When I competed at the NY Open this weekend, I was twice caught in a realization that I was winning and that there was very little time left in the match. I didn’t start stalling but I was distinctly aware of the thought that I don’t need to score any more points. “Don’t take risks” I thought. What that amounted to was “don’t do anything”.
Depending on your personality, the pressure to win can be counter-productive in the long term, and for me, it very much is. Let me explain…
Looking back at the matches I lost over the last two years, I lost because I didn’t want to “take risks” or (more clearly) I didn’t believe in my technique. That mindset leads to a lot of wins by 2 points, by 3 points, by 5 points. At the brown and black belt level, that’s a solid performance. At the blue belt level, to me, that’s an embarrassment. The good guys in my division submit everyone (including other good guys), except for the 1 or 2 people with whom they have a close war. That’s who I want to strive to be.
When I’m up by 2 points, I want to strive for 2, 3, 4 more points. I want to work for the submission, even if that means I lose the match. Because if I am content to win by 2, I will never develop into the kind of competitor I want to be on the mat.
What’s needed: A supreme confidence that my cardio and guts is tougher than my opponent’s.
How to achieve it: Push myself past the limit of exhaustion often though training, through running, through anything. In other words, refuse to quit. It’s easy to say, hard to do. But I can say that I’ve begun seriously working on it, and will be ready for Worlds.