Consider the Options

I was listening to an interview with Ellen Langer on the subject of mindfullness. I think the interview was on NPR, but of course I wasn’t very mindful, so I forgot.

She mentioned that most of us operate in autopilot, making basic assumptions about the environment around us, and thus no engaging with it. The result is that the brain can often tune out without ever really immersing in the experience. There was a lot more hippy-sounding stuff, but ironically I tuned out and started thinking about jiu jitsu.

The part that stuck in my mind was Ellen Langer’s suggestion for how to become more “mindful”. She suggested that when you make decisions, from simple to complex, try to force your brain to consider the options, weigh the pro’s and con’s, and then make the decision.

Of course, this directly applies to jiu jitsu. For example, when I’m playing butterfly guard, I’ll fight for a certain grip and then go for a certain sweep. Because I’ve done that particular sequence hundreds (if not thousands) of times, I’ll stop considering the options. But there are a million details about that sweep that deserve consideration: to what degree I curl my toes, the exact position down to inches when I place each of my hands, how close my heels are to my butt, how curved my back is, where my chin is, etc. I could go on for a while. But I don’t play around with those details. I don’t “consider the options”.

So… Perhaps you don’t always have to challenge yourself by exploring new techniques and your “weak” positions. You can challenge yourself instead by considering the minute options available to you in your favorite techniques and your “strong” positions.

Now, what was I talking about?

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