Monday, May 21, 2012

Have Fun With It!

Recently Shark Girl attended a seminar led by a prominent black belt. Black Belt taught some cool techniques that I have been trying to repeat with miserable results. But he said something that I have found much easier to implement, and something that rings true to me and my sense of jiu jitsu and the world.*
Black Belt said that in order to improve one’s jiu jitsu, the most important thing was to have fun with it. He described gyms where the “guys” were so competitive that every roll was a death match. Black Belt would return the next year to find the guys were still at the same level. Black Belt continued that, in order to improve, one has to “play” with jiu jitsu. Have fun with it, even if you risk being tapped.

Those guys in that fictional gym had not improved because they never gave themselves room. Improvement comes from creative experimentation, and creative experimentation leaves room for failure. If we are always rolling to submit, we can miss the opportunities for growth. It’s like Musclehead who chooses to smother me with side position because he knows he can’t afford to get in my guard. Sure, he’ll win. But he’ll never learn to pass my guard. Okay, so maybe he doesn’t need to learn to pass my guard; let’s face it, he can crush me. But he will never improve that aspect of his game. Ha-ha!
"I vill crush you like a little girl . . . oh, vait, you are a little girl! No matter. . . . "
 I’ve been taking Black Belt’s advice to heart. I’ve been rolling for fun, especially with players that are less experienced than me. I move for the submission, back off, let them roll me, reguard. I pick something to work depending on the skills of my partner and I don’t worry about all the other stuff. It’s a lot more fun for both of us. No one** wants to be sat on for four minutes writhing for breath. No one** wants to be submitted five times in a row. I say this from personal experience.
A little after this seminar, a colleague sent me “TheCreative Monopoly” by David Brooks. In it, he discusses the obsession we have with competition and winning and describes the connection between losing and creativity, and also how competition itself can hinder creativity. Check it out here.

Shark Girl urges you to go forth and have fun on the mats!
* Shark Girl apologizes to Black Belt for not giving him credit by name. It would compromise my anonymity. Shark Girl consoles herself with the certainty that many people have used Black Belt’s words and techniques before and passed them off as their own. (Every gym has at least one prominent Jiu Jitsu Plagiarer—the dude who studies YouTube and then says he “came up with” a technique.) At least Shark Girl acknowledges that she was not the author of this brilliant nugget.

** Well, I’m sure there are some people who do. But those folks should probably troll Cragislist and backpage for like minded adults and steer away from the jiu jitsu mat. It just makes it creepy for all involved. (I’ve provided handy links for those of you right here. You’re welcome.)


  1. "Improvement comes from creative experimentation, and creative experimentation leaves room for failure."
    Spoken like a guru.

  2. Sage advice. I've seen the same thing just in the 8.5 months I've been doing this. Spazzy people who take it too seriously tend to fall behind while the ones who kick back and enjoy themselves learn more and progress faster. It's pretty cool.

  3. I hope you are having fun. Congratulations on 3 seasons of jiu juitsu!


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