So doing P90X and now P90X2, and working out almost every day seems to have put me in a mode where I use a lot of strength while sparring at jiu-jitsu. This tires me out much faster than I care for. It became apparent when I rolled with K-sensei last Wednesday and Damon took a video of us. Later he mentioned that I was breathing hard after 4 minutes (we rolled for 10) and I was using a lot of strength. I saw some pics he took of me and noticed the uncomfortable expression on my face during the roll. It was then that I decided that things had to change. I needed a different approach to my rolls. Since getting purple I have been too concerned with getting submitted, having to sweep the opponent and not letting others pass my guard. This has stifled my game. So now I am working on rolling with more flow.
Last night at class I had the following goals.
1. Keep moving and never stop (flow)
2. Use minimal strength and only use it for short bursts
3. Breath from my belly and be aware of my breathing
4. Tap often to keep the roll going
By the end of the night I was not tired at all despite having rolled for about 7 rounds with people both my age and younger and of a mixed ability. Many were longer advocates than me. There were times when I wanted to sit it out especially when faced with a tough opponent. I felt like I wanted to get my breath back before going against such a person, but instead I plowed on and worked on the above 4 goals.
Did this help me roll better?
Absolutely, yes. There were many times I noticed the younger guys breathing hard while I was very relaxed. In fact at one point I had to stop and ask a younger guy if he was OK because he was gasping for air. I was also able to see many more openings and opportunities for sweeps. I had a better sensitivity to what the other guy was doing and where his weight was distributed. I was focused more on the opponent than on myself and imposing my game. I actually attempted the move of the week and was semi-successful even discovering later what I had done wrong (in the past I was always worried that a new move would not work and I'd end up in a bad spot).
I think from now on, this is the direction I need to go in to improve my BJJ. I know I can use strength after working out hard for the past 4 months and it will be there when I compete but for my longevity in BJJ I need to flow better and will continue to work on this concept for a good while until it comes naturally.
One of my inspirations for relaxed, calculated movements is definitely Gunnar Nelson, who experienced a quick progression in jiu-jitsu and attributes it to the fact he is able to relax easily.
So ask yourself the following.
1. Do you grimace a lot when rolling?
2. Are you out of breath against younger but less experienced opponents?
3. Do you still ache a lot after training despite the many years you have put in?
Maybe it's time to flow roll.