Transforming Panic Into Victory

When the path is not clear, be still, but do something.

One of the things that Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) teaches us is that fear and anxiety in bad positions leads to flailing and hasty decisions which lead to mistakes that inevitably put us in worse positions from which we are likely to get submitted. When we find ourselves in bad positions, we are far better off slowing down and breathing than we are speeding up and panicking. We do not slow down and breathe so that we can do nothing, but so that we can do the right thing.

By slowing down and taking a breath, we are able to look at our situation from the perspective of what is possible instead of fighting against what is impossible. We take stock of our where we went wrong and what we need to do in order to stop our situation from getting worse. We begin to see our weaknesses so that we can shore them up and protect ourselves, but also the openings through which to escape and potentially reverse our bad fortune.

The first order of business when we find ourselves compromised and on the defensive is to protect ourselves from harm, from getting submitted, but we can not do this from a place of panic. We must remain calm and composed or at least regain our calm and our composure. We are already losing, but a deep breath and a clear head could be the difference between total defeat and transforming our predicament into victory.


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 and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Photo of Relson Gracie at Kogen Dojo by Mike Oswald Photography

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