What Getting Smashed Will Teach You
No One Likes It, But Everyone Needs It!
I think it is pretty safe to say that nobody actually enjoys getting smashed, whether it is to someone your size who is just astronomically better than you, or to someone who is really big and has quite a bit of weight on you. Either way, getting smashed usually is not enjoyable and sometimes (honestly, probably most of the time) it can hurt and be hard to breath and focus when it is happening. Being smashed is so important though. Being stuck in terrible positions is what will make your BJJ better and will teach you what kind of person you are.
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First off, finding yourself in bad positions regularly will make you more technical and efficient. Whether or not you allow people to start in a dominant position or because that is just how things went down in the roll, being in bad spots teaches you to use proper technique and to be efficient with it. If you are using bad technique and trying to muscle somebody off of you, you will most likely be submitted or they will just transition to another dominant spot and now you spent all that energy on nothing and you will be tired. This is where efficiency comes in. Being efficient means that not only are you using the right technique at the right time (timing) but that you are also using just the right amount of strength, or speed, or whatever athletic attribute you have (maybe none at all, and that is ok) but you are using your breath correctly.
Knowing how to breathe properly when stuck on the bottom is huge. It is this breathing that will allow you to stay calm. Yes you can train in separate breathing methods from arts such as yoga and carry that into your BJJ training, but the fastest way to develop this is to put yourself into a situation where you will need it, over and over again, and eventually your body will adapt and learn how to survive in those conditions. Proper breathing will help stop you from gassing out too early and burning up all your energy, alongside that, it helps you rationally choose the best route of escape at the right time because you are able to stay calm and composed through breathing.
Maybe the most important aspect of being smashed is what it does to you mentally. You will become mentally strong. What happens when a new person is smashed for the first time? They freak out. They want out so badly and if the person they are rolling with is good and does not want to let them out, you will see people tap just from pressure and being stuck in such uncomfortable spots. Fight the urge to give up. Keep pushing, even if you stay on the bottom for all the rounds that night you will walk away better than when you came in. Being mentally strong and having the perseverance to not give up when things gets tough will translate to all aspects of your life. So embrace the grind, embrace the suck, do not get angry or over emotional. Keep breathing, stay calm, and try your best to apply the escapes and movements your coaches teach you with a clear mind.
Eventually, you will be so comfortable in bad positions that you do not worry about being submitted, because you live there. Being uncomfortable is your home and you now know how to deal with it because you are there so often. This will obviously make it easier for you to escape but it will also improve your top game and your ability to attack. You see people give up submissions or stall in top positions because they are afraid of failing or being reversed if they attack a submission. If you know that nobody can submit you or break you with pressure you will be more willing to attack and leave safe stalling positions for the chance at finishing the match or fight.
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If you are a smaller person you will learn these lessons whether you want to or not, for the naturally strong and athletic people who never find themselves on the bottom surviving, allow yourself to be there from time to time. It is better to learn how to survive in the gym than in an actual match or fight. I have seen big strong guys that used to play football in college tap to pressure at tournaments simply because they have never been there before and panicked. Do not allow that to happen to you when it counts. So get to the gym and learn survival, it will only benefit you!
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