Saturday, April 25, 2015

"Reason from Essential Truths," Competition, Specialization, et al....

I often hear the words of Elon Musk in my head saying, "reason from essential truths."

He was discussing why he decided to invent a car battery out of the materials he did and he said that his process was to look at the materials and chemicals and raw components that were cheapest and then engineer from that end of the problem.

Rather than say, looking at how car batteries have traditionally been made and improving on the slight improvements of others in this constant cycle of slight improvements.  He then noted that the prices of the materials would change in respond to changes in demand and he noted the fluid nature of supply, demand, and innovation.

He also reasons that  if you enter a crowded field you must either do the same thing as many others but much, much, much better, OR you can approach the problem from an entirely different angle and think along the lines of the old adage "outside the box."

I competed (poorly) this past weekend due to personal issues, lack of focus, a lack of focus on peaking at the right time, and my realization that if I'm going to compete every single month or more this year, not every tournament can feel like it's "do or die". Some tournaments will have to be off days. Some days will have to be trial and error where I let my game unconsciously unfold and simply try to do what I've been doing while rolling as of late, not just my tried and true previously winning formula.

It's also the realization that I can doggedly figure out a way to win at purple belt now, or develop skills I've reasoned are necessary at the brown belt and black belt level and long term.

My essential truths are that I want: 
1) a very difficult combination of open guards for my opponents to pass
2) a pressure, swarming guard passing style that works both at weight and against bigger opponents
3) a very small set of submission for which I hunt in key positions that follow my preferred sweeps and/or guard passes, and a precise set of sequential submissions in the closed guard

At blue belt, after knee surgery, I developed a gameplan that won me 3-6 or even 7 matches in a day that looked nearly identical: pull half guard, deep half guard sweep, over/under pass, knee on belly, lapel choke.

At purple I began developing more versatility in my open guard because with the exception of DLR or perhaps Spider-guard, or Bernardo Faria at HW doing deep half to his single leg transition, I've seen guys like the Miyaos and Gianni Grippo falter at black belt because what worked at brown belt was not versatile or varied enough to work against craftier black belts (well, that or their application of it against more experience black belts was not highly developed enough to trump that edge in strength, experience, et cetera).

This may or may not be the case. I'm a purple belt....what honestly can I say with certainty?
What I must do, however, is believe in my process and the work I've done and will continue to do.
Innovators are un-handicapped by the nature of expert failure, or by being so deeply entrenched in the hierarchy or system of which they find themselves a part.
Malcolm Gladwell has a great talk about the qualities of innovators which is that they are curious/passionate, deliberate in their willingness to dedicate hours and hours in pursuit of their goal/passion, and most importantly they persist in the face of doubt/ridicule/criticism on the part of the established experts and/or peer(s) in their area. 

Off Topic:
I've competed in some submission only superfights as of late (still hate the term "Superfight") and it has encouraged me to more aggressively hunt for the submission whilst rolling, something that can be subtly forgotten when you focus so much on position before submission and controlling your partner/opponent et cetera. This Friday I'm competing up in weight (as is normally the case when I take superfights, and it's a 3 round format with some changes to the traditional scoring in the hopes of making the match more entertaining.
There's a time to doggedly pursue one pass, one sweep, one position, et cetera.
There's also a time to play, to experiment, try things out without expectation of "winning" or "failing." The key then is choosing the right mix or combination.
Everyone trains hard
Everyone diets.
Everyone rolls.
Et cetera.

The secret sauce then is that intangible mystery ingredient when it comes down to where you spend your hours and minutes and seconds.
It's why Kron Gracie who grew up with Rickson and a fundamental treasure trove of Jiu-Jitsu access can beat Otavio Sousa in submission only 20 minute match at Metamoris and ADCC champion in his weight class, but Otavio Sousa is 2x world champion at black belt with a 10 minute time limit in their weight class in the Gi.

It's how Lucas Lepri can win his black belt world championships in the Gi something like 7 years apart and still be relevant in the sport Jiu-Jitsu world as a competitor.

Happy training and such.

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