Remembering to Breathe 1


You know that soul-crushing moment when your opponent passes your guard to secure side control…then they settle in heart to heart and you just feel the weight suddenly crushing your very existence? Of course it feels great when you’re the one doing the soul-crushing (and bonus points when you actually hear that last bit of air escaping the lungs). We’ve all been on the receiving end of that heavy moment. It’s difficult to draw a breath, and you wonder if you’ll ever  breathe again.

Can I still breathe?

Yes. (Barely)

So what can I control right now? 

I can control my breath…

The moment I realize that I can, in fact, still breathe, I get control of my breath. All of a sudden my focus moves away from what I don’t want (the pain) and into what I do want (escape). I’m able to expand my awareness to focus on what I can control next – where I can create just a bit of space…where I can inch my arm to a position where I can create a frame, which gives me just a bit more space to scoot my hips ever so slightly. This gives me space to bring my elbow to the mat.. Continuing to create just a bit more room until  the pressure has decreased enough for me to get back in a safe defensive position. 

I know getting back in the game is possible, but in that very first moment when I feel pinned under the weight of an immovable boulder, it I can easily feel like I’ve already been defeated. Point? It hurts, I can’t breathe, I’m stuck, and I’m never going to get out of here…these thoughts run rampant. Then I remember to come back to my breath. A few quiet, calm breaths bring me back to center, reminding me I am still here, I am still breathing, and I am still able to fight.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of this lesson off the mat, too. Many things about quarantine, COVID19, and current world events have felt insurmountable at times. These unprecedented times may leave you feeling like your guard has been passed and that side mount that is crushing you feeling heavier and heavier. 

Pause, close your eyes, and simply breathe. 

Reconnect with your BEING by slowing down and focusing on what you can control. Then, once you’ve found your center, expand your awareness to what you can control next – where you can create just a bit of space…then a bit more…than a bit more…until you can see the light and readjust to get back in the game. 

In the busyness of life, it can be easy to get caught up trying to control something to bring back the illusion of personal power. However real power doesn’t come from always being on top. It comes from knowing that sometimes our guard is going to get passed and we’re going to end up on bottom. As long as we can breathe and choose to keep fighting, it doesn’t mean we are going to stay there. In the midst of the chaos on and off the mats, remember to reconnect to your breath. Return to your center and let the light guide your out one movement at a time. 

The mark of failure isn’t getting knocked down, but in choosing not to get back up and continue fighting. You got this – we got this. What we fight through only makes us stronger.




Kate Williamson

Guest Writer

Katie is a blue belt training at Elite Team Visalia in California under Professor Tom Knox. When not training, she works as a Life Fulfillment Coach helping people discover their purpose and reach their full potential, facilitates trainings to improve team dynamics, and co-hosts a podcast called Life Off the Mat with fellow teammates. You can connect with her on social media @legitkatiewilliamson and learn more about becoming your best self at


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One thought on “Remembering to Breathe

  • Teri Dortman

    Absolutely know the moment you described. I love your encouragement. Great blog. To add to that sometimes the voices of those around us can give us strength. On the mat or in life, feeling defeated and then a supportive voice on the side “you can do it.” To help and be helped is beautiful. We have more strength then we are aware of.