|Photo Courtesy Of Magyar Balázs|
By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here
The difference between BJJ and many other martial arts is aliveness during sparring
Let's define aliveness:
Aliveness describes martial arts training methods that are spontaneous, non-scripted, and dynamic. Alive training is performed with the intent to challenge or defeat rather than to demonstrate. Aliveness has also been defined in relation to martial arts techniques as an evaluation of combat effectiveness
BJJ, along with mixed martial arts (MMA) and a few others are considered reality based fighting. It must stay grounded in reality. Not necessarily always self defense but always real reactions.
Fixation of BJJ Flow Training
Much like how other arts began to focus on the aesthetics, flowing just looks cool and looks great for demonstration purposes. I touched on this in more detail in my previous article about Deconstructing The Idea Of "Flowing."
There is a time and place for everything, but sparring in BJJ is for aliveness training. Live rolling is short for aliveness rolling. It's intended purpose is to mimic the level of resistance found in the activity the training is intended for. This isn't scripted, we're going live. Can you apply your techniques under these conditions? Do you really have a move down or do you just think you have it down?
It's about effectiveness: theory vs application. Many martial arts have eliminated the live aspect of their training, which is why BJJ was created. What really works on the street? If you had to face other martial arts, what would work? What's real and what's a McDojo as many BJJ stylists are known to say. Years ago, one could not fathom a BJJ school being a McDojo, now it's a constant worry that it's happening more often than we'd like.
If it were boxing
You can spar, spar light, spar slow, only do body shots, only work footwork, all the things that apply in grappling applies for striking arts. Imagine someone saying "let's flow" in boxing. What does that even mean? I'll drop my guard so you can punch me in the face half the time and you do the same for me? That's essentially what you're asking for in Jiu Jitsu. Lower your guard, make it loose, create space for my attacks. It would be insane in boxing, let's not adopt such poor habits for a reality based fight system.
Weight loading, center of gravity, reactions, and invisible Jiu Jitsu
Part of sparring is to understand proper weight loading to hold or pin an opponent, how to move your center of gravity against a live opponents, real reactions they give and the reactions you must give in accordance to reality. Techniques aren't enough, there are those unseen variables that are trained during sparring. Some call it invisible Jiu Jitsu, the Jiu Jitsu you don't see. It's not just in Jiu Jitsu, it's in every fighting style. When you do a kick during a kata and a kick in sparring, it's completely different. Not in how it looks, but in how you shift your weight. If you kick during a kata, you must shift your weight backwards so that you don't lose your balance while kicking thin air. If you kick an opponent, you must shift your weight forward to drive into your opponent. To the naked eye, it'll look the same. You intuitively get the sense you have to do things differently against a live opponent.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
It's the same purpose for BJJ sparring, we don't want to train into our fighting patterns how to unload our weight, off balance ourselves, unrealistic reactions, and lose all the invisible Jiu Jitsu. Then all you're left with is a proficiency in techniques you could have gotten on a grappling dummy and not the hundred of hours of experience of sparring live opponents that got you to tighten up your techniques.
Sam Yang from an early age has been obsessed with connecting the dots between martial arts and efficiency, health, mindset, business, science, and habits to improve optimal well-being. For more info, join his newsletter. You can also connect to All Out Effort on Facebook and Twitter.