Wednesday, September 20, 2006

BJJ Gradings

I wish there were more hours in the day. I wish there were more days in a week. And I wish I could train BJJ 5 days a week. For me, it is an addiction like surfing. When you catch that perfect wave or have that "everything goes right" roll; you keep coming back for those moments. Even when you get your ass kicked and know you could have, should have, not rolled over so easy, you want to correct it.

Because of a flurry of personal and professional things (most good, some bad) occurring all at this precise time in my life, I feel that my BJJ mind is getting its ass kicked. I felt useless rolling today, which is rare for me. And in addition to the storms beating down my brain from every direction, I am grading next Wednesday.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the simple thing that holds everything together for me. It is the perfect game to play in order to progress mentally, physically, and for the new age crowd; spiriturally. It is not easy. But it is not difficult either. The challenges can be overcome with time and dedication. The hard part is where to put the focus.

Gradings urgently set the focus on proper curriculum or fundamental study. The general overview of what needs to be achieved to make progress. You have to demonstrate an understanding in front of the class and the Professor. This public display causes the previously mentioned urgency that forces preparation. However, there is a difference between "showing" and "understanding". "Showing" means steps can be demonstrated in a controlled situation and does not speak to proficiency. "Understanding" means that techniques can be implemented in different ways and used as a part of a larger plan in real world situations.

At this point, with the curriculum I need to demonstrate, I may be ready for my next level with some polish of course. In terms of the curriculum I understand, there is no way for me to gauge that with a stripe or a belt. When I roll, it all just sort of happens. Some things come naturally. And some things I must pull out of the mental technique library. And techniques are added that do not reside in the curriculum.

For me, I wish that BJJ was a little more organic and less structured at this point. And I think that this can only be achieved, for me at least, by focusing more on the whys and less on the hows. Because if I understand the whys; the hows will be much easier to apply, even invented.

There is a lot of curriculum to take in and it is extremely difficult to be proficient at everything. Could I even use all of it? Probably not. But over the past 15 months, I have my favourites. Does that mean that everything else is useless? Of course not. But some things are more important for me right now than others.

I look forward to the day where there is no set curriculum and I can focus on just training and adding to my game. Well, I kind of do that right now which may get me in trouble for the upcoming grading. Self discovery, the "oh that works" moments, when rolling have always been of greatest value for my BJJ memory. Holes appear in my game and I do my best to fill them in; I remember these techniques most.

I do not know why I am so conflicted at grading time. I see the importance. I know the need. But for some reason I am conflicted as to a gradings value to me personally at this point in my training. But this is my conflict as a white belt, with a white belt's understanding. I know when I am a purple, brown, or even black belt and read this, I will then understand the value of providing the general base for future progression thrust upon me by the discomfort of gradings.