I mostly grapple with colored belts these days, and one of the major differences I notice when I roll with white belts is that many of them tend to use excessive amounts of energy. As a smaller, older person, these explosions of power can be difficult for me to overcome…at first. If the roll goes on for more than a couple of minutes, they usually become tired, and then they’re a little easier for me to deal with.
I think one of the main reasons white belts are often spazzy is because it’s hard for people to relax when they first start grappling. Here’s an excerpt of a post from the early days of my Jiu-Jitsu training…
If I had a dollar for every time someone at the dojo told me I needed to relax, I would have enough money to open my own school and teach Ginger-Jits-Do. Our main tenet would be “NEVER RELAX! ALWAYS ATTACK AND GO FAST!”. Our classes would only be a half-hour long. We would probably shut down in a month due to excessive injuries.
When I was a white belt, I was a total spaz. I would use so much energy and get so tired that sometimes I would tap just because I was worn out and needed a break! Although my conditioning and stamina have improved since then, what’s really made the biggest difference is learning to relax and conserve my energy. You just can’t go 100% all of the time in Jiu-Jitsu, you have to pick your battles.
The Professor calls it being “intelligently lazy”, making efficient use of your energy. Senior students are typically talented at not trying to force things, but taking advantage of whatever their partner does. They bait and wait. Using someone’s energy against them instead of sacrificing your own energy is what the term “the gentle art” actually means!
I know it’s hard to stay relaxed when people are trying to dominate you. I still waste my energy sometimes, it’s a work in progress, but I speak from experience when I say that one of the best things you can do for your Jiu-Jitsu is to learn to stay calm and consciously save your energy. It will serve you well in the long run, whether during a prolonged match, a tough class, or even throughout your training as you age.
“I used to hurry a lot, I used to worry a lot.” -The Eagles
(Author’s note: I’m aware The Dude hates The Eagles, but he should relax and not waste his energy on it! ;)