Thursday, November 08, 2018

The Simple Joys Of Being A White Belt Again

After 10 years doing Shorin-Ryu Karate it was time for a change.

Mainly due to some dojo politics and some highly inflated egos that were making going to the dojo less than enjoyable, I became rather tired of it and it was definitely time to do something else. While struggling while trying to learn a technique is one thing, struggling and being frustrated due to personalities and others' oversized egos is quite another. Since the personalities in question outrank me and were not going to change, and switching to another dojo in the same system would not have removed the personality issue for numerous reasons, especially that one of the personalities sits on the organization's testing board, so it was time to move along. No need to go into the details but when things get to the point that you're actively disliking the idea of going to the dojo due to other people's actions, it is time to move on.

Shorin Ryu is mainly a striking art, along with some rather effective throws and joint locks at higher levels of instruction, and it can be very effective in defending from an attack quickly. But, Shorin Ryu's ground game is mainly an instruction to get up as soon as possible, typically by controlling via a lock or disentangling from an opponent and rolling away and to your feet as quickly as possible. This however can be rather difficult if someone knows what they're doing on the ground.

Gracie Jiu Jitsu is rather enlightening in that regard. They know how to handle themselves on the ground, prefer to have the fight go to the ground and then dominate the fight from the ground, and it is rather eye-opening when you're first exposed to it.

The intro lesson began as a one-on-one session with the head instructor as the class did practice from prior lessons. So it started with a brief discussion about Jiu Jitsu and my past experience and then with me on my back and the instructor showing a mount position. I could not shake him off or get out of it, period, as in not a bit, as in all sorts of stuck. This was rather eye opening. He then taught me a rather simple technique and it worked quite nicely to remove him from the mount position. The lesson got even better from there and at the end of the intro lesson I signed up. The wife and kids are also doing the Women Empowered course taught there and are also enjoying it and getting quite good at it, and its been a very positive experience for them as well, and the instructors really know what they're doing.

As an upside, the Gracie Jiu Jitsu center I'm training at is closer to home than the Karate dojos which makes getting there easier.

Even better, everyone there, from the instructors to the practitioners are very nice, as most of the more serious martial arts do tend to select for nice people.

On an even greater upside, the center really is very low ego, the method of instruction is very consistent and follows the curriculum very well, the instructors enjoy teaching not to show how great they are but to help you improve and learn the technique - it is a refreshing difference. The instruction methodology is also relentlessly positive in focus, not negative. Its not "You're doing it wrong." it's "Don't worry about it no one masters this the first time, here's how you can do it better."

Forty hours worth of classes in and I'm still enjoying myself and its nice to be a white belt again. No need to chase after a belt, no egos getting in the way, just enjoying really learning the fundamental techniques and trying to get them down, the belts are not the point, they merely mark your progress as you continue down the path. It's a heckuva good workout as well, and it certainly closes a gap in my martial arts training. I am going to stick with it and see where the journey goes.

If you're doing something and its not working out for you, especially when it is not due to you but due to drag from others, a change to a new environment can do you some good.


Old NFO said...

Also true in 'many' things... Just sayin...

Eaton Rapids Joe said...

"...and it certainly closes a gap in my martial arts training..."

I applaud you and you have my deepest admiration. Most of us are extremely resistant to clinically assessing our weaknesses and then working on them.

Masters assiduously hunt down weaknesses and address them.

You may be wearing a white belt, by you are a master in my book.

Aaron said...

Old NFO: That it is.

Joe Mama: Thanks, but I am definitely NOT a master.

The day I claim I'm a master at this stuff is the day we solve the energy crisis - the living actual masters will be rolling on the ground laughing so hard we can spin turbines with their rotations, and all the dead masters spinning in their graves will create geo-thermal energy the likes of which we've never seen.