Sunday, April 14, 2013

Why You Lose (and other things you don't want to hear)

Sometimes you look at a scene and it brings a lot of things into focus. I had one of those moments of clarity this weekend, and it was thanks to a photo one of the parents snapped during practice this weekend (thank you, Dan McNair a.k.a. Eileen & Liam's dad).

To win, you don't need to be bitten by a radioactive spider, born on a far-away planet, to fund a multi-million dollar secret lair. I blame comic books. Even Batman, the one super-hero who did it through training, had millions of dollars to spend on special super-hero stuff.

I was at practice with these guys, plus someone I just met Zurab Bekochvili (world sambo champion - watch one of his matches here, the dude has some sick arm bars).

To be a world champion you need to balance on the line between arrogance and humility.
  1. You need to be arrogant enough that you believe you can beat anyone who stands in front of you.
  2. You also need to be humble enough to continually learn.
  3. You also need to work your ass off in training 
  4. AND you need to train in quantity as well as quality. That is, busting your ass two hours a day, four days a week doesn't cut it.

Given those four things, you can win.

This is why I roll my eyes when I CONSTANTLY hear young people say one of these things:

  • I have to move to Japan/ Brazil / France/ (insert name of state you don't now currently live here) to train
  • There is no one here to teach me
  • There is no one to challenge me
  • I only train with my coach and his group because no one else is as good as us
May-be that is true if you live in Tinytown, USA but if you live in fucking Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco - check yourself.

I won the world championships living in San Diego. I drove to Los Angeles every weekend. Marti Malloy won a bronze medal in the Olympics living in San Jose. Kayla Harrison won a gold medal in the Olympics living in Boston. Ronda won a world title in mixed martial arts living in Los Angeles.

There is no secret sauce, no magic bullet. If moving from Point A to Point B convinces you that you can win, then good for you. However, as I stood in a gym with people who had won world titles in two different sports, who had been on the national judo team for two different countries, it was very hard for me to buy the bullshit I hear from people about "there is no one here good enough to teach me".

If your coach - whoever he or she might be - is discouraging you from training in other places with other people, deep down that coach does NOT have your best interests at heart. Maybe one person might be a jerk or pedophile and you shouldn't train there - but everyone? Your coach is the sole holder of all judo/ mixed martial arts/ jiu-jitsu knowledge. I don't fucking think so.

I hear people say,
"Oh, sure, you, Blinky, Zurab (insert name X) won but judo is completely different now."
How do you know? You weren't even born then. Yes, there are differences and maybe you are correct (maybe not) but my point is that most people who say that have no fucking idea how judo was 20 or 30 years ago and are just repeating something they heard or throwing out an argument to justify not going to practice.

I'll tell you what I did NOT do
  • Always practice with the same people
  • Skip practice more than a few times a YEAR
  • Practice with people who didn't challenge me because I knew what techniques they did or I had beat them so many times they knew better than to try
  • Think I was too good or smart to learn from anyone who might have a good idea
If you aren't training every day where you are, if you aren't going after the hardest person in the room, if you aren't training at different clubs where people are new and you feel off-kilter, if you aren't seeking out everyone who can help you learn more - then you probably aren't going to do that in Japan, Brazil, Russia or (insert state where you don't live here). Because, you see, wherever you go, there you are.

If you are not out of your comfort zone a lot of the time, you're doing it wrong. If you keep avoiding those practices you don't want to do, you're doing it wrong.

The main reason that you're not winning is that you are lying to yourself.

There were days when I was in graduate school at the University of Minnesota when I would roller-blade around Lake Calhoun.  That's seven miles if you do it twice around. You know what I said on those days? Not, I roller bladed seven miles or I worked out or I lost three pounds. No, I said,

I skipped judo practice.

... because roller-blading seven miles is in no way the equivalent of working out for two hours with a bunch of guys who want to smash me in the mat. Because I was honest about it, I made damn sure that the next day, I didn't skip practice. Then, I moved from Minnesota to southern California, and when I got here, there I was.


Anonymous said...

Many of the regulars at WCJTC have become better by spending only $10/kid for 4 hours of hard practice instead of going to smaller Judo/BJJtournaments in Southern California. You would get a lot of agreement from many of the WCJTC parents that a $10 four hour practice is worth at least 5 Judo/BJJ tournaments. You get a lot of instruction and mat time with other competitors from other Judo/BJJ schools. At some tournaments you may have only one other competitor and/or you are one and done in a BJJ tournament and spent $50 or so and all you have to show for it is a t-shirt and a medal. $50 = 5 practices at WCJTC = 20 hours. How many minutes did your kid spend on the mat at their last tournament? Less than 15 minutes, huh? Be honest with yourself. You just wasted good money when you could have gone to WCJTC for a fraction of the cost AND gained more in return.

