Fight Hard, Finish Strong!

When competing whether it be  at your academy or in competition, we always want to push through the fatigue, to fight against our bodies will to give up and throw in the towel.  We owe it to ourselves to want to get better with our techniques, with our cardio, with our ability to overcome odds to pull out a win. In some cases we push too hard and at times sustain injuries in the process, but when do we say ” when ” ? When is it time to stop pushing forward and let go? The question is best answered by the person who is grappling at the time. What goals are involved in the near future for the best grappling experience? And what type of reward do we intend on attaining?

Many times we step onto the mat willing to learn and ready to go the distance. If cardio has been a factor in the past , then we may not want to push hard for our own safetys sake, but would we be doing our training partners a disservice by not pushing hard?

When we walk into the academy we walk in with pride and maybe just a bit of a competition spirit, we have the desire to reach our goals , to have the satisfaction of having a fresh new belt color tied around our waist. What feeling can be better than knowing you strive for greatness and are just that much closer to achieving your goals.

But at what cost?

We must remember that we are amongst some of the better grapplers who are preparing for competition and are giving it 110% just by nature and by default. Jiu Jitsu is meant to be the ” gentle art ” , though in some cases new grapplers just starting out have a sense of ” proving ” they belong and by doing so may at times inadvertently injure the person they grapple with.  This is most cases at many academies if not dealt with at the begining of training or during new white belt orientation. To say it is normal is not being fair, new grapplers must remember they are there to learn and maybe spar or ” roll ” after technique has ended.

Getting back to the topic at hand, after rolling for 15 or 20 minutes straight during the night after technique we subject ourselves to the grueling task of keeping up with those who try and choke or submit for the sake of learning real world grappling. If you find yourself in this predicament , it is safe to say you are being subjected to sparring with someone who has better cardio, better, technique or better stamina. To be able to fight hard and finish strong will give you the confidence of knowing you can maintain and ” survive ” the ordeal.

If whenever we are faced with a choke that cannot be escaped from, then by all means tap and tap often. But if fatigue and raised heart rate are the only concerns, why give up now? Survival mode may not be the best approach to winning a competition in training or while competing, but it may just give you enough insight and it may just give that much wait time to be able to find an opening to pull out a sweep or a submission to win.

We have seen this happen in the past when Royce Gracie during the early years of the UFC  ( specifically UFC 3 ) had to dig deep after a grueling fight between him and Kimo Leopold. Kimo being 50 lbs heavier than Royce at the time , gave him a run for his money.  Royce , being the face of the Gracie family without a doubt had pride on his side, but what pride cannot teach is the ability to overcome. Royce being almost dominated from the begining, was able to overcome the strength of Kimo and wait for the right moment to capitalize on Kimo’s fatigue with an arm lock.

When faced with such  a hardship during competition, the same feeling of anguish and anxiety have been felt by those who have come before you. Just rememer that every black belt, every Jiu Jitsu great has at one point or another been in that very same position and felt the exact same feelings you are feeling. The smothering of the weight, the grip of a choke, the pain of the knees or hips, every grappler from Helio Gracie to Carlos Machado has felt that same pain. It’s no secret that the popularity of Jiu Jitsu over the past 20 years in America has exploded and to this explosion of competition we can attribute to training sessions and greuling matches, the feeling of overcoming and your ability to Fight Hard and Finish Strong.