Thursday, December 20, 2012

Business in BJJ: The Mata Leon Video

Unlike some previous controversies in the world of BJJ and sex, I'm willing to post this media because, well, the sex is the icing on the cake (as opposed to the cake itself) and there's actual jiu jitsu involved.

Straight out of the box...nice to see people putting effort into production. The action's better than most of the campy sci-fi movies I blow my Saturday afternoons on, but still strikes me as a little cliche. Overall though, this one left me with mixed feelings. Yes, it's a definite step up from a greezy chick in a tank top, but unlike the Rousey/Tate promo, I wouldn't give it credit for smart, or even inoffensive use of sex to push a product.

Confused customers: I thought this was an ad for women's gis--that is until I went to Mata Leon's site and saw that they didn't have products for women. I ran this past a couple of guy friends and one put it quite succinctly..."I don't want to buy clothes that a chick I want to nail would wear." So the woman who might want the gi can't get a product, and the guy who was the target audience, doesn't think the product advertised was for him. I'm guessing they just assumed the men watching the ad think gis can only be worn by men.

Sexy Overload: I will sing this from the rafters, sex selling is not a law of physics. Overt sex has been proven to be distracting. Using anything too visceral in advertising is a risky game...humor, disgust, creep-factor...hit people too hard in these areas and they get distracted. Distracted customers don't remember brands when it's time to shop. I initially watched this video and went about my business. Five minutes later, I remember the woman's haircut, the shower sink, the apartment layout, but not the company that was trying to sell me something.

Questionable Business Practices: It takes a good bit of effort to connect with your customers in an ad, and there was one image of the brand name and more detailed looks at the woman's rear than the product, which is a shame. I love the idea of good companies making a good product, trying new things and succeeding. I want to see people finding ways to make a living doing things they love and supporting the communities they're connected with. Ads like this, I think are a genuine effort to do business better, but they likely jeopardized their own effectiveness in an effort to get attention.

So yeah...all that said, I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe this is what progress looks like. Yes, the ad fails the gender-replacement test (f there'd been a dripping wet man in that shower and a close up on a pair of boxer-briefs being pulled up, well, you get the idea.), but cultures just don't make big jumps and perhaps a well-made commercial with bits of sexualization is a step in the right direction...maybe. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Best of 2012

King of the Hill, Shark Tank...I don't know what it's called, but I like it.

We worked it last night from deep half. The class was split at the 160lb mark, so I went with the big boys. About 10 min in, my side had passed 2 people while the smaller folk were working into their third rotation...GinasticaInstructor was dominating. So after about 15 min, I assume to get things moving more evenly, Parrumpa broke us up and I went with some of the smaller folk.

After doing one round with the heavyweights the contrast of rolling with a woman 80lbs lighter than me was painfully stark, and starkly telling. I've gotten much better at flipping the strength switch (though I might need to people who actually train with me about that) and have learned to calm myself more even with the stronger guys. I'm more comfortable taking top position and not just letting smaller people get away with things I'd fight a bigger person for...without squashing.

So was a rough year for me, multiple family deaths, stressful projects at work, friends moving away...I'm still feeling the weight of a generally dark year. Seeing the Christmas decorations finally up in my house was the first time I've felt some brightness in a while. That said, some really cool BJJ stuff happened this year.

New gym-...and it's getting newer! Crossfit kicked off this Saturday and the new, ultra-big mat area is just around the corner.

KickboxerInstructor's Brown Belt Exam-Honestly, it was a thing of beauty. 150 techniques and absolutely flawless.

Launching, exhilarating and still testing me. I still get warm fuzzies playing with the search functions.

Starting ginastica natural-scary and painful and still sometimes scary, but the elemental nature of movement that it addresses is something I'm beyond glad to have supplementing my training. It's definitely something I want to keep up in the long term.

Feeling like a blue belt-It's odd...I feel more ignorant than ever, but I feel like an actual blue belt. not sure when it happened, but it happened.

Feeling like I belong in the advanced class-Kinda goes with the statement above, but what cemented it was being asked to roll more frequently by higher belts, and also not feeling overwhelmed when more than 2 techniques were presented in one class.

Ladybug getting hurt and Fiona falling off-bittersweet. They haven't been around in months. They're both planning on coming back when it works out better for them, but end of day, the two ladies I came up with are gone. Sad, but it's forced me to find the initial, internal motivation I had when I first started.

I think 2013 is going to be a pretty awesome year.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Operation Tattered Belt: Knee on Belly

I'm focusing on only two escapes, each oriented in opposite directions. Saulo's running escape and Stephan Kesting's belt grip to sweep.

