Language


Last night was sparse. I’m finding myself wanting to work on the crazy, stupid techniques instead of the practical ones. Knee-tap sweep from half-guard – practical. Inverted spider guard sweeps – yes, I wanted to work on these. I was also too afraid to admit that I really wanted to work on a certain neck crank. There’s a terrible stigma about spine locks. I 100% understand it. If anything is dangerous it’s using your body weight to torque on someone’s spine. At the same time, I’ve been granted a background of no technique being off-limits. You need the right crowd when doing techniques like that though. A group of white belts probably aren’t the people you should be saying “Hey, let’s crank each other’s necks!”

I got my copy of the curriculum to get ready for my stripe test in a couple of months. There’s a lot to learn. It looks like I know most of it, but not by name. That’s always the trick for me. I take the cirriculum, do the techniques with Wade and then jot down the Japanese next to it. The names of techniques and positions in Japanese is very well defined. In English not-so-much. Ushiro kesa gatame? Oh, you mean “reverse kesa” or “twister control”, right? Some judo coaches get upset when I use English terms when I can’t remember the Japanese, and to be honest, I understand why. In english we get lazy. We don’t want to say cross arm lock so we say arm bar. If you’re lazy with Japanese it sounds weird if you literally translate it, but the core of the technique is still described. If I start talking about “juji” everyone knows I mean juji-gatame. The same with “o soto”, yeah, it can mean o soto gari, o soto gake, or event o soto guruma, but they’re all variations on the same technique. Likewise, if I want to describe “ude-hishigi-te gatame” I’ll say “ude-hishigi” which is still a mouthful, but it’s a lot more clear than “Arm bar. No not that one, the one where you use your forearm against his elbow while the other hand holds his wrist.”

It gets hard. If you haven’t done jujitsu or judo for years chances are you have no idea what someone means when they start rattling off an eight syllable Japanese name. My finding is that most people in BJJ haven’t done years of jujitsu or judo. The semi-universal English terms work, but then people come up with their own names for techniques. A good example is Wade used the analogy of painting with a brush so often for how to finish the Americana that it just gets called “paintbrush” now. So now I’m on a quest to translate a curriculum.

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