In BJJ bad situations happen. Especially when you’re a white belt. There have been numerous times in my training where someone more experienced and/or bigger than me put me somewhere I didn’t want to be. For example, this week we were working back escapes and we were alternating between learning a technique and practicing it at close to full speed. It was my turn to to try and escape, as I was trying to escape, my partner was able to move into mount. As I tried to escape mount, I wound up being stuck on my side, with my sparring partner was laying on my top shoulder driving me down into the ground. At this point I was concerned about my neck. Where my partner was he had easy access to my lapels, so I had to be careful about any type of escape I did. In the end, I wasn’t able to escape, but he wasn’t able to accomplish anything either, and time ran out.
But that’s not the first time I’ve wound up in bad situations. However, being in those bad situations has taught me what to focus on. When you’re pinned down by someone who outweighs you by 40-60 pounds (or more) your first thought isn’t “How do I arm-bar this guy?” Instead, it shifts to “How can I get away from this guy?” And even more importantly, “How do I make sure this guy doesn’t harm me?” Being in those bad situations helps you to realize exactly what is important at that moment, and what isn’t. You start remembering things like “chin-down” and “elbows in.” Your brain tells you to move your hips away, get your knee or foot between you and your opponent so you can create space and escape.
The point is, you’ll more than likely find yourself in these positions throughout your BJJ career. At least in the first year you will (that’s all I can talk about authoritatively, I’m hoping at the 13 month mark it magically never happens again, but I have my doubts that’s true.)
The same thing is true in life as well. I don’t know what kind of bad situations you’ll face in your life, but I’m positive there will be some. There will be a time when your only focus needs to be on survival. Perhaps it’s losing a loved one due to illness. Perhaps you’re the loved one with an illness. It could be a financial struggle, or something related to your job. It could be seeing your kids hurt. It could be any of literally countless options that will put you in a bad situation.
Once you’re in a bad situation, it’s almost too late to stop and think about what needs to be done when you’re there. On the mat, if someone gets to mount and I try to take a minute and think “What should I be doing here?” they are more than likely moving on to an even more dominant position, or attacking me. So too with bad situations in real life. How you handle that situation has a lot to do with how you’ve “trained” before that point in time.
If you lose your job, have you thought about expenses that you can cut that day to lessen the burden? Do you have a list of people in your field that you could call on the drive home from work if you were to be laid off? If someone you loves get sick, are you aware of the extras in your life that you could instantly jettison to make time for that person?
In order to get to a better position, the first thing you have to do is survive the position you’re in. Then move to escaping that position. If you can’t handle the bad positions, it’s going to be really hard (impossible?) to find yourself in a better position.