Ask The Wise Grappler: OG With Multiple Sclerosis Wants to Fight But Coach Won’t Train Him?

February 28, 2011

“I am an older grappler (42 in Feb) and have been training in Jiu-Jitsu for a little more than a year. I live in Virginia near the border of Kentucky. There are no local MMA fights, so I have to travel to Kentucky.

Because of my age, I have to have a physical. That’s not a problem. My problem is that I have Multiple Sclerosis.

My doctor/neurologist cleared me to cage fight, but I have to be cleared by a ringside cage doctor (slight inconvenience). My biggest hurdle is my trainer (who is worried I will get hurt) won’t support me fighting and calls my MS a “crippling disease.” Yes, MS can be a “crippling disease” – but any physical problems I might have would happen before I got in a cage to fight – not while fighting in a cage. My Neuro says I have no greater chance for injury than any other “healthy” fighter.

So, I have three things against me:
1. My age
2. I need a ringside doctor to clear me
3. I have a (great) trainer who is afraid I’ll get hurt and does little to support me.

I need advice. I can’t do anything about my age, I can get medical clearance for a license as a cage fighter, but what can I do to convince my trainer to support me and allow me to be a cage fighter? This is something I want/need to do. This is my journey. I am aware of risks cage fighters take, but I’m willing to risk injury. It’s my choice. Other than leaving my trainer and seeking a new one, do you have any advice you can give me to help me change my trainer’s thinking?

——————

TWG: First, let me give you props for wanting to pursue your goal, especially when others are telling you to give up on what you feel is part of your grappling journey because of your condition.

Now, let me say upfront that I think you’ve got a pretty good trainer that cares about you and is looking out for your best interest by not allowing you to just jump into the ring with more heart than preparation. The fact that he’s worried about you is something you should take into consideration (just like you want him to take how you feel into consideration to train you) and work on a solution to make him feel more comfortable with you fighting.

For starters, you should get him some medical info on MS to read so that he can become familiar with the facts, which would keep him from speculating on your medical condition. Also, check to see if there are other competitive athletes (in similar contact sports) that have overcome the same obstacles and are following their journey. A little education can go a long way to making him feel comfortable to train you.

Next, you should really sit down with him and really express your desire to be a grappling competitor as well as a MMA fighter. I gotta think that your lack of experience (less than a year) isn’t giving him a warm fuzzy feeling and you’re gonna have to convince him that you’re prepared to make the commitment it’s gonna take to be successful in the ring.

After expressing how much you want to do this and you want him to be the one to help you, you may have to create some kind of an agreement with him that you’ll train for a certain time period before fighting that’s to his liking. That way, he can coach you so that he’ll know you’re ready for your fight and more preparation will calm any concerns he may have about you in the cage.

Also, you may also have to get him to agree to train you for just one fight at a local show (where the competition will be a newbie similar to you in skill) to evaluate your future in the ring. Based on your performance, you guys can determine how reasonable a second fight would be for you. If he sees that you’re more than capable of handling yourself well in the ring and the ring doc OKs you to fight, he might be more willing to train you for more fights.

Bottom line: you MUST make your coach feel like he’s not making a mistake by training and cornering you for a fight because he’s gotta live with the outcome of his decision as well. Make him feel assured that you’re serious about being a good fighter, work with him to create a plan to fight just one fight together, and then plan your fighting future based on your performance. And don’t be so quick to “jump ship” because another coach will let you fight when your current one won’t. The new coach may be trying to just throw a guy in the ring for exposure and not be the least bit
concerned about you.

I hope this helps, OG. Keep me posted on how your training is going along and good luck on your MMA journey.

Paul Greenhill (aka The Wise Grappler)
http://www.TheWiseGrappler.com


OG Earns His BJJ Black Belt at Age 52

February 7, 2011
Last week, I wrote about an OG (Harvey Hensley) that received his BJJ Black Belt at the young age of 52.

I did a quick interview with him after attending a BJJ Seminar that his instructor (and my “younger big bro”) Jared Weiner hosted at his school up in Philly (BJJ United) last December.

If you’ve been “training just to be training” and never thought about earning YOUR black belt, OG Harvey will make you reconsider it with his accomplishment.

Feel free to email, share or post the blog link wherever you think an OG can benefit from it and enjoy!

Dedicated to improving your mat experience!

Paul Greenhill (aka The Wise Grappler)


BJJ Training Lows (Low #1 – Training Progression: Seeing Immediate Gains, Then Slow Improvement)

January 21, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of 2010

January 1, 2011

Well, it’s the last day of 2010 and I’m sitting here thinking about the past year and all the “highs and lows” that I’ve encountered.

And as I reflect back on the year, I can’t help but to put things into three buckets:  the good, the bad and the ugly.

The “good” bucket consists of all my successes for the year. The things that I tried and everything turned out in my favor.  I guess it should go without saying this is my favorite bucket and the one that made me a happy wise grappler.

