’m doing wrong, and can choose to correct me (make me pay for the mistakes), or just keep the conversation going. But it’s really on them to decide how the conversation is going to go.
I’ve rolled a few rounds with brand new white belts recently, and I’ve tried to approach those rolls with this mindset–this is a person who has a limited knowledge of the language. They know a few key words and phrases, but our conversations are going to be limited.
It’s on me to carry the conversation.
Think about it this way–if you met someone who knew a few English words and phrases around food and sports, you wouldn’t try to have a conversation with them about politics or economics. And you definitely wouldn’t try to talk with them about how politics and economics are connected. You’d stick with topics they know–food and sports.
So in these rolls, we’re keeping the topic mostly limited to closed guard and mount. Their sweeps, passes, and attacks will be really basic, and probably a bit sloppy. But I understand what they are trying to do. Even if they get the nouns and adjectives out of order or leave out articles in their “sentence”, I get the idea they are trying to express.
And it’s on me to keep the conversation alive. That may mean doing things like giving up a sweep or slowing down the “conversation” so that they can see/feel the armbar opportunity, even though I’d never intentionally leave my arm in that spot with a fluent speaker. I can even use the “conversation” as a way to help them increase their grasp of the “language”.
Imagine someone says to you, “I enjoying food with spicies.” You may respond with, “Oh…you enjoy spicy foods! I enjoy spicy food also!” What you’ve done is correct them without being a jackass about it–you’ve shown them that you understand, and you have modeled the correct syntax for them. That gets registered in their brain and helps them later.
I had a situation like this with a new white belt last night. He had me mounted and was trying to cross collar choke me–all muscle and pulling on lapels. It wasn’t working at all, but I totally knew what he was trying to do. More importantly, I could identify his major mistakes. My response in this “conversation” was to roll into his guard, break it open, knee cut pass, mount him, and cross-collar choke him.
All stuff he’s seen.
He got it immediately. After the roll he asked why my choke worked and his didn’t. DINGDINGDING!!!! He’s trying to learn the correct way to express himself in this language.
Now, to be fair, a black belt would have watched this and chuckled at my simple, “I like spicy food” sentence construction. The next roll they’d Ezekiel choke me while I have them mounted. In affect, they are saying to me:
“While mild and sweet dishes are occasionally pleasing to me when my pallet is in a particularly sensitive state, I sometime throw caution to the wind and indulge in spicy foods in order to vicariously satisfy my unquenched thirst for adventure.”
Big words. Idioms. Complex sentence structure. Abstraction of concepts.
The reason I wanted to share this tweet was because I recently had a realization about this situation at a more macro level.
A couple of weeks ago we took our kids to visit the Shy Wolf Sanctuary in Naples. This facility houses lots of different animals, and they’ve done genetic testing on them all to identify the percentage of wolf and dog in each one. Most of the animals are 50-60% dog. They are still dangerous animals, but are more social and used to people, and are near the front of the facility. Even at first glance your brain immediately registers that, “Oh…this isn’t just a dog.”
Wolf-Dogs are dangerous. But they can be sweet and get along with the rest of us in most cases. There’s an issue every now and then maybe, but for the most part, they’re probably best described as really tough/scrappy dogs that could quite possibly lose it on you if you aren’t careful. So be careful and aware with them.
As you go farther into the facility, you reach enclosures housing animals that are almost all wolf. When you make eye contact, you know the difference between a wolf and a wolf-dog.
Like…please do NOT put me in that enclosure. Please.
How That Relates To Men
Being around these animals gave me a spark of inspiration/realization that I think accurately demonstrates how people (mostly men) perceive their world, and how their perceptions are horribly skewed, especially in this era of general comfort and security.
There are Wolves. There are Wolf-Dogs. And there are Pets.
Most men think they are Wolves, but they are actually just Pets. They’ve never actually been tested. They’ve definitely never encountered a Wolf (that they know of); probably never even smelled one. They don’t really even have a concept of what a Wolf is. It’s just a word, and they think it applies to them because they have all the same physical parts as a Wolf.
Then there are Wolf-Dogs. I put myself in this category. I know a lot of other Wolf-Dogs too. But Wolf-Dogs are separated into two different groups–those who know we are Wolf Dogs, and those who, like Pets, think they are Wolves. But it’s obvious to all Wolf-Dogs that Pets definitely are NOT Wolves.
