Training Diary: Week 2

If two people try to learn a new skill, which performs better: the one who has no prior knowledge and relies on the introductory teaching alone or one who has watched the skill several times on film and also has introductory teaching. You might argue that the one who hasn’t seen the skill before would do better because they are most focused on their teacher’s exact commands and don’t over-estimate themselves. In fact, I remember a TV show where a computer game racing champion performed poorly when he actually tried to learn real race car driving because he constantly acted with more confidence than his skills allowed and constantly under-estimated the amount of steering effort and speed management required to make corners. However, in my experience of grappling for the second time, having watched hundreds of hours of MMA did seem to pay off to some small extent. I have been shown a few elements of grappling but not enough so that I have a technique in mind for every position. In my first class, I just froze in those positions and tried not to get swept but this week I allowed myself to attempt things I had seen on TV and by and large it was better to know the visual representations of these positions and techniques to try and ape them and have more of a rally or dialogue with the partner rather than just stopping. Specifically it seems when someone is trying to flatten you onto your back, there is often an opportunity if you can escape to the side to try to threaten their back. Having not watched MMA, I would not have known to even try this as a threat…..so yes, those hours on the couch were training sessions too.

Just one session this week. Cycled the distance at a slightly slower pace (around 80 minutes rather than 60) and it seemed to really pay off and leave me less drained for the session itself. Far more people attended this time, some of them clearly quite advanced. The atmosphere seems somewhat friendly, which is nice. Again, the fitness level is good but not excellent and the attitude seems to be to grapple and then rest to get your breath back before leaping back in. The opposite is usually true in Taekwon-do where people are encouraged to take on several rounds without breaks to get used to fighting tired. It’s good that the approach is like this as it helps me to improve my fitness without being massively behind the class but also will mesh well when I start to train in Taekwon-do and Grappling at the same time.

At the end of this session, I was a little more tired than at the end of the second but it was a different kind of tired. After grappling it is very easy and quick to get your breath back but there is more tiredness in the body. The next day my body felt very tired but it could have been the addition of the cycling as well (the route is quite hilly).

I did manage to get a submission and couldn’t help but celebrate. Yes, obviously at this level people are going easy with me and giving me opportunities but I am sure he would have got out of the hold if he could (I think the guy wasn’t that experienced, though more so than me). The alternative is to go several weeks without getting one (highly possible) so it’s nice to break the duck early even if the next one is months or years away. Unfortunately it was a boring guillotine choke. Yes, the crappy submission that everyone who doesn’t know how to grapple goes for because it looks easy. I haven’t been taught it, I just aped what I’d seen in MMA and squeezed my legs.

It’s still very early days. I focused much more on trying to return to guard which often worked. I have been taught submissions and a sweep from guard but I don’t know how to pass one. I assume progress will continue in this manner, filling in bits of the picture but leaving me with positions from which I have to improvise based on my knowledge of MMA. Once I have been shown all the techniques, I just have to the go over them a million times. Again, in Taekwondo, if you show someone how to move forward and backward, guard and throw one punch and one kick, they can spar and they won’t get into a position where they have no idea what to do. The same is not true in grappling.

None of this really matters as I am so early in much of the learning is just being around the techniques, rather than knowing them but it’s nice to feel that you know them and can make progress quickly, if only for psychological reasons.

We practised a takedown which has many more steps to it than you would imagine from seeing it sped up. It is more like a lightning fast combination of foot and hand movements with level changes, quite far from a plain rugby tackle.

The obligatory graze this time was on my foot. As long as the grazes heal in time for the next class (as have my knee and arm) then I guess it won’t be too much of a problem. Maybe my body will be conditioned to it.

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