BJJ / Grappling Mentality: Fear in BJJ

"I'm and old man and have known many great troubles, but most of them never happened"
Mark Twain.
While it's important to train for all the highest likelihood scenarios in a grapple (escaping side control and recovering guard, passing guard, transitioning from the stand-up grapple to the ground...etc.) none of that will matter if you freeze with fear and hesitation when the chips are down. Fear is a huge term and even though sometimes you don't necessarily feel "afraid", you still do nothing. Here's an example:

You've just passed your opponent's guard and are controlling them from side control. You see an opportunity to slide your knee thru to mount but suddenly you hear a voice inside that tells you "don't do it! It's a trap. You're gonna end up in half guard or even worse. Don't do it!" So you play it safe and you stay in side control, attacking with a sub here or there but not too much.

That voice is one of the many expressions of the mind (or the self or the ego) and it can have one of two effects:

1. A positive one: it shows you what could happen and, by extension, what you should train for and bear in mind when doing the move.

2. A negative one: not only does it show you what could happen, but also convinces you that it's so likely to happen and has such grave consequences that you shouldn't dare give it a go, irrespective of how much you've trained and prepared for it.

Which one will you listen to?

After his seminar a few months back, John Will* said something that will stay with me forever:

"Failing used to be fatal and therefore fear was an evolutionary survival mechanism at one point. Nowadays, especially on the grappling mat, we learn best and quickest by outting our neck on the line and making mistakes".

*since then I've found an old blog post by John that talks about the fear of consequences.

Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

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thebjjdummy said...

Roll without fear, what is the worst that can happen? Be submitted? Oh dear! That is how I roll

TFP said...

Good post Liam as always :) You have to put yourself in bad positions and really challenege yourself if you want to improve and like the bjjdummy says all you have to fear is getting tapped out.

Don't let the ego win EVER!!

The Part Time Grappler said...

Many thanks to both of you. I can tell you this much TFP from personal experience, thebjjdummy HAS NO FEARS!