How You Roll is Who You Are

There’s a feeling in the grappling community that we reveal something about ourselves by how we grapple; that our style of fighting is a reflection of something about ourselves and our character. How we fight, is bound up with how we live. I think there’s something true about that.

Broadly speaking (VERY broadly speaking) there are two styles of grappling, one is to emphasize size and pressure and the other is to emphasize speed and motion. In Jiu Jitsu I call these two kinds of players the squishing player, and the flippy-swippy player.

As a general rule, pressure players tend to be bigger people. They love, love, LOVE putting people in mount, or side control. Double unders are a thing of beauty for them and justhearing the phrase ‘knee on belly’ makes them smile.

Flippy-Swippy players, on the other hand, are often lanky and/or small. The lanky ones are the ones who can hang upside down from a thumbnail and casually put you in choke hold while reading their horoscope. The have amazing leverage and use it to great advantage. The small flippy-swippy players can fold themselves inside your guard and pop out, exploding your guard in the process. It’s infuriating.

I am a small person, 5 foot nothing, 113 lbs. I should play like a small flippy-swippy person. I should wriggle inside and underneath people then surprise them with a vicious X guard. Or wriggle my hand in where no one else could fit to work a submission.

But that’s not really me. I’m a pressure player. Really. Perhaps the smallest pressure player this side of the lollipop guild. Ray says that I have big-itude, but not big-osity. I’m not sure if that means I’ll be true to myself even if it isn’t in my interest to do so, or if it means that I’m simply deluded. One or the other is true, that’s for sure.

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Ronnie, on the other hand, is the classic flippy-swippy player. Rolling with Ronnie is like playing a game of whack-a-mole with an insane octopus. You think you’ve gotten away from his left hand but then he inverts and his right goes for a choke. You think you’re almost away but that was just his way of luring you into position for him to go completely vertical and then move you into position for his legs traingle you. And that’s how it is, one insane, upside down down and backwards attack after another after another.

It’s like infuriating. Rolling with Ronnie is like rolling with Dr. Octopus

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I love Ray, but I know who he is. At his core Ray is a caveman with a slightly better wardrobe than your average Neanderthal. Ray likes to get on top, stay on top, and squish you till you make funny noises. Ask anyone who has ever been his uke when he demonstrates Kesa Gatame.

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Everyone has a particular style and finding out what our style is doesn’t just teach other people about who we are, it teaches us who we are as well. In Philosophy we used to say “I don’t know what I think until I see what I say.” We reveal ourselves to ourselves. That’s true in Judo and Jiu-Jitsu as well. We find out who we are, by seeing what we do.