Recently, Roger Gracie claimed the title of the best to ever step on the mats. He defeated Buchecha in the much expected rematch and he has done so by submission in a very short time, after he took Buchecha’s back.
As many people noticed, Roger was extremely calm, despite all the pressure that was on him and despite the fact that he had Buchecha in front of him, the top athlete in the Black Belt Adult Division.
If you think right now that being calm while doing Jiu Jitsu will improve it ten-fold, then you are correct. But how do you achieve that state of calmness? Find that out below.
Put yourself in uncomfortable positions until they are comfortable. Jiu Jitsu. The art of being comfortable in uncomfortable positions. That pretty much sums it up. Put yourself as often as possible in difficult positions. In positions where you will have to grind, where you will want to quit before a submission comes. Do that until those positions become comfortable. One of the reason people fight chaotic is, deep down, they fear being put in bad positions. They fear being mounted. They fear withstanding the pressure from a knee on the belly. They fear the grind. The solution to that is simple. Expose yourself to those situations, get out of your comfort zone until you no longer fear them. When that fear is gone, you will fight free of any negative thought of what will happen if you get put into a certain position.
Figure 1 Put yourself in uncomfortable positions.
Experience. The fact of the matter is experience counts for a lot here. How does experience matter? Simply put, the more experienced you are, the more things you get to see. Basically, with time, you will know most permutations and moves your opponent can make in certain positions, in such a way that you will have a response for everything and it will be very hard for him to surprise you. You will notice this when you roll with lower ranking belts. So show up on the mat and be consistent. By far the most important thing to do.
Learn to tap. In Jiu Jitsu, you either win or you learn. Something that really affects beginners is the fear of tapping. The fear of being submitted. Every submission you tap out to, is a collection of valuable lessons. Why did he take you down? Why did he pass your guard? Why weren’t you able to recover anything? How did he submit you? How did he bait you? All important questions. Answering them will elevate your Jiu Jitsu. Learn to accept defeat and be humble in it.
Figure 2 Embrace the tap out and it’s value.
Be physically and mentally prepared. This often goes for competitions. Sometimes, when the student isn’t mentally or physically prepared for the match, his fighting style will be chaotic. Controlling emotions is one of the challenges that competitions present to you. Talk with your coach and set some realistic goals for yourself. Set some realistic expectations, depending on how much you’ve trained, your physical shape, your technical level, etc. This will help you get in a better place mentally. Physically, by the time of the competition, get in the best shape you can. These two go hand in hand. Knowing you are physically able to go the distance without gassing out will do wonders for your confidence. On the other end of the spectrum, gassing out in the match will probably make you take wrong or hasty decisions.
Figure 3 Prepare yourself both physically and mentally for competitions. Always set realistic expectations.
Breathe. Do not forget to breathe. Do not get carried away by the intensity so much that you forget to breathe. If that happens, you will gas out much faster. Make sure you’re breathing at all times. If things get to intense, take a second to notice how fast you are breathing and how fast your opponent is breathing. If he is breathing slower than you, take a second to catch your breath and try to keep it at or under his level. If you find the pace is too much for you, remember there are times when you have to act and then there are times of active rest. If you need to rest, look for a position where you can take a couple of moments off to catch your breath. Finish passing the guard and stabilize side control. Get the lockdown. Get to full guard. All examples of positions or situations which could potentially allow you to take a breather and calm down.
Figure 4 The lockdown. One example of position that allows you to recover your breath.