Fast feet

I feel amazing! Epiphany while skipping! Letting go and operating in a state of detachment enhances ability (by avoiding fear and existing in the now). I’ve understood this, on a cerebral level, for some time and Coach, Marc Walder and other more senior martial artists I have the pleasure and privilege to train with have repeatedly emphasised this in classes, seminars and personal tuition. From my own meager competition experience I’ve had practical experience with being ‘in the zone’, but I find it terribly difficult to relax in regular BJJ practice.

I appreciate why this is, and my tension is particularly apparent when I go on the offensive. I’ve spent the last 4-5 years on the mats primarily in defensive mode, and I have a reasonable amount of confidence in my defence, feeling pretty comfortable with larger, stronger and less skilled opponents and offering, at least, annoying resistance for some (many?, perhaps that’s going too far) opponents that are larger, stronger and of a similar or greater skill level. However, I rarely ‘close the deal’ and submit these opponents.

A major barrier to my offence is my self-consciousness at being outside my comfort zone and the associated fear that comes with feeling exposed, ignorant and out of one’s depth. This manifests in gritted teeth, tensed muscles and essentially my whole bod telegraphs that I am up to something. This clearly isn’t optimal for working ‘multi-pronged’ attacks and flowing with whatever the opponent makes available. I’m aware that I have this problem, but struggle to overcome, and here is it is clearly my ego getting in the way; fear, self-consciousness, attachment, all bugbears to adapting competently to the fluid opportunities of a spar.

This evening I turned this around a wee bit and ‘skipped with detachment’. I’ve been working on flexibility, in particular working towards full side and box splits. This is a goal I’d hoped to achieve before last Christmas, but that plan was scuppered by MCL/cartilage injury. Ever since I matted my basement a few months ago and my knee has felt up to it, I’ve been trying to stick to a daily stretch routine. Today, I warmed up for my stretch with some skipping. Skipping can be boring, so I had fat ‘phones on and big dance beats pumping. I tried to make the whole thing more fun by skipping 3 times on both feet, twice on the right, twice on the left and back to both feet. I was absolutely sucking out! I took the speed right down and practiced just moving between each leg for 5 minutes, then started to build up the speed of skip and alternation and, then, the strangest thing. I noticed I was switching between feet every two beats at a quick pace – no problemo. It seemed that I’d tuned out *trying* to skip on alternate feet and just started bouncing to the beat and it was easy. As soon as I became aware of what I was doing and thought ‘I gotta keep it up’, I’d lose it. As soon as I became attached to the skipping routine my jaws clenched, my brow furrowed, my bod tensed up and I lost the groove. I kept working and after 30 minutes was happily skipping and transitioning between alternate feet, different variations of beats and etc with a lot less getting tangled up in the rope. I *felt* the difference between being all uptight about ‘having to do it right’ and, in Coach’s words, ‘doing it like it doesn’t matter’. Now I *know* what he meant. I am so very excited about this! I could absolutely identify when I was just enjoying what was happening and bouncing along and when I got too attached to keeping the skip going (and so ruined it). Was almost like that point just before sleep, when you’re not entirely conscious of yourself and your worries, cares or wishes and sort of floating in a limbo of consciousness/unconsciousness. I’m well chuffed with my wonderful little breakthrough.

Now the hard part, putting this into practice on the mats. We shall see, no doubt about it though, I love this journey.