Light as a feather, stiff as a board

Recently my husband remarked that he was surprised I was listening to classical music, and I told him “Sometimes it’s nice when the music doesn’t have lyrics to distract me, because I can enjoy it and still think about Jiu-Jitsu at the same time!”. Since I haven’t trained BJJ for the last week (because of my knee), I’ve been doing a lot of thinking instead, and one of the many things I’ve thought about is the different pieces of general advice or wisdom I’ve heard from my instructors through the years.

Some of things I remember Conan saying are “Rolling is where the rubber meets the road”, “Don’t try to move the mountain, go around it”, and “Never accept a bad position”. Professor Greg has shared things like “Always roll with a purpose”, “Perfect is the enemy of good”, and one of my all time favorites “Don’t be a dick”.

Yet in the end, the advice that I believe I personally needed the most, and which can be very beneficial to newer students, is simply “relax”. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about the subject, but I still often roll with people who tell me things like “My cardio sucks!”, or “I need to work on my stamina!”, but I think their cardio and stamina might actually be better than mine, I’m just more relaxed than they are, so I think what they really need to do is calm down. I know how difficult it can be, and it actually took me years before I could really follow that advice myself, but being more relaxed has made a huge difference in my performance.

"I don't have to jog, I don't have to lift weights, I believe all my energy needs to be focused on Jiu-Jitsu, because I want to improve my Jiu-Jitsu." -Marcelo GarciaI’m pretty sure that in the beginning of my training, grappling with me was like rolling with a 2×4 made of balsa wood, because I was totally stiff but I didn’t weigh much, which made me really easy to control! I think some people interpret relaxing while rolling to mean being slow, but that’s not necessarily the case, because you can actually move quicker when you’re relaxed, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of the fastest people I roll with, Tumbleweed Mike, is also one of the most relaxed. I don’t believe he even jogs, lift weights, or does any other kind of supplemental training to improve his cardio, stamina, or strength, because he doesn’t have to (he simply relaxes, and doesn’t be a dick ;). Someone recently said they wished they could be good as Mike, and Professor Greg responded “Just train all the time”.

My knee is finally feeling a little better, so I’m going to class in a couple of hours, but it’s doubtful that I will roll (I don’t want to take any chances before the Tinguinha seminar on Saturday, because I don’t want to miss it!). Normally I would be having a personal pity party over not being able to train or roll, but I’ve decided to try to extend the “relax” advice beyond rolling, and just take each day as it comes. Que sera, sera.

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