Sunday, October 31, 2010

Managing Aggression

I'm still super-hyped over the couple privates I've taken with BrownBelt Wrestler. 

The techniques and principles have been great, but a big chunk of what's got me all amped is the side talk. I don't know if most people experience really could just be me being me...but I don't spend time with my training partners outside of the gym. I still love them to death, but we're just not on that "chilling after class" level. Privates have given me a good chance to talk through a lot of stuff that can't get addressed in a class. 

Sometimes I envy smaller women starting out in the sport. The constant relative size. Not worrying as much about accidentally crushing someone with your 200+lb frame. While I was making notes on some De la Riva tips, I confessed that I worry a lot about accidentally hurting a teammate. BrownBelt looked me squarely in the face and responded that my size is a blessing. I stopped breathing. I think I teared up a little...which surprised me. As much pride and comfort I take in my height and build, I think I have a few sensitive spots deep down. I know I have a few sensitive spots deep down. He continued to explain that everyone that steps onto the mats is taking on risk. I've accepted that for myself, but I have a hard time with the idea that I might be the risk in question. He then told me I didn't have to worry about hurting him...which got my mind whirling around my issues rolling with smaller men.

I don't have an issue digging up aggression. It's right there whenever I need it. I just worry what it might do. It's just SO hard for me to judge how hard to go with them and how much weight to use. I know people say "pound for pound men are stronger than women" and I know it's true, but there's such a wide range of strength levels. With women, I know...don't toss them around, don't squash and focus on technique. Guys though...I've rolled with men smaller and weaker and some that were smaller and who could toss me across a room. Add on smaller white belts who I worry about "agitating" and having them freak out and snap my wrist, and there's just this...ball of confusion and hesitation in my head when it comes to them. 

I think I can learn push it with BrownBelt though. Not just because I know I won't likely throw out anything that would hurt him, but also because I trust him not to freak out about my size. 


Georgette said...

I'm fascinated by this aspect of your development. As you know from my recent post, I have this idea that women's jits develops differently from men's because we're usually smaller plus weaker (at least upper body-wise) so lots of techniques that men can make work if they're half-right won't work for us unless they're 95% right... so I suspect we don't even throw those techniques much until later in our development. But with you, you're as big as most, and bigger than some... but still weaker in some ways... please, continue posting about this aspect of your journey! it is so insightful :)

Megan said...

Just read your is...dead on. I've been wanting to write about this for a while but finding a starting point feels close to impossible.

I'm thinking the school's rolling policy has a lot to do with your exposure. I am ALL over the place regarding size and belt level(as opposed to your limited exposure to whites/little people). I get a lot of the women/teens because I won't hurt them but the big guys too because I'm frequently the largest in class.

You HAVE to run with your theory on female game development. I'm dying to see what you'd find. Until I read your post I thought it was rare that I felt behind the guys...which made me feel insane because I learn quickly. It's like it's just not translating into action as quickly as it is for the guys. I have a hunch that it has to do with men being more willing to just...fight. I know I don't do that.

That strength issue is why I've decided to start working on chokes. I have super weak wrists and the typical female upper-body issues and need to start "focusing"...which I may start doing for a while on this blog too...analyzing how I've developed over the last year. Might be a good 1 yr anniversary project.

Anonymous said...

What's with all the tiny women in BJJ? I'm a muscular 150 lb woman, and I find that rolling with an insect of a woman can be just as challenging as rolling with a 200 lb beefcake. Definitely different styles at play. The "women are more technical" stereotype doesn't apply to me. I'm not as strong as most of the men, but was strong enough to muscle through bad form as a white belt against other white belts and took forever to develop a decent game. Once things finally clicked, though, I started making up time.

SavageKitsune said...

"What's with all the tiny women in BJJ"- a lot of us wind up here because we try other martial arts and are even *more* outmatched physically. Our opponents always have the reach on our short arms and legs, so to negate the range disparity, we have to get in really close. Might as well just STAY in there, and grapple!

Deborah Clem said...

Aggression. It's what's for breakfast!

Aggression is a little mouse I keep in my pocket for deployment at the appropriate moment, but I have had to search for and cultivate it in a petri dish. Aggression does live in the living room of my brain, it's more of a storm shelter place.

I suspect you are considered an excellent training partner by your peers, (your writing speaks well for you). Have you considered asking one of the smaller guys for their opinion about this issue?

Liam H Wandi said...

Awareness. That's what it's all about. That's the best measure of growth (if one is needed) within Jiu Jitsu and you are, excuse the pun, growing!

slideyfoot said...

Interesting post: I've been playing around with an article about aggression ever since Leslie's great post, so this is more food for thought (and motivation to get it finished! ;p).

A.D. McClish said...

You know, the thing that sticks out the most to me when I am reading this post is that you have exactly the right attitude. You care about your training partners. You don't want to hurt anyone. But you still want to train. I think you have a great opportunity with your brown belt instructor and hopefully some other higher belts as well, who you can just go for it with. Like your instructor said, people who take BJJ know that there are risks involved. It is a fighting sport. And you are paying to learn how to fight. The higher belts will be able to manage your size because of their level of technique.

But I am very impressed by the care you have for your teammates. Everyone should have that level of concern.

Megan said... true about small women, or even men being difficult. While sweeps and reversals may be easier, I find that submissions have to be cleaner.

@Dagney...I really need to talk to the guys more. There's one in particular (I was his first roll with a female) that I think could give some great feedback. He's not small, more medium sized, but I think he could give good feedback since he's still smaller than me.

@PTG...thanks for the reminder. Seriously. It's so easy to miss where you're improving.

@Slidey...I'd love to see what you come up with. Based on what you've told me about your rolling style, I'm curious to see your perspective on aggression.

@A.D.'re very right about the higher belts. Last night I went in and reminded myself that I'm not as likely to hurt them and it helped me let loose some.

Ashley said...

It is really something else how complicated the idea of aggression and intensity is. I think it's because it's so variable, based on the person -- like you said, 'judging' them. It might even depend on the day, how hard they want to go. I struggle with not being aggressive enough. It's amusing that whether we have aggression or not, we all struggle with it! I'm sure we'll figure it out one day. :)