So you’ve found yourself in a gym surrounded by miniature people dressed in funny pajamas, hell bent on choking each other for a shiny gold medal. Sure, you’ve seen practices, your ass has fallen asleep while you sit uncomfortably watching your progeny practice some sort of martial art that you certainly signed them up for, but if you’re honest, you haven’t paid enough attention to really know what the hell is going on. Hey, thats ok. It really is. I get it. But now you feel somehow lost and totally out of your depth. You have no idea what you should be screaming at your kid/spouse/friend as they roll around in a death match with another similarly attired quasi ninja.
Take a deep breath, I’m here to help. I’ve been the parent mindlessly scrolling though my phone while my kids practice, I’ve lost entire practices worrying about dinner and work and laundry, paying scant, if any, attention to my progeny as they train in the sport of the moment. I get it. But when it comes to grappling, I can give you some tips so you can encourage your grappler without actually knowing exactly what the hell is going on.
The word ‘posture’ alone seems to be out of place in a grappling setting. Posture conjures images of Victorian women walking around with a book on their head while a petticoat-clad headmistress admonishes them about keeping their back straight and eyes forward. Posture is an odd thing to think about while someone is actively trying kill someone else. It is, however, critically important. Good posture is the jumping off point for all good grappling. It’s a tired adage but it’s important: ‘position before submission’. If you notice your grappler dropping their shoulders or letting their head get ahead of their knees, that’s a great time to start screaming ‘posture’. Good posture keeps grapplers out of danger and gives them the start of any sequence of moves they need to execute.
It’s tempting, I know. You can see it, the gym can see it, hell, the local blind guy could see it. All they need to do is “Just GO!”. Hold on there, sally shouts good. Things are different in competition. There are things going on in a grappling match that can’t be seen. Sometimes the opponent is preternaturally strong, sometimes your brain simply ceases being able to communicate with your body. Trust me when I tell you, when you can ‘just go’ in a match, you do, and when you can’t? Well, you learn a valuable lesson. If some variation of ‘just go’ is percolating behind your lips, keep it there. Don’t let it out, specifically if you’ve never grappled. Those words don’t help.
YELLING AT THE REFS OR COACHES
I know there are some boneheaded dipshits parading as referees, and some real douchebags wearing coaching livery. Doesn’t matter. Keep your thoughts to yourself. The competition is about learning respect on a lot of levels, not just the heads up fight. A parent yelling at a ref or a coach, specifically a parent who knows nothing, is teaching dangerous lessons. Keep your mouth shut, address any problems away from the mats, and keep your words to your athlete encouraging.
It’s tough sometimes to keep your mouth closed, I know, but sometimes silence is the best answer. Stay positive, stay humble, and keep it about the people on the mat.
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