Royce Gracie Seminar 2009 Review

Posted: September 2, 2009 in All Eli's BJJ Posts, Most Recent Posts
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“…It is easier to think what Poetry should be than to write it—and this leads me on to another axiom. That if Poetry comes not as naturally as the Leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.” ~John Keats…This quote will make sense after you read a little further, I hope. Just substitute “Jiu Jitsu” for “poetry.”

So Royce Gracie came to our school once again. He brought great information (of course), but there was more than just technique polishing for me this time.

Royce and The Three Rivers Group

Royce and The Three Rivers Group

I guess that when things happen in your life, events occur, the nature of the events is significant of course, but likewise where you are in your life’s journey is significant as well. I was in such a place as to look for what goes on with someone like Royce under the surface a bit. I watched his technique, his movement, his mannerisms, all that, sure. But I also tried to pick up on his reactions to situations and interactions with different personalities, of which we have many at Three Rivers. Here are a couple of things I found important.

Royce is very intuitive. I am sure out of necessity, being multicultural and bilingual. But teaching something of which you are a true master, you have to have a heightened intuition or you cannot communicate the intricacies of your art. Royce is an excellent teacher. I learned in a big way not to show too much detail in the technique. I had learned this a while back and continue to try to impliment it in my daily teachings, but damn it is hard. However, I learned WHY to do this ultimately this weekend. Royce showed a few techniques, about which I inwardly thought, “Why didn’t he mention this detail? No one will do it right without this detail, so why didn’t he mention it?” Here is what happened (nothing short of miraculous to me): Most people did it correctly off the demo! And more amazingly, the ones who didn’t know the detail in question…wait for it….they asked about it!

Lesson here: Scrap away the unnecessary babble about the technique description. Teach organically, through sensation and observation. Draw the student into the process by forcing them to question their performance and seek out help! God, I needed this lesson years ago….but I wasn’t ready for it then. Damn you, Irony!

So much of life happens that way, right? Everything comes to us that we want and need, just not always when we need it or want it. I remember the first technique I ever learned that could really be called purely Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It was a half-guard pass about 15 or 16 years ago. Well, I had not spent much time in half-guard that I recalled, so I had very little point of reference for this technique. I practiced it, not knowing exaclty when or how I would get the opportunity to implement it, and to be honest years went by before I got to a level that it even made much sense. Through the beauty of BJJ, though, I was able to still retain the sensation, and it came back to me to an extent later on. I still use a variation of that pass to this day.

Another lesson from this weekend for me: I get why so many BJJ men don’t want you taking notes. I was never a big note-taker at seminars for the most part, although I see the value of it in many situations. However, since BJJ is so tactile, and that is the manner in which you improve the most, notes can actually be a hinderance. Thoughts outside of your brain don’t operate the same as they do inside sometime. Sometimes you can sit down and write out a thought to express it more eloquently, and choose your words more exactly, and this is good. But in that barrage of detail, sometimes you lose sight of the thing’s essential nature. Much better to completely immerse yourself in the sensory experience of the technique and its repetition than to interrupt that beautiful experience to get all cerebral and disconnected.

That’s why the quote by Keats is at the beginning of this post, “…It is easier to think what [Jiu Jitsu] should be than to write it—and this leads me on to another axiom. That if [Jiu Jitsu] comes not as naturally as the Leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.” You will never be able to pull off anything in a high-stakes situation if it is not natural for you. So much of what we are actually training is to replace our instincts, or lack thereof, with more effective ones. Because, when you consider it, isn’t most all of life a high-stakes situation?

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