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10 ways life is like jiu jitsu

February 6, 2012

As a recovering Catholic with a psychoanalyst for a mother, I think I know a thing or two about guilt.  In fact, I feel guilty about how much I know about guilt.  It seems to me no one should know as much about guilt as I do. I don’t know entirely who’s responsible, but I’m pretty sure it’s all my fault.  Or perhaps, more accurately, the blame lies with the unholy trinity of Sigmund Freud, myself and the Pope.  And while that might sound like the start of a bad joke, it is in fact only my way of expressing my blogga culpas for being so remiss in my bloggular duties.  Father, it has been three weeks since I last blogged, hear my confession.  There, now I feel better.

My absence from the blogosphere was mainly due to some very time-consuming but compelling projects at work (more on that later), but the growing demands of fatherhood played a major role as well.  Apparently, four-month-old babies require a lot of attention.  I wish someone had told me –  I would have planned ahead.  But he makes it all pretty easy, what with all that being adorable and cooing and smelling great and such.  I barely notice that I am a complete slave.  In fact, I actually find the arrival of this 14 pound despot that has brought about the sudden demise of my free will to be the single most joyous experience of my life.

Daddy duty and work demands (plus some more minor injuries) have also kept me out of class more than I would like.  This week I was finally able to get back into the swing of it and made it to four classes.  These happened to focus on what I believe is one of the most unpleasant yet important aspects of BJJ defense – escaping from full mount.  For the non-BJJ-practicing reader, that essentially entails learning to get out from under someone who has sat on your chest to punch your head, choke you unconscious or break your arm.  It is a humbling experience at first, to be stuck under some 220 lb purple belt, trying to breathe, feeling like your ribs are about to snap like baby cucumbers, while he attempts to wring your neck.

Thankfully, I have had some great, higher-belt training partners who clearly want to help me learn.  Only occasionally do I wind up rolling with someone who seems to just want to beat up on the white belt.  (I’m grateful the professor ends each instruction segment with “take care of your partner.”)  And as I began to hit the techniques with some success and actually escape, I realized that this is why I’m here.  If I can become comfortable getting out of the worst possible situation I can imagine, I can know that, no matter where things go, I’ll be ok. It is one of a thousand parallels I now see between jiu jitsu and the rest of my life, which is either a sign of my increasing wisdom or my escalating, single-minded obsession, depending on your perspective.  If the Baby Momma, for example, has to hear “you know, that’s just like jiu jitsu” one more time, she may wring my neck herself.

I admit, I see aspects of jiu jitsu in almost everything.  From getting off the sofa, to carrying groceries, to holding my son, I wind up employing principles I’ve learned in class.  This has been one of the more interesting and unexpected side-benefits of my training.  Jiu jitsu seems to have changed the way my body and mind work through the normal bio-mechanics of everyday life.  In particular, I now have mad baby carrying skills.  Enough that I have found I can incorporate him into my workout, a topic I will, against my better judgement, address next week.  I even promise to include a video sample of my upcoming exercise DVD, “Babyometrics: aerobic babycare for the martial arts dad.”  Or at least, if I don’t, I promise to feel really guilty.

Until then, and without further ado, I present to you:

Ten ways life is like jiu jitsu

1) When you find yourself in a bad position, calm down and continue breathing.  Panic is exhausting.

2) If you are not being attacked, do not waste energy defending yourself.

3) Always have multiple escapes in mind before trying one.  Fake one and do the other.

4) Maintain a solid base.

5) Keep your extremities close to your core.

6) First and foremost, improve your position.

7) When defending, create space.  When attacking, eliminate it.

8) Use leverage, not muscle.

9) Don’t force a move that’s not working.  Go with the flow and use what you are given.

10) Take care of your partner.

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2 Comments
  1. Dion permalink

    Love #1… Panic IS exhausting… Same with Hysteria.
    Check yo self before you… well, you know the rest.

    Calm down and focus. Stop fighting. See what’s really going on. And then act. Man, do we ever forget to do that as a species.

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