How To Channel Anxiety Constructively In Jiu-Jitsu

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Anxiety is an accumulation of fear in our body that forces us to see the world through a lens of survival. It forces us to react to a situation in one of three ways: fight, flight, or freeze.

Below I cover how we can make these reactions strengths for us to perform to our fullest in training, competition, and in life.

Transmutating Anxiety

This is how great athletes and performers use pre performance anxiety to achieve. Channel it so you can achieve that “flow state” and be deeply in tune with whatever task, training, or performance you’re involved in.

We channel by recognizing it and then moving our attention to our creative or performance related tasks. This then brings us into the relaxed side of the nervous system which allows for more growth and creation. This then creates a cycle of its own.

1. Fight

When we have the fight response go deep into that and allow it to give you fuel when you’re training. Just be cautious about it spilling over and becoming an over the top and out of mind reaction. This is never good. This is where the awareness kicks in. Channel that fight into forward intentional aggression to make positive moves on your opponent.

2. Flight

If your predominant reaction is to flee, use this as an advantage to avoid tricky and dangerous positions. But again, have an awareness to this energy so you can use this vigilance to your advantage. Because if you let it run in your body in an unconscious fashion, you won’t engage as properly as you should, and you will flee from positions you could engage and capitalize on.

3. Freezing

This isn’t necessarily the best thing to do in any sport, but you can use that stillness as a way to create a solid and strong structure that doesn’t allow your opponent to find angles of attack on you.

Let’s examine this from the perspective of you being a top player in a guard passing situation against a leg-locker on bottom: Being able to become a “statue” and use your weight and gravity against them may be the perfect antidote to nullify and ultimately capitalize on their leg attacks.

Plus, it’s exhausting for most people to work underneath a statue of energy. So early in the exchange, being heavy may be a solid strategy.

Final Considerations

Everything I’ve here covered is something I actively do when tackling this fear response head on. It gives me energy to create works such as this that I hope in my heart is able to impact you in a positive fashion. Supplements like preworkout can increase your anxiety before working out, so consider kava or other natural herbs for anxiety in combination or on its own.

I cover more performance training tidbits with my ebook “The Foundations of Movement Autonomy, Vitality, and Performance” that will help you prepare, recover, and perform better on the mats!

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Billy Edelen has a B.A in Exercise Science from Bellarmine University and garnered his Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) credential in September 2016. He has been a competitive athlete since he could literally ride a bike. Billy won multiple BMX national titles in his youth and played on Bellarmine’s Division 2 2015 Final Four basketball team. You could say he has competitiveness in his blood! He recently finished first in an IBJJF tournament, had his first pro tournament in March, has won his last two regional tournaments, and recently won his last super match in the UGI. He recently made his first appearance in ADCC East Coast Trials. Billy developed his Mobillity lifestyle out of necessity to harness his anxiety and a low back issue. He has constructively and creatively made these strengths to help others live in balanced health (mind, body, and spirit).


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