Marcelo has something to say:
Alright, let’s just try to imagine one thing that I want to explain, guys. We’re doing a different training, we’re doing a different thing right now. We’re pushing more transitions where we don’t have a move yet…we’re kind of in between. I don’t have the guard pass, and I don’t have the sweep yet. We have to build [them]. And that’s going to be the situation that probably you’re going to be in for most of your life. Or this is at least going to be the situation where you’re going to have to work harder. You understand? You can be [on the back a lot], but to get on the back, probably you [get there] off a guard pass or maybe a sweep or a transition like that.
I am listening.
So every time we train you need to try to put in as much energy as you can, especially if you don’t do anything else besides that, you know what I mean? Like, I put all my energy on jiu-jitsu, because I don’t have to do anything [else]. I don’t have to lift weights, I don’t have to jog, because I believe my energy has got to be focused on this if I want to improve on this.
At the risk of offense, I suspect that Marcelo is either athletically gifted, or happened to train hard in jiu-jitsu at a time in his life when the male human body responds to nearly any stimulus by getting markedly stronger. I know that I myself only got marginally stronger by training combat sports, and I was left in the realm “still weak” by that approach. Lifting weights fixed that in a straightforward fashion. So I disagree with him about strength training: I think it’s necessary for many jiujitsieros, and useful for many more.
But he has 100% the correct, as I understand it, about conditioning. My wind at judo improved only marginally from doing sprints and jogging. In contrast, my cardio improved rapidly and dramatically with four or five days a week of copious hard sparring. The science I’ve seen supports this: getting stronger often means using barbells, but getting conditioned means doing the sport. Marcelo is speaking here about how to do the sport hard enough so that it still counts as conditioning, which is particularly important for people as they get better at the skill involved, to the extent that they can conserve energy with good technique.
If I want all my improvement in this, I don’t want to be improving my running, swimming, I only want to be improving upon jiu-jitsu. So I put all my energy on that. But you have to try to reach your limit… He’s not going to give it for free, you know, you’re going to have to work hard. And the same thing [goes] with the guard pass. So let’s try to demonstrate one thing for you.
He gets a partner for a 1 minute round. Marcelo tries to pass while the blue belt tries to sweep. Marcelo stays tight, stuffs a sweep attempt and a Kimura attempt, makes posture, stuffs an armbar attempt, stands up, breaks grips, starts to apply pressure, gets wrestled down, and counters to scarf hold. The pace is deliberate, and at times Marcelo seems to be holding back.
I was able to score one guard pass in one minute round. But let’s do one more minute, so you can understand what I mean.
They go again. Marcelo is a fiend this time, immediately stripping grips, standing directly into a knee-through pass, looking for an armbar or back-take immediately off the pass, countering a stand-up with an immediate takedown, trying to pass to one side, then the other, again and again, before securing an arm triangle position that he uses to smash through to mount. His partner matches the pace, urgently resetting hooks and grips, whipping his hips this way and that, attempting too many things in too small a space to identify most of them as discrete techniques. The pace is frantic and unrelenting, without time for thought. Both men move at least three times as fast as in the first round, with no stopping.
All right. So, look. What was the difference? I can push myself as much as I can. To make the same point [as I was saying before].
You guys can see I’m a black belt, Rowan is a blue belt; there’s a different level there. But I work myself harder if I want to. You understand what I mean?
I was lucky to be able to figure this out in my life. I mean, I didn’t have a coach to instruct me how to push myself on this. I was always just trying to understand so hard what I have to do, to be able to develop a better position. And this is the way I figured out: put as much energy as I have.
Or, we can do it like I did it before [in the first round]. Wait till someone who is a lower belt than me makes a mistake, and then make a point without spending too much energy. So, between both, guys, let’s always choose to give everything. Even if sometimes it costs us more.
I hear you. I often smash lesser-skilled white belts with my patient game. Sometimes I can work possibilities or techniques, but often I feel that I am not getting anything useful out of it. I know now that this is because I was not taking enough chances, not pushing myself to the maximum pace.
So maybe I could get myself caught in some choke or sweep because I was pushing myself so much. But at least I learned when I can get choked. I learned when I can get swept. But I learned also when I can get the points, when I can get the submission against him. And then on the day of the tournament, on the day that I realize, “Alright, today is what matters, today is when I don’t want to lose one point, I don’t want to lose much energy. I want to spend everything to the right thing.” That’s going to count. Because I know how much I can risk, and I know how much I have to control myself to not expend that much energy, because I know where is my limit, I went close to my limit before. And that’s what I want you guys to understand every day.
We don’t always have higher belts than us to train. [But] we don’t have to wait till the person pushes us; we can push ourselves. so we train with everybody. You guys know that I train with every new guy over here. But at the same time, I’m trying to push myself as much as I can, to make it harder for me.
A few years ago, I made a pact with myself to get thrown three times in judo randori before playing hard against anyone I felt superior to. It’s time for something similar. Take the chance, push the pace, tap, and get better.