Monday, August 29, 2011

A Directing Sign

When I was in elementary school, we played a sort of "mass soccer" at recess. "Mass soccer" consisted of what seemed at the time to be hundreds of screaming children chasing around a soccer ball in a totally "Lord of the Flies" like bastardization of the Great Game. No passing. No goaltenders. No strategy. And this mad drama played itself out week-daily at noon on a soccer field that, in my child's perception, seemed as big as the state of Vermont.

That's a lot like what my jiu jitsu is too often like these days. A flailing around of half-moves and hesitations that manages to tax my cardio more effectively than my sparring partner's defenses. I'm wasting too much energy with too much movement that isn't specifically geared toward getting me where I want to be.

This has been a chronic issue I've noticed over the past several weeks as I've gotten my training pace back on track. It's what's spurred me on toward making sure that the off-mat conditioning was in place. But more and more I realize that the issue isn't cardio, per se, but of the negative feedback loop of not fully executing any given plan (typically with either an attack that is too tentative (i.e., armdrags) or, on the other hand, not finishing a given move with the same zap that I started the move with (i.e., finishing from dominant positions like mount and the back).

I wrote about some of this in one of the Lessons from Live Training bits. There are trigger points, hubs from which I can follow a fairly familiar route toward my destination - be it escape, sweep, pass or submission. What I need to do a better job of is in getting to those hubs: the starting point for the Feitosa guard pass series, for instance, or my half guard replacement series, or my Roger Gracie mount choke finish - and not going any further until I have first reached that hub.

I remember Mamazinho years ago saying something about passing the guard, the idea that you can "always go back and start over." I've had a tendency to get deep in the woods and stay deep in the woods - relying on wits, reflexes (and cardio) instead of working my way back to a familiar post and then resuming the trail from there. More than anything else, I think this is what is killing me in training, and something to work on and correct as my training pace starts to pick up heading into the fall.

Now is the time to slow the game down.