Where do I begin with the Submission Master?
Back in February I was really starting to feel burned out. I had been training in Kempo and Kung-fu for a number of years, as well as dabbling in a few other martial arts disciplines but never achieving any sort of rank. I found that the art I loved to teach and spent the most time doing was becoming less fun because of how many hours I had to clock in teaching on the mat. I still love to teach, but when you own your own school and teach every class six days a week for hours on end, on top of numerous private lessons, your mind starts to turn to jelly. I knew I still loved doing martial arts, I just needed something to kick start my enthusiasm like when I started learning Kempo, Kung-fu, or FMA did when I felt I had plateaued. That is when I found BJJ.
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has become my new first love, next to my wife and daughter. I love that every class there is so much more to learn, I love that I can actually “roll” or nearly go full force in practices what I just learned in a class, I love that I had very little experience on the ground prior aside from wrestling in high school, meaning I got to start from level zero and work my way up. There was just one little problem…
My daughter was born on the 1st of February, and although I love being a parent, it means I do not have the time to skip off to practice 6-7 times a week like I would love to do. Add on to that I teach during the normal business hours most martial arts schools do, and I am having a heck of a time finding time to practice. I am still a lowly white belt after 6 months, I wanted to at least be blue by now (I am tired of training in disciplines and not receiving any accreditation). So I found some extra people to roll with on my time, to practice more of what I learned, but it was not enough. I did not have someone who would sit there and let me break their arm or practice passing their guard over and over again, I needed something more.
Enter the submission dummy, or my new best friend. The main goal of the submission dummy, as advertised on their website, is for you to be able to drill a hundred repetitions in the span of 5-10 minutes. I am not going to talk too much about the dummy because you can read about what it is and how much it weighs, but i will talk about my experience. Now let me say this, I love the current class I am training in, the instructor is big on basics, and I love that, the class is friendly and supportive, but sometimes I am paired up with someone who takes a week to drill a new technique, or worse, talks me through it because they are a blue belt even though it is their first time doing it and teaches it to me wrong. I walk away with less than one good repetition, or best case scenario achieve 5-10. This dummy is God sent, I mean it, to anyone who wants to learn the fine art of BJJ. You receive bonus videos of about 50 techniques, not all winners but still teaching basic movements that a beginner like me gobbled up in the span of a week. I had to be careful because I started dreaming of working on this guy rather than being with my family, he really is my new best friend. I walked away with so little techniques I felt like I was constantly on the defensive, as I am told most white belts do, but I have been doing martial arts my whole life, I hated feeling that way, and although I am not a threat yet, I know I will be soon. With the two classes I have been able to attend a week, I now become extremely proficient in the movements I am taught, rather than feeling like I barely remember them at all.
Let me go ahead and dispel any of the fears that normally come with buying a piece of training equipment in the hundreds, and this guy does come at a whopping $600 after shipping. For starters, the quality is top notch, when it first arrived I was terrified that it was going to be the kind of thing that fell apart in the first few weeks of training, this has not been the case. For two weeks I have been training on the thing for an hour or so at least when I have free time, and the guy is as durable as a heavy muay thai bag. I kick and punch the thing as well, add in a few elbows here and there so I don’t get too into the grappling mentality and forget my striking, and it is handling it and begging for more. He is meant for submissions though, arms, legs, he is not a throwing dummy, that is fine with me, it is what I wanted.
Now as a teaching tool, I love the fact I can bring my twin brother in to roll with, who has always been a much better grappler than me in high school, and show him the forty-fifty techniques I have learned since I got the dummy. When I go to class and attempt to pull off a new submission I learned, I get immediate feedback from the higher belts on what I need to work on. I put it to paper in my book i write my notes in, go back and drill it on the dummy, and a week later can pull off the move they were helping me with better than I thought possible. Transition drills are much easier to do, and they can be done seamlessly to practice new positions for us beginners who are still learning our way around our opponent. Setting people up has gone from impossibility to how I fight. Before I did not know how to do a hip high sweep correctly from the full guard, now I have so many ways to set people up with the videos provided and my instructor helping me, I am just waiting to pull guard on folks to practice my new repertoire.
The one complaint I have is the best thing about the dummy, he is not a real person. I can do hundreds of reps, but he does not fight back, in my zeal in the beginning, I learned too many moves too fast, i would start with a few from each position, and then over time after you have had time to experiment with someone, you will know better how to pull your submissions off on a person. Still, if you plan on getting a black belt in this style, you shouldn’t do yourself the disservice of waiting to buy one of these little guys.