So you were training jiu jitsu, and you accidentally got choked out…
Firstly, don’t panic. You’ll be OK.
Getting choked out is never a good idea, but you’ll survive. It’s also very rare to experience any long term effects from being put to sleep, especially if your partner let you go as quickly as possible.
You also know that tapping is a much more favourable option. You know that you should have tapped out earlier, and for this reason you’re a little upset, worried, or embarassed at what happened.
As a devout learner, and a good student you will take this experience and you’ll learn from it, in order to do things better the next time this situation eventuates.
The Milk is On the Table.
Or, there’s no use crying over spilt milk. Spilt milk comes in the form of many things, but it’s important to remember that shit happens, and for you it happened on a few fronts, albeit hopefully not literally.
Sure you slept, which was unintentional, yet it happened.
The more important milk that had been spilt, was the choke that made you sleep. There is a time and a place to escape submissions, but that wasn’t one of them. It was clearly deep enough to make you sleep, and in the ensuing battle of escape vs tapping, you held onto the hope of escape for too long, which is why it happened.
As you spend more and more time on the mats, you see more attacks, and feel more threats, and you realise which chokes are to be respected and which aren’t. Your judgement failed you this time around, but it’s data in the bank for the next one.
If you want to train on the mats for a long time, you need not fight over spilt milk. If a submission is almost there, you’re already ready to tap. When you struggle to see a way to escape, you tap and you learn. In tapping, you congratulate your training partner’s good deed, and you move safely and sustainably forward along the journey.
Maybe you did have a valid way of escaping, and you just needed a little more time. The best thing to do here is to tap first (!) then ask your partner to keep the same position, so you can both explore that way of escape. The only difference now is that you can maintain your consciousness, and your limbs intact.
To Play is to Tap Often and Always.
You can do this because you’re there to play, not fight. Just as your training partner isn’t your opponent, so too you’re not in a battle to the death. You’re allowed to tap, and there’s no shame in yielding to the good work of others.
This doesn’t mean to tap willy nilly to anything that may resemble a threat, because that isn’t jiu jitsu. But if you see the tap as a positive for yourself to learn, and for your partner to be congratulated, you’re more likely to do it earlier, and less likely to bear the ill effects of waiting till it was too late.
To play is to revel in the joy of learning jiu jitsu, and not place the results as the priority. If you’re there to play, you will enjoy the fact that you got caught as it signifies one more lesson of learning. You won’t be upset that you failed, or angry because your defence was bad. You know you’re winning simply by being on the mats, in your gi, doing jiu jitsu with your friends.
And with this being said, you can play, and still not get caught. The secret is in your defences. In jiu jitsu, you need to stay safe, which is why you need good defence. Just like you clear your gutters of leaves to prevent fires, you can’t wait till the submission is almost on before you think about defending it!
Let me guess how you got choked -> you let your partner get a thick forearm bone right across your neck, with a deep grip to consolidate. You didn’t worry about it because you were too preoccupied thinking about your own agenda. That was untit the second one came out of nowhere to turn your lights off.
Your issue is that your partner’s forearm bone has no business being anywhere near your neck. You need to keep your posture by maintaining connection with the ground and your partner. This means your spine is long and your head is far and away from the threatening hands of your training partner. If they were to pull you down with their legs, you’d bring your hands on the inside of theirs, and spring back up. If they grabbed your lapel lower than your neck, you can intercept it, you can go to pass, and you can be content that arm is not coming any higher up toward your neck.
The truth is it’s your neck, and your joints, and it’s up to you to keep them safe way before any danger can eventuate. Posture. Defence. Always.
Joys of Jiu Jitsu
The beauty of this martial art is that it takes many years to learn well, and it is inevitable that you will fail along the way. On your path to black belt, you will tap hundreds if not thousands of times. These taps can either be many failures, and/or many opportunities to learn.
It’s the opportunist, and the future black belt who will take what happens, think about it objectively, and learn from it so that it doesn’t happen again.
Just like that the ups and downs and lessons and learnings of jiu jitsu are a portal into everyday life. Not everything will go your way. Sometimes there’s nothing to do but accept this, move on, and try again, no matter what. So never mind getting choked. Enjoy jiu jitsu, stay on the mats, and learn for life.