A slight change in attitude

I have been focusing on working my mental game since NAGA. What this has meant for me is that I go into every roll with the attitude that I am not going to back down and thinking that I can “win”.  I don’t consider a win a submission but I try to get to the positions I want and get out of any bad positions I find myself in and hey if a submission happens, that’s just fine too.

When I was at the women’s camp this weekend, Valerie Worthington said that even when it’s not spoken, your intention when rolling is clear to your partner. I knew exactly what she meant. You can tell when you are rolling with someone if they are just looking to have fun and work some technique, if they are letting you work (high belts will do this a lot and I secretly love them for it) or if they are out for the submission no matter what it takes.

I started thinking about how this could be a positive thing. If you go in thinking “I am going to win” (I really hate using the word win here as I don’t think anyone loses when rolling but “I am going to get in good positions, fight out of bad ones and maybe submit someone” is too long), can’t that affect your rolling too? If you have the attitude that you are going to be successful than couldn’t that change how you roll?

I have stumbled across proof of this theory by accident when rolling. This happened once when I was rolling with a guy who has less experience and technique than I do but is very strong. Often when we roll he will grab my wrists or arms and hold on for dear life if I start to get in advantageous positions. He used to use this move to pass but I have had more experience than I wanted with that and have learned to avoid it or get out of the position. This particular time I was in his guard and he was holding my wrists to keep me from moving and then he started to try to work for an armbar, triangle or pass. I was so aggravated by him holding my wrists in a death lock that I refused to let him get into a good position by using it. I managed to stay on top in guard and had even passed and mounted when the round had ended. My attitude of “you’re not getting away with this” fueled my game and I managed to fight into a good position. Well that is a handy trick.

Last week I was really focused on not giving up on moves and fighting for position. After rolling with one of our purple belts after class, he told me he was impressed that I was going for more and not just accepting bad positions. The next day I was talking to my coach and he said he noticed I had taken it up a level that week as well. I told him what the purple belt said and he said “do you see how even a slight change in your mental approach is noticeable to others on the mat?”. I did see.

After having noticeable success last week, I wanted to continue to focus on my attitude this week. I had some great rolls on Monday night where I was moving, getting out of bad positions and getting into positions I wanted. My last roll of the night was much like this but I got frustrated at the end when I got caught in two submissions. One of them was all me, I was in turtle and failed to realize my partner was going for the Peruvian necktie. The second came partly as a result of me getting overly frustrated (I begrudgingly admit part of it was just a good move on his part). My partner had completely muscled a sweep on me (we even joked about it) and some of that old doubt was creeping in and making me think that I couldn’t win. I left an arm where I shouldn’t and he took advantage of that.

I started to feel the frustration and upset that I had been feeling leading up to the tournament (and well months and months before that). When thinking about it later I realized that I was being ridiculous. My new attitude didn’t mean I was never going to get caught again. Also I was focusing on the two negatives of the roll instead of the positives. A couple of weeks ago I let this guy dominate me because I thought he was too strong for me. Tonight I gave him all I had and had hung with him the entire time!

Last night he was in class again and I asked him for a roll afterwards. I said to myself as we were bumping fists that I was going to be positive and roll just like I had the other night (except maybe a little more cautious in turtle). I once again gave him all I had. I distinctly remember one point where he was working a sweep and I started to think “oh great, you’re going to get swept again”. I pushed this aside and replaced it with “JUST WORK” and managed to control his legs, pass and get to side control. The round ended shortly after as I was working for mount. I walked away feeling very happy. Instead of talking myself into failure, I had talked myself into success.

I guess a slight change in your mental approach is noticeable to everyone, even you.

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