Tripped Up By Training Takedowns
Talking to my good friend about my training recently, he mentioned how I never have anything good to say. He said that I’m overly-critical and deprecating (he does not train with me or, maybe, he would realize I'm being wholly truthful). But I told him, as I progress through my jiu-jitsu journey, the only thing I learn is how little I know. This is a sentiment I’ve noticed nearly everyone grows to adopt. Jiu-jitsu is one of the world’s great, humbling endeavors.
The average person has no idea how deep the well of techniques and talent and terms go. There is always something more to learn or movement to refine. Never have I felt this more so than when our gym began a weeks-long dive into takedowns. This would be something I needed to overcome but would yield very beneficial results.
As jiu-jitsu practitioners, we learn to use the ground as a weapon, shield, post, base, and springboard. It’s the basis of the sport; ground control. But all these fights have to begin somewhere.
More often than not, they begin on the feet. However, like many gyms, mine focused the majority of its time on the grounded aspect of the sport. Taking some time to concentrate on the standing aspect of the sport threw me for a loop. Suddenly, I was forced to learn something I had been neglecting for a while.
I come from no martial art. I never did judo and I never wrestled. I walked in the door as green as green could be. So, everything comes slow and difficult to me. Training things like Ouchi Gari or Ogoshi somehow seemed even more difficult than the many complicated and inverted open guards. Let alone how to properly shoot or go for a single ankle pick. Needless to say, I discovered an even deeper envy towards my judoka and wrestler training partners.
I was thrown and toppled. I tripped over my own feet. Sometimes I would just look at my partner and forget what I was doing. The feeling of being a total neophyte was fresh all over again. Yet, deep down, I knew these skills would be very important. Like everything in the sport, it takes practice and time.
It’s not that we never practiced from our feet. But I always just checked out mentally during that because, eventually, the fight’s going to end up on the ground, right? Now faced with over a month of takedowns I had to start learning.
One thing about takedowns is that they are exhausting! You’re up and down and thrown and tripped. It’s relentless and complicated. They’re like the other side of a coin, or the second part of a tale. All the moves are equally technical and complex. Eventually, I began to enjoy the practices more and more, learning a very few of the skills.
And slowly I got better with much difficulty. I lost the newborn giraffe feeling of being totally uncoordinated. I even picked a few techniques I liked over others. Finally, I reaped some of the benefits too. My attention to footwork and grips has pervaded the other aspects of my game.
Far from seasoned, there is a new excitement to this entire undiscovered set of techniques to me. Takedowns and throws are like a sport within a sport. It’s really given me something to work on with renewed focus. It also has gone to show me to never discount any part of the sport, no matter how uncomfortable or unattainable I think it is for me.