Archive for the 'Combat Sports' Category
In the video below, Chael Sonnen can be seen speaking to Uriah Hall about doubt and confidence. The discussion that transpires may remind some of the wisdom that Cus D’Amato often voiced. Even the legendary Mike Tyson was not immune to fear and lack of confidence (see here for an example).
Chael Sonnen shares similar insight as he discusses the significance of acknowledgement. You cannot deal with fear or doubt if you pretend that it doesn’t exist. The only way to successfully deal with these mental roadblocks is by acknowledging their presence.
The presence of fear or doubt does not mean that you lack courage. It does not mean that you are weak. It simply shows that you are human. You feel what everyone has felt at some point. Even a brutal knockout puncher like Mike Tyson once doubted himself. Fortunately, he was surrounded by trainers who understood pre-fight anxiety. They recognized its existence and were able to guide their young fighter above and beyond it. Chael Sonnen has shared similar wisdom with Uriah Hall. Such wisdom can be absolutely critical to the development of a fighter.
Countless youngsters have walked away from the sport because of doubt. Its presence has made many fighters believe that something was wrong with them. For example, pay attention to the 40 second mark within the video above. It is at that point Uriah discusses the opinion of onlookers verse the opinion of himself. Friends, training partners, and competitors only see the external side of a fighter. They may recognize his speed, power, and tenacity. They will often compliment a fighter on these attributes.
Fighters welcome such praise, but when they are alone at night, they may have entirely different opinions about themselves. They don’t see what others see. A fighter’s vision of himself is often blurred or distorted. While onlookers focus on the positive, the fighter harps on the negative. Many young fighters have no idea how much talent they possess. Doubt can be a difficult obstacle to overcome when pursuing one’s true potential.
As a result, it is important for fighters to work with an experienced trainer. The trainer must recognize fear and doubt so he can guide his fighter through these early struggles. He must also realize that fear and doubt are not conquered in one day. The life of a fighter is often similar to a roller coaster ride. There are ups and downs along the journey. Many fighters will doubt themselves all the way until the first bell sounds. They may even question why they are involved in the sport. Yet as soon as they begin fighting, the mental roadblocks are sent to hibernate. As soon as the fight is over, they want to fight again. In a matter of minutes, the fighter has gone from the bottom of the roller coaster to the top.
Unfortunately, reaching the top of the roller coaster doesn’t mean that you won’t eventually come down. The same feelings of doubt or fear may reappear before your next fight, and then the next fight after that, and so on. The goal however is that with each fight, the athlete becomes more accustomed to dealing with these mental barriers. He recognizes their existence and knows that there is light at the end of the tunnel. He’s overcome these obstacles before. The more experience you gain, the more you are able to handle the mental side of fighting.
Experience is essential. There is no substitute for it. The only way for a fighter to develop is by fighting. Training at the gym is not enough. Competitive experience is worth its weight in gold. Each fight is another chance for the fighter to mentally mature. Self-doubt gradually diminishes, but if it does rear its ugly head, the fighter is experienced enough to deal with it. He’s been there before. He’s overcome that long and lonely walk to the ring. He knows what is waiting on the other side.
Fear no longer paralyzes him, it instead propels him.
I tell them the first time they’re going to fight, the night before they probably won’t sleep. I can’t offer them any consolation other than the fact that the other guy went through the same thing, and when they get down to the fight and enter the dressing-room, especially if they’re in an amateur fight, the room is full of possible opponents, because they don’t know who they’re going to fight, and everybody looks calm, confident and smiling and all the new boy is aware of is that terrible thump in his chest, and he’s intimidated by their attitude and their confidence. What he doesn’t realize is that they look at him and they see the same thing in him as he sees in them, because by an exercise of discipline he also puts on a superficial appearance of confidence. – Cus D’Amato4 comments
In the video below, you’ll see Eric Thomas speaking to a group of mixed martial artists (including Anthony Pettis). His message is powerful and particularly relevant to competitive fighters. If you want to succeed as a fighter, there is a price to pay. Your life needs to revolve around the sport. It must consume you. Stepping into the ring or cage is not a game. It’s a fight. Your opponent is coming with hopes of knocking you unconscious. Nothing would please him more than to see you hit the canvas.
