Something I have always struggled with is this concept of learning to relax while sparring. It is always easy to relax and practice a technique slowly in class, your training partner is usually as focused on the learning of the technique as you are, so you can take your time and make sure you have mastered each part of it. There’s also time to ask an instructor to take a look at how you are performing the technique and get his feedback on where you are going wrong (note: if your instructor is not able to spend a little time on helping you with this, time to find another place to train).
When it comes time to spar however, that all seems to go out of the window. The body seems to take over from the mind and all the technique you just learned flys out of the window as you do everything in your power not to be submitted.
For me its something that I have to decide up front. Am I going to be all macho and try and destroy everyone I roll with or am I going to let the opponent dictate the pace and react to him. If I make up my mind before I even step onto the mat, I usually find that it is easier to keep relaxed and focus on the opponent and find the gaps to perform the techniques.
In reality this is harder than it looks, as some part of me still wants to submit everyone that I roll with. I think for this reason I must seek out the higher belts and those with more skill than me. This way I already know that I will not be in a position to submit and I am forced to relax and take my time.
Granted it means I’m going to get my ass handed to me every time, but hey, jiu jitsu isn’t about the points, well, not to me anyway!