In my copious spare time, of which I have none, I run a consulting company and several of our major contracts have been with substance abuse programs, for both treatment and prevention. One of the major principles among professionals in substance abuse is that prevention is always cheaper than treatment. If you have limited resources, invest them in prevention.
Ronda was over the other day and we were discussing escapes in matwork. I said that chokes aren't that hard to defend, you just grab the person's hand and it is pretty darn hard to choke someone if they have your hand. Yeah, it doesn't look all macho and cool to grab your opponent's hand but you know what else doesn't look all cool and macho - losing! She said, yes, but once the person has their arm locked in under your neck, it's pretty hard to grab their hand.
That's my point though - in everything, whether it is the rear-naked choke in mixed martial arts, a pin in judo or an arm bar in anything - after they've locked it in as a hell of a time to be thinking of escaping. It's not impossible - just like treatment for alcoholism isn't impossible - it's just a hell of a lot more difficult and painful than not getting stuck in the first place.
How do you not get stuck? You need to be AWARE, be READY. When that hand is sliding in for the choke, you need to catch it. When the opponent is trying to lock your arm tight to his or her body, you need to get the hell of there NOW! When your opponent ALMOST has you pinned is the time to fight like hell and shrimp out.
To detect when you are about to be in a very bad position, when prevention is in order, you need to have a feel for the mat, what I have called in a previous post, "your spidey sense". I really don't think there is any substitute for doing lots of matwork to develop your "spidey sense".
Here is the part I don't understand, and please anyone who has any ideas chime in.
Why is it that some people will do lots and lots of matwork and still get caught? They just don't seem to develop that sense?
Part of the answer is no doubt coaching. If you get caught during practice and your coach puts you back in the position and tells you,
"Look, when you were on your back here, when you felt the opponent leaning this way you should have known the arm bar was coming...."
Some of it is also willingness to learn. I have told the same thing to many, many young athletes. Almost all of them argue with me or whisper to their friends how old and boring I am. Yet, some of them later really think about what I've said and practice it. Others never think about it again the second I've stopped talking.
Maybe some people are just too dumb to learn. Maybe.
Since you are smart enough to read this blog, I'm going to assume that you are not one of them and give you this piece of advice. Whenever you get caught on the mat in practice, think back to what happened BEFORE you were choked, pinned or armbarred. Then try to end up in that position again and prevent it.