I've enjoyed watching this season of The Ultimate Fighter and Chael Sonnen seems like a great coach. He brings knowledge, experience, technique and moral support to his fighters.
While watching the episode last week I picked up on an interesting coaching lesson. It's difficult to know what really happens on a reality show because of editing, but it seemed in hindsight that Coach Sonnen might have made a mistake when mentally preparing his fighter.
Chael Sonnen was talking up his fighter, Tor Troeng, right before his fight with Josh Samman. Like I mentioned, who knows the entirety of Chaels' pep talk, but Chael did say a couple of things that I thought were a little strange.
He told Tor something to the effect of "I almost hope you lose so we can have a weakness of yours to work on in training. " I think he said this to compliment his fighter and take the pressure off him. Then he said something like "if you don't win, we'll just bring you back with the wildcard pick."
Again, I think Coach Sonnen was trying to take the pressure off his fighter. Seems like a good idea but it seemed to backfire in the fight.
Tor looked technically sound at the start of the fight, but something was wrong. What was it? He lacked urgency. He fought as if he was in a friendly sparring match not a fight. He defended strikes okay but he didn't fire back and punish his opponent enough when he had the chance. Against the cage, he'd defend the takedown well and pummel to get double underhooks but he didn't capitalize enough on his advantage. He could have more aggressively went for the takedown or threw more knees. He seemed to be content to simply neutralize his opponent. But you can't win just by neutralizing. You need to bring your offense.
Josh Samman, on the other hand, fought with urgency and aggression. Although he was not controlling the fight, as soon as he had an opportunity, he pounced on it and scored a knockout.
You can't win every fight, but although Tor has very good skills he did not perform at his best for this fight.
So, in hindsight, it's probably better NOT to try and take the pressure off a fighter. Fighters need pressure to force them to act with urgency. Just like a steam engine needs pressure to drive a locomotive, fighters need pressure to fight with the right level of aggression.
This isn't golf, it's fighting. If Tor was trying to sink a put, then maybe taking the pressure off would work better. But a fighter is climbing into a locked cage with someone trying to knock his head off. He had better have a sense of urgency.
Instead of taking the pressure off, a more effective strategy might be to build the fighter up. Let the pressure stay high, but raise the fighter's self esteem or self image to meet the pressure. That way the fighter can compete with confidence and urgency.
I know a secret about you...
At times, you get afraid.
Sometimes you feel anxious, a little bit uneasy. And sometimes... that uneasiness seems to grow and grow...
And then you feel really uneasy. So much so, that you don't want to think about ANYTHING. You just want OUT. Out of this feeling. You want out NOW.
Can I read your mind?
Just about everyone feels fear at some time. We might not want to admit it. Just like everyone feels hungry or sleepy or sad, given the right set of circumstances.
The toughest guys in the world feel fear.
I remember reading about a fighter pilot who had run many successful missions and was considered a hero. This guy had ice in his veins. Just fearless. So fearless, that an insurance company hired him as a salesman after the war. The thinking was that if this guy could face death so often, then facing sales rejection would be a piece a cake.
They were wrong.
The fighter pilot made a terrible salesman. He was deathly afraid to make sales calls. So you see, everyone has at least an area of weakness: an environment or a domain (heights, the water, sales calls, etc.) where they are predisposed to fear.
In fact, even more than an area of weakness, many of us can still feel debilitating fear in a domain that we thought we had mastered.
Michael Spinks won the Gold Medal for Boxing in the 1976 Olympics. He turned pro and by 1981 he became the Light Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Not satisfied with this success, in 1985 Spinks challenged the great Larry Holmes for the Heavyweight title. He beat Holmes to become Heavyweight Champ. He won again in a rematch against Holmes.
By 1988, Spinks was undefeated at 31-0. He had never even been knocked down.
But even with all this success, Michael Spinks would admit to feeling fear against his final opponent, Mike Tyson. Spinks looked visibly shaken entering the ring and was knocked out in 91 seconds.
Another, great boxer, Shane Mosley held title belts in three different weight classes. He boxed from boyhood and had a long successful amateur career, as well as professional.
But in his second to last fight, he faced Manny Pacquiao.
Mosley got knocked down in the third round and was clearly losing the fight. Between the tenth and eleventh round he turned to his corner man and asked him to stop the fight. His trainer, Naazim Richardson, wouldn't let Mosley do it: "Settle down... I'm gonna talk you through this..." As I remember, Mosley went out and won the next round, even though he lost the fight.
What a shame it would have been if Mosley was allowed to quit on his stool. Granted he had some sort of knee and foot injury, but his trainer saved him from making a bad decision that would have left a stain on his stellar career.
When the great mma champ, Georges St. Pierre was fighting
Thiago Alves, after the third round he complained to his trainer, Greg Jackson,
about a possible groin injury.
We all need coaches, teammates, or supporters to help buoy us through those dark times when we want to quit. When that siren song whispers in our ear that we've had enough. We all have those moments when our little devil is on our shoulder trying to pull us down.
When I'm pushing through a particularly tough CrossFit workout, I'm encouraged by my teammates and friends - either by their words or their shared misery. Those times when I ask myself "Why am I doing this again?" I just need to look up at the big banner on my gym wall with my name on it: "Connors Jiu Jitsu". Oh yeah, I couldn't quit if I wanted to with that big stupid banner staring at me.
So don't worry about feeling fear. But get a good coach. A supportive team. Some tactics and strategies to get you through it.
