I sat last night, watching PrettyVoicedInstructor rolling with a very talented blue. I'd seen him spar many times, but it was different this time. The match moved fluidly and didn't stop to rest or think. It was fast, but neither hurried, panicked nor forceful. It was the first match I'd seen in person that looked like an actual dance. It was pretty. I don't think everyone's jiu jitsu is, or even can be pretty, but his is and often are. The most amazing part is that rolling with him, you can feel the fluidity and even a masculine grace.
I just finished reading Clinzy's post on winning
. Only recently, have I started to feel glimpses of the flow and freedom that I used to experience when dancing salsa. The first time I experienced it then was about three years in and one year before my dance zenith in China with the guy in the video below. It was a trip to South Carolina to visit my cousin and I dropped in to a local salsa club to check out the scene. I was feeling bold being the "mystery salsera" and decided to ask the resident instructor for a dance. He was more than willing, even offering to learn the style that I was most comfortable in. It was an amazing, inspirational, playful, seductive dance to Marc Anthony's Tu Amor Me Hace Bien
(a sweet, light hearted, yet powerful song). It went down as the best dance I'd ever had. Thanks Joel.
Dancing salsa...I danced socially for four years, which isn't very long in the grand scheme of things, but it was long enough to learn that it's a dance of flirtation, communication, playfulness, seduction, spontaneity, skill and interpretation
. I've made comparisons since the beginning, and the longer I do BJJ, the less similar they seem, but the more I see them both drawing on similar parts of me as a practitioner. There are a few things that I learned in salsa that I believe tie into staying away from the trap of "need-to-win-based" stagnation that, from what I hear, is a big problem for quite a few people that practice.
1) It's about communication. Sure, you can impress people around you and even your partner, but at the end of the day, you have a living, breathing, responding human being with traits and ideas to explore and share that will, in the end, help you grow, but only if you listen.
2) Who you are as a dancer (player) morphs with your changes in partners. There are some people in the gym who bring out really good things in me...both in technique and experience. Others...not so much. Part of that is just meshing of skill and preferences, the rest is personal.
3) Trying new things won't kill you. You may elbow somebody in the face (or catch an elbow), but you'll likely either discover something that doesn't work, or something that does. Both are great.
4) Pay attention to your partner. The moves you choose will change based on their physical traits and choices of response. Doing this makes you more versatile and trying things out with different types of people gives you better insight into techniques themselves.
5) You should be having fun. You won't all the time, but overall, experiences should be enjoyable.
I seriously doubt I'll ever devote the same time and energy to dance that I did before and honestly, my drive to improve there is pretty much done. BJJ is a much better fit for me, I enjoy the people more and it has left its own unique signature, earning its own, distinct place in my life.