Anxiety on the mats. A new development


In previous posts, I mentioned that my school was undergoing some changes. These change presented a very new challenge for me, mild panic attacks. Having never experienced this before, you can imagine how surprised I was. I’m just going about my business grappling with a friend and suddenly there’s a tightness in my chest, I fell like I can’t breathe and my heart rate skyrockets. Then my stubborn side comes out and I fight through it but finish the class with this feeling of anxiety that won’t leave.

So how did this happen? Hell if I know.

The Beginning…

When I first began training 3.5 years ago, I had plenty of training partners, male and female. With the normal ebb and flow of the business, attendance would dip then pick back up. We took a hit to attendance when we moved to a smaller location, but our numbers came back after things settled.

At the new location, I noticed that the number of women coming to class had dropped off significantly. Let’s be honest, there aren’t very many women in Jiu-jitsu in the first place, but we went from eight or nine down to two and in the span of a few weeks. Since then, new women were staying a max of four months and then, that’s it. They’d disappear. Okay, no problem, it’s not your thing and I completely understand that.

Up until this point, I had rotated in with the men, as women in jiu-jitsu are rare creatures, but after the move, my friend and I were the only ones left, so we paired up out of convenience (some days you just don’t feel like rolling with a guy that’s a hundred pounds above your weight class). That’s 3 years where I haven’t experienced any kind of panic or anxiety.


So, my friend moves away. Okay, life happens I just move forward, right? Apparently, it’s not that easy. The first few weeks were great! I had new partners, I was learning a lot and having incredible amounts of fun. Then, out of nowhere, I’m rolling with a guy who’s well above my weight class (it happens). The next thing I know, my mind is split between thoughts of “you’re fine, calm down, you’ve done this hundreds of times” and “YOU’RE GOING TO DIE!”.

Here’s my theory. I spent 3 years training with the same partner 60% of that time. I got used to her weight and even though I trained with men on occasion, they were usually my size (we had more people at that time). Now, there is only one other person in my weight range meaning the majority of my partners are 50-100 pounds heavier. When they decide to be heavy, they’re heavy, and I panic.  

Where do I go from here?

I spoke with my instructor and have implemented a few tips and tricks that he recommended. For now, the anxiety seems to be happening less frequently, occurring once or twice a month instead of once or twice a week.