The Double-Edged Sword of BJJ

I’ve been really sporadic in my training this year. Just a lot of things going on. A lot of excuses I can offer as to why I haven’t trained as much as in recent years.  But none of those matter, I haven’t put in the mat time in 2015.

This week was the first time for me to be back in the gym in 2 weeks. Which might not sound like much, but last year I was training about 7 hours a week. Anyway, one thing I’ve been struggling with is the lack of progress I’ve made as a blue belt. Obviously lack of mat time is a big factor.

Today after sparring something dawned on me. BJJ is a double-edged sword. That sword is its simplicity.

Hear me out.

It seems to escape every bad position is essentially this: If you can bridge. If you’re flat, get up on a shoulder, then an elbow and possibly a hand. Move away. Put your feet on your opponent and control the distance.

It might be more nuanced than that. But today I was rolling and was in a bad position, I hear our coach telling me to get up on my elbow. I tried, but ended up in a worse position. After the round he showed me what he meant. It really was to get up on an elbow, scoot my butt towards my elbow and keep doing that until I could do a knee shield or foot on his hip etc.

Why is that a double edge sword? Because I think I learned all of that the first month or so of training.

It’s not that once you get to blue you learn more moves, and the purple, brown and black learn even more (I’m assuming, anyway, nobody has taught me secret blue belt moves.) Instead, it’s realizing that if your opponent is behind you with their chest on your shoulder and their knee pinning your legs, you still need to shrimp and get up to your knees and scoot away.

The techniques are that simple.

At the same time, their difficult to pull off in every situation. Or for me, their even difficult to recognize in every situation. I’ll wind up somewhere and think “Surely THIS position calls for a different escape.” So far the answer every time has been “No. There’s nothing special about this position either.”

It gives me hope that I can get better on those moves. It’s also incredibly frustrating that 3 years in I still can’t do the basics.