Learning to Live Under Pressure in Terrible Situations
Stuck in terrible spots can build fortitude
If you are a naturally smaller practitioner of the Gentle Art, more often than not you find yourself on the bottom position with a big sweaty neanderthal that outweighs you by 60 maybe even 80 pounds or more. It sucks. No matter how hard you bridge or hip escape you just can not get this beast of a human off of you.
So what do you do? You can try bench pressing him off of you, but chances are he is either too heavy to move and by extending your arms he will quickly choke or arm lock you, you can try to roll to your belly and crawl away but he will surely take your back, drive you harder into the mat and strangle you. So what is the answer?
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The answer, is a simple one. Simple, but definitely not easy. RELAX AND BREATHE! We call it the “Gentle Art” but there really is nothing gentle about being crushed by someone bigger than you. You should be glad when it happens though because it is teaching you to figuratively and literally live in hell. If you can stay calm under the pressure of somebody larger and stronger than you, then when you find yourself underneath somebody your size it will not be as terrible.
Why? Because you live in bad spots, It’s like a second home for you. You must stay calm and remember to breathe, do not freak out and expend more energy than is needed. Maintain your elbows tight to your body, do not over extend in any movements but keep moving. You may be stuck down there for awhile but do not be complacent and just accept it. Keep in mind the rules of being on the bottom, elbows and chin stay tucked and do not reach out your arms separating your elbows from your body, all why combining your hip escapes together with your bridges. Anytime your partner postures to strike you or get hands in your collar or on your arms, bump them, give them a reason to take their hands off of you and catch themselves.
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Are they pinning you by holding you down with their hands or a headlock? Well they are giving you that hand, now trap that same side leg, bridge and roll. What if they base? Great, because guess what, they just made space, hip escape out of it. They smashed you again? Are they grape vining your legs too? Use your own feet to clear them first, that way you have the full strength of your hips and legs to work yourself out. Hip escape to the other side, bridge to the other side, keep combining and stringing your escapes together until you can recover some type of guard and begin attacking your own sweeps and submissions. Just stay calm, breathe, and do not give up your back, neck, or arms.
Easier said than done, I know, but try your best to keep these things in mind when escaping. If you are a bigger person and rarely find yourself on the bottom getting smashed, my advice for you is to spend some time down there. That way when you decide to compete or should you have to defend yourself outside against somebody larger and stronger, the bottom position will not be such a shock to you.
Time and time again I see big strong guys crack under the pressure of somebody bigger and stronger than them, often times tapping to things such as pressure from the top or from panic tapping because they do not spend enough time there. Do not be that guy, learn to live under pressure. Pressure is what makes diamonds by the way, so embrace the suck and learn from it!