Friday, October 24, 2008


I am not.

In essence, fear keeps people safe. I know that as well as anybody, yet I simply didn't realise how much it applied to me until class on Tuesday night. Fear stops you from doing stupid things, but it also inhibits your growth.

I think I have a much better picture of how fear has influenced my learning curve and the evolution of my game. To an extent it's been great: I have a top game which works quite well, and a bottom game that leads slowly back to a top game. As far as that, it's worked out quite well for me. So it's not so much the fear of losing, or looking stupid, in my case it seems to have been a fear of letting go.

John Will has a great analogy that more or less illustrates my point: (paraphrasing) if a bad situation in BJJ is like the sinking of the titanic, the black belts are the first ones off the ship (with the best lifeboats and supplies), the browns and purples are right behind and get whatever's left, the blues have what is pretty much a 50-50 chance and the white belts are locked in their cabins wondering why their feet are getting wet.

When I first heard it I thought it just referred to knowing when to bail on a submission or position and move on. Now I think it's also about not being fixated on one or a few facets of my game, to the exclusion of others. Maybe it's about letting go (not the same thing as abandoning) of what I think I know and being OK with moving outside my comfort zone before I get mentally locked into a set path and never deviate, even if it becomes a sinking ship. Because I like my top game, but it's really depressing to think about never doing anything else.

My game has almost always been very stable, tight and economical. It's been slow to evolve and when it has, it's been quite a significant jump. But a part of the reason is simply that I was afraid to try new things. Not of the consequences, just of trying them. I got so comfortable with one game and never really did any kind of exploring. I had so many missed opportunities over the last couple of years to try and experiment that it hurts to think of.

So I started messing around with my guard game and, while it's kind of lacking, I started really enjoying it. What also made a huge difference was a few nuggets of advice Vince gave me. They changed the way I approached my guard, which was pretty exciting.

That same class, we had another grading. Leong was promoted to blue, which I was happy to see. I feel he deserves it because he's put forth an impressive effort in developing his own unique game, which nobody else can really imitate. At this point it's still kind of attribute-driven (but hey, who am I to talk) though I can clearly see him getting more and more technical. He's the only one in the class who regularly goes for (and hits) gongoas.

Also, I got bumped to blue with 3-stripes. Which was nice.

This will likely turn out to be the last grading I see at KDT as a full-time student. In a way it was really a bummer, but it's still got that "In a little while I'm going to have that new car smell I can feel good about" vibe.

I'm really going to miss nights like these.

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