By Kyle Finneron
Did you know you can rip someone’s beard if you put too much shoulder pressure on their jaw? I didn’t, but I do now. After my first eye opening attempt at jiu-jitsu I decided, even though I was steamrolled, that I could see myself enjoying this new sport.
Jiu-jitsu in my eyes is much like real life. If you actually had to stop and think about everything you were doing throughout the day you would fall flat on your face and wonder what happened. What do I mean by this? If you had to think of every single action you took while you were driving today how different would your commute be? Our conscious mind wouldn’t be able to handle “turn the wheel 5 percent to the left and remove 2 pounds of pressure from the accelerator….” for the entire ride, and that’s just a drive to work.
We get through most of our life through neural and physical muscle memory developed from previous experiences. So what happens when you are starting new? Imagine being 20 years old and learning how to ride a bike for the first time. Then you have to race people who have been practicing much longer. You are at a disadvantage. The way I like to navigate these tricky waters is to avoid trying to learn everything at once. If you try to take on too many things at once you will not be able to give 100 percent on any of them. It is impossible to learn everything at once. The way I was able to progress was to focus on one small facet of training at a time.
One day I thought to myself, “Stop getting so worked up! Focus on being relaxed today” and throughout class my goal was to relax and flow through the motions we were learning that day. This sounds easy but when a 200-pound person is twisting you into a pretzel it can be a tad stressful. What I found as I went through this training was that keeping my calm and letting the other person burn themselves out put me at a big advantage.
The next step was to recognize when I was in a position where I could hold my position with little energy, meanwhile my opponent would need to exert himself to escape. I found if I could hold this position long enough he will burn himself out and not be as explosive later.
Which leads me to my beard-ripping opening statement. I was grappling with another student and things were going well for me. I could tell he was getting tired and I felt relatively fresh from controlling my breathing and remaining calm. I found myself in a position called “side control” and remembered what my good friend Ian had told me. “If you press your shoulder into their jaw they won’t be able to turn their body back into you.”
You won’t usually win from something like this but to say it’s uncomfortable is a massive understatement.
Sure enough, with my shoulder pressing into my opponent’s jaw he wasn’t able to turn back into me. After feeling him flail about for a minute or so I could feel his exhaustion. It was time for me to make my move. I popped up and went to go for a submission when he looked up and yelled: “Wait! Blood!” We both stopped and tried to locate where the blood came from.
During my shoulder pressure and his trying to move his beard sustained enough friction to actually rip open the skin on his jaw. All things considered, it was a small injury and the bleeding stopped quickly. We shook hands and called it a day.