A while back I posted "What Do I Want from Jiu-Jitsu, Sport vs Street". I was concerned that my Jiu-Jitsu was too focused on the sport part of BJJ. I got into BJJ for the practical street application. One of the comments to my post was that Jiu-Jitsu is about control. Your ability to control your opponent applies to everything you do with BJJ. I understood what was being said but I really internalized it at last Monday’s class.
I had a co-work and good friend join me Monday for a introduction to BJJ. My friend had wrestled in high school. Yes, he was out of shape from years of sitting at a computer but that was why he was interested in starting BJJ. Just like me 2 years ago when I felt I had to make a change.
I teamed up with him for our drills. One of the drills for that day was holding side control for 2 minutes, resting 1 minute, and then repeating after switching sides. I realized during those drills how much I had changed in the last 2 years. My friend put tremendous amounts of muscle into everything. He strained and held his breath. He felt rigid and stiff. In two cycles of the first drill he was winded and tired. He didn’t even start the next drill. He thought he had pulled a muscle and was spent.
During that time with him I realized that control truly is the essence of Jiu-Jitsu. As he fought with muscle I felt like water flowing around him. I felt submissions from everywhere. I held dominance. If I had been in a street fight with him it would have been like child’s play to choke him out or hyper extend a arm. I don’t say this to embarrass him, I say it to express my new understanding of what Jiu-Jitsu means to me. I’m not longer worried so much about whither my BJJ is street or sport. Its core is applicable everywhere.
Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu
- A bicep cutter exerts so much pressure it leaves blood blisters. They look a lot like your shoulder after having a shotgun kick into it. Because the pressure was on my bicep and forearm I have a matching set.
- My finger tips are toughing up. Around my finger nails it used to be sore from gripping the gi after class. Now I’ve developed calluses that have helped them toughen. They are still a little sore after but not near as much after class.
- I’ve forgotten the guillotine escape from in guard. I had both legs of a white belt named Ethan in class today. I was getting ready to inch my way up to cross body or mount. The next thing I knew he had me in a guillotine. I was so surprised I let go of his legs and he put in his guard. I got my arm over his should for the escape but couldn’t remember the rest from there. Yes, I tapped. I’m not proud of it but that’s what I get. I know the technique I’m going to practice at home this week.
- My breathing technique has improved. I’ve been focusing on getting more oxygen during periods of inactive during a roll. It feels good to have more oxygen during a roll. Breath in through the nose and out through the mouth, fill those lungs, and repeat.
- I’ve been coasting. Its so easy to coast. The next thing you know your lead shrinks and all the sudden you realize the pack is over taking you or is passing you.
Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.