Saulo Ribeiro (an amazing BJJ practitioner and teacher) has a quote in his book Jiu Jitsu University:
If you think, you’re late. If you’re late, you muscle. If you muscle you tire, and if you tire you die.
The emphasis here is that jiu jitsu needs to be second nature, it needs to be instinctive. I’ve never doubted the truth of this statement, but I got to experience it this week (except for the dying part.)
It was Wednesday night sparring, and I was feeling beat up. Class and sparring Monday was physically exhausting (I had one match that must have lasted 8-10 minutes.) Tuesday’s sparring class, while not as exhausting was still intense involving lots of good matches. By the time Wednesday sparring rolled around I was a little tired. By the end of the class I was flat out beat.
On one of the last matches of the night, I started in mount. In a matter of seconds I was in guard (as I’d been rolled out of mount.) We fought there for a little bit, my partner then went to knee mount and finally mount. At this point, things slowed down a bit for me. What I mean is, my opponent is in mount, and I see he’s in mount, I feel he is in mount, my mind is saying “You got to get out of here, Nate.” But my body wasn’t listening. Then he got one hand in my collar and I could tell he was setting up a choke. I was thinking, “I need to get out of here. I should shrimp, or defend, or something.” But my body didn’t comply. Sure enough, a few seconds later I was tapping out.
I wasn’t operating on instinct and muscle memory there. I was operating on my brain telling my body what to do and hoping that my body would listen. By the time I thought that I should defend the choke, it was too late, he’d already started to set it in.