Listening to Attack

March 25 2024


Its funny how in a sport where attacking is paramount, the best moves come from listening to your opponent in a very subtle way. It's easy to think of an attack as something straightforward, launched like a missile, and powerful enough to break through a brick wall. But the shape of the attack actually depends entirely on the shape of the defense.

In other words, you only see which attacks are available to you by paying attention. This morning in training, something happened while I was engaged on the feet with my training partner. I was completely tense, but then for some reason, I stopped thinking about myself, about my movements, my pressure and my stance. Instead my awareness seemed to move toward what my opponent was doing. Suddenly I was much more aware of his movements, his pressure, his stance.

And something magical happened --- my body began to feel lighter. I realized that all my "effort" towards staying upright had been nothing but tension restricting my movements. For a few glorious moments, I felt like a beach ball floating on the waves, too light to be submerged. I danced around my partner's foot sweeps and throws, but it wasn't just my defense that improved. I began to see that his every movement created an opening of some kind, an opportunity for an attack. And those openings were only apparent when I was paying more attention to his movements than my own.

It's not about breaking through the wall, but seeing how to get around it. So this is how you do jiu-jitsu! I marveled.

And then I snapped out of it and he took my ass down. But at least I got that quick lesson.