Claustrophobia in Jiu Jitsu

Claustrophobia in Jiu Jitsu

I listened to a couple of podcasts this morning, Dirty White Belt Radio (@DWBRadio) about three people taking their black belt test and to Jordan Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) that focused on putting yourself together. Each podcast episode had aspects of facing fears and following processes to reach goals. As you can imagine, as the host of a podcast called ‘People, Process, Progress’, I was very attuned to the message about following the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) process of showing up and putting work in to achieve goals, not just belts, but real personal and BJJ progress. Also informative was Peterson’s statements about how we as humans dream a reality, work towards it and make it happen.

As I absorbed the messages from the episodes I thought through some of the fears I face, some well, some not so well. I’m afraid of flying. My brain instantly goes to the worst case scenario with every bump, turn and movement of the plane. I feel fear creep in when I’m exhausted and someone is crushing me in side control in BJJ. I think I can’t breathe, I’m trapped…help! At 45 years old I fear my heart suddenly deciding not to work anymore. I fear something happening to my wife and children. Some of this fear is exacerbated by the 24/7 news coverage, some because I’ve had exposure to the evils of this world first hand.

Adapting to Fear

So, how do we live with fear in our lives? Focus on the people we do things for. Create processes to deal with the fear. Make progress each time the fear is faced. For flying I use the SOAR Fear of Flying app ( to check wind and weather. My emergency planning mind gets some ease if I know it’s coming rather than a surprise drop or bump. I also try to let my mind focus on a movie or music while in flight, but of course still keeping tabs on what’s happening on the plane. In BJJ there is no choice but to push through the fear. Take the breath and calm the mind. Then and only then can I progress to a better position and fill my lungs full again. I also work to put more than an ounce into prevention of a bad position and maintaining a strong base. Thankful to all my BJJ instructors and some of Rickson Gracie’s (@RicksonOfficial) Youtube videos on solid collar grips and base.

I push my body almost everyday at BJJ or in my garage gym. This in turn makes my heart stronger. I hydrate, try to eat well, take supplements and am working to sleep more. This is all I can control for heart health..well, I could eat more salad. I can’t control the world. I know that, but I can make my body stronger, learn self defense, teach my family situational awareness, maintain my handgun proficiency and keep my house and vehicle stocked with survival and first aid supplies. So I do. So can you.

Benefits of Fear

  • Fear is good for us.
  • It can help push us to improve.
  • Fear can make our minds race with anxiety and doubt. But from this comes mental strength.

Think about the things you fear. Think about the PEOPLE you help by conquering your fears. Consider a PROCESS you can implement to remove or at least reduce the fears you are facing. Rejoice in the PROGRESS you make. One flight, one BJJ roll, one workout, one road trip at a time.

I hope Claustrophobia in Jiu Jitsu was helpful for you.

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