by Stephan Kesting
As is so often the case, Mark Twain said it best: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” This applies to dogs, grapplers, MMA fighters and jiu-jitsu players alike.
Obviously a grappling match is a physical and technical battle, but having a strong will to win gives you the edge when technical and physical attributes are closely matched. The size of fight in the dog (or the will to fight of the jiu-jitsu practitioner) is not constant however, and sometimes it can disappear altogether. When you’re sparring you can sometimes feel the exact moment when your opponent’s will to fight slips away. All of a sudden he doesn’t want to be there anymore, his movements and techniques lack conviction, and often he offers you easy submissions just to bring the match to an end.
The ebb and flow of your will to fight can be influenced by many things, but the two huge negative factors are 1) exhaustion, and 2) frustration. Both of these factors can absolutely sap your will to fight. In this article we’re going to take a look at preventing these fight killers.
1) EXHAUSTION The most obvious reason for getting exhausted is that you might be out of shape. You don’t have to be fat to be out of shape: you might be skinny but if you’re not challenging your lungs and muscles at regular intervals then it is unlikely that you’re going to be in grappling shape. What can you do about it? Check out these resources (all are previous articles and tips on Grapplearts.com):
- All else being equal, work on your endurance
- ‘Cardio’ for martial artists
- My default cardio workout
- Going anaerobic, part 1
- Going anaerobic, part 2
- Going anaerobic, part 3
If you ARE in good shape but still find yourself regularly exhausted while grappling then there might be some other factors at work: You might be holding your breath while grappling.
Someone might be blocking you from breathing with their weight – choking your diaphragm. Escaping this often requires bridging, but not really to escape the position. Initially at least your bridging will be more about creating room to shift your body slightly and get his weight off your diaphragm.
You might be getting smothered, making it hard to breath, leading to exhaustion, leading to your will to fight vanishing.
and/or You might be freaking out and wasting all your energy due to claustrophobia, a condition often undiagnosed among grapplers. Learn how other grapplers recognized and dealt with this condition.