Black eyes, bloody noses, scratches on the face or neck, tweaks of the neck, overly aggressive headlocks, etc. We all know these are occupational hazards of training the ‘gentle art’, but they seem to be more frequent when we roll with the “Squids”. To clarify, “squid” is a term-of-endearment used to depict a specific phase or timeframe that we all have traversed on our long journey of jiu-jitsu. A squid could be a brand new student or even an experienced grappler, but they have not yet learned or been taught how to move or they have not connected the dots in regards to fluidity or gym etiquette.
Unfortunately, said individual causes the aforementioned injuries to his or her teammates on a regular basis. The name “squid” is assigned because of the random flailing and swinging of the arms and legs while rolling, and seemingly random clutching of the kimono, neck, head, ears or fingers, which resembles an invertebrate out of water, hence the title “squid”.
We have all been there. We have all been on both ends of the spectrum. Whether being the squid or the unfortunate recipient of the merciless and seemingly endless slap-fest. We have all been there, and it is okay.
For the first couple years of I had my purple belt, I refused to roll with squids. I was just tired of receiving the irritating side effects, which after a while, tend to take some kind of toll on my body and even my motivation towards training. Showing up to train and having to avoid them and the minor injuries that may follow, it seemed to become like a real life version of Frogger. I was done. I made it part of my training method “I don’t roll with squids”, which at the time seemed to help. I only rolled with grapplers who know how to behave and had proper gym etiquette. It worked. I wasn’t getting injured, had consistent training, and was improving my skills.
As time progressed, one day I seemed to forget about my ‘no squids’ policy and rolled with a squid. It became abundantly clear this policy was amazingly harmful towards my functional application and ineffective for my overall BJJ gameplan. I had become accustomed to rolling and training with experienced grapplers. I developed excellent habits for rolling with guys who were “reacting properly” but my application of techniques seemed to lack for those who were “like most new students, attacking me wrong”.
It was then I realized how important it was to make sure I DO roll with the squids. Being able to react properly to those situations, positions, and reactions of those who do not follow gym etiquette. This may sound redundant, but there are times when we become complacent in our training, times when we develop habits, which unknowingly, have adverse affects on our skills. Most of us decided to train BJJ because of its proven track record in for combative application.
Roll with the squids, to improve your functional application. Everybody reacts differently. New students react differently. Joe Blow on the street reacts differently. The loudmouth drunkard at the local watering hole will react differently. So it will behoove you to choose your training partners wisely, so they will challenge you and push you toward your goals. It is our job to learn, adapt and to become proficient in the application of our skills. Embrace the challenge and the functional training provided to you by your squids.
Remember, to help the squids and guide them so they can grow and reach their goals, as you have. They will help you just as much as you can help them, but in a different way.
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