What would you say if I told you that the reason you’re not winning your matches is because you are too nice?
Yep, you heard me right. You’re way too nice.
This happens a lot, especially in Jiu Jitsu, and it is because Jiu Jitsu is a sport in which ranking is based on belt color. In Jiu Jitsu, just like in karate, there’s an unspoken rule where lower belts needs to show respect to higher belts. I understand you need to show respect not only to the higher belt, but also to the lower belt, skill level, opposite sex and all your teammates. The respect, however, needs to somehow end as soon as you shake hands, or when the referee blows the whistle, during competition. Your attitude basically needs to shift from being a nice guy to being a bit of an asshole as soon as the match starts. If you practice any combat sports and don’t find pleasure in “hurting” your opponents, you’re in the wrong business. When I say “hurting,” I mean creating a great deal of pain, physically and sometimes emotionally. In turn, your job is to make it very difficult or painful for your opponent to score. The only way you can do that is by aiming to hurt your opponent first. That is not very nice if you ask me. We all have this kind of attitude rooted within our personalities. Everyone has had several occasions in their lives when they felt like hurting someone. If you ever drove on the 405 at rush hour, you know exactly what I mean. We can identify it, then channel that energy, and release it thorough athleticism (ex: combat sports). That way, we can spend it in useful ways, instead of storing it within our psyches.
As competitors, during tournaments, often times we are faced against opponents with far more experience than ours, and palmares to match it. There have been times when we knew our skill level didn’t come close to our opponent’s, and we’re very aware that our chances of winning that match are slim.
Therefore, when the fight starts, all we have left is our integrity, and our job is to defend it. Some people call it heart; I choose to call it attitude. How does this attitude express itself? It is that inner monologue inside your mind. And it goes like this: “I heard you’re good, and I’ve seen your matches. However, I still don’t give a shit. You still need to prove yourself to me.” You need to feel this way inside so you can manifest it outside. You’ve got nothing left as soon as you give a fuck. The less you care about his or her status, his or her belt color, his or her medals, the more chances you have to win your match. We are all assholes sometimes. You can ask my wife if you don’t believe me, and that is the main reason we start practicing combat sports in the first place. We need an outlet to safely channel and release our energy. Athletes need to show respect to each other, but when respect turns into fear that translates into lousy performance. We need to stop being nice and start turning into real assholes. When being too nice is holding you back, turning into a dick can have the opposite effect. Therefore, respect your opponents without submitting to them, and respect yourself by defending your integrity, and perform at your true potential. That is the making of a real athlete and that is real respect.