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Rick Baker is a white belt, and we know white belts are people too. In this instalment of ‘White Belt Fever’, Rick looks at training mentality and asks the question: "is he pushing hard enough?"

One thing I've recently struggled with, without realising, is that I may have been going too easy with my training partners. I began training in Muay Thai and MMA before really taking part in nogi BJJ, and then transitioned into the gi. Over time, I have become quite good friends with some of my training partners (or so I'd like to think, they may not agree). This is great because you often need training partners that you can trust, you learn their styles what does and doesn't work against them and you can really round out your game but in the trust that they're not going to rip your limbs off on purpose. Accidents can always happen of course, we are in a full contact sport. Without realising, I fear that this has become  detrimental to my game, as I have been going too easy.

I tend to pick and choose my training partners wisely and thus I began to find a comfort zone in a sport that I used to take me out of my comfort zone. Realising this, I recently decided to try and roll with people that I wouldn't usually, instead of handpicking my partners. Now, I wait until someone asks me, therefore I can roll with anyone at any given point. An obvious, but great way to diversify my skillset and push me beyond my newfound comfort zone.

Let me set the scene of how I managed to break free of my easy-going roll style; So, it's my final roll of an hour long session (a great way to finish my BJJ filled year) and one of the guys known for using every ounce of muscle possible during a roll asks me to the dance. He usually tries to squeeze the life out of me for 5 minutes flat. Now, I like to move around a lot and use all of my limbs to keep my opponent guessing, so his style of jiu jitsu usually drives me mad. I prepare myself to probably have to go 100% just to keep the guy off me. The roll starts and it's pretty fast paced, and as he tries to hit the switch on me he somehow manages to land a spinning elbow flush to my eye, and, for the first time in a long while I lost my temper. I didn't complain or yell or in anyway make it obvious I had, but I saw red. Now, as of writing this, I realised that I haven't lost my temper in a way that I used to since before I started training in any sort of martial arts.

I used to get so so frustrated in situations that I'd say horrible things or do things I regretted, smash up things in my house or flat or wherever I resided at the time, and since training in martial arts this simply hasn't happened once, until this very moment in time. What I didn't do, was totally freak out and use all of my strength in that one moment and gas out, which I probably have done in the past. I somehow managed to use my anger and frustration to focus all of it towards him in steady, unrelenting bursts. It was a bit like letting steam out of a valve, but instead of doing it all at once, just when necessary. Short sharp bursts to help fuel the fire, and, I quite enjoyed it. I think I've been a little too in my head when rolling recently, perhaps thinking too much instead of finding that balance between instinct, technique and aggression, an this guy managed to light the fire. What I found was I continued to push the pace getting slightly faster and pushing for the action more than usual, and I'm sure it was much more than my opponent is used to, probably caught him off guard a little bit, and I found out he is not keen on being put on his back. Alas, I found his weakness. Score one to me. I now plan on hopefully being able to tap into this vial of aggression I've found in me, only when necessary to help me up the tempo, push the pace, to help create a much more competitive Jiu Jitsu game. I'll let you know how I get on.

I hope you manage to find your aggression valve, and it doesn't take a spinning elbow to light it on fire. If you're reading this thinking there's no other way to roll than with pure aggression and don't understand a single thing I'm talking about, then you're probably the guy in your gym no one wants to roll with. Take a deep breath and think about what you're doing, just not for too long as I was.

As always, any questions or thoughts hit me up at @rickofitall or at RedcornerBluecorner.com

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November 12, 2018 — Jiu Jitsu Style