Well last week I hit my goal and got to ju jitsu for every class.  I also hit my goal of taking guard ever. single. time. I could.  This included popping to guard when I had just escaped from getting my guard destroyed and subsequently almost submitted.  Once more unto the breech….

What makes this more miraculous is that typically I fare very well against my classmates if I’m on top.  For example, the rare time they beat me to getting guard (or in the case of one of the higher-ups just laid on his back forcing me to take top) and I took half guard I dominated.  This isn’t too out of the ordinary as I feel my top game (control wise) is ahead of where I am otherwise.

The idea is this:  we as humans constantly do things that we are reinforced for doing.  If I get top position and do well I experience some sort of reinforcement.  This makes me want to do it again.  So I do.  I get better, making reinforcement more common, prompting me to take top more often.  This is why people develop ungodly guards, mounts, chokes etc. and have poor other areas.  It’s why only a few people are really true black belts.  I’m a top side and kimura person.  I’m alright at passing guard, I’m pretty adept at not getting swept, forcing my opponent to try something tricky at which point I sit into their half guard.  Half guard I’m strong and able to pass into top side well.  Do you see how this works?  My game has developed to get me to where I get reinforced:  in top side chasing kimuras.

What we don’t do as humans is seek out the things where we get no reinforcement, or worse negative reinforcement.  Or worst yet, negative punishment.  This is my guard game.  My guard gets destroyed.  I get nothing out of this except frustration at “f# another person who just obliterated my “guard” in 10 seconds!!!!  Hell with this!”  So, I don’t pursue the act of doing it anymore.  That area of my game stays stagnant and never progresses.

Let’s call this the Blue Belt Blues.  This is a bit of a misnomer as plenty of purple belts experience the same thing.  However, the main idea of a blue belt is to get this stuff sorted before all that.

Well, folks, I’ve been in the Blue Belt Blues for far too long.  Hence, the guard work.

What was amazing was that I was actually enjoying going back to guard when I can.  I think the reason for this is because compared to my gym back in the states the folks at this one don’t have very good top games.  Back home if I’m on bottom I’m in deep, painful trouble.  Here I can keep decent position and work to get back to my knees.  It helps me feel more comfortable giving up position.  However, I feel that the guys here have more tricks for passing guard than back home.  That’s not to say they are better at it but that certain “stall” tactics don’t work as the guys here will do something bizarre to get around the guard.

Oh, and they constantly go 100%.  Back home there’s a lot of focus on technique and not many people roll over 60%.  Here they are animals.  The entire time.  It makes passing guard easier if you’re going balls-to-the-wall.

With all that said, I’m happy I was able to stick to both my goals of going and of guard hunting.  Hopefully, I can keep that up this week.  At the moment I don’t feel like there’s any light at the end of the tunnel, but I know there must be.  It would be impossible to work something almost exclusively for 6 months and not improve.  Especially since the gym is a sport ju jitsu gym, which tend to focus mainly on crazy guard work.  I’m bound to improve.

Ju jitsu gods, here my plea.  Allow me to gain proficiency from guard enough to sweep my opponent, giving me access to that sweet, beautiful kimura.

In other news, I did find out that the gym is closing sometime next year.  It will move to some other prefecture.  I’m really quite bummed about that.  It’s not a bad gym and the head assistant instructor is actually really good.  The only other option I’ve found that’s close by has mediocre ju jitsu at best.  It’s also a kickboxing gym that adds in ground work as kind of an afterthought.  I’ll have to start the search for a new gym (again) in the coming months.  Luckily, my area is laden with Brazilians and I do have some leads on farther away gyms.

Note:  I’m not sure if it’s wordpress or this computer, but for some reason spellcheck doesn’t seem to think “gym” is a word.  Which brings me to this:


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