“Steel is strong because it knew the hammer and white heat.” -Johnny Cash
Yesterday during the advanced class at Lincoln BJJ, Professor Greg pointed out that when you’re rolling, things rarely work exactly the way we drill them, and sometimes you may only be partially successful with a technique, but that doesn’t mean it failed, especially if you’re able to gain some ground, or transition it into something else. It reminded me of what one of my husband’s Aikijujitsu teachers had told him, he said you should think of each technique you learn as a link on a chain, and when you’re sparring, if you reach for a link and it breaks, you just reach for the next, and the next, until you find one that holds.
Since Jiu-Jitsu is a 360 degree martial art, I think our links are less linear like a chain, and more circular like a spider web, or a dreamcatcher, but the idea is still the same. Techniques seldom work perfectly in isolation, especially against experienced partners, so combinations usually lead to greater success. When two people are grappling, the person with more (or stronger) links in their chain is likely to be the one to prevail, but only if they understand the connections, and can put them together.
I’ve noticed that not only is my chain getting longer, I’m able to grasp many links without having to think about it, and I’m getting better at breaking other people’s chains. During rolling this week in the advanced classes, I was successful with several sweeps, transitions, escapes (but no subs), and I spent more time on top than I usually do. On both Monday and Wednesday, I succeeded against blue belts with the smash pass we’ve been practicing, and I even half succeeded with it against The Professor when I started on top during positional sparring! Yesterday, I had one of my best rolls with Tumbleweed Mike, it felt like I broke most of the links he reached for, but in the end, his chain was just too long (and he wrapped it around my neck from back mount ;).
I also figure I must be improving, because it used to be hard for me to find a willing and eager partner for drilling (except Mike), but on Monday, Charlie claimed me right away! He’s not too much bigger than I am, and I think the size of our chains are fairly matched, so I enjoy training with him. For the first couple of years at LBJJC, Tumbleweed was my partner most of the time, but lately I’ve been working with some new additions to the advanced class, including Charlie, Alejandro, David Danger, and John U. (who are all awesome), so that’s another way my chain has been growing and getting stronger!