Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Little Lessons

My wife made fun of me brushing my teeth Monday night.

Actually, I'd just washed up, brushed my teeth, rinsed with mouthwash, and clipped my nails. "Hot date?" she asked. No, just cleaning up for jiu jitsu class.

I'm not too picky about my partners at class. I know many of them come straight from work, or have been working out in other classes before hand. So some of them arrive with a "less than fresh" scent. Still, I don't want to be "that guy," nor do I want to be the last kid picked for randori, so I try to clean up.

On another note, later that night, I was reminded of an old samurai proverb: "Under the upraised sword, hell gapes. Step in to find heaven." There are several ways to unpack that saying. There's a literal martial meaning. So long as you stand at range, the sword can cut you. Step outside the range and you are still vulnerable. But step inside the range and the cutting power is dramatically reduced, giving you a chance to react to the threat. It takes courage and skill.

There's also an interpretation that some solutions are counter-intuitive.

We were split into pairs and groups of pairs for positional drills. The purpose of the drill was for the bottom man to escape from side control. This was a beginner class, so the results were somewhat comical (it pays to be able to laugh at yourself). I watched many of the bottom grapplers lay flat out, struggling to push the top grappler off, arms flailing, everyone desperately trying to get away.

Of course, the answer is counter-intuitive, and it involves moving into the threat. The basic solution is to turn into the opponent's side control, and maneuver the knees and legs between you and the opponent.

It's a lesson well worth remembering. Winston Churchill had a similar proverb, "If you find yourself going through hell, keep going." And I think I saw an episode of 30 Rock with a similar theme...

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