Awkwardness during close contact and grappling

Discussion in 'Women of the Martial Arts (Women Martial Artists)' started by watching, Aug 25, 2018.

  1. watching

    watching Green Belt

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    I always "freeze up" and almost panic when I have to practice getting out of take down scenarios in class and I don't know what to do about it! I don't practice a grappling system but am learning some techniques about how to respond to attempted take downs. I find it is far worse when I'm practicing with a male as opposed to another female. But even when I am practicing with another woman, it's still difficult to think or try and perform my techniques.
    If you experienced any of this awkwardness or anxiety when you first started grappling, how did you get past it?

    Thanks everyone!
     
  2. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    I can't offer any advice on how to overcome it other than to say you just have to work on it - keep trying until it clicks...

    I have (/had, getting a bit better) what I'll call similar issues, even though it's opposite.

    I was raised to not hit women, and to not grab women - so sparring and grappling? Great, where do I punch and kick and what do I grab?

    It's incredibly awkward sometimes...

    If you find a magic solution, let me know ;)
     
  3. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    I didn't experience it, myself, but I have had students who had to work through it. Firstly, there's nothing particularly abnormal about it. I've seen folks with much more extreme reactions - students who would cry if their necks were touched (PTSD from attacks), etc. And know that familiarity will help a lot.

    My approach, which has worked for those who stayed long enough to give it a go, is gradual familiarization and adaptation. A similar approach has been used by therapists to treat phobias. So, if I had a student who froze up under those conditions, I'd be thinking two directions, and adapt my approach to what seems to help or worsen things. I'd start by simply letting them go through a bunch of takedowns - just the takedown - from both sides (do and receive). Then we'd do the takedown to some kind of natural restraining position, then a more technical one. I'm looking for where the discomfort becomes noticeable and affects response. For some folks, it's a gradual line, so I'd be looking for where I can start to notice it, knowing what to look for. For others, it's a threshold, which is easy for them (and me) to spot. Once I know where that is, I verify it's the same with or without the take down (sometimes it's the takedown that triggers, sometimes it's the restraint position). Find a place just shy of where it triggers and work hard there, adding more and more resistance, speed, etc. to build a lot of comfort. Couple that with softening up some and edging into the trigger area. I'm trying to build familiarity and comfort with the closest possible situation - where they were slightly uncomfortable, I want them to be mostly comfortable. Then I'm softening things up and taking that comfort into the more uncomfortable area.

    How much of this is needed depends how strong your reaction is. If the reaction is mild, then just working at the regular exercises will likely resolve it. If the reaction is strong, a more methodical approach is probably more helpful. Find a partner who triggers the reaction, but is patient and helpful and will let you work slowly through things.

    Of course, all this is off the cuff, based on your description.
     
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  4. Michele123

    Michele123 Green Belt

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    I experienced this, but not in MA. Before MA I was on theater a lot. You have to be very comfortable with your body and other people's bodies in theater. I recommend taking some theater classes. If you find the right one, they focus whole sessions on becoming comfortable being close to strangers. By the time I was in MA, it was barely a thought in my head.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
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  5. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    Interesting thought - I like it. If the issue is closeness with a stranger and feeling awkward, the right theatre/acting class will help.
     
  6. Hanzou

    Hanzou Senior Master

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    As a Bjj practitioner who had to learn how to deal with the guard (which looks similar to the missionary position) I definitely had those awkward feelings, especially when working with female partners. It also isn't particularly fun having a much larger person laying on top of me trying to choke me.

    Frankly the only way to deal with it is to keep doing it. Repetition should eventually make things more comfortable for you. Hopefully your school teaches close grappling often.
     
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  7. Druid11

    Druid11 Yellow Belt

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    I'm not sure if there is a specific incident(s) that have happened to you that spurs these reactions and if there is it might be helpful to address them in a therapeutic setting if you haven't done so previously. That being said, I think generally the only way to get over the reaction is to work through it. Hopefully wherever you are taking martial arts is a welcoming place with a more family atmosphere. You should feel comfortable telling your partner I may freak out or freeze while we're practicing this and they should be ok with that and be patient. I'm not a big fan of the idea that woman should only do these type techniques with other women (because obviously, it's rarely going to be another woman trying to grab us), but perhaps until you at least start to get over your mental blocks in doing the technique you should only do it with women.

    We do some grappling at my school and my instructors' default is to pair women with women. He's told us that if we're comfortable with grappling with men then let him know and he's fine with that. He said to also let him know if it's something we're deeply uncomfortable with and he'll find something else to do if you were, say, the only woman in a class, for example. Basically, I'm saying talk to your instructor, let him (or her) know what issues you're having, perhaps they've had similar situations and can help.

    I'm not going to go into my own issues, except to say, I understand completely why you might be having these reactions and from my own personal experience it did help to train with guys who I knew respected me and would never really hurt me. That I found quite therapeutic in and of itself. So it might be hard for a while but it you can get over these reactions and martial arts can help you do it.
     
  8. gucia6

    gucia6 Yellow Belt

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    I guess for me it was just the thought "ok, I know I don't like it, it is awkward, but I know it is for my own good to learn it" and whenever I need to practice this or that I fully focus on "ok, don't think about it, just start moving", then the awkwardness of the moment passes.

    So far it works for me, thou I have not overcame the un-comfortableness of it yet.
     

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