Here’s a question for you, OG, and I want you to think about it before reading the rest of this article. What could a mislabeled package and a failed armbar attempt have in common?
Well, the answer is the D-word, but can you figure out what the D-word is by reading these two scenarios:
Scenario 1: Grappler X takes a package to the post office to have it express mail to a destination. While filling out the shipping form, GX doesn’t really read the form because he done this before and knows how to do it, and writes in his own address in the “To” box on the form. A few days later, GX is surprised when he receives a notice that he has a package and can’t figure out who would be sending him something in the mail. It took him a few minutes to realize that the package that he received was the one he mail a few days earlier
Scenario 2: Grappler Y has been practicing the Armbar from the mount for a while now, but can’t seem to execute it on partners while sparring. He asks his instructor why the move isn’t working for him and after watching him perform it, the instructor tells him to reap his opponent’s arm while trying to execute the Armbar instead of grabbing his arm and to squeeze his knees together when he’s in the final position to keep his opponent from escaping. GY listens to the suggestion, but he doesn’t see how those minor suggestions could make such a difference since he’s had success doing it his way in the past, even though it was against less experienced grapplers.
Have you figured out what the “D-word” is? If not, it’s really simple. The D-word stands for “detail” in both scenarios.
In both cases, a lack of attention to detail is the root cause for both grapplers’ problems. If Grappler X (me) would’ve read the label instead of thinking that it was done the same way that you address an envelope for mail (paying attention to detail by reading the instructions on the form), he wouldn’t have mailed the package back to himself. In scenario 2, if Grappler Y could’ve listened to his instructor (me) and reaped the arm that he was trying to Armbar instead of trying to grab it while moving into position, he would’ve spent less time worrying about securing the arm before applying the lock. And that would’ve provided him more time to focus on keeping his knees pinched together; making it more difficult for his opponent to resist the lock and escape.
Both scenarios show how a small (and what may appear to be a somewhat insignificant) detail can alter the entire outcome of a situation. Details are what some grappling experts consider “the sauce” of a technique. And if “the sauce” is missing, the technique probably won’t be applied with any level of success.
So, the lesson for us all is to always pay attention to those small details, whether it’s a mailing label or your hands being in the wrong position while executing a technique. Cause if “the sauce” ain’t right, you can be sure that disaster is right around the corner!
The other day, I was having a conversation with one of my students and he wanted to know what gave me the idea of using a folding chair to demonstrate and teach the proper posture for the “Bullfighter” Guard Pass (as he saw in on the OG Clinic DVD) since he had never seen anyone use furniture to teach a grappling concept before. I told him the reason I was able to use the chair to successfully teach the concept of proper body placement and weight distribution was based solely on the fact that no one ever told me that I couldn’t use a folding chair to teach my students. And since no one told me I couldn’t use a chair (or anything else that comes to mind), my teaching was bound ONLY by my creativity.
The motivation for using the chair was to teach my students the proper hand positioning and to show them where the weight should be distributed to neutralize their opponent while doing the pass. The reason I used the folding chair was the fact that they’re light and mobile, which allows me to put several on the mat at one time to create a unique drill for the students that immediately catches their attention and presents them with a simple training tool that most of them have in their homes and workspaces. Once they put their hands on the chair in the proper position, the feeling they feel in their hands lets them know exactly where the weight is being distributed and if their feet and hips are properly positioned for successfully neutralize their opponent for a successful guard pass.
The whole idea of using a folding chair seems so foreign to many grapplers (of all experience levels and ranks), but that’s one of the reasons that so many grapplers can’t improve outside the traditional setting or without black belt level instruction. They lack the imagination and creativity required to help them learn, understand, and to teach grappling techniques and concepts outside of the traditional setting that you see in lots of training academies, grappling books, and instructional DVDs.
Would I consider myself an innovative genius for using chairs (among other things) as training props? Well…yes and no! I am innovative because I haven’t seen anyone else doing it and no one’s accused me of stealing it from someone else…yet! At the same time, I know that I don’t own the patent on training creativity and quite certain that there are TONS of non-traditional training methods being used in gyms around the world that teach grappling concepts that are unknown to the masses.
THAT’S what I consider “thinking outside the box” in grappling. So, if you’ve got some “crazy” idea that helps you or your students understand a grappling principle, keep up the good work and continue to think outside the box. And if you think using a folding chair as a guard passing training tool was cool, wait until you see how I use a stationary bike seat and an umbrella in my OG Shadow Grappling DVD, which will be available within the month!
Paul M. Greenhill, “The Wise Grappler”, is the creator of The Wise Grappler System and author of The Wise Grappler Ezine, a weekly ezine that provides grappling and mental mindset training tips for the older (over 35) and non-traditional/non-competitive martial artists. To learn more about “The Wise Grappler” and to sign up for more FREE tips like these, visit his site at www.thewisegrappler.com or contact The Wise Grappler.