Your opponent doesn’t care about your social life. He doesn’t care if you are able to go out and enjoy yourself. He doesn’t care if you are tired. He doesn’t care if you are sore. He doesn’t are about you. He wants to knock you out. And as I state these facts, please don’t misinterpret my message. I’m not trying to discourage you. Your level of dedication is a personal choice. What you prioritize in life is entirely up to you.
I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. All that I’m doing is reminding you that there are fighters whose lives do revolve around the sport. They are 110 percent committed. Whether you choose to take on such commitment is up to you. It’s not for me to decide. You just need to recognize that such commitment does exist in certain individuals. Whether it is for you or not doesn’t change the reality of its existence.
If you wish to compete at the highest level, it is only a matter of time before you find yourself up against someone who is fully committed. They have given everything they have to become their absolute best. There isn’t anything they wouldn’t sacrifice to improve.
And as you’ve probably guessed, such sacrifice and dedication isn’t limited to competitive fighters. The 110 percent mentality can be seen in any profession. Different people have different interpretations of what constitutes hard work. Different people also have different priorities in life. Not everyone cares about becoming the absolute best. Maybe I’m just crazy, because I’ve always wanted to be the best at whatever I do. Maybe I do sacrifice too much at times. It isn’t always healthy and it isn’t always fun. Once again though, it is an individual choice. We all live the lives that we want to live.
Just be aware that making it to the top of anything is a challenging journey. Worthwhile rewards don’t come without sacrifice. How much you are willing to give dictates how much you will receive. For me, I have an all or nothing mentality. If I’m passionate about something, there isn’t anything I won’t endure to accomplish my goals.
In summary, decide what you want and how bad you want it. Be aware that life isn’t easy. Success doesn’t fall out of the sky. It is earned through ridiculously hard work. There is a price to pay and that price is often more than what many are willing to commit.
The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. – Vince Lombardi5 comments
The video below includes over an hour of training footage from Russia’s 2000 Olympic boxing team. During that year, the Russian team won the most total medals in boxing (seven), including two gold medals. Yet despite the success of the Russian team, you will notice that their training style remains low-tech from an equipment and facility standpoint.
Many of the exercises involve nothing but bodyweight or medicine balls. The training style remains similar to another Russian video that I’ve posted previously which featured footage from over 30 years ago. In each case, you will see successful athletes who have thrived on the basics without getting lost in unnecessary complexity.
As has been mentioned countless times before, successful training does not depend on the equipment that is used. The old school approach may be knocked by many modern trainers, but the criticism is typically limited to verbal debates, rather than real world examples. Countless fighters continue to thrive in low-tech environments. Hard and consistent work with the basics has always produced champions.
Don’t expect that trend to change any time soon…
It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials. – Bruce Lee3 comments
Earlier this week I shared the following image on Facebook and Twitter (click the image to view a larger size). The story detailed within is about legendary wrestler and eventual coach Dan Gable.
After sharing the picture, I was surprised to learn that many folks hadn’t heard of Dan Gable. Therefore with this entry, I’d like to share the following documentary in hopes of familiarizing the younger generation with him. Dan Gable is without question one of the most dominant athletes ever. His dominance as an athlete also transferred to an extremely successful coaching career. As the head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa, he led teams to 16 NCAA titles and 21 straight Big Ten titles.
The video player below is to a playlist that is split into seven clips. Each will play continuously within the embedded player. The playlist can also be accessed directly through Youtube (click here).
The documentary is filled with insight into Gable’s success as both an athlete and coach. He is a true testament to the value of hard and consistent work. His drive and determination was also contagious, as evident by the continued dominance of the wrestlers he coached. Year after year, Gable’s wrestlers went above and beyond what they would have done elsewhere in hopes of earning the respect of their coach. That alone speaks volumes when debating topics such as potential. Successful coaches can get inside your head, pushing you past self-imposed barriers that wouldn’t otherwise be crossed.
I’ve yet to meet anyone who wasn’t capable of improving in some way. No matter how much you’ve accomplished, you can always do more.
In summary, whether you have interest in wrestling or not, there is always something to learn from those who have dominated their field. It is rare that you will find an athlete or coach as dominant as Gable. To succeed on both fronts is not a matter of luck. Dan Gable knew how to win and knew how to get others to win. When he speaks, I suggest that you sit down and listen.
