5 Tips to Overcoming Claustrophobia In BJJ

There is nothing like being in North South with someone’s chest on your face to give claustrophobia or the fear of being suffocated.  You feel enclosed.  You are breathing hot moist air.  You desperately want to get out.  The next thing you know is your heart starts racing and your breathing with it.  What do you do to overcome this?  Here are the 5 tips I’ve gleamed and have started working on:

  1. Relax.  Easier said then done!  But I’ve found that I can reduce my anxiety by first reminding myself this isn’t life or death.  If it was he wouldn’t be staying on me in this position long before I took a huge bit out of his chest.  Think about something that will help you relax.  I try to think of something warm I like wrapped around me like a blanket.
  2. Control your breathing.  Once again, easier said then done!  If your opponent isn’t going to move then take that time to slow your breathing.  Chances are that is what he is doing too, resting.
  3. Find something to help you practice over coming it.  I have found that the hot moist air bothers me the most.  I can simulate that under a thick quilt.  I try to stay under longer each time.  I’m starting to develop more tolerance for the feeling.
  4. Improve your escapes.  If you have one that you get in all the time that causes you to feel claustrophobic then what better motivation to become a expert at getting out of it.
  5. Create Space.  When you are on the bottom that’s your job anyway.  It doesn’t have to be enough to escape at first.  You may do it just to get situated to wait for your opponents next move.  It may be just to make your opponent uncomfortable.  When you are moving around even a little you start to find pockets of comfort I’ve discovered.  If you stay still your situation is one dimensional.  Open up some other options for yourself by “wiggling” around.

Now not all cases of claustrophobia I understand are physical like mine.  Some require expert help.  I don’t presume to solve all cases in this post.  I’m just trying to as they say, cherry pick,  the easiest.  This is what is working for me.  I hope it helps you too.

    Submission Master Grappling Dummy Taps Out For Me

    submission-master-in-triangle

    I recently purchased a Submission Master Grappling Dummy to help improve my BJJ technique.  I have done a couple review posts: Review of The Submission Master Grappling Dummy Part 1, Submission Master Grappling Dummy Review – Assembling of the Dummy, Review of the Submission Master Grappling Dummy – Drilling along with a contest to name my dummy in which I will be giving away a free Sprawl rash guard to the winner: Name My Submission Master Grappling Dummy Contest.

    I have to say I am really enjoying my Submission Master.  I keep it in my office with me and when I need a break from my work I practice a few chokes or combinations on it.  I now have a lunch time drill routine that I do with it too.  If you haven’t seen a Submission Master before then go to GrapplingDummy.com and check it out.  They have some good demonstration videos on the side.

    Yes, the price might make you see cross-eyed for a bit.  It took me a good while to save up for mine.  But BJJ is what I do.  I want to do it even when I’m not at class.  I used to Fly Fish until I had kids.  Its not practical to go off Fly Fishing all the time any more and BJJ costs less.  Some people put there cash into computers, and others into cars.  I put mine in BJJ.

    Never Under Estimating Your Opponent

    Last night during BJJ practice I got to roll with one of our younger members, Robert.  He looks to be 13 and has a wiry frame.  Now I weigh about 210 lbs and stand at 6’ 2”.  Robert on the other hand might blow away if he didn’t turn sideways into the wind.  I of course wanted to be nice and give him a chance to learn.  What I didn’t think about was why Mark, our instructor, had asked him to start attending the adult class.  I under estimated my opponent.  Our match started out typical.  Robert couldn’t move me and after some friendly exchanges I decided to put him in spider guard.  Its all a blur from there.  The next thing I knew Robert had me in a excellent ankle lock and was applying the pressure.  As he put it on I wasn’t to worried.  I figured he couldn’t apply the needed pressure to make me tap.  After all my ankle alone is thicker then his arm.  I was wrong again.  Robert tapped me out and without me handing it to him on a silver platter.  We both knew he had the submission fair and square.  The smile on his face showed he would reliving this one in his mind for some time.  Robert showed me what Helio Gracie has said all along.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was designed so the little guy could submit much larger opponents.  Kept at it Robert you may be the next Helio Gracie some day.

