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The tao of NSLightsOut: Training, stagnation and tapping

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    NSLO, Great thread, I am glad this got drug back up....

    I felt some of fears of losing to a higher belt at a dojo I was with many years ago, there was quite a bit of ego going on with some of the higher belts. I didn't quite realize it then, but it did hold me back to a point.

    Fast forward to the past few years and the guys I'd been working out with were great, very little ego, mostly wanting to help the lower belts succeed and this flows into your thoughts about tapping. We're all expected to "feel" some pain, so if we're shown a new move or pressure point or whatever, everyone is going to tap. When it comes time to drill that particular move, the higher belts help you get the movement right to the point where they "feel" a little of the pain and will tap. When it comes time for you to be the practice dummy, you know they let you take it to tap with them and you are going to let someone else do the same with you. I think this does a couple things for us lower ranks; one it helps us get the technique right in the drills, if they need to tap, you caused some pain and probably did it right. Second - since everyone is going to hurt a little, then there is more of a feeling of comraderie so egos are left out (don't know if that makes sense). Oh yeah, third - you feel the pain but that's probably a whole different discussion

    BTW NSLO- I sitting typing this while sipping a hot apple cider with a good splash of Bundy thrown in. Not easy to find here in the states, but a friend brings it up from Aus for me. :occasion1



      I've said this on the forum before so this might be a bit of a re-post to some of you.

      We approach teaching the lower ranks as an investments in better training partners. Simply put, the more I help or teach you (while avoiding information overload), the better training partner you will be for the whole gym in the long run. It is in our best interest to help everyone out so that they may improve enough to become challenging training partners. What is the use of subbing a lower rank over and over? Ego gratification? (It's one thing to hone a move against the lower belts, but that's not what I'm talking about here.)

      This overly competitive attitude, IMO, hinders the training environment. New students will be less likely to stick around because they are constantly being crushed on the mat, and with no one offering helpful advice on how to improve, most will quickly become discouraged. Existing students will get caught up in the more competitive aspect of the art and be less inclined to risk anything experimental. Which brings me to my next point.

      At some point during training, most people realize the need to experiment in order to develop new skills. This is stifled in a highly competitve environment as no one wants to risk getting beaten because they would lose ground in the pecking order.

      Sometimes I get subbed by lower ranks while exploring new positions or ideas. Do I get upset over my 'loss'? Hell no. I file the information away and continue to experiment. Sometimes I find gold, other times pyrite. What matters is the willingness to expand and explore my existing set of techniques.

      I should expand and elaborate more on this, but I'm afraid my brain is shutting down as I've just spent the last few minutes staring at the screen like a slack-jawed zombie.

      Bottom line is when you leave your ego at the door, everyone wins.
      Shut the hell up and train.


        The club I train at has a great team atmosphere. I only deal with blue belts and above so I'm only talking about the advanced class. However in that advanced class we have two black belts, four brown belts, 7 or 8 purples and probably a dozen or more blues.

        On Saturdays during our open mat I am usually training with the other black belt and/or the brown belts on whatever is causing us the most problems. We help each other by pointing out problems and solutions as well as drilling and rolling to help out our partners overcome those problems e.g. situation drills.

        I'm currently teaching one night a week at another club but would not give up training at Dominance simply because we've got such a great team of skilled guys who help each other out.


          I have travelled and moved around quite a bit since I started BJJ. First I lived in southern Sweden, then I moved to Los Angeles, then Washington, DC and then back to my hometown Stockholm, Sweden. During that time I've trained three months or more at four different academies and probably visited at least a dozen. My experience is that how tightly knit and team oriented the academy members are is a prime determinant of how well the team does. Why? Because it's more fun to train at a school with a good team spirit, so people train more often. Also, knowledge disseminates quickly in an environment where people actively spread it. When there is little ego and alpha male dominance competition in the school, people start experimenting.

          A prime example of this would be my first BJJ school. When I trained there, the primary teacher was a good blue belt, with a purple dropping in from time to time. The actual amount of experience wasn't very high compared to most other school I've visited since then. However, the school was still very, very good because everyone shared what they knew. It had a good culture.

          On the flip side, there's another school (in the US), the name of which I won't mention, that was the complete opposite. Lots of good guys. The total amount of skill in that school was far higher than it was at my first school, yet I seemed to learn much less when I trained there. Why? Because there was that constant sense of competition between the students, with people jealously guarding their secret super deadly techniques. The school just didn't perform to its potential because it had a bad culture.

          Now I'm very happy with my training situation because I am at a school that has an insanely high skill level (having two black belts and multiple browns and purples is very rare for a european school) but also has that awesome team feeling that makes you want to train and become friends with everyone on the mat. I love it.


            Missing posts moved here: Forum detritus #457 - No BS MMA and Martial Arts
            Shut the hell up and train.


              jnp necromancy ftw.

              This whole thread is a really long way of saying:

              Competitions are for seeing who you can tap.
              Class is for training.


