Knowing When To Hold on, Let Go or Move on

One thing you learn early on in training is holding onto a grip too long can end you up in a worse place than where you started.  We’ve all been there in the early days of competition.  We are convinced if we just hold onto that sleeve grip of our opponent, we will get that submission – all while our coach is yelling to us “let it go, there is nothing there!” Or that triangle choke we are losing, and instead of adjusting our position, we end up getting our guard passed.

Thoughts are that way, in life and in training.  We can hold on to those stubborn judgement thoughts – I’m not good at this, I always get submitted, my guard is easy to break – I don’t know what I’m doing.  These are those grips we need to let go of, because they drag us down to places where growth is stifled, and no good decisions are made.  We may think these things from time to time but allowing them to become a personal mantra is a tough place to be.  This is when letting go and setting new grips is so important.

Then there is the entire other side of the spectrum where we hold onto nothing.  Our hands are on the mats when they should be on our opponent, our feet are disconnected or up in the air feeling lost in space; without roots to ground us.  This is also a place of trouble.  We can get stuck in tight spots with no hope of escaping. Or we allow our opponent to be two or three steps ahead of us because we haven’t been able to slow them down or predict their next move through feeling.

This place of no grips is when we do not have any personal goals set in our Jiu Jitsu.  Not all Jiu Jitsu practitioners compete, but in order to continue for years in the art, need to have a goal, something to work towards.  When you find yourself just showing up to practice, without any questions, without any intention to take charge of your training only to participate in class, there are no grips.  Or in your personal life, when you become comfortable with the status quo and stop efforts for personal growth, this is the time to set grips.  How are you building yourself, your game, your personal relationships, your career?  Are you comfortable with being the same person year after year, or do you want to reinvent?  Do you write about your practice, do you set daily intentions?  A life worth living is worth recording – Jim Rohn.

In life, like Jiu Jitsu, we must find that sweet balance.  Knowing which grips are just right.  Which ones will help propel us forward, and which ones we need to get rid of.  Knowing who in our life is allowing us to be the greatest expression of ourselves, and those who would rather us stay who we’ve always been.  Knowing which perceptions of ourselves are expansive, and which ones are limiting.  We all have the ability to recreate tomorrow, every time we step on the mat.  We can set goals that are based in our mindset – I’ll rewrite every negative mental comment today.  From, “I just got swept again!” to “I’m pretty lucky to train with people that show me where I need to get tighter – I’ll focus on improving my base.”  We can create a personal Jiu Jitsu journal, writing what we learned, who we connected with, or questions that we need answered.  We can bond with likeminded people in Jiu Jitsu, by attending seminars, registering for competitions, creating local women’s communities.

Ultimately, let go and you can be submitted. Hold on too tight, and you lose the ability to be flexible and see the good things coming your way.  In life, it’s the ability to hold tight to the wonderful memories that you choose to empower you while letting go of the ones that serve you no purpose.


Tamara Leonard

Girls in Gis Writer

Tamara Leonard is a purple belt with Adventure Martial Arts training center out of Parma, Ohio. Tamara has been training jiu jitsu since May 2010. Tamara also holds a black belt in kenpo karate as well as is a certified IKI Krav Maga instructor. Currently she works as a school psychologist as a consultant; as well as fitness instructor, Precision Nutrition coach, certified wellness coach, and program manager at Adventure Martial Arts. Tamara’s hobbies include travel (that always happens to involve jiu jitsu), music, outdoor adventures, and hanging with her amazing pets.

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