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Holding the Line

(Originally posted August 7, 2020)

Imagine your favorite football team playing their most bitter rival. The good guys are on the 20 yard line, first and 10. They run the ball, and gain 5 yards on the play. Second and 5. But then the most peculiar thing happens. When setting up for the next play, they go back to where they started on first and 10. They run the ball again, and this time they gain seven yards. Had they not back tracked after the last play, they'd have another first down, but alas, third and 3. Oh, but wait, they walk back to where they started on first and 10 again! They gain 3 yards on the next play, but because they kept giving up their hard earned yards on each play, they never made it far enough to get that first down, and are forced to punt.

Now this is a ridiculous example. No semi-competent football coach would ever allow this to happen. And what does this have to do with jiu jitsu, you might ask? Well in one of his instructional DVDs, Roy Dean uses this as an analogy for how some people try to pass the guard. They attempts a pass. The pass is thwarted. Then instead of holding what little ground he's gained, they back to wherever he started the pass from. The moral of the story is that one needs to find a way to hold on to that progress, to hold the line.

There is however another area of jiu jitsu that this analogy applies to which Roy Dean doesn't mention in his video. This is the area of committing techniques to memory. Hard-wiring them into your brain so you don't forget them.

Most practitioners go to class, pay attention to the technique being taught, practice it a few times, then go home and forget it. By the time the instructor teaches that same technique again it's been months and the student hast to relearn the move. "Oh, yeah. I think I remember this one. How does it go again?" They remember a little more than they did the last time this happened, but still not enough to perform the move correctly the next day. It's just like the football/guard passing analogy. They fail to hold the line.

How many times have you done this? How many YouTube videos have you watched and thought, "That's a sweet move! I could totally use that in my game!" But 2 hours later down the YouTube rabbit hole, you can't even remember where to find that first technique on the interwebs much less know how to perform it. So much wasted time and effort!

I know that I for one have wasted countless hours doing this. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to my younger self, it would be to stop the madness, to find a way to hold that line when it comes to learning new techniques. Take notes! Make flash cards! Remember what you learn! Otherwise it's just wasted time and effort.

If a football coach did this every time they gained a few yards you'd want him fired, and rightfully so! If you're doing this with the techniques you learn during class I would offer this. Consider that the old you. Fire that guy and replace him with the new you. A you that will make it a point to remember every single technique from every single class or video, from now on. Yes, it will take a little more time and effort on the front end. But if it's important enough to sit through a class or video on, you might as well take that extra time in the short term committing it to memory so that you don't have to waste time later on learning it all over again. Hold that line, and I guarantee that you will be glad you did in the long run.


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