All About the Competition

I don't compete anymore. I am not against competition; on the contrary, I actually think it is a fantastic way for martial artists to challenge themselves. It just isn't for me right now. That being said I do enjoy watching other people do it, so this past weekend I spent a few hours at the NY IBJJF Pro at City College. Here is what I did there:

  1. Watched a couple of small black belt men invert upside down and roll around like spiders. They are quite good at this. In fact, one of them actually invented it!
  2. Observed Lloyd Irvin being Lloyd Irvin. This included checking his phone a lot and managing to look both bored and intimidating at the same time. Even when his students won (which unfortunately happened frequently), he didn't smile much. His students didn't either. I don't know any of them personally, but they all come across as being not very nice. Perhaps it is just an act, some kind of "game face"?
  3. On a similar note, every time one of the Lloyd Irvin guys (or gals) won they would flash the "LI" symbol in the air. Which, when you think about it, is some pretty good brainwashing on that dude's part. Like, "so listen guys when you win make sure you hold up a sign with my name on it. So everyone knows. Yeah, I know that you were the one who actually did the work on the mat but I want to make sure everyone sees MY initials. Thanks. Now go work some armbars or something." Weird dude, that Lloyd.
  4. Keenen Cornelius was there. I missed his matches but I am sure there were some lapel grips involved. (For those of you who don't know who I am talking about, go Google "worm guard". And while you are at it, you can Google the guy who beat Keenan, Leandro Lo. He is pretty good too.) 
There were also people from my own BJJ school competing; some won and some lost, but the whole experience reminded me of an class interaction I had with a guy about a year ago.

I didn't know the guy that well but he was sitting against the wall so I asked him if he wanted to roll with me. His response was, "Thanks but I want to only work with people who are my size right now. I am competing in a couple of weeks." 

This is not the only time I have heard this, although it does not happen often. When it has, it has always been a white belt. I think only a white belt who is new to competition would have both the balls to say something like that, and the inexperience to think it was important. 

I am not saying that training with people who are similar to those you will compete against is not important. But is it that important? So important that it needs to be every single round? So important that you cannot waste time ever rolling with anyone smaller, or bigger, or higher ranked, or faster, or whatever?

I also would get it if I were gigantic, or spazzy, and the dude was worried about getting hurt. But there was little chance of me injuring him, in fact, I was much more likely to come out of the experience banged up than he was.

I do not think a purple belt would never say that. Why? Because a purple belt would understand that number one, it is only one round, and number two, perhaps there is something to be learned from every partner. 

I get what that dude was saying. He wanted to focus on training partners who would simulate what his experience on the competition mat would be. But I do not think he gets what else he is saying. Like "I am only in this class to train for my competition. There is no other reason for me to be here, and all of you are just here to help me prepare. I have no obligation or interest in helping anyone else improve their jiu-jitsu." And "I do not see any value to rolling with you. Forget that you are actually higher ranked than me and have more experience. Because you are small, there is nothing I can gain from you."

Ok, maybe he pissed me off a little. 

But is this kind of attitude really necessary? I don't compete so maybe I am missing something? I would think that when you are training for a competition you would want all the practice you can get, if not with different sized opponents, than at least with different styles. And if you do want to work on something specific, there is a nicer way to go about it. In fact, one of my regular training partners competes all the time. Sometimes when we are rolling, she asks to work on a specific position or technique, something she is having trouble with. I am always happy to oblige. She never says, "No thanks, you are not in my weight class."

I also wonder what is going to happen to these white belts when they no longer want to compete. Is their jiu-jitsu experience over? Or will they find some other focus in their training. (For their sake, I hope they do. )

What do all you competitor folks think? Maybe it is me who doesn't get it.

Oh, and by the way, if you don't know who Lloyd Irvin is you can Google him too. There is a lot of information out there. Some of it is true.