The Wrestler’s Mentality

Before class yesterday, I was going over some takedowns with my training partner, Joe. He’s a great guy and we really push ourselves to get better. Not only do we have to keep adapting our game to one another, we’re of similar weight and size, so it makes rolling very natural. Anyway, we’re going over takedowns and I’m working this 2-handed baseball grip snapdown to a single leg. You have to really snap your arms down a few times to get your opponent off balance and keep shuffling to that side so that the leg is open for you, but I like it as an opener. It’s a nice way to close space and opens up some options. So far, so good.

Fast forward to the middle of class; we’re going 5 minute rounds from stand-up to prepare for competition and I’m going against Joe to start things off. I come in hot, work the baseball grip snapdown, but he knows my strategy and circles the other way. I end up getting a double leg after some work and we go to the ground. The rest of the match was back and forth and really good for both of us.

The questions came after the match.

We’re lined against the wall and my instructor tells me that I’m too fast-paced, have no plan, and shouldn’t just snap guys’ lapels because it looks like I’m out there being an animal.

He’s my instructor. And a 4th degree black belt. And POISED on the mat. So, I take his concern seriously. However, I did have a plan. It had to be adjusted, but coming out hot (and staying aggressive) is part of the mentality that I was taught as a wrestler. If you want to win, you have to outlast the other guy, stop resting and start working.

This is why I make it a point to be first in drills. I need a large tank, and I need it to be full. I get very frustrated when a heavier guy will just lay on me; I get the sweep and then, BAM, he muscles me over. Then he continues to lay on me some more. I understand that jiu-jitsu is about technique, but it also has to be about your own personal game. Some people wear you down by going slowly, by being methodical, by deteriorating your defenses with poise.

Others, like me, come out aggressive and hard, with a plan, looking for the sub early – and if it has to go the full round, I look for the sub then, too. This isn’t to say that I don’t get tired – I get exhausted – and I normally rest in guard, but I just disagree that all jiu-jitsu has to be sloth-jiu-jitsu.

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