Thursday, August 31, 2017

Instafamous

We live in an age of instant gratification thanks to, or no thanks to depending on your take, social media, where everyone seems to continually be patting themselves on the back. It’s the “look at me” era. Anyone with a smart phone can make themselves feel superior with a few likes and followers. “Insta famous!” I’m not trying to sit here and tell people what’s right or wrong however, when you’re focused more on what you appear to be on the internet as opposed to actually putting in the work you need to do in order to be the best, this is a problem. Now, if all you really care about is the public front you put on then go for it, but if your goal is actually to be the best then it’s time to put the phone down, shut your mouth and get back to work.

I have always been of the mindset that nothing is ever good enough. That’s not to say I’m not grateful and appreciative for the things that I’ve been able to accomplish. What it means is that no matter what I do I know that there is always room for more growth. I can always improve. There is no finish line until you take that last breath. Until then, there will always be new mountains to climb.

Some might take this as being too hard on yourself but I find that to be one of the biggest reasons for mediocrity. We have literally set the bar so low these days that it’s actually on the floor. I see people who win a few fights or titles, particularly at the lower level, and they parade themselves around as if they are now one if the greatest to ever step foot in the ring. Sure, if you compare yourself to where you used to be or to people that haven’t done what you have then yea, I can see how one might think that. For me, however, I’ve always set my sights on being one of the best to ever do it, and in that aspect, there’s always more to be done. It’s the big fish in a small pond problem, which Damien Trainor has a nice write up on his blog that you can check out here (although it's touching on a slightly separate topic but still a great read). I think some of us forget just how big this world is. Do you want to be the best on your block or the best ever? Anyone can be the best in the gym, the best in their city, state, etc., but if you think you are ever going to really achieve greatness then you had better set you sets higher. It is easy to look back and say, “Well in my day people just had a different mindset.” Yes and no. People definitely did but that’s also because it wasn’t as easy to pretend you were something you weren’t back then, although there were still those that did. There always has been, and always will be, those that are more concerned with what they appear to be rather than what they really are.

It’s difficult for me to look back on my career and have any kind of ego about it. Sure, I have done a lot, but my eyes remain focused on what else I can do, not on what I have already accomplished. Maybe when I retire, I will be able to take a step back and really enjoy it but until then I will continually be trying to improve, set new bars and better myself.

I look at it like this, it is literally impossible to be 100% perfect in anything you do so in that sense, no matter how good you get, you can always get better. Even if you have ‘perfected’ something, it does not just stay sharp forever. You need to be continually perfecting every weapon you have. The problem is that there are so many and once you start getting one thing down the others start to dull. It is a constant juggling act.  

We need to strive daily to not only be better than we were, but to be the best ever. This goes for every aspect of life.


-The End

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

flu fight

When you have nothing left, the walls are closing in around you and your opponent is going in for the kill. Even when there is seemingly no hope left, you still always have a choice to make. Give up or keep fighting until your last breath. There will be times when you can do everything perfectly yet you still don’t end up with the result you want, just as the opposite is true.

I have been plagued with just about every injury and illness you can imagine throughout my career. This one, however, was without a doubt the most difficult to get through. A broken hand or a huge gash, or 7 :P is easy, it’s just pain. When your entire body shuts down and you feel like you are being held down underwater is another story all together.

Everything had gone perfect in the lead up to my fight with Bernie Mendieta. Training went great, I wasn’t dealing with any injuries and easily made weight. Had one of the best warm ups in the back before walking out. Super sharp, fast and ready to go. I should have known better seeing as how over 90% of my career I’ve had to overcome at least one kind of hurdle or another but I thought to myself, “Hey, I’ve been through enough, maybe I finally get a break.”…wrong! I actually had dealt with a bit of a health issue leading up to this fight. Seemed like I was coming down with a cold for a bit but I refused to let it get me and just told myself it was allergies. It never got to be more than just the occasional fatigue and stuffed up nose, so I didn’t think too much about it. They finally called my name and then brought us down to the back where we waited for them to announce me. Time starts ticking by, longer and longer we wait, and with each passing moment I’m feeling the energy, and life, start to slip out of my body. Kirian takes a look at me and shouts, “Hey man you good, let’s get ready to go!” trying to get my energy back up and get me focused. I hop around a bit, shake my arms out and then they finally call my name. Everything seems fine and I go out there and have a great first round. I sit down in the corner after the first round and it was as if the Grim Reaper ripped the life out of me. My lungs felt as if they were drowning in sand, I couldn’t breathe and my body was paralyzed with exhaustion. What the hell? “Great man, keep doing what you’re doing, stay sharp, and pick your shots. Let’s start to put a little more pressure on him this round. How you feeling?” Kirian asks. I hesitate for a moment. This was only my second fight after my ACL surgery. In my first fight back I was smashing my ankles and feet up so badly because my distance and timing weren’t on point yet. I was in agony and could barely walk. Afterwards Kirian asked why I hadn’t let him know what was going on during the fight. “What am I gona do? Complain and say ow my feet hurt?” I ask. “Of course not, but you gota let me know what’s going on with you so I can help make the adjustments if we can.”, he replies.

“How you feeling?”…I pause a moment, “Tired!” “Tired?” he asks in shocking disbelief. He kind of pauses a moment, regroups and then goes on to give some advice for the next round. I remember it as clear as day, I was sitting in that corner thinking to myself, “How am I going to get through this? There’s just no way! What would happen if I just got out of the ring and left? I wonder if anyone has ever done that.” In that moment I had a choice to make, quit or stand up and get back in there even though I knew there was no possible way I could do this.

I’ve had several moments similar to this throughout my career, whether during fights or the training leading up to them. I could just give up right now, totally understandable and no one would blame me…screw that!!! I would rather give everything I have and fail than to just quit. Even if the only thing I have left is to just stand there and get pummeled.  

It’s times like these that you look back overall the struggles throughout the years and you realize what all those tough times taught you. Every moment of every day, we have opportunities to learn, grow and to make choices that will either strengthen our will or weaken our resolve. That’s when you learn training is more than just getting your body ready for a fight; it’s about getting your mind where it needs to be. It needs to learn that there is no quit in you. Do you think it will just magically happen when you really need it? No, you have to train it as much and as often as possible so when the time comes it will not even be a conscious decision.

Back to the fight…I made the decision, went out there and pushed it as hard as I could every second of every round. It wasn’t pretty and I’m sure the people that watching were wondering what the hell was wrong with me but I pushed through. One of the most difficult parts was the knowledge that with every strike I threw, every single movement, dropped the limited life I had left in me that much more. Again, it was a choice I had to make; either sit there and let him beat on me, which I knew I could do for five rounds, or give it everything I had even if that was only a fraction of a percent of my normal ability. Fortunately, I was able to edge out a close decision, which at the time and looking back I had thought I’d done enough to win. When we got to the back for the post fight medicals, my body literally started shutting down. My temperature was soaring; my head and body were on fire. My lungs were caving in and I could not stop coughing. I felt close to death. It took everything I had to make it through that fight and I paid the price for it as over the next 3 months I fought off bronchitis and pneumonia, which is what I had at the time and did not realize. I’m sure that fight took a few years off my life but in comparison to what quitting would have taken out of my soul I’d happily do it all over again.

I find that too often people seem to train as if everything is going to go right. I, on the other hand, have always had the opposite perspective. Of course, mentally I don’t go into a fight thinking that everything will go wrong but I train in such a way that even if it does, I will be prepared. If you want to be the best then you need to get yourself to where even if you are at 10% it is still better than someone else’s 100%.


-The end

Here is the fight if you want to check it out