This past weekend I spent MY ENTIRE weekend at the United States Junior International Invitation Judo tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
It was very well run tournament and I had a great time there.
It was a pleasure coaching “Kuni”, he’s one great competitor and he listens very well. I was really impressed with his conditioning and his ability to implement sound strategy and he has some great foot movement.
I also noticed that every time “Kuni” came off the mat and I explained some things to him in terms of strategy implementation that there were 20-30 people looking at what I was saying. It felt a little bit uncomfortable, but I understood that the people there were trying to soak up the knowledge as I do when Eddie Liddie is around.
I had 4 or 5 people standing by me while I was coaching in the coaches chair and when I stood up, I noticed on guy around me who I saw ALL DAY. He said, “I just wanted to see and hear your coaching style for myself.” I laughed and said, “Bro., you’re doing the right thing, it is EXACTLY what I did and what I still do.”
On another note
I really have to thank God for being super fortunate to have trained some of the athletes that I have in my career as a coach. I mean, I’ve trained UFC fighters, World Champions, Olympians, and All Americans and it has been a blessing.
It has also been a curse.
Well, I’ve come to expect a certain mindset from elite level athletes and I have to remind myself that a ranking on a roster doesn’t make you an elite level athlete – your mentality does.
This past weekend I was talking with Taraje’s main coach Arkadiy Aranov, and Arkadiy pulled some money out of his pocket and I joked with him and said, “Where did you get all of this money and how can I get some too. If I had your money, I’d burn mine.” He said in his hard European voice, “Ruskie (my Russian nickname), money not come from here, money come from here.” And when he said, “Money not come from here”, he pointed to his pocket. And when he said “Money come from here” he pointed to his head.
And you know what – HE WAS EXACTLY RIGHT!!
And the same thing occurs in judo. Your ability to win doesn’t come from your techniques; it comes from your head.
Now Some of You
Are Not Going To
Like This Part, but…..
If you read it and don’t
jump to conclusions
you’ll be okay
Look, I’m a black belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu and I rolled with some of the best male and female jiujitsu athletes and judo athletes in the WORLD!!
And I’ve rolled with Ronda Rousey.
Someone asked me how is her mat work. And I told them very honestly, “She’s about the level of a good brazilian jiujitsu blue belt.”
They were shocked. And I told them, “Wait a minute! These are two different sports. Don’t get upset. She’s good, but her ability to arm bar everyone is not because her arm bar technique is sound because it is fundamentally flawed in many areas, but she TRULY believes that she is SUPPOSED to get the arm and finish. And remember, NO ONE THAT SHE’S FIGHTING knows anything about defending the arm bar which is a 12 week lesson plan inside of a curriculum in and of itself.”
Ronda Rousey’s best asset, other than her good looks and charming smile is that she HAS GOT TO BE THE MOST mentally tough person on the judo squad.
And that’s not to short change anyone else. Nor is it to say that she doesn’t have good technique, because she does. But what I’m telling you is that she is mentally tough beyond what you have seen in other athletes. It’s really ridiculous and awe-inspiring.
Ronda Rousey will pour a box of nails in a bowl and put some milk over it and eat that s–t like its a bowl of cereal and then wash it down with a glass of Pine-sol and belch and go to practice with the worst stomach ache ever and whip every person’s @$$ on the tatami. She is THAT TOUGH.
Now…. Let’s get into the meat of the discussion
This weekend one student asked me about a gripping strategy and attack strategy that she could employ to win a match. I thought about it. Listen to what she said. Asked some more questions and then provided her with a great answer. She asked me to warm up with her. And I did. And about 3 minutes before we were done with the warm-up, she asked me, “So what should I do if this doesn’t work?”
I said, “Huh?”
I’ve never heard that before. Never. I’ve heard, “Do we have a plan B?”
I’ve heard, “I don’t feel real comfortable with this, am I missing something?”
I’ve heard, “What else can I put with this to make it more effective?”
But I’ve NEVER HEARD, “So what should I do if this doesn’t work?”
I was SHOCKED!!
I was stumped for a second because I’ve never heard such talk.
That’s like being in football practice and the coach send in a play and you say, “But what if this doesn’t work.”
Well, with that mindset, the coach already knows that you DON’T BELIEVE in the play and if you don’t BELIEVE in the play, you won’t be able to run the play FULL SPEED!!
So when that question arose I said to myself, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh s–t!!!!” (of course I said this in my mind. I was very aware where I was and was not dropping curse worse like some other adults that I noticed at the tournament. And I was VERY PISSED about that and will speak to the tournament organizer at the next tournament to let them know that the adults need to be very cognizant of where they are and who is around. THIS IS A JUNIOR JUDO TOURNAMENT not a college game day tailgating party! There was some dude who was dropping “F” bombs in front of my son and I could have knocked his two front teeth out. And not only was my son there but many instructors and young children. I really didn’t want to say anything to him because -if he would have said something that I would have perceived as being disrespectful, things could have gotten ugly. Hey, we all make mistakes, but we need to be responsible around the young folks. Amen?)
So after I said that in my mind I replied, “Don’t worry, it will work.” And then I said, “You’re warmed up now, you’re fine” and I took of my judo gi top.”
Well, because, I saw THE LOOK.
THE LOOK that we’ve all had and THE LOOK that the lion sees when he spots the gazelle in the Serengeti.
It’s the look of fear, the look of a lack of confidence. The look of being unsure.
There’s no game plan that can erase that look and I made A HUGE MISTAKE.
What Was The Mistake
That I Made
The mistake was. I proceeded to help this athlete because someone who I know who has THE LOOK asked me. And I just assumed the person that they brought to me had THE LOOK too. So I didn’t stop and look into that person’s eyes before I spoke, as I usually do, I just began providing some help. But it wasn’t until we were alone practicing on the tatami, that I saw that this athlete didn’t have the look.
They were the GAZELLE and not the LION. They were afraid. Afraid of the 5 minute fight, the battle, the war which was about to occur. They were afraid of implementing a strategy that albeit new, was what they needed to win. “Kuni” didn’t have this problem. He had the look, but I’ve seen times when he didn’t have THE LOOK too. It happens to us all – but IT DOESN’T HAPPEN TO RONDA ROUSEY!!
The motto of the United Negro College Fund is, “A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste”.
Nothing could be more true.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
To be completely honest with you. Many of today’s athletes really need a good dose of “CHUMP REPELLENT”!!!! You NEED to understand what things that you must do in order to reduce the moments when you are the GAZELLE so that you can increase the moments of you being the LION.
Take care and have a great day.
Sincerely and with the utmost respect,
4-Time National Judo Champion
BJJ Black Belt
P.S. I just want to let you know that in August I will have a brand new product coming out. It is an audio CD that I’ve been working on for the past 3 months. There are some things that have really become super clear and super evident to me as a coach and a former player and one who has sat in the coaches chair and has had the opportunity to look at the judo game internally, circumspectly and retrospectively. I can’t wait to share this newfound knowledge with you.
P.P.S. You are absolutely going to love this new set of knowledge and I WILL make it such that you can get your hands on it. But it won’t BE CHEAP because I if there’s on thing I know you don’t like it’s a cheap cup of coffee, a cheap man or woman, cheap beer and low quality information (which is cheap). I’ve going to do what I always do….undercharge and over deliver. So be on the lookout in August. More to come!