The Change Up

I recently went to another Rafa Mendes seminar at Triangle Jiu-Jitsu in Durham, NC, with Jacob (my brother, blue belt), Matt (other purple belt), Sully (blue belt) and Bobby (blue belt) from our academy. We had quite an adventure! We took my van and found out, when we stopped at Chick-fil-a for lunch, that the cell in my battery was dead! Matt, thankfully, was able to find a guy willing to jump us. And once the seminar was over we had to get one of the guys there to jump us as well, after which we went straight to Advanced Auto Parts and got a new battery. Once we knew we weren’t going to have to jump the van anymore, we went and ate at this fantastic barbecue place right off of the Duke University campus. Anyway, enough about our adventure and on to my thoughts!

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If you didn’t know, when I was younger I played quite a bit of baseball and mostly was a pitcher. At that age, most pitchers are focused on learning how to throw curve balls, sinkers, splitters, etc., because they think they’re cool. But when looking back on what I used most often to get strike outs, the most devastating type of pitch was the change up. Why am I talking about baseball? Don’t worry! I’m getting to my point about jiu-jitsu in a second!

But, a little bit more about baseball and the change up. Imagine this scenario. You’re a batter and you step up to the plate. The pitcher throws a 90mph fast ball! You swing and miss. The pitcher winds up and fires another fast pitch, moving at 91mph. Because you saw it the first time, your timing is a bit better, so you chip it foul. Strike two! You think, “Now I’m ready! I got his timing down!” You get ready for the pitch, the pitcher winds up again, and surprisingly lobs in an 83mph change up that completely throws off your timing, so you swing and miss. You’re out!

Rafa was teaching us how he speed passes and shared this “change up” concept with us. He spoke about how if you go the same speed constantly, your timing can always be timed by your opponent, whether you’re moving fast or slow, and that this idea applies not only to passing, but to all of jiu-jitsu.  He, Rafa, likes to constantly change his speed, which throws his opponent off.

I had actually forgotten his comment, but then in a class last week I experienced this speed changing first hand when rolling with a black belt. He was standing and I had an open guard, in which he was moving  fairly slowly and deliberately. All of a sudden, he exploded and ran right past my guard! Boom! It definitely caught me off guard! And that’s when the concept taught by Rafa popped back into my head.

It really is amazing how such a simple concept, a simple idea, a simple change of pace, can really change your game. It’s something I’ll be focusing on in the coming weeks! Have a good one!

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