Sunday, 6 January 2013

Keep it Playful

    I kicked off the New Year by attending a Gracie Jiu Jitsu seminar with one of the premier practitioners of our art in my opinion: Ryron Gracie. As the eldest son of Rorion Gracie, he has had the responsibility of carrying the flame of Gracie jiu jitsu throughout his life. Whilst in London on Winter vacation, he was kind enough to take time out and train with us down at London Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

(I don't own this video, Copyright of Gracie Academy) 

I was truly excited for this seminar as his calm nature is something I believe can only be gained through intense and thorough commitment and study of one’s passion. What he is being quickly recognised for is the “keepitplayful” movement. Some love it, others hate it but one thing is for sure, very few understand it. And rightly so, something with as much value as this philosophy cant truly be understood at first glance. Ryron himself is quite candid that this is something he has been working on for a number of years and something which is a concentration of Grandmaster Helio Gracie’s lessons. Ryron kept the seminar pretty basic with moves most of us white belts could handle but the intricacy of the small details really let the true nature of Gracie Jiu Jitsu shine. In a few simple steps Ryron was able to show us how to improve both our offence and defensive positions with relatively little energy exertion. Of course, throughout he spoke to us about how to keep it playful and was extremely willing to engage in open discussion with anyone, about points they felt were weak or were contradictory. Nonetheless, he followed up each of his points with evidence which I really enjoyed. The biggest turning point of the evening for me came when he started speaking about not panicking. He said over and over, give and arm, give your back, much to the bewilderment of many of us in the room not least to say some of the more advanced guys who have competed in competition. But the context in which he was saying it was that in training, if you truly have no ego, it’s the best time to figure out what sort of dire situation you can get into and still be ok. The philosophy had two discernible parts in my opinion:

        1. Train for the worst and learn how to stay safe in the worst position.
        2. Stay calm and assess the situation before making and drastic moves.

It’s an extremely deep philosophy which I feel applies not only to rolling on the mat but in the wider respect to life itself. I mean, we all train for something. Whether you’re swimming or fighting, you train so that you can react properly in the worst situations. So why is it then wrong to purposely put yourself in bad positions in training so that you learn how to adapt quicker to the worst possible scenario and still stay safe. I feel this philosophy can be adopted to pretty much any activity in life. With Jiu Jitsu and fighting in mind, imagine you are a white belt who encounters a skilled ground opponent. If you’ve been training to give an arm or give the back but have also learnt the escapes, even if a more experienced guy gets you in this bad situation you’ll have more chance of escaping.

Ryron’s overall message I believe was to do the right thing at the right time based on careful observation; you can push and push at the same door a hundred times but it won’t open if you have to pull it.

Overall I took a lot away from the seminar and it was a true honour to share the mat with such a genuine practitioner of the art, aswell as my team mates from London Gracie Jiu Jitsu and also the guys from Dartford BJJ. Thanks to Jaime for hosting the seminar down at London Gracie Jiu Jitsu, great place to train and learn. 

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