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Dealing With Strong Emotions In Jiu Jitsu

Oftentimes during our training, we encounter strong emotions. This applies to both the child and adult student.

Which emotions typically show up in jiu jitsu? Fear may very well be the most common. They say that, “All roads lead to Rome.” Well in this case it's, “All roads lead to Fear.” Fear of getting hurt, fear of failure or losing, fear of disappointing one’s professor, and fear of being inferior are common examples. Frustration is also common. There are times when we experience anger in response to our partner's behavior. Sometimes we can be overcome with feelings of accomplishment which may lead us to celebrate our victories in a distasteful manner.

Emotions can also be positive. They can be harnessed and transformed into an extra burst of energy and focus during a match giving us that extra push to escape from a bad position or blast through an opponent’s defense.

Emotions themselves are not bad, but failing to notice them can lead to poor decisions and negative consequences.

Generally speaking, a student’s fear response is most pronounced and difficult to contain during the beginning and early stages of their training. White belts will have the most difficulty containing their emotions. As the student progresses in rank, he/she/they should be expected to develop greater and greater mastery of their emotions.

Parents or bystanders who do not practice jiu jitsu yet, need to understand that students are routinely placed in competitive, exhausting, and physically uncomfortable situations. Appreciating this fact and approaching the student with respect to this point will lead to more productive discussions about incidents.

We are all bound to “lose it” at some point. What’s more important is that students take the time to reflect on their experience and glean lessons on how they can respond more wisely the next time around. This is how jiu jitsu helps us to master our emotions, making us more complete and grounded human beings.

Students are encouraged and reminded to practice observing and monitoring their physical and emotional states in the moment, avoid impulsive reactions and buy time by taking a moment to perform a releasing breath, consider the available options, and finally choose the best response. Practicing this series of steps when confronted with challenging situations will help students improve their ability to deal with their emotions over time.

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