Frustration

Had my post title all ready to go, and then slideyfoot mentioned that I talk a lot about being frustrated. Doh. So I had to think about what expectations I have that keep being thwarted in class:

I want to be as good as our blue & purple belts are now, able to throw nearly anything they want whenever they want, all technique, who know they can submit you whenever they want so they don’t and instead they just let you work. … … Well… that explains that. I’ve only been doing this for five and a half months; they’ve been doing it for 2-6 years. Slight experience difference. So my expectations there, about how good I think I should be now, are possibly set just a bit too high for what I’m probably able to accomplish given my current experience.

I know that technique can trump brute strength, but I haven’t been able to do it. I just get smashed down and cranked around by the newer guys. I think, This should work, but then it doesn’t. I do assume that the problem is first of all mine: wasn’t tight enough, wasn’t quite in position, wasn’t fast enough. And I try to fix it, but then I still can’t get it to work. So I expect that I should be able to do the techniques I’ve learned, especially on new guys. Somewhere in there, too, is the expectation that all my rolls will be like my rolls with the blues and purples, but then most of my rolls are with the new guys. … … So I’m expecting new guys to roll like the advanced belts… Yeah, about that…

So it seems I’m measuring my expectations of what I should be able to do against the guys who have done this for years and against the guys who don’t want to play the technique game and just want to smash. It’s no surprise that I’m frustrated — me being like the purple belts right now or me overcoming the other guys’ strength advantage or the new guys knowing how to roll without hurting me, none is a reasonable expectation at the moment.

Seems I need new expectations…


Everyone had a gi tonight. Several of the guys had to buy their gis right before class, but they had them. Medium-ish size class; about half the class is actually with the judo class that’s after ours, but their instructor wasn’t going to be there tonight so they came early and joined us. Which meant lots of new guys.

Warmup was good. Actually harder than last night’s advanced class warmup, which gassed me, but I was nailing this one. Until we got to partner drills that involved picking up your partner. I tried for Justin, but someone else had him first, so I went with the next-smallest guy I could find… who was quite a big jump. (Why don’t we have more small guys??) Couldn’t lift him at all, though. Could drag him for the second drill, a grip drill. Grab your partner’s lapels and haul him to the end of the mat, then drag him back. Third drill was pullups on their lapels; they stood over you, you reached up for a deep cross grip, and then you did pullups. He nearly dragged me down on his turn, though!

Then some knee-on-belly drills and eventually a choke that turns into an armbar from there. Then we rolled. We had our 3 regular purple belts (Adam, Justin, and Nick) and then a ton of new white belts. Yay, fun for me. (If fun = knees/elbows to the face without an apology… Seriously, though, if you knock someone in the face, say you’re sorry. Acknowledge that you know you accidently hurt them. Takes no time and keeps their annoyance level with you down. You don’t have to stop; just mumble “Sorry” and keep going.) I kept trying to get in with the purple belts, but Tim was pairing them with the judo guys.

So lots of smashing on me for a few rounds. My last roll was with a new guy. It’s his second night. His first night was about 3 months ago. So… At some point, he started trying to “teach” me the armbar from guard. Except it wasn’t right. I was trying to do it right because I’d had problems with it in the previous roll. He kept “correcting” me, finally going so far as to move my arms and legs where he thought they should be. Which did two things: 1) put him in a great position to pass my guard and 2) put me in a fabulous position to side kick him in the face. I resisted #2, but just barely.

Very much cranky at the end of the night, so I was very glad to see the end of class and run away to TKD. Played the Name Game with the beginners, since there are a bunch of them, and then taught random things to the next two classes. Waiting on my gi to get through the wash now. It’s not something that you can leave until tomorrow…

3 thoughts on “Frustration

  1. Well, there’s the obvious advice to start with: the only person you should be measuring your progress against is yourself. All sorts of other factors come into it when you try and compare with other people (they have more experience, they train more often, strength, athleticism etc), making it a fairly pointless exercise (though difficult to avoid, particularly if somebody has started around the same time as you, or is physically similar).

    The way I avoid frustration is by focusing purely on technique when sparring. For example, for the past year, possibly longer, I’ve been looking at escapes, particularly from mount and side control.

    If I find I can’t get the escape, then I take a step back, and work on small components of the escape, like where my hands should be, when I should bridge etc.

    If I can’t get that, then another step back, working on trying to get to that point (e.g., at the moment, I’m working on the very basics, and trying to get my forearm into their neck under side control without leaving myself vulnerable to Americanas and the like).

    If that’s still causing problems, then I can at least understand what not to do, learning from mistakes and asking as many questions of my partner as possible when we finish sparring. After all, they’re in the best position to tell me what I did wrong.

    As long as I can take one positive from the lesson, I’m happy. If all else fails, then I’ve got a decent work-out and some more mat time, but I can normally get at least one small technical tip to think about, then apply to my next class.

  2. Hmm, so I should give in to my perfectionist tendencies more often and really focus on every detail? I have good intentions to focus on certain techniques when I roll, no matter who it’s with, but then I forget… I need to start updating my notebook again and reviewing it before class. I know some of my better nights have come after I’ve remembered what I know…

    I was thinking about this again this morning, and I think sometimes I have a Dark Side progression in class, going from irritation (from something minor, e.g., from being knocked in the head) to tension to frustration. So the frustration comes along with things I did/felt earlier. Geez, too much to think about! =P

  3. Heh – yeah, I find that having a clear plan of action for rolling really helps (that’s pretty much what I use my blog for: what do I need to work on, where do I find myself most often, what tips have people given me that I can use in the next lesson, etc). E.g., decide that next lesson, you’re going to work on side control escapes and maybe sweeps. Obviously best to gear it to the positions you end up in most often

    For me, that is on the bottom, either under side control, mount or half guard. So, I concentrate on three basic escapes from side control (bridge and shrimp, turn to knees and spin out), along with the basic escapes from mount (trap and roll, elbow escape, work to half guard), then try to move from half guard to closed guard.

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