The “bad” bucket consisted of all the things I took a chance on and didn’t work out in my favor.  Although I would’ve wished for a happier ending for the items in this bucket, I gained a lot of wisdom and experience that I’ll carry over into 2011.

Finally, the “ugly” bucket consists of the missed opportunities that came my way because I either procrastinated or chose to do something that added little or no value to me  (e.g. making a decision to play “Madden 10” instead of writing an e-newsletter article).  I always knew those things probably took away more value than they added, in spite of the lame excuses I created to justify doing it.

However, with 2010 hours away from being a memory, I can say the benefits from the “good” and “bad” buckets made me a better person in the long run.

As for the “ugly” bucket, I’ll talk about how I’m going to deal with them in the next article.

So, have fun celebrating the New Year and best wishes for 2011! 🙂


OG Starting Over at BJJ After Quitting

November 3, 2010

Paul, I’m a 36 year old OG. I started BJJ back in 2003 and quit a
few times. Well now I want to try again but I keep backing out. I’ve
even driven out to the gym only to turn around and go home. I
suppose I’m worried about looking out of shape and getting hurt. I
think I’ve forgotten all my techniques too. What should I do?


TWG:  This problem isn’t as tough as you think and happens quite
often, OG.

First, you should do is recognize the fact that deep down inside,
you REALLY want to train at BJJ, maybe even become a black belt
someday.  The reason I point that out is to show you that you’re
NOT as big a quitter as you feel.  If you were a “true quitter”,
you wouldn’t still be thinking about going back to the mat or going
as far as driving down to the school, in spite of the fact that you
never stop and go inside the school.

Second, 90 percent of this struggle comes from your poor mental
mindset about who you are or what you think you should be.  It
doesn’t matter that you’re out-of-shape because most of the people
that start training are out-of-shape in the beginning, me included.
You just have to get back in there and let the training get you in
shape.  And as far as forgetting the techniques that you learned
back in the day, no one will know that unless you want to go in and
start telling people that you’ve been training since 2003.  If you
go into the school like you’re a brand new student that’s never
taken a BJJ class before, then there’s no pressure to remember
anything you learned back in the day and you can learn like every
other newbie taking BJJ for the first time.

Finally, as for worrying about getting hurt, you should know since
you’ve been training that bumps and bruises come along with the BJJ
Training.  If you’re really concerned about it, use that concern to
help guide you to the right school to train.  You don’t need to be
at a school with a bunch of up-and-coming MMAers where the risk of
being used as a grappling bag with feet is likely.  Check around
and (if possible) find a school that’s being run by an OG
Instructor (see my website for a list of schools).  If there aren’t
any schools run by an OG in your area, pay attention to the school
that seems to have a good number of OGs in their classes and talk
with a few of them.  That should ease your concern about being hurt
because you’re an OG.

Bottom line:  Do your homework to find the right school for you,
stop thinking about all the bad things that can happen (since most
of it is in your head), and get back on the mat so you can pursue
your dream of being a BJJ Black Belt.

And make sure to let me know once you’ve joined the school and how
the training is going once you’re back on the mat.

I hope this helps and good luck.


10 Common BJJ Mat Training Lows and How to Avoid Them (Part 1)

October 10, 2010

A few weeks ago, a grappler sent me an email where he talked about his frustration on the mat.

The grappler (who I’ll call Grappler X) has been training for about a year, experienced what I call “mat lows” and wanted to know if anyone else had these problems.

I assured him that he wasn’t the only BJJer experiencing these
issues and figured I’d write a list of “10 Common Mat Lows” that
every grappler experiences at some point during their grappling
journey.

I’m going to break these 10 Mat Lows down into parts so I can discuss each one in detail:

1. Progressing fast in beginning, then slowing down – when you first start training, EVERY grappler experiences that feeling of picking up things quickly because everything’s new.  And when everything’s new, you’re going from someone who knows nothing to being proficient.  Once you start becoming familiar with the techniques, the proficiency is still happening, it’s just not as noticeable like when you were new to the mat.

2.  Unable to submit anyone during sparring – once grapplers start sparring, it’s usually difficult to submit or apply clean technique against an opponent because you’re spending too much time “thinking” about what to do instead of “reacting” to the situation at hand. The ability to “move without thinking” will only come with time, hard work and patience, NOT any sooner than that.

3. Watching classmates improve faster than you – this is something that grapplers deal with at every level, whether it’s based on friendly competition between teammates or just hating on someone that’s better than you.  And since everyone learns and progresses at different paces, it’s only natural to look at the guy/gal next to you and wonder why it seems easy for them and hard for you.

In Part Two, I’ll talk about “Mat Lows” 4-7 dealing with overtraining, mat burnout, and injury.


The Wise Grappler QOTD

October 10, 2010

While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.

Henry C. Link