When I’m rolling with newer students, sometimes it feels like I’m trapped in the middle of a tornado, and it’s hard to not lose my focus, and get caught up in it. When someone is coming at me with a great deal of energy, strength, and intensity, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, especially if they’re bigger and younger than I am (which almost everyone is), so one of the most important skills I have learned in Jiu-Jitsu is how to find calm in the eye of the storm, because it’s really the only way I’m able to defend myself, and prevent them from submitting or even injuring me.
The more experienced students don’t usually roll that way, because we’ve learned that such a high level of energy expenditure is not sustainable (or even necessary). During the advanced class, when we’re rolling for forty-five minutes or more, and it’s long rolls with only short rests in between, we can’t afford to burn ourselves out too soon, and I know this from experience, because I used to be a terrible spaz, and I would tire out very quickly, so I had to figure out how to conserve my energy in order to be able to last through the entire class.
I still move around a lot when I roll, but now I make sure it’s with a clear purpose, and I try to not use any more energy or strength than necessary. Learning how to remain calm and weather the storm has made a world of difference in my grappling, and I wouldn’t even be able to enter tournaments and compete against women who are half my age if I didn’t figure out how to minimize my energy output, so I can fight smarter, not harder.
New students are always wanting to know how they can improve their BJJ, but some of the best advice can be the most difficult to follow, and I personally believe that the first thing people need to do is figure out how to relax and not waste so much energy, which is often easier said than done. It took me several years before I stopped being so spastic, but it’s one of the most helpful things I’ve ever done for my training, and I highly recommend it!
“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” – Bruce Lee