Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ryan Hall Interview with GrappleArts' Stephan Kesting

Here's an extended interview with American BJJ superstar, Ryan Hall. At the risk of sounding like an ass, the more I read interviews with Ryan Hall, the more interested I am in interviewing him myself. But it's always nice to hear from Ryan, who is truly one of the good guys in a great martial art. And the discussions on developing your guard as a game of range, as well as the sports psychology stuff (excerpted below) are certainly among the conversation's keepers.

Ryan Hall on BJJ, Submission Grappling and MMA

Stephan: Now, I guess this awareness really only comes with experience. Maybe first you go in at too high a state of arousal, burn yourself out, and not be able to think. And then you might go in at too low a state of arousal and not being able to capitalize or use the 'agro' energy when it might have helped you in this situation... So you'll be trying to dial it up and down as your experience level grows, which is exactly what you were doing, it sounds like...

Ryan: I’ve been on the wrong end of both of those, actually, and I still am every now and then. There have been certain tournaments where win or lose, I still don’t really feel like I performed well. I'm not like “oh man, the other guy was really tough but I somehow just expected to walk through him.” Instead it was more like, “man, I just didn’t really feel sharp,” or felt like I was too amped up, or just felt not into it. And that can be for a variety of reasons, but even now, I find myself on both ends of that.

And then, when everything comes together and you have a great performance, it’s usually when you find that optimal level of arousal, not only for the sport but for the moment and for that day. Everything seems to be clicking. And when I’ve been able to find and maintain that state of mind once then I’m able to find it again. And that’s one of the big things that I think that constant competition gives us.

For instance, if I compete only once every 6 months, I kind of lose touch with the proper frame of mind. It’s easy to have all these other things going on, these little voices in your head telling you what you need to be doing. But if you’re competing all the time, not only will you be getting experience, but you’ll be getting experience psychologically preparing yourself to perform at your best, and I think that’s absolutely critical.