Don’t Watch the Clock

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.

0 thoughts on “Don’t Watch the Clock

  1. zegrappler

    the biggest thing I took from my trip to Brazil was that constant pressure, attacking mindset in training. whether it was a position or a submission, those guys were always pressing.

    still a blue belt in BJJ, i don’t claim to have come to understand “the game” in BJJ the way I have in Judo after years of competing. I’ve learned how to play the rules, play the penalties, induce passivity penalties to my opponent et cetera.

    in Judo, this style hasn’t cost me. in BJJ, however, not settling, working to finish late in a match has cost me a number of times.

    finding that sweet spot of controlling the match but not overextending is tough.


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