Happy 2022 – An Update

I’ve actually had a lot I’ve wanted to post, but WordPress wouldn’t load when I went to make a new post. So, here we are.

Training-wise, we’re in a really different spot than we were in May 2021. Foundations moved location and is back open for business, I talked with Chris and Melissa a lot about what I felt I needed to work on, I’ve spent a lot of time going over different techniques and instructionals to foster the skills I felt I was missing, I’ve gotten to see Chris at seminars twice since the first LA trip, I have a second trip to LA scheduled to meet with Chris and Melissa, and we have a tentative date to host Chris for another seminar.

If you were following the pandemic pod updates:

  • White: Getting progressively better, but still seems to be limited by the amount of time she’s able to spend on the mats.
  • Blue: He’s arguably already a purple belt. We’re sandbaggers though so his promotion is going to wait a little bit.
  • Purple: Switched gyms. He seems to be doing well where he’s at. I still get to see him sometimes, but due to my car situation I won’t be able to see him as much as I’d like until spring.

As for myself, a lot has happened. Technique-wise, I ironed out passing A LOT since that last update, including getting to go to a seminar by Andrew Wiltse on the topic which helped. By the time I went to LA I felt like the weakest area of my game was bottom guard, especially retention. Melissa gave me some drills to work through to help with it. I’m really confident in my bottom guard now. Confidence-wise, three things happened that gave me a really different perspective on where I am and where studyingI want to be

First, I went to New York for work and got to train and hang out with Alex Ecklin. After being at Masterskya I really felt like “I’ve been a brown belt long enough, I’d be fine being a black belt at this point.” Alex alluded to the fact that we may not be promoting people fast enough in general. Given the circumstances around the people who have recently been promoted to purple belt, the people who (relatively) soon will be promoted to purple belt, and the white belts who could be blue belts without question – it’s hard to say he’s wrong. I’d favor being in this position where by the time someone is promoted at Foundations they’re inarguably the rank they’re promoted to. Having said that, we might be a bit extreme with it. Last summer a white belt got promoted to blue before moving to a new state. A few months later, at a respectable competition gym, he had been promoted to purple. All of this is to say, viewing myself as the benchmark for brown is really skewed, and it’s feasible I’m as under-ranked as the rest of them.

Second, I coached a team at the Fuji state championships. Let me start by saying, Fuji is a tournament run so poorly that I feel the need to strongly discourage anyone thinking of participating in it. When someone is passed out, face down on the ground and they page the medic multiple times to no avail (and the “medic” they do have doesn’t even have a stethoscope to check vitals), it’s not a good look. There was some good refereeing and some SUPER bad refereeing. One ref didn’t even watch the match and missed 12 points a blue belt I was coaching scored. Seriously, avoid Fuji as a tournament. Great gear, terrible tournament. Anyway, it went super well, and most notably the people who have been coming to the no gi classes I teach did substantially better in no gi than they did in gi. That was a major confidence boost, especially watching someone who was competing for the very first time go from hating how it felt to compete in the gi to pretty easily taking gold for their division in no gi. Humble brags aside, the stuff I’m teaching and the way I’m teaching it is getting results in the white and blue belt divisions of tournaments.

Finally, the Haueters have been amazing. Chris and Melissa have provided great feedback, Zoom sessions, a comprehensive video series, have been responding to texts/questions, and just generally been great mentors to have. Affiliating with Combat Base has honestly exceeded any and all expectations I could have had for it. The book club that Melissa has started also is getting me to read and expand my horizons more than I have in years. It feels good to be learning new stuff, even outside of work and jiu-jitsu.

So that now leaves me in an odd place. Mike’s effectively an ocean away at Uni until the next break. Chris and Melissa are half a continent away until my next LA trip. I feel like I’ve actually moved from the progress phase to the holding pattern phase with respect to belt rank where it’s no longer a question of “what do I need to do?” but really just how long I’ll be waiting for someone of sufficient rank to agree. In the meantime I’m continuing to watch videos, rep new things, improve on old things, and focusing on how to improve my pedagogy to help expedite the process for others.