Thursday, 13 June 2013

On the Mat Day 381: Being Alpha on the Mat

No, not this.
So recently I have become very interested in the classification of males, that is the ideas of Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Omega males. Many places that I have read about it are predominantly in relation to talking to women but the principles can be used when interacting with other men. When I talk about being Alpha with regards to doing BJJ, I don't mean being the Silverback on the mat but instead sticking to some principles displayed by alpha males that will help prolong your journey through BJJ, improve your demeanour and outlook on life in general.

Alpha traits that I have become aware of are as follows:

1. An Alpha does not care what others think about him
Just think about that for a minute. I bet everyone who reads this who has ever stepped on the mats has worried about what their instructor thinks about them, what their training partners think about them, am I improving? Did my instructor see that white belt pass my guard, thrown me, tap me? Did they see how crap I am on bottom? on top? Oh shit, they are watching me. I won't get promoted. Lose this mindset, become alpha, and set yourself free of what other people think of you on the mat. By the way, that's not to say that you should become lazy in your training and not be competitive. Go for the kill but don't beat yourself up if you don't perform well.

2. An Alpha is confident
When you greet the other guys on the mat, keep strong eye contact and shake their hand. Double hand shake even, pat them on the back. Go around to all of them and shake their hand say Hi. If you think this seems like kissing ass then you need to read 1 again. Greeting everyone tells them you are in the room, you exist, you're there and happy to see they are doing well. You're like a big brother taking care of them. "How's your injury?" you ask concerned. Be that guy everyone wants to be around. Be comfortable in your own skin. Don't let guys who are better than you on the mat compromise this confidence.

3. An Alpha will defer to a more knowledgeable male
An Alpha will not bullshit around and try to show you something that he doesn't fully understand. If he doesn't know he will tell you directly and then help you find a person who can. If a lower belt asks you a technique, don't pretend you know something when you don't. Instead go to the instructor or a friend and ask them to show you if it is their best technique for example. Praise them on how well they do it. An Alpha doesn't waste time blowing smoke up their own arse, see 1 and 2.

4. An alpha doesn't feel envy or jealousy, have doubts or make excuses
Do you have a guy at your gym who perhaps came in after you but started to improve and can now submit you? Do you avoid sparring with him or dislike the fact that he can best you? Stop thinking this way immediately. Stop it right now. Not only will it twist you up into a shitty human being but it is a Beta mindset. Be happy that this guy is improving and always chose him over others to work with. He is part of your team, your tribe and you and the other guys at your gym made him strong. He is the guy you place at the front of your battle formation. Your great warrior. When he taps you, don't worry about it (see 1). Sure this is a difficult mindset to develop but it will bring you closer to being Alpha and others will notice this. Have you ever said something like "You are big and strong so easily caught me with that armbar." "I'm injured so can't move well, that's why he caught me." to a guy at the gym or in your head? Nope, this is Beta also. Desist.

5. An alpha is a risk taker
Have you ever thought about doing a technique from a dominant position but didn't go for it because you would lose that position? If you did go for the technique and lost the position - good for you. If you tried a new technique - good for you. This is what an alpha would do. It is probably also the best way of improving your game and bringing you close to the coveted black belt.

6. An apha is always happy and content
Walk around the mat, smile and be happy. During rolls laugh at your mistakes and applaud your opponent's pass. Nobody likes a glum faced down trodden guy who looks like he has the worries of the world on his shoulders. Change your demeanour if this is you.

These are basically the main ones I can think of to put anyone on the path to being Alpha on the mat. If you want to be the guy everyone looks up to, the person everyone wants to be, and the guy who years from now will be remembered, and not the brooding quivering mess who sits in the corner picking and choosing easy opponents who many of your teammates shake their head at but don't verbally disrespect, then stick to some or all of these alpha rules.

Sparring time: 8 x 5 mins = 40 mins

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