Find Your Way Back to the Familiar

If you are stuck in a position you do not know how to get out of, find your way back to a position you do know how to get out of and escape from there.

Relson Gracie teaching how to get back to guard from back mount at Kogen Dojo. Photo by Mike Oswald Photography

I received a call from one of my lead technicians the other day with a question about how to remove a part, a transformer, from a piece of equipment we work on. The way that this particular model was manufactured had both him and the technician on site stumped.

The technician called the manufacturer who told him he would have to cut another part out to remove the transformer that had failed. This was quite unusual, not to mention time consuming, and the lead technician asked me if I had any other ideas.

As we talked, I remembered having removed the same part before, but it was the right side transformer, whereas the technician in this instance was struggling to remove the left side transformer, something none of us had done before. Just then, I remembered a lesson I learned in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ).

Doing BJJ over the years, I discovered that when I found myself stuck in a position I was unfamiliar with or could not work my way out of, instead of fighting my way through an impossible task, I could work my way to a more familiar position and then escape from there.

For example, I am better at passing guard than I am at escaping back mount. So, if I am rolling and someone takes my back, I will try to work my way back to the person’s guard, knowing that from guard I have a much better chance of getting to a dominant position than from back mount.

We already knew how to remove the right transformer. What if the technician slid the left transformer to the right transformer’s position and then removed it from there?

He did and it worked.

Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

-Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body, Severna Park’s Holistic Chamber of Commerce, and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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