I “believe” in technical wrestling. Similar to the spirit of jiu jitsu, I believe that technique can beat power and aggression. That’s a tough thing to believe because it involves being crushed a lot as part of the learning process.
That’s why I’m a fan of Mike Denny-run wrestling practice. He’s a Gable guy, with that Iowa wrestling mindset, and at the same time he emphasizes crisp slow drilling of technique. To take a quote a bit out of context, Tuesday he said “Russians are the best wrestlers” for the reason that they drill and drill and drill with clean technique.
I’m not sure how real it is, but there certainly seems to be a divide between the American way and the Russian way of wrestling. The former is a style of hard aggressive wrestling that wears down the opponent while the latter puts much more emphasis on timing and technique.
I like to watch the American way, but I like to grapple the Russian way. In practice, I try to relax and work on the right timing of applying technique with minimal strength. It’s very frustrating at times, because as long as my technique sucks, I get punished for it. But I try to remind myself that there’s no losing or winning on the mat during practice, and sometimes I even believe it 😉
Mike Denny ran a hell of a good (tough) wrestling practice Tuesday. Emphasis on pressure, always hands on the opponent, pushing him and yourself.
Live training didn’t have “sorry”, handshakes, rest breaks. Pushing the cardio, and yet (at least the guys I went with) didn’t use much muscle, all crisp technique.
Of course, my favorite part was the non-stop drilling, for about 30 minutes. Shot after shot. I went with Tom who is a tough no-bullshit guy, and again doesn’t use muscle, just clean technique. I don’t think he said a single word to me the whole time, which is perfect.
That brings me to the idea that I’ve been after for a while which is what makes a good (and even “perfect”) practice:
A short warm up (not too taxing cardio-wise, but breaks a sweat), followed by a quick stretch. I usually do my own stretching before hand since I have a few specific problem area I need to loosen up (shoulders, neck, groin, lower back).
Drills of fundamental techniques. Keep the pace up, but no muscle, technique has to be 100% perfect. No talking, no breaks, no questions (except if you’re completely lost).
Live training. If I’m going hard, I like to keep this part short (only 3-4 matches of 6 minutes), but if I’m relaxing and focusing on learning then I can just roll forever.
My criticism of any practice, even one Mike ran is not enough time for drills! I like to get high number of reps in. That’s where I start enjoying a technique, the more and more I understand every little details of it, the more it becomes effortless. For me, there’s nothing like the feeling of pulling off a technique without using any muscle, purely based on timing and leverage. That’s when I know I only have 10,000 reps to go 😉