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Wisdom from a Jiu Jitsu Master

My brother attended the seminar of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu master. Someone asked, “What techniques can you show us to get out of half guard?”

The master responded, “I don’t allow myself to get into the half-guard position.”

You don’t need to research what a half-guard position is to understand what the master is teaching his students. He’s saying there’s no need to learn ways to get out of a hold if you don’t get into one to begin with.

I thought of ways to apply this in my own life and, by extension, to the clients with whom I work. Imagine not wasting energy getting out of a situation you didn’t want to be in. I’ve been there. Have you?

The Half-Guard Situation

One way to handle the half-guard situation is to avoid it. Avoidance, though, means circumscribing your behaviour. It doesn’t make it “go away.” Instead, you find ways to work around it.

The challenge with avoidance is that it eventually leads to a smaller life, one in which you’re navigating around “untouchable” situations.  Hence, you stop growing. Avoidance is a defensive move, meant to protect you. Notice that the Jiu Jitsu master does not advise avoidance at all.

“Not getting into half guard” can also mean you’ve learned your lesson, that when you do X, Y happens. Because of the self-awareness you develop from previous half-guard experiences, you know when it will happen, so you choose other responses accordingly.

Your point of view on the half guard makes a difference: avoidance versus lesson learned. In the latter scenario, you realize that by not expending mental or physical energy on the wrong priorities, you have the bandwidth to focus your attention on what really matters to you.

The Jiu Jitsu Master’s Advice

In the here and now, I decide what I want. It’s always new, always fresh, because it’s happening in the present. In this moment, I don’t think about the half-guard position. I am experiencing my position right now, not reliving it from the past or anticipating it in the future.

When the master says, “I do not allow myself to get into this position,” it’s the summation of experience, will, attitude. In essence, you see what you choose to see because you have the freedom to choose your perspective, positive, negative, or neutral.

Jiu Jitsu students see the half guard from a defensive or offensive stance. That’s why they want to know how to handle it. They want to feel powerful – not powerless – and believe that if they know what to do, they’ll be safe.

The Jiu Jitsu master chooses neither stance. He is neutral. Your safety doesn’t come from external advice; it’s in you already.

Choosing Presence

How you choose to see time, particularly the present, becomes the key to all this. “I don’t allow” is a choice made in the current instant, so it doesn’t matter if you rehearse what you’ll do or avoid it through defensive techniques. All those fear-based responses take you out of the present.

I am safe in the present, not the future or past. “Now” I don’t need to “guard” myself. Now I can remain open to what the Universe “presents” to me. I am free. In this moment.

And you know what? I’ve decided I’m not allowing myself to get into the half guard. I’m putting my energy where it’s needed, now.

Your turn.

Header Photo by RODNAE Productions:, Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash, Photo by Alex Alvarez on Unsplash

If you’re interested in finding ways to become more present, consider taking my free mini-course on it, Becoming Your Best Self.

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