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Thread: The Mat Does Not Lie

  1. #1

    The Mat Does Not Lie

    Re-post from my blog:

    There are many positive things about training in BJJ. Perhaps the single best one is that the mat does not lie.

    Far too often, and historically speaking, self-defense training was based largely on faith. We had to trust that what we were learning would work, because we could not test them particularly well. They were ďtoo deadly to sparĒ, or in the case of firearms, no one wants to get shot in practice. We did not have the gear or even a good framework to attempt to apply them.

    As students, we had to accept the stories told by our teachers. That this particular technique worked 300 years ago in SE Asia to fight off pirates or marauding invading samurai, or that this other technique was really successful in killing Nazi sentries in WW2. Any martial art geek (this writer right there among that crowd) can talk about legends of people who came before, especially if said person was in the same lineage. I remember reading a ton of stories about legendary rooftop fights that happened all the time in Hong Kong in the 50ís and 60ís. A number of Chinese martial artists, including Bruce Lee, had some their laurels stemming from these encounters. Then, thanks to the wonders of the internet age, someone found actual film of some of these fights and put it online for the world to see. I cannot begin to tell you of my disappointment at seeing them. A bunch of 12 year olds fighting in the school yard had better skills and technique than these ďmastersĒ exhibited. But prior to that, we had to accept the myth that these were amazing fights and only gods among men could emerge triumphant from them.

    Thankfully, there were three concurrent events happening. One, the rise of the information age made it easier to trade facts and truth rather than legends. Two, the advent of better training gear, ranging from headgear and gloves all the way to firearm marking cartridges (simunitions and UTM) allowing us to be more safe in applying real force and pressure on training partners and coming as close as possible to experiencing what a fight for your life may feel like, and three, the arrival of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu into the US and then the rest of the world.

    What BJJ did, outside of giving us a functional and safe grappling methodology accessible to anyone, was to give up a template and framework in which we could truly test things. Every single time you step on the BJJ mat to train, the truth will be revealed. No longer can a ďmasterĒ who is too fat to even climb a flight of stairs without stroking out can pretend to be a fighting god. No longer can someone say that all it takes to win a fight is to eye gouge or groin grab someone. It is no longer possible to pretend to know something about the mysteries of fighting without being able to demo the ability to apply that mystery.
    That extends to the world inside BJJ as well. Anyone can go on Amazon and buy a black belt, put it on and walk into a BJJ academy. But they will be kindly asked to show what they can do. And it will be evident quickly if they are a phony or not. Royce Gracie once said ďA belt covers two inches of your ass. You have to cover the rest.Ē And truer words were never said. There have been some cases of a phony belt getting caught publicly and sometimes the video even goes viral. More often, it is a quieter and more private affair where someone comes to an academy and says they are a purple belt (or any belt lower than black). But it only takes a couple of rolls to find out if that is fact or fiction. Sometimes the person does not know he is not at that rank. He was given it for some other reason by a higher belt (probably for financial or student retention reasons by the instructor - and shame on him for doing so), and moves to another school and after a bit of training realizes he is out of his depth. At a good school, they will help him to grow into that belt rather than punish him for someone elseís mistake and make him take it off. That has happened multiple times at my Professorís academy. We know it is not his fault, and can help him, but we donít have to tell him what is up. The mat does not lie and shows him the truth.

    Sadly, there are still people out there who try to fool the world, but if they have not been caught, they will be. My favorite is the guy who never really out and out says he is a black belt in BJJ, but wears a black belt because he is a black belt in some other art like Tae Kwon Do. He knowingly knows he is being deceitful, but is desperate to get away with it. Nothing ever good comes from that, because eventually, the truth will tell, because the mat does not lie. It is fine to tell the world you are awesome, but the mat says prove it. And you either can, or cannot.
    For info about training or to contact me:
    Immediate Action Combatives

  2. #2
    Hammertime
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Desert Southwest
    "The mat does not lie." True. My first thoughts were:

    Neither does the iron. Or the stopwatch. Or the target.

    They are all based in reality. Great post Cecil.

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    SC
    Iím a no-stripe Blue (and having a baby has interrupted that), but Iíd 100% agree.

    Also, Iíve met the inverse as well in a two stripe blue I was training with. I was probably 6-8 months of being white and I go to roll with this guy. His posture is fully erect and heís just smiling - doesnít seem to be grip fighting. I just kind of smile at him as he didnít fight a collar grab or sleeve grab. I think I had two grips and I remember feeling somewhat confident.

    Thatís what I remember, and I donít remember how or what exactly happened next, but I remember being on my face maybe a second later on the mat. He proceeded to just wipe the floor with me for the next three or four rolls. He smiled, laughed, made some pointers, and just absolutely destroyed me and any semblance of self confidence I had developed.

    Come to find out a few months later - Robert was a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Japanese Jiu Jitsu (He actually had a school at one point) and he was almost a Black Belt in Judo (he was a several degree brown). Heíd been training about 20-25 years.

    But, he didnít feel the need to say that - in fact it took awhile for people at the gym to figure this out (a few months at least) because heíd just start talking (when asked) and he was so insightful. Also, not in a way that he knew all the answers just he was very dominant so - weíd just start asking questions when there was such a major skill gap.

    He also was fine giving all his credentials up as this was a different variation of an art heíd learned.

    I was so relieved as I thought never in a million years would I be ready for Blue Belt. I was so relieved when they made him a purple belt.

