Just Breathe

Jiu Jitsu is one of the only martial arts/sports where live rolling or sparring is a requirement to learn the art. Rolling is one of the most stressful situations a person can be in. A game of life and death, where we are face to face with an opponent trying to choke us or attack our joints. Our fight or flight response kicks in, our pulse accelerates, blood vessels dilate, adrenaline kicks in and our breathing increases. Many times in Jiu Jitsu we get tunnel vision during a roll and we allow the stress to affect us and in turn it affects the way we roll. As many of us who practice BJJ know, if we stay calm we can think clearly and play our game effectively. My professor had a great explanation:

“Your number one fight on the mat with BJJ [and in life] is to control your emotions. Breathing is a great tool to help you control those emotions. Breathing is the most important part. You have to be able to breathe through your nose during the roll. The sooner you conquer your breathing the quicker your Jiu Jitsu will improve. Your goal should be to find the balance between working hard but breathing smoothly and steadily. When I control my breathing I can control my emotions, I don’t get so tense and am able to perform better.”- Professor Tony Passos

Much like life and especially in our spiritual life we are able to perform better if we control our emotions through our breathing. In Jiu Jitsu what we are actually fighting are our positions and own breathing, not physical opponents. Spiritually we are not fighting people but a darker intangible force.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

In reality we’re not fighting people, we’re not fighting the person cut us off in traffic or our misbehaving children or argumentative spouses. We are actually fighting the spiritual enemy and much like breathing if we are not praying we are not breathing spiritually.

If we are not breathing spiritually we will suffocate under the Adversary’s attacks. Prayer is the breath of our spiritual life. As we pray we exhale our concerns, burdens, sorrows, joys, praises, and gratitude. As we reflect upon Jesus, we inhale the presence of God in our lives. As the saying goes, “Peace is not the absence of chaos but the presence of the Almighty”.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

James says that if we draw near to God He will draw near to us. As we draw closer to our master we become more like Him and we see through His eyes. We will no longer see people as our opponents or our enemies but will be able to see them as they are, children of God and our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7

  • Written by Andy Truong

About Andy Truong

Andy was born and raised in the DMV area and has a background in Exercise Science from George Mason University. In addition to BJJ and volunteering in his local church, Andy’s passions include weight training, health and fitness, nutrition, camping, hiking, music, songwriting, guitar, and experiencing new cultures and foods.

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