I don't train to be better than you. I train to be better than me.

I don't train to be better than you. I train to be better than me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What's your name again?

I've been training for a year and a half now, mostly at the same school location during that time, and I've seen a lot of people come and go. I try to remember peoples names. I'm bad at it, but I DO legitimately try. I am a pretty friendly guy in general, so that isn't unusual.

Since i have been training at Intermediate and above for some time now, most of the "new" faces i see have actually been around for several months attending Fundamentals classes prior to entering the Intermediate program themselves. When new faces show up I try to be welcoming, and help them out if they are just rolling live for the first time. I feel like it is important to make people feel comfortable, and I also find that when I'm a nice guy, then they tend to be nice back to me, and that is good for drilling, and training together.

I think BJJ class is actually a great place to make friends- as adults it is tricky to meet up with cool people you don't work with, and I have found training is a great social common ground.

I do tend to gravitate toward the people from my "class" meaning the folks that started right around the same time I started. There are several people I genuinely like from that group, whom I am friends with on Facebook, or have met up with off the mat. Others I just have a respectful acquaintanceship with on the mat, and it gets left at that until whenever.

i really believe you need to approach this sport with an open mind. I roll with all sorts of people- different races, educations, religions, professions, political affiliations, personal ethos, and socio-economic circumstances. I generally like everyone, so I feel pretty good about that.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What have you got on your feet?

I posted an opinion on The Tangled Triangle about Vibram Five Fingers shoes and a possible application to BJJ and mat sports as a more supportive alternative to being barefoot. The catch to that was that I had never worn a pair of VFFs on the mats, so i was kinda talking out of my ass. I decided it was only logical that I put my theory to the test since I have a few pairs of VFF shoes, and I am big on standing behind my opinion. I washed my VFF KSOs (to avoid bringing contaminants onto the mats) and then brought them along to a wrestling seminar being held at Easton's South School in Highlands Ranch CO. There were 2 reasons- 1. I wanted to test my theory, and 2. The mats at south school feel like sandpaper to me, and I knew my feet would get shredded otherwise. I came back with the following findings-
Conclusion 1- It was no big deal to the grappling coach that I wore VFFs on the mats. This was a relief to me.
Conclusion 2- I did not feel restricted in any way during the activities because of my footgear. These activities involved a lot of intensive drilling of movements like popping up from ref's position directly to the feet, pivots, shooting for take downs, sprawling, popping up from the sprawl, and getting back to ref's position after being flattened.
Conclusion 3- My feet took zero damage during the 3 hour seminar. My fellow students were not as fortunate- mostly the tops of toes were rubbed raw against the mats. My feet were covered and suffered no damage- also, the VFFs suffered no damage.

As far as support is concerned, I didn't really notice anything, but that could be considered a plus since I also didn't notice any difference in my performance- the shoes offered protection, but were not restrictive. I also didn't notice them giving me a traction advantage- the rubber soles on the bottoms of the KSOs look smooth when you glance at them, but to flex them reveals razor sipes- or tiny slits in the rubber which replicate the traction of a human foot brilliantly. Notice i used the word "replicate" I would not say "improved upon". It was basically the same as being barefoot.

As a result of this trial I am keeping the KSOs in my BJJ bag, and washing them with my Gi if I use them on the mats at South School. I want to keep them sanitary. I don't really feel the need for them on mats at Denver which have the traditional vinyl covers, but that rough stuff at the South School needs to be accounted for.