White Belt Advice: Learning To Relax

White belts, you know we’re always here for you right? I mean, say what you will about the white belt experience, but you guys get a LOT of attention from your coaches because you’re generally the most fun to teach. You’re still at a place where you’ll actually listen to advice, you have so much growth to do, and, generally, you just do the wrong thing over and over again. And that’s what we love about you! Thus, the first of ideally a series of tips for the white belts out there: White Belt Advice. Beginning with a big challenge – learning to relax while rolling.

The spark for this post came from a comment Professor Rei Villa made in class this week. During kids class one day, Rei told the kids, “They can’t pressure you and submit you at the same time.” A lightbulb went off in this blog writer’s noggin. How true a statement this is! I’m absolutely certain there are some exceptions to this rule – although none come easily to mind… So what does this concept mean exactly?

“They can’t pressure you and submit you at the same time”

Means just what it sounds like. And when it comes to white belt advice, it’s golden. Generally, your opponent has to choose between pressuring down on you, pinning you in a position like side control, knee on belly, or mount, but generally your opponent can’t ALSO submit you at that same time. Most submissions require your opponent to actually release gravitational pressure off of you in order to finish a submission.

So what does this have to do with learning to relax while rolling??

Well, when you first start jiu jitsu, you probably noticed that it’s damn hard to relax when someone is lying on you with all their weight crushing you into the mat. Your whole body is struggling to scramble, to escape, to breathe the fresh air again and chase butterflies and whatnot. But you just can’t. For your first phase of jiu jitsu, you’re just gonna learn to get used to the feeling of pressure from an opponent. And yes, at first, you’re gonna panic. A lot. But then, you’re gonna start learning submissions, submission escapes, and positional escapes, and as soon as that switch flips, it’s time to learn how and when to relax.

As far as white belt advice goes, this point is huge. Learn WHEN to use your energy and when to conserve it. And there you may notice the connection. If you are being pinned and receiving a lot of pressure, you may be uncomfortable, but it’s unlikely that you are going to be submitted. This may be your best chance to try to relax, assess the situation, and plan your next move. Now, when your opponent switches their position or changes their pressure in order to set up their submission, THAT moment is your time to fight back. And luckily because you’ve been resting up a bit, you will have the energy and a plan to escape at a better moment!

So try to learn to relax, concentrate, and conserve your energy. This is key to sustaining better, longer rolls with your opponent. Wanna try it out? Come on by and get started.

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