Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's No One's Job to Make Winning Easy for You

I really wish I had a video of the day after her first Olympic Trials when Ronda and her friend Lily were sitting in the living room watching the videos of her matches and doing cartoon voice-overs. Ronda was 17 at the time.

"Give me that arm! Give me that arm!" , she squeaked.

"No! No! No!" Lily squeaked back.

Serious for a minute, Ronda turned to her friend and said in disgust,

"Can you believe that girl? What a coward! She was holding on to that arm like, like - "

"Like you were going to break it if she let go?" Lily helpfully suggested, laughing.

"Well, yeah, but -- "

Attitudes like this are not limited to Ronda, nor to teenagers. Recently, I had a discussion over twitter with Alan who complained that Brendan Schaub's match was "disrespectful" and that it was hard for his opponent, a world champion, to beat him if he wouldn't come into his guard.

I thought it was funny, myself. If you are a multiple world gold medalist competing against a brown belt, you should be able to have your way with him, not be complaining that he didn't fight the way you wanted him to. 

I completely understand how frustrating and annoying that can be, and I am a little bit of a hypocrite because I have also complained about people being cowards, not willing to fight me at my own game - but really, why should they? People have gotten up from matwork and literally ran away from me to keep the match standing. The same has happened to Ronda.  If someone is competing against a person known to be excellent on the ground and they manage to keep the game standing, that isn't being a coward, it's being smart.

It's YOUR JOB to take them to the mat and keep them there and your opponent is certainly under no obligation to make it easy for you.

Jim Pedro and I talked about this a lot when we wrote Winning on the Ground. Although we both focus on both types of transition, mine is more on transition from standing to matwork, while his is more on transition from one mat technique to another. 

Don't complain that your opponent won't come to you on the mat. Get up and take them to the mat. Don't complain the referee doesn't give you time to work your mat techniques (yes, I'm talking to YOU,  judo players!) Get the grip you need while standing and then transition to your mat technique while you are in the air. If your opponent escapes from mat work don't complain that he or she didn't stay and let you try an arm bar.

If your opponent is making it difficult for you to win - well what the hell did you expect? That's why they're called opponents and not "partners".

I am surprised that I have to explain this to you.


Sylver said...

I agree with you on the general principle, but in this specific instance, I don't think it's the same thing:

Have you seen the "fight"? Here, high speed replay to shorten it to 3 minutes:

It was supposed to be a fight but Schaub never even tried to fight, let alone to win. It was supposed to be a submission tournament but Schaub didn't try to grapple, let alone submit. He ran away to the edge of the mat (which is elevated and directly over the first row of spectators, so shooting for a takedown is a really bad idea) and avoided the fight for a full 20 minutes.

People paid to see grappling. Somewhere there was an expectation that grappling would be attempted at some stage.

Schaub asked for the fight, got it, got paid for it and never even tried to actually, you know, fight.

Besides, Cyborg did win, Schaub gave him the win by refusing to fight.

It's like playing tennis with someone who acts like it's a game of dodge ball. Then your opponent parades around and call himself big winner because the tennis ball didn't touch him.

What's the point? Keeping in mind that people paid to see it, it's a disgrace - if Schaub was so sure he didn't have a chance if he actually grappled with Cyborg, he should have stayed home and let someone who had a chance take the fight.

Sam. said...

I think when applied to Judo your comments are very pertinent and I agree wholeheartedly. However, I have difficulty applying the same logic to the match between Brendan Schaub and Cyborg as in BJJ the way to win the match is on ground as opposed to Judo where you can obviously win from standing. When Schaub was in Cyborg's half guard it is clearly a dangerous and scary place to be, but rather than simply standing up and retreating to evade danger, why didn't Schaub at least attempt to pass into side control or a more dominant position? Personally, I believe it's because he never wanted to win only to survive, and if you're taking that attitude into competition (where people are paying good money to watch you and be entertained) then I think you should reconsider whether this is the sport for you. When Schaub fights MMA, he fights to win as evidenced by his impressive record but in Metamoris he had a different mindset. Saying that I want to say that I personally appreciate good defence as much as offence (I thought the Ryron Gracie vs. Andre Galvao match from Metamoris I was superb) however, there are different types of defence - and running away isn't one that's pleasing for the spectators eyes. I do agree maybe Cyborg could have done more to chase Schaub down and try to force him to engage but nevertheless, when your opponent enters the mat with no intention of winning, then it's difficult to make an exciting match.

Canadian Bear said...

"If your opponent is making it difficult for you to win - well what the hell did you expect?"

You must have Canadian in you :-) The irony/humour is outstanding.

Troy Beacleay said...

I almost always agree with you Doc, but this time I must disagree. There's a difference between not wanting to fight my fight and simply running away with no interest in fighting at all. I'm not saying he has to play in Cyborg's guard, but he has to play something. The problem is compounded by the fact that this wasn't some amateur tournament. These guys were getting paid, because I subscribed to the broadcast and paid them. If I pay my money, you better fight. If you want to play standup, fine. If you want to play ground, fine. I don't care which. Just try something. I'm not sure if you watched the Brendan Schaub match, but he clearly had no interest in engaging in any facet of a fight whatsoever. That's not going to fly and if they want to keep the Metamoris promotion afloat, they would do well to make sure that nonsense doesn't happen again.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

As far as what someone "has to do" I've always believed that they have to play within the rules, no more, no less. If the referee isn't looking, you still can't cheat, it's wrong. On the other hand, if there is not a rule against it, you are allowed to do it. I don't know what the rules are for the Metamoris promotion but since he did not get penalized, I am assuming he didn't break any. Yes he DID make it difficult for his opponent to win. You're saying they should change the rules to make it a more exciting sport for spectators. That is a different point. My point is if you play within the current rules (not some future rules), that is all you are required to do and people who then argue you made it hard for your opponent to win - like that's a bad thing - are pretty funny.

Troy Beacleay said...

Actually, he didn't make it difficult for his opponent to win in the slightest. It was a much easier victory than if his opponent had broken a sweat. I don't think there was any dissenting opinion over who won, nor was it close. And while no Metamoris rule was broken, that I'm aware of, it's dishonorable to ask for a fight and then get paid for a fight when you never had any intention of actually fighting in any way. If your mindset is, "I cannot let this person touch me in any way, anywhere", perhaps you should have challenged him to chess. If you want to fight, there's going to have to be some contact somewhere, sometime. According to Ralek's recent comments, I think he's in agreement that it was bad for his promotion.

Sylver said...

But he didn't make it difficult to win. As a matter of fact, he gave the win away.

He made it difficult to fight.

And in a fight, fighting is kind of the point, no?

Al B Here said...

It's nice to see that I wasn't the only one who held the opinion that Schaub was running the entire time. You're right, there was no explicit rule against running for 20 minutes, which is precisely what he did, but it does against the spirit of the competition. It was meant to be a test of skill. Schaub exhibited an ability to occasionally sprawl, yes, but he also spent a considerable amount of time on the "warning track" which, as others have pointed out, prevented Cyborg from driving his way to a takedown. If he had actively engaged, I would have a lot of respect for him. He didn't.

Anonymous said...

'Alan who complained that Brendan Schaub's match was "disrespectful" and that it was hard for his opponent...'

Schaub was disrespectful. Not in that he made it hard for Cyborg to win, but he refused to engage in a contest - anywhere, on the ground OR standing - when the audience had paid good money to see a competition.