    ETA: The other thing is - when you prioritize the mat and not the belt / stripes, etc. is honestly - this last year I changed jobs, had a baby, got a house ready to sell, tried to, and didnít, passed the CCNA Security, and lots of other things. I only managed to make it to about 70 classes since making Blue last July.

    But, as time goes on - gaining and maintaining proficiency is just so huge. What matters is mat performance and learning new positions and defenses - growing my skills.

    I donít know that Iíll make it to Black, but I do think this is worth continuing and is rewarding and that is enough.
    Last edited by BWT; 06-11-2019 at 08:55 PM.
    God Bless,

    Brandon

  4. #4

    Iron

    Reminds me of Henry Rollins' essay Iron. Great stuff.

  5. #5
    Did Cecil just invent "Mat-shaming"?

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    The Hills of Tennessee
    Quote Originally Posted by BWT View Post
    Iím a no-stripe Blue (and having a baby has interrupted that), but Iíd 100% agree.

    Also, Iíve met the inverse as well in a two stripe blue I was training with. I was probably 6-8 months of being white and I go to roll with this guy. His posture is fully erect and heís just smiling - doesnít seem to be grip fighting. I just kind of smile at him as he didnít fight a collar grab or sleeve grab. I think I had two grips and I remember feeling somewhat confident.

    Thatís what I remember, and I donít remember how or what exactly happened next, but I remember being on my face maybe a second later on the mat. He proceeded to just wipe the floor with me for the next three or four rolls. He smiled, laughed, made some pointers, and just absolutely destroyed me and any semblance of self confidence I had developed.

    Come to find out a few months later - Robert was a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Japanese Jiu Jitsu (He actually had a school at one point) and he was almost a Black Belt in Judo (he was a several degree brown). Heíd been training about 20-25 years.

    But, he didnít feel the need to say that - in fact it took awhile for people at the gym to figure this out (a few months at least) because heíd just start talking (when asked) and he was so insightful. Also, not in a way that he knew all the answers just he was very dominant so - weíd just start asking questions when there was such a major skill gap.

    He also was fine giving all his credentials up as this was a different variation of an art heíd learned.

    I was so relieved as I thought never in a million years would I be ready for Blue Belt. I was so relieved when they made him a purple belt.

    ETA: The other thing is - when you prioritize the mat and not the belt / stripes, etc. is honestly - this last year I changed jobs, had a baby, got a house ready to sell, tried to, and didnít, passed the CCNA Security, and lots of other things. I only managed to make it to about 70 classes since making Blue last July.

    But, as time goes on - gaining and maintaining proficiency is just so huge. What matters is mat performance and learning new positions and defenses - growing my skills.

    I donít know that Iíll make it to Black, but I do think this is worth continuing and is rewarding and that is enough.
    Dropping your rank and starting over with a white belt in a new system is a pretty traditional approach. Doesn't matter what you know somewhere else, at the new school you are the new kid. I've done it, friends have done it, going from one stand up style to another. We kind of thought someone wearing rank from else where was rude unless the head instructor gave you the ok.

    First seminar I went to I didn't have a belt, my brother is a 2 stripe blue with the host school at the time and said that was ok. Get there and first technique requires a belt grab. He loans me his white belt...with 4 stripes on it. We rolled at the end of the seminar and I kept trying to tuck the striped part of the belt I to my GI. The blue belts ate me alive! My brother had to explain the deal to them the next week, which they found hilarious.

    And BWT, hang in there. Going to class is still training and will cut down the likely hood of dropping completely. And you can still make progress, it will just be a little slower.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

  7. #7
    Site Supporter Les Pepperoni's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    SRQ - Florida
    Tangent:

    I had to look up those rooftop fights... Man Cecil, you're totally right... I was really expecting some next level Jet Li shit...


  8. #8
    Member 03RN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Rhode Island
    I need to start going to a dojo. It's been a few years.

    I'm thankful for the training, high school wrestling letters, and the black belts I do have but I need some more focused grappling. Working in a psych hospital I'm grappling at least twice a week at work but it's weird because I have to focus on keeping my patient safe.

  9. #9
    Miss Manners
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    In the desert, looking for water.
    Quote Originally Posted by 03RN View Post
    I need to start going to a dojo. It's been a few years.

    I'm thankful for the training, high school wrestling letters, and the black belts I do have but I need some more focused grappling. Working in a psych hospital I'm grappling at least twice a week at work but it's weird because I have to focus on keeping my patient safe.
    Man, I do not miss that.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Les Pepperoni View Post
    Tangent:

    I had to look up those rooftop fights... Man Cecil, you're totally right... I was really expecting some next level Jet Li shit...


    And the true insanity is that these guys see that footage and STILL THINK IT VALIDATES THEIR SYSTEM! Just crazy.

    Their was also a famous "fight" in the late 80's between two different Wing Chun guys who were well known to the magazines of the day. It actually was an ambush by one of the "masters" when he showed up by surprise at a seminar being given by the other. There was so much talk between the two sides for years over the results and who came out the best. Then I saw a few seconds of the fight on video a long time ago and it was even worse than these rooftop fights. Slapfighting and falling down on the ground is a charitable description.

    There is a lot of good in traditional martial arts. Blindly believing in your crap is not one of them.
    Last edited by Cecil Burch; 06-12-2019 at 06:08 PM.
    For info about training or to contact me:
    Immediate Action Combatives

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