I'd urge you to bring your kid(s) to practice, but I can't make you go because it really is up to you and as AnnMaria-sensei wrote above "wherever you go, there you are."

For those if you who live in Southern California, you have over a month to come up with excuses NOT to practice at WCJTC. Here's the schedule for April/May:

Gene Wilson said...

Hello Dr.

I'm new, here. I happened upon your site, through the transitory nature of the net; via the world of MMA (I'm often intrigued by things I cannot do, myself!); via Ronda Rousey - whom I believe you have an endearing -or enduring affiliation with (depending on the lighting, and how you feel, on the day!) Actually, I was in another browser, and I could the applause coming from this one...I just had to come in!).

You see, over some months, now, I could occasionally be heard chuckling at your veiled-acerbity, and your so often amusing, frequently omniscient, and invariably enlightening ripostes to your brethren, here....Priceless! (No, really; I saw no one as I entered, thinking; 'What - no door-charge for this?

It's a poor day when I don't learn, or I'm not fed at least something about something; and betwixt you and your followers, here - with an even distribution of arrogance, humility, wit and good humour - I never seem to leave hungry.
So much of what I've read here, by way of discourse and advice from you all, can be applied to, and will often fall under; the broader umbrella of life its' self (something I'm sure isn't lost on your readers).

And so, because I believe you have the ability to tell me to f***-off - and have me actually anticipate the trip (though I'm sure you never would); I'll tentatively refrain (as a new student might) from comment, today.
Besides, you're like lieutenant Columbo; you're too clever; and after your umpteenth knocking, and re-entering of the blog-room; you'd inevitably tell me how I put the poison in the coffee, anyway.

Suffice to say that I'm always willing to 'travel' to another site (even if transitionally) to learn something new, because, you see, wherever I go, there I am.

Thank you, for the many past blogs, and the ones we haven't read yet.

Gene, UK

Anonymous said...

Good write. A lot of swearing though? As I you didn't believe in your point would not cut it without? Don't worry, you're true.

plam said...

I think it's important to not discount Tinytown, USA. Judo Quebec started a program to help support athletes moving from Tinytown, QC to Montreal, because there are definitely more resources in Montreal. Certainly from LA/NY/SF the resources are there.

There's another point, though. People do things that are easy, so it is useful to make it easy to do the right thing. When I was in Berkeley, I tried to go to San Jose sometimes, but it was just very painful (2 hours on transit each way), so I didn't go as often as I would've if I had been, say, at Stanford. No use making things harder than they have to be. Also why I don't keep ice cream around the house.

Anonymous said...

Question: Did they have roller blades where you were in grad school?


Dr. AnnMaria said...

Well, Gene, you are welcome!

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Hey anonymous1 - Yes, they DID have rollerblades when I was in graduate school (smartass!) although to be honest I have to admit that this was a new invention.

Anonymous2 -
In all honesty, with the swearing, I have found that when I am nice and polite too many people don't get it nor pay attention. Sad, but true.

Stonewall Jackson said...

Keep up the language Dr. D. You wouldn't be you without it and it's one of your more endearing and amusing attributes! Hey, how 'bout in Spanish? I'm always looking for new words to communicate with the 'vatos'.

Stonewall Jackson said...

Not sure if my posts took, Dr. D. It didn't indicate whether or not I typed the robot prover stuff in right. Oh well...I still appreciate your comments and I agree with Gene.

Anonymous said...

One thing I have to comment about is that whenever I'm in a new place training with different people, I don't feel "off-kilter". I'm very comfortable with the unfamiliar and the next challenge actually excites me. I know that if I play the game perfectly, winning takes care of itself. Thus, I focus more on being observant, even within combat and always thinking ahead. I'm confident that I can adapt to the unfamiliar and that I can trust my instincts to react properly, even if I've never practiced for something before. In other words, rise to the occasion. I challenge myself with the goal of making this innate ability to rise to occasion more accurate first and to get familiar with new techniques second. I always look to copy a technique or strategy that my opponent used on me. I believe that victory is not enough; I must always take a bit of my opponent's power with me as well.

Victor said...

This is cool!