Ridin’ the Storm Out

"You can't calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass." -Timber HawkeyeWhen 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.

Keep calm and believe in your jiu-jitsu.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

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3 comments on “Ridin’ the Storm Out

  1. Agreed! I’ve been training for about 18 months, and I think that my biggest breakthroughs (other than those brought on by sheer repetition) came from chilling out and keeping my wits about me when rolling. Now when I roll against a brand-new white belt, I can really tell the difference: these guys are flailing around, using tons of strength, and often have no idea what they are really trying to do. Even some higher white belts can use too much strength or try to force a move that I’m defending and I can just self-coach and think to myself “I’ve got my hand across my neck, he can’t finish this choke, just chill out and work an escape.” It’s very liberating once you slow down.

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