                I would like to add the following:


                It's a blog from Cane Prevost, a SBG brown belt. Great blog in general but he talks about this subject also. He comes at this from the point of measuring your progress and how obsession of certain measures can lead to problems with you training in general.


                  Really useful and honest thread!

                  I have had this problem recently, I rolled with a white belt after I had fought 6 rounds of sparring. I just had no energy to fight back and eventually he caught me with an arm bar. This made me furious, fortunately I kept the feeling to myself. I continued my bad mood home and had a lousy night's sleep. Pointless! Why did I let it ruin my night? This focus will ruin my training progress!

                  Being ego-less is not my goal, it is after all who I am! However managing it is my goal. I still have a lot to learn (who doesn't?) but this lesson could be the best one that bjj has to offer me. I have been rude to moderators who have reprimanded me for shit posting (I feel another one coming on) but why be rude? What the hell am I trying to achieve? The same in BJJ if I am beaten or I win is not the point what I do about it or learn from it is.

                  If this is shitposting sorry. It was not intentional.


                    I wish everyone at the academy I train with would take this advice... It's a daily battle there.

                    I was tapped by a training partner (at my sambo/judo club) the other day who has half the experience I do, but he caught me being lazy on a proper ankle lock, and it was actually pretty exciting. I taught him those techniques, so how cool is that?

                    I look at it as a marathon, rather than a sprint... I may get tapped by overly-aggressive guys who just want to win, based solely on that aggression, but my technique will continue to improve steadily over time. And, even though I've only been doing this for 3 1/2 years or so, most of the dojo champs I've encountered during that time either fall off at some point, or quit coming altogether.


                      I may be investing in my training partners too well.....after tapping a lower belt to the same thing a couple of times in a row I will stop our free roll and go over what I am doing and how to avoid it. I have seen their game's get better because of it (At least against me) which has been great.....It is good but at times frustrating due to me having to then change my game every few months due to them figuring out what I am trying to do.

                      sorry for the new here.


                        Awsome post!!! I have a lot of respect for you after reading it!!



                          Wouldn't competition be a great gauge for that? I believe that one of the greatest aspect of our mat sports is that there is no all comes out on the mat. One on one...

                          I believe that competition would pretty much settle the inner conversation and inspire to continue the growth.

                          Best to you on the mat.


                            Don't verbally defecate in adgrap.
                            Consider for a moment that there is no meme about brown-haired, brown-eyed step children.


                              From striking mentality to bjj mentality

                              What a great post! I hope you don't mind if I share this with some of my students. As a taekwon-do blackbelt with 25 years experience in the art, I've noticed that some of what you talk about (the fears of losing in training, stagnation in technique due to said fear, bragging about successes, etc) is sadly part and parcel to much of the world of the striking arts. It comes from the "ooh, I got you!" aspect of your goal being to land a punch or kick. Because it's harder to achieve in striking what would amount to success in the street or in a kick-boxing match (i.e. knocking someone out!) than it is in grappling (submitting someone- no knock out necessary!), often times the measuring stick for feeling good about your training is "getting" someone. You, know, landing an awesome face shot or knocking the wind out of someone with a lucky spinning-back kick, and so on. The unrealistic world of "point-sparring" certainly contributes to this as well. When I began training jiu-jitsu in earnest about 5 years ago, I brought some of that mentality with me to the mats and experienced much of the fear-induced stagnation and discouragement you talk about because I was measuring my grappling progress by striking standards. So afraid to tap that I would try to make up for lack of technique with excessive energy output and not take risks or try new things, feeling like a failure every time I tapped or failed to tap someone out. Thankfully, over time with the help of great mentors and training partners that old mentality began to fade and was replaced with a healthier outlook. Now getting tapped out is a learning experience I eagerly embrace. I don't just cling to my bread and butter moves to destroy my partners or never allow my partner to gain a dominant position thus robbing myself of the opportunity to work on escapes and defense. BJJ has taught me humility and patience and shown me what's important in the bigger picture. You know what the coolest part is? when I put the gloves on and do some tkd sparring or kickboxing I am able to apply the BJJ mentality to that! It's no longer about the "gotcha's" but rather how well did I control my breathing and stamina through the round, how effectively did I block and slip punches, did I learn something new about the way I move or my weaknesses, and was I able to help my partner and myself become better through this sparring session? I run my own tkd school, and with the help of some awesome purple belts I met at a Gracie garage I am including at least fundamental jiu-jitsu skills in our curriculum. However, despite my best efforts to cull it, I still see some of my older students fall prey to the old mentality, but if I was able to change so can they, and perhaps some of the wisdom you dropped here can help open their eyes. I see much hope and promise in the new ones coming in, benefiting from the start from the healthy jiu-jitsu outlook that they can apply to any art, and to all aspects of life even! So here's to making the world a better place, one tap-out at a time!


                                More people should read NSLightsOut thread on growing beyond one’s ego in martial arts.
                                Shut the hell up and train.



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