Wednesday, December 3, 2014

David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell/Unconventional Warfare

How David Beats Goliath:

Lawrence of Arabia and his "rabble" of a Bedouin army are described as "All legs". That is they were considerably  more mobile, carried less equipment and had little military training when compared to their mammoth opponent: the much better supplied, much larger, but more immobile nemesis the Turks.
The Bedouin were willing to ride longer, harder, with less frills, no pomp and circumstance....and attack in unconventional ways and stay relentlessly on the attack.

How do two brothers from the little known Cicero Costha Team advance from unknown purple belts to the finals of the black belt worlds (and only lose by the narrowest of margins) in such a short amount of time?

The Miyao brothers and their work ethic is well-discussed. Leandro Lo, owner of a phrenetic work rate himself, says "no one works harder than those guys." 
Dan Lukehart mentioned driving by the academy where they were staying while visiting California and they were still at it, long after everyone had left. Watch the BJJ Hacks TV episode to get a glimpse of their attitude toward time on the mat, training, and the endless grind. Whatever attributes they may seemingly lack, they account for in spades with effort, time, analysis, and above all, focus. They train and compete. They do not own nor operate an academy. They describe their life as: being at the academy, leaving to get food, going to strength and conditioning 2x a week, and coming back to the academy. 

The full court press is hard. Gladwell discusses the conditioning, physical and mental effort and work ethic necessary to employ the full court press in basketball and why despite its statistically proven rate of success against seemingly highly skilled and well-coached teams yet why it is not employed more often. It goes against the establishment and often verbal abuse and insults are lobbed their way.
See above. Also, the Miyao brothers come from the little known (until recently ) Cicero Costha team. 

Players must know that there is no other way for them to beat the giant.
They must know this is their one chance.
This must be their only avenue to success to be willing to continually outwork their opponent.

Again, watch how relentlessly the Miyao brothers often and have hunted for the Berimbolo. If at any any one moment, their opponent stops defending the back comes. Persistence is not strong enough a word to describe their devotion to their plan of attack. When it works, it works. When it doesn't? They do it again. When it fails again? They do it again. Ad nauseum. 

Gladwell discusses the laments that the full court press isn't fair  as was voiced/heard by the coach of a girls Youth Basketball team that advanced all the way to the Championships utilizing the full court press to negate their lack of previous basketball experience and fundamental basketball skills. Youth basketball is about the fundamentals of basketball = the 50/50, the  Berimbolo et al negate basic Jiu-Jitsu basics and the spirit of the sport (whatever that means).
See the debate over the Berimbolo at the lower belt divisions and the irony that the match starts on the feet and yet many schools rarely work takedowns to see the fallacy of debating the Berimbolo as a position among others at the other belt divisions. This where you'll hear the "it's not fair" decry springing up and much wringing of the hands, "Won't someone think of the Jiu-Jitsu?!?!"

I came back from ACL surgery and did much more drilling than I ever had before. I would endlessly drill getting to deep half, sweeping, coming up into an over/under pass, then getting to knee on belly and finishing with a lapel choke. I won whole divisions that way. I would beat the same guy twice in the same day with the same gameplan. 
I knew in my mind that so many other parts of my game I had to avoid at all costs due to my knee and range of motion, I saw only ONE WAY to win. That desperation, that full belief that it's all or nothing is powerful in it's own right. If you have only one kind of bullet to shoot. You will 100% commit to firing that bullet with intense focus. 

A lesson I learned early in Judo. I could outwork and out-grind better, more successful and accomplished competitors simply by staying willing to out-attack my opponents.
As I have grown more skilled, I have done what the book points out though, I have pulled a George Washington and adopted a more formal style of warefare/the Continental line/Judo style of play in competition. The reason being, as I realize now, I am lazy. I have grown fat on the feast of easy kills in training and I have been unwilling to train relentlessly and have taken my foot off the gas pedal.
Much like the south when it lacked its ability to use its knowledge of the countryside to its advantage faltered when advancing into the Union territory, we often abandon strategies that we are forced to use earlier on as we progress and have more options, more tools, easier paths. 

Belonging to the institution, the cult, the limits your sphere...your horizon...your options. See the movement away from sports competition to self-defense. The belief that you can win in mixed martial arts with Jiu-Jitsu alone and that cross training is somehow anathema to learning Jiu-Jitsu. As though, Jiu-Jitsu is the one true silver bullet, the one word, the one....whatever. 

It's always struck me as odd that in Jiu-Jitsu we mocked traditional martial arts for self-defense and scripted responses to attacks and yet....I now know responses to multiple collar grabs, neck grabs, bear hugs, sucker punches, push kicks, round house kicks.....this battle for the "spirit of the real Jiu-Jitsu" and the "real Jiu-Jitsu" is tiring . You can practice self-defense without mocking those who compete and it just rings hollow to downplay someone's competitive accomplishments with a subtle or not so subtle remark about their probable lack of self-defense training. 
That being said, I have watched the pace and athleticism of matches at the upper echelons of the sport especially at black belt it seems slow considerably. See the old school black belt finals in Brazil versus the tepid pace of some black belt matches now for evidence. As is always the case, there is a balance ever in flux attempting to make a sport of a martial art and where that dividing line is drawn will forever be a point of contention. 

Gladwell points out that in basketball there's a sort of unspoken conspiracy to not often obstruct the inbound pass and watch as the vast majority of teams adopt a similar style of play which benefits the upper tier teams.

I would argue that while the margin for error is smaller than ever before, that there is a sense of the gentlemen's agreement at black belt. There is an unspoken conspiracy to win but to do so in a particular style, that is to say, not a flailing mash of arms and legs and frenetic energy expenditure. 

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