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.
- You need to be arrogant enough that you believe you can beat anyone who stands in front of you.
- You also need to be humble enough to continually learn.
- You also need to work your ass off in training
- 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.