On Relaxation, Aggression and Intent

In the last week I have added two new articles to Grapplearts.com. The first article is a selection of breakthrough stories sent in by the readers of this newsletter. Andreh Anderson contributes the second article, where he shares a revelation about relaxation, prompted by a private lesson with possibly the best pound-for-pound submission grappler in the world, Marcelo Garcia.

As I was preparing these two articles I was struck by a seeming contradiction. One guy (Andreh) says that his game jumped when he became LESS relaxed on the mat, whereas several other people said that they had breakthroughs when they finally learned to become MORE relaxed while sparring. How can this be?

Well first of all it could be a case of: “Dosis facit venenum.” which translates to “The dose makes the poison” (Paracelsus). Perhaps Andreh, being an advanced brown belt, was too relaxed, whereas the other guys were too tense. Perhaps each person needed to find their optimal state of relaxation, and that meant that one guy needed to dial it up whereas the other guys needed to dial it down. This issue was addressed in a previous tip of the week (Optimal State of Arousal)

It is also possible that people mean different things by “relaxation” and “aggression”. Some beginners might think that being aggressive means tensing every muscle in your body all the time. Obviously this is different from what Andreh is talking about, which is more a focused intention to control the flow and rhythm of the game. Various limbs may or may not be tense at any given moment, depending on what he is trying to accomplish, but he isn’t draining his gas tank by spazzing out for the whole match.

I hope that you have fun looking at other people’s breakthrough stories. I am sure you will be struck by the diversity of physical and mental realizations that propelled these grapplers to a new level. Some breakthroughs may seem completely obvious, whereas others may seem rather esoteric; this reflects the diversity of skill levels, training backgrounds, and physical gifts of the contributors. I hope that somewhere among all this advice you can find the right “dose” for what ails you.

A sincere thanks to all who sent in their stories!

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