Gold medals aren’t really made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts. – Dan Gable3 comments
BJJ World Champion Felipe Costa is similar to many athletes in that he overcame adversity before rising to the top. The adversity that he faced however is not what you may expect. Early in his career, Felipe had to overcome repeated failures. He wasn’t a prodigy who dominated the competition from day one. Instead, he was demoralized after continually losing.
Many in Felipe’s position would have given up on the sport. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he had people around him who thought he should quit. The critics love to chime in and offer advice when a man is down. It is their chance to get you to quit and join them as failures.
Fortunately, Felipe wasn’t about to give up. He worked hard to find new ways to improve and succeed. In the video below, he shares insight regarding his early struggles and some of the steps that he took to advance. Much of what he discusses will be applicable to fighters from all styles. The video is well worth a look for anyone involved in combat sports.
If at first you succeed, try something harder.3 comments
Many know the name James Braddock from the 2005 film Cinderella Man which starred Russell Crowe. Braddock was a former heavyweight boxer who defied the odds by defeating Max Baer to become champion of the world. He overcame injuries, poverty, and daunting odds in one of the greatest upsets in the history of the sport. If there was ever an example of perseverance in the face of hardship, Braddock’s story would be at the top of the list.
The video below includes a full length documentary that is dedicated to Braddock’s amazing comeback. It is well worth a look whether you are familiar with his story or not.
The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That’s real glory. Thats the essence of it. ― Vince Lombardi Jr.1 comment
Below is a rare documentary from the early 1980′s that includes footage of Mike Tyson, Teddy Atlas, Cus D’Amato, and more.
When a legend like Cus D’Amato speaks about the sweet science and the psychological aspects involved, the best thing you can do is listen and learn. Cus shares loads of wisdom throughout the film. You will also see a young Teddy Atlas working with Tyson in his early days. As you will see, physical prowess is only part of the equation. The mind must be developed as well.
Those familiar with this blog may recognize certain scenes from the film. Many popular Youtube videos contain footage from this original documentary. For example, the following hand speed display from a young Tyson comes from this film.
Anyone with any interest or involvement in the sport of boxing should take the time to watch this classic documentary.
I tell them the first time they’re going to fight, the night before they probably won’t sleep. I can’t offer them any consolation other than the fact that the other guy went through the same thing, and when they get down to the fight and enter the dressing-room, especially if they’re in an amateur fight, the room is full of possible opponents, because they don’t know who they’re going to fight, and everybody looks calm, confident and smiling and all the new boy is aware of is that terrible thump in his chest, and he’s intimidated by their attitude and their confidence. What he doesn’t realize is that they look at him and they see the same thing in him as he sees in them, because by an exercise of discipline he also puts on a superficial appearance of confidence. – Cus D’Amato9 comments
Earlier this year, Peter Quillin became the WBO middleweight champion of the world. At 28-0 with 20 victories by knockout, he is one of the best middleweight boxers in the world today.
Yet despite his obvious success, Peter Quillin’s rise to the top has been everything but easy. Peter wasn’t a child who was groomed to become an athlete. He came up the hard way. He is a true testament to hard work and overcoming a deck of cards that were clearly stacked against him.
The inspiring video below tells the story of Peter Quillin’s rough upbringing and his subsequent rise to success. It is well worth a look whether you are a fan of the sweet science or not.
Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body. – Seneca4 comments
It was around this time last year that I first mentioned Nick Newell on the blog. If you don’t recall the original story, the short version is that he is a professional mixed martial artist who was born with a congenital amputation of his left arm. At this time last year, he had just upped his record to an unbeaten 6-0. That was only the beginning.
In the time since, Nick has continued his winning ways. Just last week he became the XFC lightweight champion. He is now an unbeaten champion with an impressive record of 9-0.
A video compilation of his can be seen below:
His recent championship victory can also be seen:
It goes without saying that Nick has become an inspirational figure. Don’t be surprised at his success however. He certainly isn’t.
In his own words,
I always kind of knew that I’d make it to the next level and I knew I’d be a serious threat and a serious fighter because that’s what I treat myself as and I don’t settle for anything less. No matter what I achieve, I can do more.
After seeing Nick in action, I’m not surprised by his success either. I’ve come to expect it. The best don’t become the best by settling for anything. The best always want to become better. Nick’s never settle mentality is something that many can learn from. Becoming successful should not be viewed as an end point. It should be viewed as a beginning.
Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great. – Mark Twain3 comments
Unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard that Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night. It was a tremendous fight with plenty of back and forth action. Both men took their share of punishment until Marquez landed the picture perfect right hand.
In case you missed the fight, refer to the link below for a brief replay of the brutal knockout.
As you can see, Marquez perfectly timed an aggressive and lunging Manny Pacquiao. Marquez could not have landed a better punch.
Unfortunately, despite what was a tremendous night for boxing, it didn’t take long for the allegations against Marquez to begin. Manny Pacquiao was hardly off the canvas before critics were alleging that Marquez must have used performance enhancement drugs.
Many of the allegations against Marquez stem from the ripped physique that he displayed at the weigh-ins on Friday.
There is no denying that Juan Manuel Marquez came into this fight in great shape, but is it really a surprise? This was his fourth fight against his arch nemesis Manny Pacquiao. In the previous three contests, there was a draw and two controversial decisions. Juan Manuel strongly felt that the judges had robbed him in the previous fights. He was so upset following the third fight that he immediately exited the ring without any post-fight comments.
What was everyone expecting from a world class fighter who was clearly upset about the first three decisions? Was Marquez not expected to prepare himself properly for what was the most significant fight of his career?
Furthermore, as a professional athlete who fights for a living, is his physique really that unique? Juan Manuel isn’t a part time fighter. He is a professional boxer by trade. He is in the gym for hours on end, day after day. Do you really believe that his physique is that unattainable if all you did was train? Have you really not seen similar builds from an Average Joe in a 90 day body transformation contest?
In addition, it’s not as if Juan Manuel Marquez has never been in great shape before. Take a look at a few random images from previous fights.
Yeah, but he didn’t look like that when he fought Floyd Mayweather?
Juan Manuel Marquez fought Floyd Mayweather over three years ago. At the time, he had the appearance of an athlete who rushed the weight gain process. His approach to gaining weight was eating lots of food and drinking his own piss. I’m not joking…
Once again though, that was over three years ago. Does anyone really believe that a professional athlete cannot become stronger over three years? Not to mention an athlete who begins lifting weights properly for the first time in his life.
Following Juan’s failed attempt at 142 pounds against Floyd, he took the time to enter the weight class properly. He fought Likar Ramos at 138 pounds. He fought Pacquiao in their third fight at 142 pounds. He then continued to stay active by fighting Serhiy Fedchenko at 140 pounds.
Yeah, but Marquez landed a lucky punch?
There wasn’t anything lucky about the punch that knocked out Manny Pacquiao. Juan Manuel Marquez is one of the best counter punchers ever. When an effective counter puncher faces an overly aggressive opponent, it often leads to brutal knockouts. The counter puncher uses the aggressiveness of his opponent against him. That’s exactly what happened to Manny Pacquiao.
If you watch the knockout again, notice how all of Pacquiao’s weight was coming forward. He literally ran into the punch. Marquez timed him perfectly with all of his weight and power also coming forward to greet Pacquiao by surprise.
As for the notion that the punch was a matter of luck, take a look at Marquez in the gym. As you can see, he trained for that precise moment.
Let’s also not forget that Manny Pacquiao came very close to knocking out Marquez earlier in the fight. If Pacquiao landed a few more clean shots to win by knockout, no one would be alleging that Marquez was dirty. If anything, there would be rumors going around about Pacquiao. Marquez landed a perfect shot however so now the critics believe he must have cheated.
In summary, I wish I didn’t have to write this entry. Unfortunately, there are people out there who do not appreciate the complexity of the sweet science. Perfect counter punches don’t happen by accident. They also do not happen because of illegal drugs. Countering with the accuracy of Juan Manuel Marquez is a highly refined skill that is developed over many years.
Rather than jumping on the allegation bandwagon, why not appreciate a masterpiece when you see it. Punches like that do not land very often. Only truly gifted fighters can stand in the pocket with brutal punches coming in their direction and still find a way to land with such pinpoint accuracy.
Going into this fight, everyone knew that Manny Pacquiao was a special fighter. Well, here’s a news flash for those who didn’t know. Juan Manuel Marquez is special too.
Don’t criticize what you can’t understand. – Bob Dylan32 comments