    Beware of the Used GI or Kimono

    A while back West Side Jiu Jitsu, where I practice, ran a promotion offering four classes for free instead of the customary one.  They also included a free month for referrals.  We had a good number of potential new students come that month.  I don’t remember to much about most of them that didn’t stay but I will never forget one particular guy.  He was very proud of the fact that he had purchased his gi off of eBay for only $35.  It was a white starter gi and I thought it wasn’t a bad investment.  Its probably good he didn’t last longer then the free classes.  Towards the end, maybe his third class or so,  I was sitting out and watching the guys roll.  I then discovered why the gi was $35.  I noticed that at some point someone had lost bowl control in that gi.  No washing had been able to remove it.  It wasn’t noticeable when the guy was standing but when he was bent over in guard it was beacon.  Your eye was drawn right to it.  It occurred to me that others might sell gis that had ringworm.  I will never buy a used gi.  Getting what I think is a good deal would never be worth ruining my BJJ time or reputation. 

    How To Shake The BJJ Blues

    A post on SteveBJJ.com entitled Rough Wednesday Class really made me feel better today.  I had the same thing happen to me a few months ago.  Things were going great  I had recently been awarded my blue belt and I was making leaps and bound in growth in my BJJ classes.  Then one day I came to class and I couldn’t do anything but hold guard for dear life.  I blogged my experience in these two posts, Jiu Jitsu Mind Block – In The Slump and Jiu Jitsu Learning Curve – What To Expect.  I over came the plateau I was stick on with some good advice and friends.  It was still nice to hear Steve saying the same things I had felt at that time.  It validated my feelings and gave me a chance to share with him the fact I found the light at the end of the tunnel and so would he.  My love for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu goes on and I can tell Steve’s will too.  So for all of you out there who are on a plateau or feel the BJJ blues, keep trying and going to class.  Jiu Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu Jitsu.

    Review of the Submission Master Grappling Dummy – Drilling

    Its assembled and I’ve started drilling with it.  The first thing I noticed was how hard the floor is.  I don’t have a mat.  I have been thinking about if I should even get one.  I like some real world or practical application of BJJ.  If I got in a street fight I will use my Jiu Jitsu training but I doubt there will be a mat.  The next thing I noticed is that when I tried a Kimura it doesn’t feel right.  The structure of the Submission Master’s arm is a arch with no true joints.  At first I didn’t like this but then I realized it felt more like a arm that is trying to do a escape.  It gave me a different perspective on my Kimura technique and how to apply it.  The next thing I tried was the Triangle Choke.  This hurt at first because the dummy is so hard.  I didn’t realize how soft real humans are.  I worked my Triangle and figured out something new I hadn’t noticed before.  I posted Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Submission Techniques – The Triangle and gave tips and tricks on improving your Triangle.  I now can add to that getting the knee of the leg around the neck above the neck.  I have also found that just moving it around, it is 70 lbs, breaks me into a sweat.  It doesn’t do infinity drills so you have to reset some drills to do it over.  But for the most part you can do Arm Bars, Triangles, Kimuras, and other submissions over and over on each side.  For Cross Body and Mount work you sit or lay very high.  You don’t have a soft gut to lay into.  I also can’t hook the legs (grapevines) in mount.  What it comes down to is its no full substitute for a person but it does very well for what it is intended.  So far I really like it and feel it is money well spent.  It is true the $560 price tag is high but it sure beats the home made version I’ve seen on YouTube.com.  I think the only true competitor in its class is the Bubba.  I didn’t choose the Bubba because it didn’t sit up in guard, it looks light weight, and flimsy.  I’m going to start trying some escapes and sweeps on it tomorrow and see how they go.

    Name My Submission Master Grappling Dummy Contest

    sprawl-rash-guard I am giving away a new long sleeve Sprawl Rash Guard shirt (Retail Price: $38.50) for the best original name for my Submission Master grappling dummy.  So far the names submitted by my family are:

    Dummy (by my 3 year old)

    Grap (by my 6 year old)

    Grawp (by my wife) Hagrid’s giant brother.

    Thud (by me)  Its the sound he makes each time he falls over.

    Submit your name in a comment to this post.  A name will be chosen in time for the Sprawl Rash Guard to be shipped to you before Christmas.

    Have you seen a Submission Master Grappling Dummy before?  If not here is a picture of mine:Submission Master 1 I’ve only had it for about 3 days now and I must say over all I’m liking it.  I’ve started a morning and evening drill routine with the Submission Master.  I used my post entitled Improving Muscle Memory with a Solo Daily Drill routine to help me outline what I want to do and accomplish.  For starters it has already improved my Triangle Choke.  I always hate seeing the guy I’m trying to practice on go beet red.  You want to work at your Triangle Choke to get better but you know how uncomfortable it is for the guy you are doing it on.  With the Submission Master I can work at it and try new things out over and over without the live partner.

