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Beginning BJJ: A Time to FREAK OUT!


When it comes to sparring, many BJJ rookies just freak out for the whole session. Every grip is a deathgrip, they spaz out when they’re in the guard, and then push with every bit of their strength the whole time that they’re pinned on the bottom.

And then they get tired…

If you have the accelerator pedal pushed right to the floor all the time then you run out of gas very quickly. This freak-out stage of grappling is usually soon replaced by a more relaxed, wait-and-see approach, which I want to discuss today. Let’s take the specific example of recovering from having your guard passed. For reformed freaker-outers, the new, relaxed and ‘improved’ mindset might go something like this:

My guard is getting passed – oh dear, oh well. Let’s just relax a bit, suck in my arms and protect my neck and rest a bit. Maybe an escape opportunity will come along…

This is the WRONG mindset.

You see, your opponent’s pin will likely never be more weaker than it was in the first few seconds after the guard pass. Let’s say your opponent has just passed your guard. He’s probably NOT in his optimal pinning position yet.

If you take a rest break now (right after having your guard passed) you’ll be able to catch your breath. But this pause also allows your opponent to adjust his grips, body position and weight distribution. After a few seconds of rest you may find that his pin has gotten twice as hard to escape from. There is an interval – usually 1 to 5 seconds – between your opponent passing your guard and settling into a nice pin.

THIS is the time to dig deep, pull out all stops and use every trick in your book. Use technique AND your physical attributes to block the guard pass, and either replace the guard, reverse the position or get back to your feet. Also, if you want to compete, then keep in mind that BJJ rules require a position to be maintained for 3 seconds before any points are awarded. This is an example of where competition rules actually encourage correct grappling behavior. If you transition from defending your guard position directly into an escape attempt – without that pause to catch your breath – you’ll usually end up LESS tired and in better positions.

There is a time to freak out – and it’s right before someone solidifies a pinning position on you.

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