Saturday, May 31, 2008


This isn't meant to be as rambling a post as my previous effort on the topic. Instead, I was inspired to write something after reading Garry Kasparov's book, "How Life Imitates Chess".

I've also been affected by a spot of blog inertia, so aside from the not-unwelcome chance of spurring me on to more entries of greater insight, I hope that this post will actually be of some use to its readers, and in so doing prove to be somewhat more than an exercise in creatively bankrupt indulgence.

I won't go into very much detail here - because I really do recommend this book to anyone with more than a passing interest in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu - but I will bring up some of the highlights.

Strategy vs. Tactics:

The words 'strategy' and 'tactics' are routinely used interchangeably, a waste of many useful distinctions. While strategy is abstract and based on long-term goals, tactics are concrete and based on finding the best move right now.

A tactician feels at home reacting to threats and seizing opportunities on the battlefield. His problem is how to make progress when there are no obvious moves, when action is required, not reaction.

Just think about all the times when you started rolling with a "I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm doing it" mindset (which for me would be...alot) and you start to get a sense of the gold to be mined from them thar hills.

Challenges, Competition and the Path to Growth:

Feudal and caste systems might be dying out in most places but they are alive and well in the chess world...First category players aren't allowed to participate in the second category competition, any more than a twenty-year-old could play in the under-twelve championship. Of course there are no restrictions in the opposite direction...No one could complain that it was unfair when I won the Soviet national under-eighteen tournament at the age of twelve.

If it is challenges that help us improve, why then - apart from prize money - shouldn't everyone want to play in the open section of the tournament? Would we not learn more from nine losses to very strong opponents than from six wins and three losses against players roughly our own level?

...Finding the correct balance between confidence and correction is up to each person. 'Lose as often as you can take it' is a good rule of much as we enjoy winning, and winning every time out would obviously be ideal, it is important to realise that setbacks are both necessary and required if we are to make progress.

I think it's quite obvious just from this passage that this information is relevant to a great many things, including of course, Jiu-Jitsu. I often feel like the times I grew the most in my training were the nights I got repeatedly, quickly and sometimes uncomfortably tapped.

I would hope I'm not just preaching to the choir here, but trust me, if there's anything that will make a fast learner out of you, it's getting flattened into a white-and-sometimes-blue stain on the mats by guys who are just so far above you in skill that it's not funny anymore, but you laugh anyway. (thanks, Adam!).

I found a whole lot of good stuff from my first read - much, much more than has been presented here, so treat this strictly as the teaser trailer before the summer blockbuster - and will definitely need to have another go.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


...And here's proof!

Vince edited this video of a CMD class we recently had, the whole time we just did really light "MMA" sparring. No elbows or knees, but kicks, takedowns and grappling were allowed. I'm the fellow with the dark blue t-shirt (also designed by Vince), the black Fairtex shorts and the light blue gloves.

I found it tremendously fun, though pretty draining. As you may guess from the sloppy takedown, much of the video was shot close to the end of class. I think I did alright as far as endurance is concerned, and I have only Vince's conditioning classes to thank for it. If you're looking to train for MMA or even standup, I'd really recommend some kind of interval training regime, the benefits to be had are simply immense.

I had loads of fun integrating BJJ into my sparring. I can't get enough of it as is, so any opportunity to throw in some grappling is always cool. It was really interesting to again take note of how much the dynamics of "normal" BJJ training shift when not only do you not have a gi to slow things down, but someone is also trying to punch you in the face.
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