The key

I am deeply ensconced in preparation for the NY Open on April 20th. I have talked a lot about working on my mental game, which I am still doing, but I am also working on being very aggressive when rolling. I had an “aha” moment on Friday when training at a friend’s gym. I was rolling with people I hadn’t met before and I guess I reverted to a more passive, defensive game. It is something I didn’t even realize I was doing. I was about to roll for a second time with a white belt guy and he asked me “did you go easy on me before?”. Without thinking I told him I had not (I didn’t do anything consciously anyway) and he said “oh I just expected worse when I saw your blue belt”.

Now obviously this peeved me off a little bit. I thought “well if he wants more, I’ll give him more” and after we bumped fists I just attacked. I submitted him twice in the six minute roll. I took this attitude into the next couple of rolls and had similar success (they were all white belts but bigger than me…so it’s ok to beat them up!).

I tried to keep this killer mentality going into training on Sunday and it worked out very well for me. I even got some compliments from the guys (my favorite being one of the guys asking me “do you have a key for this lock?” in reference to his inability to break my guard…he said it was harder to break than some of the men’s!). I thought about my good weekend of training afterwards and I realized that getting in touch with my anger on Friday had really helped me roll aggressively.

I was very excited to take this new attitude into training last night and when class ended and open mat began, I eagerly prepared to roll. I rolled with my brown belt instructor first. No amount of aggression was going to help me there, he is just way too good. Next I rolled with another blue belt girl. I told her beforehand that I was in tournament mode and trying to be aggressive so to let me know if she wanted me to take it down a notch. She was a good sport while we rolled but I accidentally kneed her in the head once and I think I hit her in the face at some point and who knows what other nasty stuff I did that I didn’t catch or she didn’t mention. I rolled with one of the guys also competing in the NY Open next and similarly managed to hit him in the face a few times as well.

I think this is a large reason why getting in touch with my aggression is so hard. I was feeling like a badass going into class yesterday, ready to fight the world. After class I felt like a bully. I had beaten up on a teammate who weighs 25-30 pounds less than me and who is not training for a tournament and then I continued the trend in my next roll.

I got to thinking about this and why I felt so guilty after yesterday’s class and not after Friday or Sunday’s training. I think the difference is that these people are my regular training partners and my friends. I don’t want to hit my friends in the face (well most of them anyway). I didn’t really know any of the guys on Friday and Sunday we were training for a tournament so the expectation was we were going to go hard.

It got me thinking about what it means to be a good training partner. I am training for a tournament but the majority of people in the gym are not. Is it fair for me to be in tournament mode when I fight them? If you read any blogs or articles about annoying training partners, one of the top complaints is someone who goes ridiculously hard when rolling. I myself have complained about it!

But in this case I am training for a tournament. Am I being a jerk by going that hard when it is in preparation for a tournament in less than two weeks? Does being a good training partner also mean that you should be willing to go really hard for a while to help a teammate get ready?

I don’t want to let my desire to be nice and my guilt get in the way of my aggression, particularly when I can see what a difference it is making, but I also don’t want people to hate rolling with me. I guess the best solution for now is to roll with guys who are also getting ready to compete and to tell people to let me know if I am making them uncomfortable. I just figured out how to let me inner badass out and I cannot let her out of my site until after the tournament!

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4 responses to “The key”

  1. AnthonyR says :

    This is something I don’t get. I don’t know how to make myself more aggressive. I find that I am constantly defending. How can I attack when I have to defend? I only seem to be able to attack when my opponent is defending. Ideas?

    • camamyd says :

      It’s really hard for me too. My coaches and friends would always tell me to be more aggressive and I would always think “How?!?!? I am getting beat up!”. For me I find that if I start off aggressive right away, just move in and attack, I am putting my partner in a bad position and I am in a position to do what I want. It’s hard because I have a natural inclination to wait for them to do something and then react but if you are the one getting in their face and acting first then they have to react to what you’re doing instead. Hopefully that actually makes sense (it sounds brilliant in my mind).

  2. Sarah S. says :

    I have a similar problem. On one side, I end up hurting people without meaning to. I have a high pain threshold and gumby joints and the combination mean that things that don’t hurt me still hurt my partners. Also, I tend to assume that since I’m usually much smaller than my partners that means that I can’t hurt them. I can. And so I’m trying to balance how I feel about coming off as a (miniscule) bruiser with the fact that I want to be more aggressive.

    When I amp my aggression, I also amp my likelihood I’ll hurt my partner. And I have a hard enough time finding partners, owing to the number of women who don’t want to partner with me because it turns out that, no, they can’t take a punch to the gut and I’m crap at finding the level others can handle. I’m working on it.

    I’m a small woman… when partnered with larger men (er, generally always) I get to go with my all. And still get my ass kicked. They’re the ones who have to hold back. I don’t ever end up working with folks trying to compete. Regrettably, I’m no competition.

    • camamyd says :

      Yeah, it is hard for me to find women to competition train with because not everyone wants to compete (which is perfectly valid). I have been going to other schools to find girls to train with but most of the time I train with the guys. I find that trying to train with the higher belts is usually best for me because they know how to work technique and not just rely on muscle (some of the time anyway). Sadly I think that this is the the norm for women who choose to be in a combat sport. It’s worth it though 🙂

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