I recently read Sam Sheridans books 'A fighters heart' and 'A fighters mind' and really enjoyed them both.
A common theme that arose with regards to progressing in jiu jitsu and fighting in general was ego.
More specifically that as you progress through the belt ranks it is important to keep an open mind and be able to learn from everyone.
I think female jiu jitsu practitioners are at particular risk of being affected by ego and its something I've always felt but never been able to place my finger on or explain very coherently.
I am sure other females often get comments like 'I didn't expect you to be so strong' or 'you would kill other girls.' from their male training partners, who are often impressed enough that we are there training let alone pulling off submissions and holding our own against all the big tough guys.
I think our egos are nicely protected as we often don't have to put ourselves on the line or in a position of fighting someone of a similar size, strength or ability.
It is too easy to make excuses when fighting men who are bigger or stronger and play a safe game based purely on escapes and avoiding submissions.
Its similar to an observation one of my coaches once made when he noticed that sometimes before sparing people would ask how much their opponent weighed or how long they have been training so as to have an excuse to provide if they got into bad situations.
Can this type of thinking or excuse making hinder us from progressing?
One of the reasons I enjoy situations such as female open mat sessions and seminars and competitions is that they allow me to test my skills against other girls. I usually approach these situations with a different mindset, I'm more sharp and focused and move in for the kill more than I ever would when training with the bigger guys in terms of ego there is a lot more at stake losing to another girl than a bigger stronger guy.
Maybe it was just a personal problem I had as opposed to something that bugs all female grapples, I have come across girls that are a lot more aggressive than me and better at imposing their game on anyone regardless.
They are the ones that inspire me to make less excuses and impose my game on people of all sizes or abilities even if it means risking being put in less favorable positions if my attempts are unsuccessful, and I'm hoping this will help to improve my BJJ and general mindset to training.
Helen Currie Seminar
In other news last weekend I attended a female only no-go seminar featuring Helen Currie at Leicester MMA academy.
It was a detailed technical session that started with a quick warm up that involved lots of different squats (that I really need to do more of to improve my mobility).
We drilled breaking our opponents posture from guard and trying to stay out of closed guard which was challenging and surprisingly tiring. Helen stated the importance of avoiding being put in someone’s closed guard at all costs.
The bulk of the seminar was based around the 3 ways to pass guard- over under or around - Working off the sitting guard pass where you position your knee to open your opponents guard.
Helen went over the importance of posture in the guard position as a way to keep your self safe from attack and to pass guard when the opportunity arose
I'm thinking about me, I'm keeping myself safe
It was a great day and despite the fact that I was a bit tired from training all week and getting up so early I still managed to get a bit of rolling in at the end with Caz Teedy, who organised the event and is a great no-gi grappler.
She also runs a monthly female MMA class and circuit training class which I will try to attend in the future.