When I first started Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), my least favorite place to be was in side control. I think this is a common feeling. For the uninitiated, side control is where your opponent’s body is on top of yours, one knee by your shoulder and one knee by your hip. You’re especially in bad shape when your opponents arms are around you and his shoulder is pushing into your face, grinding away at the skin of your cheek and chin.
I remember trying to read everything I could about side control escapes. I would search endlessly on YouTube for ideas and techniques. What stuck with me, was when someone told me, that the best way to deal with it, was to seek it out. To get used to being in the suck. Like with any uncomfortable situation, the natural tendency is to become tense, forget to breathe, have panic set in. So the best advice is like with so many things, to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
At this point, I have spent a lot of time in other people’s side control. I expect to have a long journey with BJJ and that means I’ll spend a lot more time there. But I’m comfortable with the suck now. I know when I’m in danger and I know when someone is just trying to feel me out. I know how to make the person on top of me uncomfortable now. I know how to control an arm, push the top person’s head, throw up my legs and lock up a triangle choke with my legs from the bottom. It’s not a high-percentage move but people have to respect it and it opens up other ways out.
I don’t know why, but here’s just another BJJ parallel with life that I’ve been thinking about. How the only way I can get better at dealing bad situations is to be in bad situations. There’s a small part of me that never wants to roll (practice sparring) against the big guys in my class. The guys that outweigh me by 50 or 100 pounds. But the part of me in charge, seeks those guys out. Because the only way to learn how to slay giants is to go out and try to slay giants. And until I learn, I’m going to spend a lot more time pinned and trapped under those giants.