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Act, Don't React
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Act, Don't React

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For those just beginning in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, sparring can be a really strange position. People are grabbing at you and laying on you really hard, tapping you out at will while you try to do anything. Until you gain a little more comfort and confidence on the mat, survival is really the only goal most can hope for. For all those still struggling to keep pace with their partners, try to remember: try to act, instead of just reacting. Attempt your own moves, instead of just holding onto your opponent or shutting down. This is the time you need to start learning what does, and doesn't, work.

For anyone who is struggling, it might help to remember that fighting is often like a dance; there is always someone who is leading the action, and someone who is following the action. Often, in grappling, playing into your opponent's decisions are going to be met with the same result; you tapping and wondering what went wrong. So, instead of burying yourself down and trying to survive, open up and try your best to actually surprise everyone (probably yourself included) by hitting something on a higher belt!

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Will you end up tapping a lot more often than succeeding? Probably, at first, but over time you can start to develop the important decision-making skills you will need to improve over the long term in grappling (and beyond, for that matter). Once you can start to see what to avoid, and how you can keep moving closer and closer towards real control and safety, then you will begin seeing real improvements in short order.

Interested in learning the fundamentals that made Bernardo Faria a world champion?

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