Writing in Capitals

When I was a kid and first began to write out my letters, I was enamored by the capital versions of each, both in cursive and print. I’d spend as much time as I could filling pages with the alphabet in all of its angular and curved splendor. As I got older, I did the same with block letters and script – if I was in a class, chances were that my notes were just going to be scribbles of letters and names on paper. Skipping the lower-cased letters was not an option, though. They still had to be learned and, because of them, the written language is more robust – hell, the lower-cased letters make up the vast majority of our correspondence. Without them, we would be incomplete.

This post is not so much about letters, though. This analogy could be used, not just for letters, but also for jiu-jitsu. If you attempt to only use the capital letters all of the time – the berimbolo, the back-step, inversion, fancy guards, etc. — your game is going to have serious holes. It isn’t until you master the fundamentals — the vast majority of the game — that the capitals take on their real character.

And let’s not just stop there: I originally thought of this analogy because I have been having an issue on the mats lately — I either relax too much or become overly aggressive from the top that results in spazzing out. In attempting to bring the athletic passing style of Rodolfo Vieira to my own game, I’ve started to overdo it. Hopping back and forth without proper technique only results in my own fatigue. Then, I give up the sweep too readily or acquiesce when I should fight on.

I’ve mentioned the latter in the past but it’s still something I’m working on. Even with aggression, you have to have the right amount of balance. Going HAM on the mats needs to be done in a controlled manner somehow; I’m still digesting my thoughts on this, but I know that over-exerting my muscles doesn’t improve form.

All of this came about because last week – for the first time in a long time – I trained 5 days in a 7 day week. Monday morning was a small class; Wednesday morning focused mostly on takedowns; Thursday night I visited Tinguinha’s gym where Emilio was teaching and got WAXED by Scott, who mentioned my spazz nature coming to the surface. I think he tapped me 7 times in 6 minutes; I realized afterward that I wasn’t defending properly and didn’t capitalize where I should have. I let him play his game at the wrong moments and tried to pass badly at other points. All around, it was a blow to the ego and a growing experience. I like rolling with Scott because he continues to improve and doesn’t hold back on me. This will only make me better. Back to the rest of the week: Friday evening class was great and I got lots of work in with multiple people; Saturday, I was back at Tinguinha’s where Emilio was hosting a FREE self-defense seminar. I got to catch up with old friends, make new friends and altogether enjoy the two-hour seminar. The best part was probably just the idea of a self-defense mindset. If more of these come up in the future, I’d encourage all to go.

So, I’m laying there on Saturday afternoon and I’m SORE. I realize that I’ve lost the balance somewhere, like trying to write all in caps. Either I don’t train enough or I train too often for my body to respond appropriately; either I relax too much in the moment and give up the sweep, or I spazz too hard. The next few weeks will be dedicated to finding that balance again, on and off the mat.

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