How to Avoid Being a Spazz on the Mat

Credit Images: Ivan Trindade/Ane Nunes/Gentle Art Media

I’ll be honest: I hate it when people spazz on the mats.  Hate. Believe it or not, I see more people with a bit of time in spazz than brand new white belts.  But I also hate it when brand new white belts spazz.  I hate when anyone spazzes because it reduces the quality of my technique.  If you know you spazz and want a solution for it, or think you might spazz and want to figure out some things you can do to avoid it, this post is for you.

Slow the fuck down! 

I don’t often use profanity in my articles and posts, but I feel like this requires a bit of an exclamation point.  Slow down.  If you have to rush through a technique while rolling, you’re not doing it right anyways.  Speed is a tool you should learn to use later.  For now, try to find ways to use your body to cause your technique to be very difficult to escape.

Pretend you’re doing a puzzle.

If you get caught, treat the position like a puzzle and figure out a way to finesse your way out, not break your way out.  So often I put training partners in submissions only to have them try to explode out in such a way that if I decided to hold on, their movement would injure them.  Treat every submission as a puzzle.  If you have a puzzle and you try to force the pieces in, you will ruin it and look like an idiot.  You’re better off slowing down and failing to solve the puzzle for now than potentially breaking it.  In jiu-jitsu, breaking the puzzle translates to injuring your training partner or yourself. It can also mean fewer people wanting to train with you.

Communicate with your training partner. 

Sometimes, if I think I’m caught but I’m not sure if my partner is simply not applying the lock to be polite or doesn’t feel they have it yet, I ask!  When I get to some head and arm chokes (arm triangle, D’arce, etc) and I’m not 100% certain if I’m cranking their neck or choking them, I ASK!  Communication is crucial.  Make sure the techniques you are applying are accomplishing the results you are seeking, and make sure that you fully understand the scope of the positions and situations in which you find yourself.  This understanding will yield more mindful movement.

Remember, there’s no such thing as losing.

In the realm of training with someone else, there is no such thing as “loss” or “victory.”  When your training partner submits you, you didn’t “lose.”  And if you think you did, you’re doing it all wrong.  Treat every roll as a collaborative effort in which both people are meant to improve.  The reality is that if you’re competing against your training partners, you’re missing out on so much of what jiu-jitsu is. You’re also probably being a spazzy idiot.

Don’t be a spazz.  It’s dangerous to you as well as your training partners.  If you are new to the sport, it will slow your development and make more experienced practitioners want nothing to do with you.  If you have been training for a while, you should know better.

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Emil Fischer is an active black belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training at Strong Style Mixed Martial Arts and Training Center near Cleveland Ohio ( and teaching at Ararat Martial Arts and FItness Center. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at and Emil is sponsored by Meerkatsu (, discount code EmilKatsu), Eddy's On Coventry, North Coast Cryo ( NottaRookie, YM ( discount code COOKIES), Defense Soap ( discount code COOKIES) Impact Mouthguards ( discount code EMILIMPACT), and North South Jiu Jitsu Underwear


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