When I’m with a partner that I’m not sure about, or that might be a little bit bigger than me, or younger than me, I always begin with inside control.
That’s my primary strategy, the principle that I start with when paired with anybody I don’t know well.
It’s a strategy that puts control first, which is a way of putting safety first – not only for me, but for my partner as well. It keeps everything where I can slow down what’s too fast and cool off what’s too hot (and I can also heat it up if need be).
In that way, I know I’m always beginning in the right place. When I do that consistently, then I typically a wind up in a very good place over the arc of the training.
I find that this principle really works very well in other areas of my life too. When you’re feeling stressed or anxious or uncertain about what’s going on, it is the right place to start look for solutions.
And as in jiu-jitsu on the mat, where I turn to inside control, I find it very helpful to start looking inwards during stressful times, to start trusting myself to come up with the right solutions rather than searching outside.
The check-up can start internally: “OK, I have all my tools. I know I can solve this problem.” It’s a very helpful, proactive place to start – the inside position, trusting yourself.
Jiu-jitsu is a problem-solving activity in many ways. Setting foot on the mat and sticking with it means you’re able to get through the arc of the training and solve a lot of dynamic problems and still be in good shape. Physically you can stay well, and then emotionally you can land in a good place, and for the spirit, you know you’ve taken care of someone else in the process.
It’s natural to look to to these tools when we’re under pressure from our jobs, our relationships or the day-to-day pressures and stresses. Rather than reaching for something outside ourselves, habits or even substances that seem to fix things in the short term but end up creating bigger problems long term, we can start inside.
It takes time to develop the tools to do it, just as techniques take time to polish. We make our mistakes, correct them and find our balance and direction over time.
Arriving at a harmonious conclusion usually involves working from the inside out. And that’s what this training is about, on or off the mat.
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