You would think being a triple amputee that trains in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu that every day that I get on the mat with able-bodies that I am totally out of my element. My fellow mat rats at the academy have all their limbs and those are the people I generally train and roll with.
They have all the basic body parts, thus I am training way out of my element, right?
Totally wrong, actually.
When I train against my normal buddies I get to use every trick in the book against them. Ankle locks, knee bars, toe holds, etc, which are all part of my normal everyday game. I think nothing at all about giving my back up so I can defend against a choke while also going for a foot lock. IT seems counter intuitive, but it totally works for me. Against able-bodies, and in my element.
This past weekend I traveled to North Carolina to compete in The Good Fight BJJ Championships, and the days before and the days after I had the opportunity to train with two of my friends in wheelchairs, Brian (@wheelchairjitsu) and Max (@grappling_graphics). Both of these guys are spinal cord injury BJJ players, and their game is drastically different than anything I have ever had to deal with.
Training with these two phenoms definitely took me out of my element. Like me they don’t bridge, they
attack from an inferior position, and spend a lot of time defending. Now I know what the guys at the academy deal with when they roll with me! Out of respect I don’t go for foot/ankle/knee locks with Brian or Max because they can’t feel the pressure and know when to tap. (Although Brian always tells me to go for the ankles anyway)
Rolling against these guys took away most all of my “tricks.” They don’t take my back, I can’t do ankle locks, and the attacks they use just bewilder me. I spent a lot of time tapping and then asking “Dude, what was that? Show me!”
Rolling with them put me in a completely different place, out of my comfort zone, and in unfamiliar waters. What that experience taught me is that I need to train outside of my element more! We all have that one person we can roll with smooth as silk, that one person that you can “flow with the go” with for half an hour without gassing out. That person puts me totally in my element, and I think that is a bit bad for me.
I need to change it up. I need to start rolling more with everyone in the dojo, from the super new spazzy white belts to the super stout strong-as-an-ox guys who have been there a while. I need to slap and bump hands with my instructor more. I need to put myself out of my element, because if I don’t, my game and training just might get a bit stale. How is your game? Do you diversify your training partners and training elements, or are you going a bit stale?
Neil's original article can be found here http://www.adaptivebjj.com/2016/02/24/train-out-of-your-element/
Neil is also an accomplished author, his books can be found here https://www.amazon.com/B.-Neil-Brown/e/B00IP8L5KI