Discomfort: The Gateway of Truth, Improvement, and Game

When you walk onto the mat, they are sitting in the corners waiting for an invitation.  Truth, Improvement, and Game.  They arrive early, warm-up, stretch.  They are ready and excited, waiting with baited breath.  The crackling shivers of hope shudder through their skin.  Discomfort tells them, just wait guys, hold up.  We need to wait for her.  Discomfort stands at their respective gates holding keys out to you.  They're polished to such beautiful shine, even the dull fluorescent lights cause a glimmer off the corners of the tiny keys.

Will you invite them in today?  

Truth is always the most excited.  Truth gets ignored too much, so the times you grab that key and open his gate he just runs at you like a bat out of hell.  Truth smothers you with love and excitement and annoys to no end.  Eventually Truth takes a breath, and though you may have been reluctant to open his gate, Truth can always be relied upon to at least bring good food and quality flashlights for lighting the way when the path looks a little unclear.

Improvement loves to hang out with Truth, but sometimes she sneaks in on the side without you knowing it, without the key.  She has a tendency to be on the quiet side, unlike Truth.  I mean sometimes you practically don't even know she was on the mat, but occasionally, your instructor will give you a stripe, and that's how you know Improvement picked the lock and walked right past the gate.  You might deny her existence, but KNOW she is there.  Improvement has a wild side, so you need to watch out.  On any given day, hand her the key and then just wait for loud party animal to come crashing out the gate.  Want to really rock your world?  Give Truth and Improvement keys at the same time.

And then there's Game.  Elusive being.  Silent.  a whisper in the threads of your gi.  Game waits too.  He waits because he knows unless you at least glance at Discomfort, he will most likely not be handed the key that day.  Improvement might invite him along occasionally, but Game is dependent on Discomfort.  He knows, Discomfort opens the gate the fastest. Discomfort makes him strong.  Discomfort makes him better looking, which is ideal because Game actually has a secret crush on Improvement.

But will you invite them in?

Will you look to Discomfort and say, HELL yeah, let's GO.  My worst positions today!  New submissions guaranteed to put me in a suck place because I have not perfected the move yet?  YES.

This is how this it goes.  The mat tells you the truth when you let it in.  Improvement happens right under your nose.  Your Game develops in a slowwwwww fashion but man oh man, don't think for one moment Game will come out unless you are willing to be miserable and uncomfortable.

What is your achilles?  Mine is side control.  I feel like every ounce of my game evaporates when I am in my opponent's side control, so I've developed these "eject button" hip movements to avoid it, but now, when I DO land there, my sweeps are laughable.  So my goal the next few months is to look Discomfort square in the eye and hand out keys with reckless abandon.

Deborah Clem  


  1. My open guard has been my weak point for years, but it's getting better. I've focused on it heavily since about 2013/2014 I think, finally starting to get a handle on it. That's been a combination of Ryan Hall's awesome Defensive Guard DVD, multiple privates with my instructor Kev and a few seminars and Globetrotter camps (especially a seminar with Ana Yagues, that was really useful).


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