I remember the exact moment that I realized I was uncoordinated. There is actual video evidence of it too. Unfortunately I can’t share it here with you because I’m old. VHS old.
VHS has to be one of the best ways to protect those embarrassing home videos. Who needs a password for protection on high tech devices when you have to deal with rewinding and fast forwarding and adjusting the tracking and oh, I don’t know, FINDING AN ACTUAL VCR TO PLAY THEM IN…
My uncomfortable and awkward years captured on camera are safely protected and hidden in the lands of 80s-90s technology.
So, back in the ancient VHS times, my mom, with a camcorder that was probably the size of large dog, recorded my sister and I putting on a collection of our favorite Saturday Night Live skits. We were in the middle of our best Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri impersonations as the Spartan Cheerleaders when it dawned on me that I can not make my body do things in two separate directions.
It looked like such a simple dance move. Your feet are pointing in one direction as you slightly squat down. One hand is front of the face and the other hand is at the back of your head. Then you jump, switch your stance to the other direction, and then switch the front hand to the back of your head as the back hand comes to the front. You can do jazz hands to really spice it up. Like this:
As I attempted to do this next to my sister, who is fully coordinated by the way, I knew I was failing miserably and her perfection of the moves were making me look even worse. She looked over at me and laughed. Not a giggle. Not a snicker. A WTF-are-you-doing hearty laughter. I don’t know exactly what she was thinking in that moment but I bet it was something along the lines of “What is wrong with you!? Should I be concerned? Are you having a seizure? How are we related?”
Needless to say I nailed my imitation of Molly Shannon as Mary Catherine Gallagher. I had the uncoordinated superstar down to an art.
You are probably wondering where this going. What does this have to do with BJJ?
Because this explains why I struggle with certain movements in BJJ. Forward rolls and backward rolls, specifically. If I am in a situation where I have to make one part of my body go here, and the other part of my body go there, it takes me forever to wrap my brain around that kind of body conundrum. My brain says, “Nope, we all go here or we all go there,” and if you try to tell it otherwise I end up in some contorted, body confusion that leaves nearby onlookers saying, “What the fuck is she doing!? What is wrong with her!? Is she having a seizure!?”
From day one, rolls have been my number one nightmare in BJJ. It confuses my body immensely to turn my head to one direction while I roll over the opposite shoulder, away from my head. It sounds so simple but my brain turns it into the most perplexing situation.
My brain: “No, no, no. Listen, Allison. Your head is here, that’s where we are going. Don’t argue with me. Just do it as I say.”
Last night, we worked on transitioning from a head snap to guillotine and then, via a forward roll, into a crucifix. It’s pointless for me to tell you that I struggled with it. Unless you just skimmed over the last 600 words, you get that the subject of this post is that I am uncoordinated.
But. BUT, I finally started getting the concept after many, many explanations and demonstrations and even someone pulling and pushing my body into the right angle. Eventually, it actually started to feel right and I stopped killing my neck and head in the process. The last three or four felt really, really good and solidified this being one of my top three favorite sequences to get a submission. I so desperately want to get the opportunity to do this in live rolling.
I would like to think that this will be the end of my uncoordinated rolls but this is just the first base camp of my rolling Everest climb. Last night we got right side forward rolls under control. Now we’ve got to tackle left side forward rolls and both sides of back rolls to reach that summit. One down, three to go.
The victory for me last night and the good thing about BJJ (and really this applies to anything) is that if you just keep trying, eventually you can do it.
Even us uncoordinated ones.