Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Grappling: Psychological Questions

1. I was paired with a woman in our class Monday night, a lower belt who's doing well at grappling. My sensei said, "Don't crush her." I'm rarely paired with women. I wanted to let her work on her grappling. At first, I got her into an arm triangle forcing her to tap out. But then I let her go for submissions; twice she went for guillotines, and while I didn't give her the submissions, I also didn't try to power out of them or use really rigorous defense; I just tapped out. I thought it would be good for her to get the tapouts.
   Later I wondered, did I do the right thing? My sensei and very skilled black belts like Anthony don't allow themselves to be tapped out. Did I lose standing in the eyes of some classmates by tapping out to a lower-belt female? Or is it in my head?

2. I've come to realize I have a psychological block in grappling: When an opponent has good side control, is putting a lot of weight on me--especially when some of that pressure is on my mouth--I find myself becoming short of breath, worrying that I won't get enough oxygen. In short, I panic. And I tap out, even though I'm not in a choke or lock. It's happening with increasing frequency.
   I'll certainly talk with my sensei about it, but: How do I break that debilitating panic reaction?

Standup sparring is going well, I feel like I'm learning a lot by going to two classes a week. There's always lots to learn, but I no longer feel like I'm stuck on a plateau, not making any advances.


Stacy Strunk said...

I'm not sure if you lost any standing by tapping out, but I think you cheated your partner if you did it too soon. As a female karate student, I prefer to be paired with men who spar with me (or grapple with me) like I'm a dude. The job of the uke is to put up some resistance. You're partner needs to know what it feels like to grapple with someone who is actively fighting back. And you need to learn what it feels like to be choked.

Our sensei tells us not to tap out right away. (We're also not supposed to let it go on too long; the guilletiene (sp?) is a dangerous move.) We need to know what it feels like to be put in the holds while we're in a safe environment because, it the real world, the choke comes faster and harder. Does that make sense?

I sometimes feel uncomfortable sparring with white belts. It seems unfair. But if sensei catches me just blocking and dodging to give the white belts a chance to land some blows, he tells me to stop. (Not sure if that helps.)

SueC said...

Hi Bob, I think the thing you need to ask yourself is whether you were tapping out because she was a woman or because she was a lighter, weaker more junior training partner? If it had been a man of similar build and experience to her would you have behaved the same way? Most women want to be treated as training partners first. No doubt as the stronger, more experienced partner you could have 'crushed' her both physically and pschologically but what would she have learnt from that? If you gave her the opportunity to practice a range of techniques and helped her to improve on them then you did the right thing - this was training after all, not a real fight.

BobSpar said...

Sue, good question; because of the way our class has been run for the past year or so, I haven't had many instances of grappling with less skilled classmates, this was an unusual situation. So I don't know for sure whether I would have done the same for a male, but it's a good way of measuring my reactions.

Stacy, I probably wasn't clear about one thing; I actually handle real chokes better than these weight-on-me, side-control situations, which don't involve a choke or lock when I tap out. That's what's so upsetting to me about it.

All in all, after hearing your feedback and after talking to one of the instructors, I think I need to provide more resistance and more of a challenge for less challenging classmates when I'm matched up with them--male or female.

Anonymous said...

If you tapped because your partner had good technique and would have got the hold, then that's fine. If you tapped because you felt sorry for her, that's cheating her out of good practice IMO.

Sparring isn't about 'winning' when you're training, it's about helping your partner practice their technique, if they're doing it right, then they deserve the tap. You can test your skills against full resistance in competitions. That's how I view it, anyway.

Peter Steeves said...

Cool post!

I believe that doing the "right thing" in training can only be determined by the desired outcome.

So, what was it that you were trying to do (for you, and for her, etc)? Better question: what should it be next time, and why?

If she needs to drill the skill of applying a choke, she HAS to be have people willing to be choked effectively; this is exactly why we TRAIN together, instead of just go get in fights.

If she needs to practice the higher end skill of getting into a position to apply the choke, then the application or completion is slightly wasted effort towards that particular end.

In my opinion, the idea of "losing standing in the eyes of some classmates" has ZERO relevance to why anyone should be there.

Ok, actually, in keeping with the "desired outcome" idea: if people attend for the desired outcome of being ego points, and impressing themselves with their coolness, then it becomes very important to guard against "losing standing" in their eyes ...

I just don't think it's worth taking that very seriously and dedicating your life and hours away from your family for the sake of feeling cool.