How do Wolf-Dogs become self-aware? How do we come to the conclusion that we are neither Wolves nor Pets? It’s actually pretty simple–you have to be exposed to both Wolves and Pets to understand that you lie somewhere in the middle. It’s easy to have an encounter with a Pet. They are everywhere. In fact, it’s almost impossible to avoid them. And you know that you aren’t a Pet, which is why so many Wolf-Dogs mistakenly believe themselves to be Wolves: “If I’m not a Pet, I must be a Wolf.”
I think (pure conjecture) that most Pets have the capacity to transform themselves into Wolf-Dogs. Like the tweet above implies, it just takes an awareness of where you lie and a commitment to become a Wolf-Dog. Exposure to a Wolf-Dog is enough to start this journey.
But Wolves are a different story. They are rare, and you usually haven’t identified them as what they are until it’s too late. If you’ve ever encountered an actual Wolf, you knew within a few seconds that they are a different thing. Just like the delineation at the wolf sanctuary, it’s pretty obvious what the difference is.
What is an actual Wolf?
It’s a little tough to explain, but know this–a Wolf will fight you to the death without ever considering the possibility that there’s another option for resolution. A Pet doesn’t stand a chance against them. A Wolf-Dog may be able to inflict some damage, but they aren’t committed to the fight the way a real Wolf is. And a real Wolf will go at another real Wolf as if it were a Pet.
A real Wolf regards everything else in existence as if it were a Pet, even other Wolves.
How Does This Relate To BJJ/Fighting/Sports?
I think most people who train in a live-sparring martial art (wrestling, boxing, bjj, etc.), and lots of physically demanding sports, are Wolf-Dogs. And many of them may never encounter a Wolf in their sport. That’s ok–we need a lot more Wolf-Dogs than Pets in this world. But it would be nice if more of these Wolf-Dogs could encounter an actual Wolf at least once.
For example, I’ve been to a couple of amateur MMA competitions in the last few months. A lot of Wolf-Dogs in these things, and they are sorting out who the Wolves are at this level. That’s a good thing. Anybody willing to step into a cage and fight is at least Wolf-Dog in my book. In fact, they are the top of the Wolf-Dog food chain–plenty of legit Wolf-Dogs have zero interest in getting in there and risking their health just to find out where they lie in that spectrum. I’m the first to admit that I’m in that crowd.
You can watch these fights and figure out pretty quickly who isn’t a Wolf though:
Tap to punches? Not a Wolf.
Tap to fatigue? Not a Wolf.
Coast for the last round because you’re clearly up two rounds already? Not a wolf.
Again, I’m not throwing shade here–I wouldn’t go in there and do that against anyone, and definitely not for free.
How Do I Know So Much About Wolves?
Well, I’m not saying I do. But I’ve rolled with a couple of Wolves (top-tier fighters), and it taught me enough to know that they have something I don’t. For instance, almost everyone I’ve ever rolled with has had me mounted or been in top half guard with me at some point. When that happens, I’m thinking about applying whatever jiu jitsu I have to change the situation.
But with the Wolves, it’s different when they actually decide to turn it on. In those situations, my mind doesn’t immediately go to implementing BJJ. The first place my mind goes is the realization that this person’s instinct is to end my life in this situation. It’s palpable and it’s undeniable. There is a CLEAR difference between their ability/willingness to go to a place I don’t even want to be capable of going to.
So What Am I Saying?
I guess, if there’s any point to this (and I’m doubting there is), is that I think the world would be a better place if we all took the time to get a clear understanding of exactly what we are and where we fall in the spectrum. And we need a lot more people to level up to Wolf-Dog.
There’s nothing wrong with being a Pet necessarily, but people need to be aware of being a Pet. And if that’s what they end up choosing, they should probably be more careful with their words and actions, especially around Wolves. Wolf-Dogs are generally cool with Pets and can just laugh to themselves when they encounter one who is overstepping their abilities. Wolves are ultimately going to be a lot less forgiving, and the consequences will be more severe.
And we Wolf-Dogs need to continually seek out Wolves and get ourselves straight as well. Maybe you’ll find that you’re actually a Wolf too. But the main benefit is identifying where you are on that spectrum. Once you do, continually seek out Wolves whenever/wherever you can.
The ability to quickly identify a Wolf may pay off one day.