One of the mindsets I’ve been trying to maintain while grappling lately is “never surrender”. I don’t mean not tap when I need to, but to never give up fighting. I used to sometimes feel like a position or a submission was inevitable, so I would surrender to it, allowing it to happen. Now I’ve really been trying to heed Conan’s advice to “never accept a bad position”, and (not coincidentally) I find myself in bad spots much less often. The easiest way to get out of side control is to not let someone put you in it in the first place! As a result of my working harder to not allow people to get control of me, I’m relying less on my guard, and I am able to achieve top position more, which is helping my top game grow. During open mat yesterday I was even able to keep The Incredible Hulk in side control, and then mount, for a decent amount of time!
The hardest part is when I’m tired and my partner has me in a submission attempt, and it’s not quite working but it hurts, and I just want to stop fighting and tap, but…never surrender. I watched Greg try to rear naked choke David for about five minutes yesterday. David’s face turned red, then a little purple, but he kept fighting the whole time. Greg didn’t give up either, inch by inch he adjusted until David finally tapped. It was a great display of willpower and determination, on both sides.
The way I look at it is, as long as I never surrender, I can never be defeated. I might get tapped out, but I will know in my heart that I did everything I could possibly do to prevent it, and that they earned it.