Combating our Panic: Training for Self-Defense and Competition in Jiu-jitsu

The other day I was teaching beginner Brazilian jiu jitsu in our Appleton school. It is a class in which we have a somewhat wide variety of experience levels, especially when you consider what 3 months of classes does for someone just starting out. So, when it comes to open rolling for the class, I keep a careful eye on all the matches for everyone’s safety and to coach the newbies a little bit. When I looked over I saw one of my 140lb. white belt girls battling with a grown man outweighing her by 60lbs and with at least a year of experience on her. She was on the bottom in side mount and then mount, struggling to escape. The guy she was rolling wasn’t being too rough or a jerk, he was just big and holding decent position. She was fighting, fighting, fighting. All of a sudden, her face changed. I could see the frustration and beginning of tears. She got overwhelmed and lost her will and focus; she made mistakes and was submitted.

jiu-jitsu-mount

It is one thing to get your butt kicked in jiu jitsu, to feel like you fought the good fight, to feel like you were just outclassed by your friend that day … but feeling overwhelmed by someone’s size, strength or experience can steal the heart out of your chest.  THIS IS HUGE! It is an important thing to pay attention to whether you are in Gracie jiu-jitsu for self-defense or competition because being overwhelmed leads to PANIC. When we panic, we lose our heads, lose our focus, lose our strategy, lose our technique, and lose the fight.

How do we combat the panic we may feel during live roll? We can do it the same way we can combat any other fear, whether it is a fear of competing, a fear of heights, a fear of public speaking, etc. We practice! We immerse ourselves in the situation until it is no big deal…We compete once per month, we climb a rock wall on a regular basis, we do a presentation or announcement in front of our peers every week at work. When we are used to being in what we perceive as a bad situation, our brains and bodies kick in and do the work to protect us, just as they have practiced 1,000 times. So, we need to roll live and put ourselves in tight spots on a regular basis so we feel good while we roll in practice, so we stay calm when we compete, so we don’t panic when someone grabs us and we need to seriously defend ourselves on the street.

Happy rolling.

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About Alexandra

Alexandra is the co-owner (president?) of Team FVGC, the Fox Valley Grappling Club, in Appleton, Wisconsin, where she teaches Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Fight Fit Training classes in addition to other presidential duties, such as keeping the books and cleaning the bathrooms. www.foxvalleygrapplingclub.com www.fitnessappleton.com

Posted on May 15, 2013, in Appleton Jiu Jitsu, General, Self-Defense, Technique and Live Roll, Tournaments and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I liked the article. I do agree that rolling is great. On the flip side, I remember Master Rickson Gracie saying he only spent 15% of his time rolling.

    • A good point. I think live rolling without time on technique and drilling is a bad idea. We generally roll 15-20 minutes for a 1.5 hr class and 20-30 min for a 2 hour class. There definitely needs to be balance!

  2. Great entry! I agree that learning to relax and get familiar with difficult and scary situations is a huge part of growing as a jiu jitsu player. So much energy is wasted once panic ensues…swatting at flies. I’ve been in very bad situations where chokes are getting tighter and tighter and simply relaxing (knowing where you are and the reality of the situation) was enough to fight through and not get submitted. Sometimes it is all a matter of perception. Do they really have the choke locked in? Do you feel their weight shifting on top of you leaving opportunity to sweep? You cant think when you’re panicking…RELAX this is a part of my game that I work on every time I roll.

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