What Trying to Choke Grown Men Has Taught Me About Business and Life
Talk is cheap when you're getting the life choked out of you by a grown man.
I guess that's the reason why I love jiu-jitsu. It's just so...honest.
The cool thing about Brazilian jiu-jitsu is that unlike striking sports (boxing, muay Thai, etc) you can spar with 100 percent intensity because the goal is to submit your partner by crushing chokes, vicious joint manipulations and an array of other equally terrifying submission techniques.
And, because you spar at 100 percent, you have to check your ego at the door. There's no room for, "Bro if we were fighting FOR REAL...I would have dominated you" like there is in many other martial arts. At the end of a five-minute round, you know very clearly where your weaknesses are. When you tap out, you're essentially telling your partner, "If you hadn't stopped, I might have died."
It's simulated killing. It's honest.
One of the biggest takeaways jiu jitsu has given me is the idea of fighting through extremely frustrating situations. For instance, I have often tried, and failed, to land a choke on a more experienced opponent, and nothing seemed to be working. I'm a strong guy, maybe the strongest in my gym pound for pound, but I just couldn't submit these guys. Even the ones I outweigh by 50 pounds.
They seemed to just slip out of my grasp. Or worse yet, be completely unaffected by my offense as I put all 200 pounds of my force into them.
As I struggled to complete a move, my instructor Gustavo, sat on the sideline and tried to coach me through it.
"You have to insist. INSIST on the choke, Daniel.''
I didn't really understand what he meant, at first. I thought it was some weird Brazilian slang. Then one day, it clicked. He meant that I didn't only need to execute the technical aspects of the move but that I also had to exert my WILL onto the opponent.
Insist that I was going to dominate the flow of the fight. Insist that I was going to finish the choke.
Insist that my reality was stronger than that of the guy trying to defend against me.
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Sometimes, this meant rolling on the ground in what appeared to be a stalemate for a few minutes as I just maintained my grip, waiting to tire the other person out. Sometimes, it meant shifting into a steeper angle to get more leverage.
Many people get frustrated in the beginning when something they try doesn't work. So they give up, looking for an "easy attack." And I'm not just talking about jiu jitsu anymore. I'm talking about life.
But if you're going for victory, half-hearted starts and stops aren't enough.
You have to insist. You have to go much further than just "doing your job." You have to put your WILL behind the submission.
You have to know in your heart that you have the ability to pull it off, even if the world doesn't know it yet. You have to summon the heart of a lion.
Yes, there are people out there who are stronger than you. Or richer than you. Or better looking.
Or smarter. But do they want it as bad as you? Are they willing to put their lives on the line for what they believe in?
The majority of people are not. And that's why your ability to INSIST in the face of doubt is so important.
So, today, I encourage you to keep trying, no matter how discouraged you get. You'll be amazed at the life you can lead when you stop looking for the easy way out of life's choke hold, and instead, persevere in spite of it.
Related: 7 Lessons From the Boxing Ring
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