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Slow and Steady Wins the Race

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Slow and Steady Wins the Race

One of the greatest equalizers in jiu-jitsu, when it comes to the battle of the ages between the younger and the older student, when all learning is happening at the same time, lies on how you strategize the pacing. 

It is not something unknown that when you learn how to pace, you can maximize your possibilities and increase your opponents' liabilities. Slow and steady has always proved to be the best pace, not only because it allows continuing effort but also prevents interruptions due to injuries or burn outs. 

In dealing with different size training partners, do I need to change the technique when I go against a bigger opponent? The answer will be “it depends”! 

In the scheme of things, the only difference when you’re dealing with unequal sizes is the strategy and the pace in which you implement the technique. It is not a secret that the first practitioners of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu were often at a disadvantage when it came to size. Their strategy could only work if they first ensured wearing out their opponents, before subduing them.  

Nowadays, with the advent of regulated Jiu-Jitsu tournaments, with specific formats that include time limits and scoring rules criteria, size will definitely matter more. 

In normal circumstances, a smaller person could take longer to try to apply a move, waiting for the time in which the other person showed signs of fatigue and slowed down. 

Also, when two partners share equal knowledge, size will matter even more. 

This is often a strategy, very common in boxing matches, in which you’re gonna have the quick starters and the long runners. Case in question could be exemplified by  

Conor McGregor versus Floyd Mayweather, in which McGregor started strong and fast for the first six rounds, and showed signs of slowing down after the seventh. From that point on Floyd Mayweather, which was maintaining a certain pace for the first half of the match, started to increase the pace and increase the aggression. This is not a secret in jiu-jitsu either. 

Some tournaments are formatted with longer time limits, or rules that favor going for submissions other than scoring points. 

With that said, on average, how would someone benefit the most in making their jiu-jitsu last for a lifelong journey.

Often, practitioners of jiu-jitsu, whether competitors or hard-core mat rats, will eventually fall prey to the effects of time and cumulative damage to their bodies, if the intensity of the training surpasses the body’s ability to recover.  This is true in any sport and jiu jitsu is not an exception. 

 We have here an example point, the infamous L5 vertebrae. That’s a very common and almost across the board injury that several jiu-jitsu practitioners are susceptible to. The very nature of their style, in which it is not unusual for some to spend quite some time on the bottom, dealing with pressure and twisting motion against their joints (lower back in particular), it becomes very clear that as time goes on the body it will show the signs of its commutative damage. 

How to avert that is the real question! The slow and steady approach is an effective way for learning, going to the shallow, and then diving in the deep and dark waters of knowledge,  that along with structured instruction and enough mat time will catapult skills.

Those who use that approach of  a better pace as their main strategy can afford to go for longer rounds without sustaining the increasing wear and tear so pervasive amongst long term practitioners.  In doing so, one can likely train without interruption, and train in the way that they will always be able to keep on training. Jiu-jitsu is not a 100m dash, it is a marathon with no distance limit. If you are to cross the finish line, rest assured another one will arise on the horizon. 

Does getting older mean losing functionality and abilities? Never! 

The older you get, the more experienced you get, the more effective you become. Older does not mean limited, older means smarter. Learning how to pace before outpacing an opponent is a sign of wisdom.

However the mats are unforgiving. If you’re not wise from the start, it doesn’t matter how wiser you may become  at a later time, since your body will be a casualty of your earlier years in which you didn’t know any better. 

Having the right approach from the start, will only guarantee amongst other things, that you are going to go further, that you are going to be steady, and that you are likely to outlast many of those who may now even have a head start on you.

Jiu-jitsu is not a quick fix, it’s not a shortcut, and definitely is not a small feat. 

If you’re going to last longer, thrive, and become highly skilled, you have no choice but  to play it smart from the start.

 One of the most fun times that I have is when I watch the older crowd handle the young guns.. There’s a saying that always goes like this, I wish I knew now what I should have known then. You don’t want to have that thought in your head once you have an ache in your body that prevents you from rolling. Be smart from the start, go slow and steady, choose your training partners well, learn how to optimize your training, take good care of your training partners, and above all take good care of yourself.

Written By: Carlos Machado - 8th Degree BJJ Coral Belt

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