Facing Fear

One of the unspoken realities of training BJJ is dealing with anxiety and fear in the academy.

“I feel really nervous in my stomach before every class,” one student confided to me before a BJJ class. “I don’t know why.”

Maybe it is the fear of looking foolish in front of the other students.

Maybe it comes from not wanting to disappoint your instructor by getting your guard passed.

Maybe it is that wrestler blue belt who crushes you worse than Simon Cowell decimating a tone deaf singer on America Idol.

We all face fears privately, not only in the BJJ academy but in life. World Champions admit to feeling extremely tense before matches even though they have competed 100 times.

It seems to be part of the deal in training.

I am going to get a little philosophical with you at this point. I once studied a little Karate early in my martial arts career. The sensei, a PhD in Economics and great example of a martial artist, penned a short article about fear. He said that training martial arts and striking was a metaphor for facing our fears and overcoming them.

I never forgot the message on that old photocopy. I came to view facing my anxiety about rolling with that guy with the cauliflower ears as a test. Would I succumb to the fear? Or would I overcome that private fear and bump fists and roll?

Imagine that each time you tighten your belt and overcome that internal battle that you are working a psychological muscle. When you overcome that fear and go anyway, you make that muscle stronger.

Strengthening that “I feel the fear but am going to do it anyway!”feeling will affect your life outside the academy.

Need to learn a new software package for school or work? Thinking about travel to a foreign country? Feeling apprehension? Use that “mental muscle” that you have been training in BJJ class to go forward!

We all contend with private fears. Only we know how we decide to confront them.


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