The cold is merciless, but it is righteous
One of the fundamental techniques in jiu jitsu is guard passing. Guard passing and pinning is a little different than it is in wrestling. In jiu jitsu, it’s important to get your hips past those of your defender, who will be using his knees and elbows to unbalance and possibly sweep you along the way. One way to pin is to have a good cross-face mounted position where you are controlling their arms and head. From there, an attacker can transition to a submission, hopefully as gracefully as Roger Gracie going to full mount and executing a cross collar choke.
But there are pot holes along the way. Just getting out of the guard of an experienced player is hard enough. But once you are free to attempt a pass, there is danger in every inch of movement. If you are attempting a simple cross knee pass, for example, where your goal is to use your leading knee to staple their opposite thigh to the ground as you come around for a side mount position, even the slightest mistake in balance and technique can destroy any hopes of a successful guard pass.
If your leading knee becomes disconnected from your same side elbow, for example, the defender can slide his weak side knee in between as a shield. Once the defender’s weak side knee gets in the way, you are in trouble. From there, unbalancing you is easy and you are setup to get swept. If you do maintain your balance, you have to fight to get your elbow and crossing knee connected again, wasting energy. Even should your elbow discipline be proper, if you come forward at all awkwardly, an experienced player can grab your back via the belt and easily toss you to the side by rolling you back toward their weak side. These are just two examples of how easily it can be to go from winning to losing in the merciless sport of jiu jitsu.
I’ve been mentally preparing for such difficulties for over a year now. “The cold is merciless, but it is righteous,” is one of my favorite sayings from the lovable, sincere, genuine, quirky, and pseudo-scientific health guru, the “Iceman” Wim Hof. The Wim Hof you may run into today is a commercial creation of his sons attempting to cash in on his success. And I don’t really have a problem with that, but he’s more character than person now. The Wim I fell in love with is the man that nobody knew outside of the really hard core fitness circles and alternative health world. That Wim would say, “yes this is how it goes. Witness what is happening to you.”
Witness what is happening to you.
Even after a year of cold showers, they are still merciless. From the moment I wake up, there are pot holes along the way, mental games where my ego tries to talk me out of it. My ego has a sick closed guard, one might say. In the winter, it seems even crazier to get up and turn that water to fully cold. “But I’m already cold, this is nuts.” At any point, you can lose your mental balance and give in.
Witness what is happening to you.
When you witness, you separate yourself from the experience. No longer are you in the cold shower. You are watching and experiencing your body’s reaction to the cold. You have passed the mental guard. The most surprising thing happens, even if this is your 5th or 500th time, you find out that your body loves the cold. It is stimulated in a way that you can’t get from any other experience. Not sex, not jumping out of an airplane, not even passing the guard in jiu jitsu and executing a perfect cross collar choke.
Pass the mental guard and make your ego submit. Practice this every day and the world will change for you in a way you never dreamed. The games that people play are so irrelevant and inconsequential by comparison. They worry about everything. They can never be satisfied. They have to support authoritarianism, segregation, shaming, and vilifying. You become stoic, unwavering, balanced, and courageous.
Witness what happens to you.