A Simple Trick To Never Get Tired Training Again
One time, years ago, I had for some reason been away from my jiu jitsu training for several weeks. When I came back to sparring, I had lost all of my conditioning, as you might expect. Those first sessions when I returned felt brutal. My training partners would ask me, "How do you feel?'. "I feel awful. I'm so tired. I have to get back into shape."
Day after day, my training partners would ask and I would reply, "I'm so tired. I have to get back into shape."
Then one day, two or three weeks later, after the standard question and answer, I thought: "Hold on here. I shouldn't be feeling this tired still. I should be back in better shape by now." I realized then, that I had been telling everyone (including and especially) myself that I was "tired and out of shape." Was I convincing myself to feel tired and out of shape? I decided right then and there that no matter how I felt, I would answer that I felt great and that I was in great shape. I immediately felt less physically distressed and more energized. Maybe it was a placebo effect, but I was happy to take it.
This simple trick worked then and still works today. Am I deluding myself? I don't think so. Think about the word "tired". "Tired" implies a thorough fatigue that requires a night's sleep to recover. You're probably never really "tired" during training or working out. You don't need 8 hours of sleep to recover. You just need a short breather. That's why I coach my students and fighters to never use the word "tired" to describe their state of energy in training (or in competition). Instead, if we feel the need to refer to our perception of our physical distress, we use the word "winded".
"Winded" implies a short term condition that can be remedied by "catching our breath". The use of the word "winded" will lessen your perception of fatigue compared with using the word "tired". It's more accurate too. If you're one of those people who are nitpicky about being completely "honest" with themselves.
So next time you're sucking wind, tell yourself 'I feel great." If you can't bring yourself to do that, then at least only admit to feeling "winded". Do this simple trick and you'll feel less "tired" immediately.
If you want another way, to "feel less tired", Give me a call and I will get you in great shape thru Jiu Jitsu,, Muay Thai Kickboxing, MMA, or CrossFit. Call me at 617-285-2401; or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The first three people to contact me will get a special bonus. Contact me now.
I never saw the movie, but I can remember the scene from the Tom Hank's movie, A League of Their Own. One of the female baseball players starts crying after Hanks, the manager, yells at her for a misplay in the field. Hanks' character blasts her with, "There's no crying in baseball!"
Well, I used to think there was no crying in jiu jitsu, but
I was wrong. Our kids jiu jitsu program starts with students age 5 and goes up
from there. On average, we have one crying student per week. Now mind you,
these students are not getting injured. They're just bumping their nose, or
some other small but painful incident. And usually the student is in the 5 to 8
year old range.
Well, I used to think there was no crying in jiu jitsu, but I was wrong. Our kids jiu jitsu program starts with students age 5 and goes up from there. On average, we have one crying student per week. Now mind you, these students are not getting injured. They're just bumping their nose, or some other small but painful incident. And usually the student is in the 5 to 8 year old range.
This used to cause me great concern, but I've learned an effective way to deal with these unavoidable situations:
Me (to crying student): "What happened? Did you get an
accidental foot to the face?"
Me (to crying student): "What happened? Did you get an accidental foot to the face?"
Crying student: "*sniff, sniff* Yes. *sniff,
Crying student: "*sniff, sniff* Yes. *sniff, sniff*"
Me: "Yeah, I hate when that happens."
Me: "Yeah, I hate when that happens."
Crying student: "*sniff, sniff* Yeah?"
Crying student: "*sniff, sniff* Yeah?"
Me: "Yeah, that's no fun. Why don't you just take a
breather until you're ready to come back in."
Me: "Yeah, that's no fun. Why don't you just take a breather until you're ready to come back in."
The student sits to the side (but still ON the mat. The
student does not run over to mom.)
The student sits to the side (but still ON the mat. The student does not run over to mom.)
Me: "Catch your breath and let me know when you're
ready to come back in."
Me: "Catch your breath and let me know when you're ready to come back in."
Usually the student is ready to get back to work in about 2
minutes. On occasion, I'll offer a student an ice pack to put on their hurt. On
average, they're ready to go after about 60 seconds of an ice pack.
Usually the student is ready to get back to work in about 2 minutes. On occasion, I'll offer a student an ice pack to put on their hurt. On average, they're ready to go after about 60 seconds of an ice pack.
We're trying to teach the students to soothe themselves. And this simple method seems to work well.
Notice, that we don't pull a Tom Hanks and tell them NOT to cry. Hey, they experienced some physical pain and they're reacting to it.
I've noticed that starting around age seven or eight, students start to feel ashamed of their own crying. When the teacher does not make a big deal about crying, students tend to compose themselves faster, probably because they're not made to feel bad about their own spontaneous reaction.
Then, we acknowledge that something happened to them that was painful. But notice, when we say "Yeah, I hate when that happens" we're implying a couple of things: first, that we, the teachers, have experienced that same painful experience (and we have); and second, it's likely to HAPPEN AGAIN in the future.
For some reason, this seems to lessen the student's perceived pain. "Oh, this sort of happens to everyone. I wasn't singled out by the universe to be subjected to this." And, it also cues the student to readjust their expectations: "Oh, this might happen again, I'd better get used to it."
At any rate, this simple dialogue seems to help our students deal with jiu jitsu's (and life's?) little unavoidable bumps in the road. They soothe themselves, get back into the game and they seem a little more ready to deal with the next bump.