Kesting's has worked fine for me in the long as I can get my arm all the way under the controlling leg. I've been pretty stumped as to what to do when I can't get that or don't have any options in that direction. Saulo's fills in that space since, instead of staying connect and sweeping your opponent, you're, well, running.

I tried it twice this week--first time it was slow, but worked nicely. The second time, well, I was a bit too gung-ho and instead of rolling my legs out from under the knee, over my head and into full guard, I ended up facing the complete opposite direction a couple of times. Oops. After a couple of tries though, I smoothed the movement out and got more control.

In other bright news, while rolling with one of the smaller ladies, I realized that I've learned quite well how to negotiate my four favorite arm bar escapes depending on opponent. Hitchhiker is my absolute favorite, but pulling it off happens infrequently. Stacking only works when I catch enough momentum when an opponent sits back, and getting my elbow to the mat is only useful with someone who keeps a sloppy grip. I tried the first two since pulling the elbow requires a bit of strength and she had a solid grip. They both failed without muscling, so I brought my head up over her knee and came up into guard. Gone are the days when I would stop to think and decide which would be the best option. Quality. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Operation Tattered Belt: Side Control Wrap-Up

This is going to be a two parter--to keep from cross-posting too much information, Julia and I are splitting posting duties--so this post will cover a wrap up of our weekly chat sessions and my personal take on the month afterward.

Once a week, we jump on Skype and go over all the wins and losses and lessons learned of the previous seven days.

  • Cleaning house: This totally originated from my end, but unlearning "starting" side control defense from the cross face was a major accomplishment. I brought my progress up almost every week.
  • Drilling: Julia focused on documenting her drilling numbers, starting with 20/20 guard recovery and 10/10 coming to all 4s. I put more focus into requesting higher levels of resistance when drilling. 
  • Submissions: The whole point of the month was to focus on escapes, but Julia was introduced to a kimura if your partner doesn't posture up and I was shown the armlock that presents itself as you escape. 
  • Risky escapes: Both of us were thwarted trying Dean's spinout on purple belts, but it's a useful option to have, even if only for the sake of expanding personal understanding of escapes. 
  • Differences: Heavy use of reverse kesa gatame in my school, not very common in Julia's. This is probably due to the fact that my instructor likes to take mount from that position. That emphasis very much influenced which escapes I gravitated to studying. 
  • Revelations: Julia-All side control escapes start with a hip bump to make space. Megan-Protecting the arm from domination from the top is key to staying safe while escaping. 

On a personal level, I've got mixed feelings coming out of this month. I lost a few days between being sick and traveling for Thanksgiving, and, well, as is true with all things related to BJJ, I've learned more and I feel less competent. So, here were my goals...

  • Finding the best of bad positions. No more "settling" into positions that are disadvantageous that I've gotten used to starting in from drills.
  • Quit settling on my back...stay on my side. Give them nothing. 
  • End stopping because of blanking. Pauses should be strategic.
  • Attain a comprehensive understanding of what I SHOULD know and be competent in as a Blue belt, as opposed to just a list of techniques.
Bad positions-This is probably the area I've seen the most improvement in. I've been reflexively blocking the cross face and "accidentally" stumbled across Roy Dean's spinout escape after being more active with my arms--though it did result in an immediate counter from Ginastica Instructor and me ending up right back in bottom sidee. 
Settling on my back-I still do this. I did another round of working side control Friday night and well, I still stop on my back...a lot. This is something I'm going to have to work on mentally going forward and likely research to see if anyone has methods for eliminating the habit. I do it in spider too, so it will definitely be worth some time investment for me. 
Blanking-Also still happening. I expect this to improve solely with time practicing. 
Comprehension-I'm feeling much better about this position overall. Prioritizing possession of the arm has made it much easier for me to clear a path to getting to my knees and into more advantageous positions. 

Hits-Had GinasticaInstructor (Adam) point out a nasty cycle I get myself in. I have a tendency from standard side to reach around with my leg and take an ankle. It never crossed my mind that this was a HUGE liability in a competition setting. Against lower belts, it works fine. Against higher, it's almost guaranteed they'll escape again, so I've basically been setting them up to scrore additional points for passing over and over again. Going forward, I need to focus more on getting the entire knee in. 

Also, Hector told me that rolling with me now is like rolling with a completely different person--not a result of OTB, but I'm counting it:)

Misses-Not addressing my habit of not replacing full guard. It's the optimal path after freeing yourself from side control. 

So yeah...a decent month overall, especially for learning goal setting and expectations. Next month is knee on belly and I am SO glad we did some work in ginastica yesterday rolling on the shoulders. It's an essential element in Saulo's running escape. I'll likely be focusing on that and an escape from one of Stephan Kesting's apps that I've had decent success with, along with addressing the back and guard replacing issues that showed up over the last month.