In day-to-day life, it’s easy to become complacent when we can choose whether or not to challenge ourselves. We tend to surround ourselves with people who agree with us, and rarely search for dissenting opinions. Why should we walk to campus when we can just as easily drive? When we come home hungry from a long day at work, how many of us would choose the DiGiorno 15-minute pizza over the healthier, but much harder to prepare, homemade alternative.
Jiu jitsu is no different. If one aspect of our game stands out, it’s easy to become over-reliant on it. Nobody likes getting tapped out, and if we have a better chance of surviving when we play guard, what incentive do we have to improve our top game?
Personally, I hate training takedowns. I’ve never had a knack for them – I didn’t wrestle in high school, I gave up on Judo after getting rag-dolled in my first two or three classes, and as a result, I’ve become pretty comfortable pulling guard in competitions. In 30+ tournament matches, I’ve scored exactly two takedowns (both were body lock/trip combinations).
Fortunately, I had a bit a wake-up call this week. After practicing my wrestling shots for an hour or so on Monday, I’ve been nearly unable to walk, use a staircase, or get up from the toilet after sitting down. Frankly, it’s downright embarrassing that training takedowns with no resistance for a few minutes has essentially crippled me with muscle pain for the following 4 days. Ideally, we should be able to objectively assess our strengths and weaknesses, determine where the unbalance lies, and adjust our training accordingly. Failing that, sometimes our body does the assessing for us (as it clearly did for me). Well body, I’m listening.
At the end of the month, our school is competing at a local jiu jitsu tournament. Between now and then, I intend to continue working on my takedowns. I don’t have any illusions of scoring a flashy takedown in every match, but if I could at least develop the confidence to try for one or two, I’d consider it a small victory.