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Tunnel Vision

Timing is everything. The right move at the wrong time is the wrong move.—Rener Gracie

One of the most common phenomena while rolling is tunnel vision. We get so fixated on one pathway that we don’t see other possibilities. Often, we repeatedly force our will, despite the inefficiency and low probability of that tactic.

In BJJ, windows of opportunity continually open and close. A hallmark of an advanced player is their ability to gauge when a window begins to open, and only then attempt a technique. The moment the window begins closing they move on.

Here’s John Danaher:

Probably one of the surest ways to hinder performance is to select a given move and push hard to complete it LONG AFTER THE OPPORTUNITY FOR IT HAS PASSED. So often in a sparring session or match we develop a tunnel vision that limits our outlook to an extent where it harms performance. A MAN WITH A THOUSAND TECHNIQUES CAN BE REDUCED TO A ONE TRICK PONY IF HE SEES ONLY ONE POSSIBILITY IN FRONT OF HIM.

How do we train ourselves to avoid fixation? I don’t have a complete answer, but I think it involves:

1. Learning how to relax and breathe so we can think and observe at a pace that allows us to problem-solve effectively.

2. Letting go of our ego—not being committed to any particular outcome.

Every time you change positions, count to ten. If you’re still holding the position, let it go and move onto something else, even if in doing so you end up in a worse position. Long term your game will improve faster than if you held on for dear life.

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