The Power of Relaxation

The more I train, compete, and diversify my training partners, the more I find that relaxation is key to longevity in rolling.  This crucial detail has become my primary goal while training.  I hold it above technique, above physical strength, timing, speed or anything else.  The ability to relax while rolling is truly the secret to long term success, endurance and most importantly enjoying training and competing.

Lets take a look at the most stressful moment in any grappler’s career: waiting on the side of the mat before your very first match of the day.  Chances are whether or not you realize it by the time you step on the mat, you’ve already expended more energy than you do during one of your average rolling sessions.  By the time you step out on the mat, a 5-10 minute match may feel like an eternity, and when that match is over you will likely be exhausted, your muscles fatigued and you’ll need several minutes just to catch your breath.  Why?

When we roll, many of us focus entirely upon technique.  I would posit that while technique is key to winning, relaxation is key to success.  By success, I mean the momentary ability to realize what technique to use when.  The ability to think, and process everything that is happening intelligently.

Try breathing exercises, there are plenty out there.  Try putting yourself in bad situations while rolling and getting your heartbeat back down to a baseline.  Once you reach a normal sitting heartbeat in spite of being in danger, then and only then assess and address the danger.  Maybe you get tapped before you reach that point, or maybe gradually over time you gain the ability to be complete chill while another person is trying to choke you or crank on your limbs.  That ability will serve you better than any one technique or physical attribute.

By doing this I am able to logically work out puzzles that are presented to me while I roll, and see them as just that, puzzles, not problems, not life threatening awfulness.  It makes rolling fun for me.

Relaxing while rolling is very difficult, but once you’re able to do it, you’ll find yourself achieving a far higher level of rolling without really doing much to improve upon techniques you already know.  Couple this with drilling, consistent training and learning the occasional new move (or tweaking “old” moves) and you’ll experience drastic improvement.

Do you find that relaxation is difficult while rolling?  If not, at what point were you able to discard your fears and just chill out while rolling?


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