    The Submission Master Grappling Dummy Review – Assembling of the Dummy

    I got my Submission Master grappling dummy yesterday for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  I was very excited and hauled the 70 lbs box into the house.  The dummy comes in two pieces and requires some assembly.  Here it is all assembled and in my old gi.  Submission Master 1 One of the reason I decided to buy the Submission Master was that it will sit up in guard.  I found the video on YouTube.com very helpful in getting it put together.  It came with a poorly photo copied set of instructions that looked like something from a kindergarten craft project.  Here is the link to the Submission Master Assembly Instructions video.  He does make it look a lot easier then it was.  I had a hard time getting the rope tight enough.  I think I will have to go back later and tighten it or do it again.  That isn’t to big a deal.  I think it will loosen in time anyway and need to be retied.  I also followed the YouTube video about breaking the Submission Master in.  If you don’t break it in correctly you can pop stitches.  Here is the video to help you: Submission Master and Breaking It In.  After working the feet and legs as directed it sat right up.  I didn’t waste any time in trying out a Triangle Choke on it.  The first thing I noticed is that humans are softer then dummies.  I didn’t realize how hard the Submission Master would be.  Its was easy to practice a Triangle Choke to Arm Bar combination on the dummy.  I started breaking a sweat just trying to haul the thing around and get it in place for another technique.  I was getting a “caveman” work out just moving the thing.

    In my next post I’ll tell you more about how my BJJ practices are going with it and other things I’m finding out as I work with it.

    No-Gi vs. Gi – Part 3

    In my two previous blogs, Why Am I Writing about Gi vs. No-Gi and No-Gi vs. Gi – Part 2 I blogged about my theory and experience with the gi and no-gi.  Today I came across a quote from Royler Gracie that supports my thoughts.  He said in his book Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Submission Grappling this: “I strongly recommend that everyone who is going to learn submission grappling train with a gi before taking the gi off.  There are many reasons for this.  The gi makes you more technical because it forces you to concentrate on the details and posture. . . Then once you attain a certain level of proficiency, take off the gi, and start to train submission grappling, you find it easy to adapt your techniques to the lack of a gi.  However, if  the opposite occurs – you learn to train without the gi and then someday need to fight with a gi – you will have great difficulty dealing with your opponent’s level of control over you.” (pg. 6)  He later even adds “I train with a gi most of the time. . . . I trained jiu-jitsu for thirty-four years and only took off the gi in 1996 when I fought in the Vale-Tudo Open in Japan . . .” (pg. 6-7).  So my observations and theory are verified by Royler Gracie.  You should start in the gi and only go to no-gi after you have reached a level of proficiency.

    Review of the Submission Master Grappling Dummy – Part 1

    So you have figured out that the wife or girlfriend isn’t you best choice for practicing your grappling with when you are away from class.  The next thing you think of is a grapping dummy.  That is just what I did.  I began looking at everything they had out there.  The first thing was to distinguish between a throwing dummy and a grappling dummy.  Once I had that sorted out there were a few contenders, Make-My-Own, Bubba, Grapple Man, and the Submission Master. I decided that making my own was a waste.  Even though there were instructions on making one out there, I just didn’t think it would come out right for me.  Of the pre-manufactured dummies  Bubba was the cheapest, then Submission Master, and last Grapple Man.  I decided on the Submission Master.  It will sit up in guard and the arms will hold position.  The Grapple man, although the most life like, was far to expensive and limp as a wet noodle.  The Bubba although cheaper just didn’t have the stance that the Submission Master did.  I could only find the Bubba on eBay and not for a real discount.  So I ordered the Submission Master and it is due to arrive tomorrow.  The process of ordering it was very haphazard.  The site is poor and when they sent me the UPS tracking number it was incorrect.  So far I don’t have to much faith in the company that is selling them.  Lets hope the product is as good as I think it is.

    Once I follow the break in instructions and start to really use the Submission Master I will do a review on it and let you know if it is really worth the money. 

    Here are the Reviews I have done so far:

    1. Submission Master Grappling Dummy Review – Assembly of the Dummy
    2. Name My Submission Master Grappling Dummy Contest
    3. Review of The Submission Master Grappling Dummy – Drilling
    4. Submission Master Grappling Dummy Taps Out For Me
    5. How To Use The Submission Master Grappling Dummy To Increase Muscle Memory