How often do you hear these words shouted from your instructor or coach? It starts to become frustrating. Soon enough you start to think you are RELAXED, only to realize you aren't. Then, at one point or another, it may seem like an impossibility. It's clear, that your ability to Relax and Breathe (composure) is crucial to your success. Without composure, you can't succeed under stress.
Luckily, there is a solution. Or maybe not a solution, but a path for you to travel upon. It will take some patience and it's not quite as obvious as just trying to Relax and Breathe. If it was that easy, you would already be Black Belts in composure and wouldn't need the repeated verbal lashings.
KNOWN Territory (Order) vs. UNKNOWN Territory (Chaos)
What we "know" is safe, it's comfortable. What we know gives us protection from its opposition, the unknown (Chaos).
When you begin Jiu-Jitsu, your world gets turned upside down. What you thought you KNEW and what you thought was reality, isn't. Maybe you realize you weren't as "tough" as you thought. Maybe you realize you were "tougher" than you thought.
Not only that, you are learning something completely foreign, with many of its movements and strategies in direct opposition of your instincts. What your body thinks it KNOWS doesn't help you. This puts you in a state of panic, both consciously and unconsciously. The UNKNOWN and unexplored territory represents danger in many ways. Which is why people are sometimes afraid of change or frustrate easily and quit when learning something new. It's safer to align yourself with what you know. The problem with KNOWN Territory is: you are GUARANTEED to stagnate and go nowhere if you don't explore what you don't know. It's too rigid. There is no room for transformation.
So while you are working your way through Jiu-Jitsu and you start to feel as if your ability to RELAX, will never happen...trust us, it will. But it won't, until you have the chance to explore and learn as much of the art as possible. This is why most people become inherently relaxed around the high blue belt to purple belt stage. Multiple years into the training, gives you the ability to have explored as much as possible. You MUST become best friends with what you don't know and make yourself uncomfortable. It will be a temporary inconvenience, that provides a long term, positive result. You CANNOT relax until you have had the chance to explore positions, techniques, take chances, and truly learn what is safe vs unsafe. Training, time on the mat, experience, humbling yourself, and putting yourself in the worst positions possible will teach your to relax and be composed. You will are all that is UNKNOWN.
What used to be UNKNOWN (Chaos, danger, fear), becomes KNOWN (Order, safety, stabilization). And when that happens, you will find a balance between the two. You will be able to RELAX as you become more skilled and experienced, because the fear of the UNKNOWN is now diminished. The ultimate goal is to live on the edge of Chaos and Order, where transformation lives alongside your safety and happiness.
And as you go deeper into the art, you will want to ride that fine line between KNOWN (Order) territory and UNKNOWN (Chaos) territory. Challenging yourself and testing your limitations is a venture into CHAOS and very important to your transformation. As time goes on, you will become aligned with yourself and your abilities on the mat and the screaming of your coach from the sideline will be a distant memory.