Tag Archives: drilling

Don’t Be a Spaz: Relax and Move Smoothly to Develop Precision

A “spaz” is someone whose movement is explosive but lacks precision. For the visually-inclined, here’s a Venn diagram:


Being a spaz is something we forgive beginners too easily, as if it’s the awkward teenage phase everyone has to go through, as if it’s not within their control. No, you don’t grow out of being a spaz, you have to work your way out of it from day one.

The basic principle of life is that you get good at what you do most often. Period. You’re not going to stop being a spaz by spazzing harder, longer, and more times a week. You stop spazzing by deliberately relaxing and moving in a smooth controlled fashion.


Relaxing is one of the most important things a beginner can learn. But it isn’t a switch you flip. It’s a constant struggle. You have to remind yourself over and over and over as you roll or drill to release the tension in your muscles. Only once you learn to relax can you begin to build precision in your movement.

I learned this lesson first when I was studying classical piano at a young age. The secret to moving ten fingers in a clean, crisp, super-fast pattern is to start SSSLLLOOOWWWW. Music has a beat, so “slow” has a number, thanks to the metronome. The process is simple:

  1. Set the metronome to super slow.
  2. Play at that speed without once tensing any of the tiny little muscles in your hands.
  3. Continue playing at that speed until you don’t make a single mistake for.
  4. Slightly increase the speed of the metronome.
  5. Go to step #2.

That’s piano though. In grappling, there’s often a big dude doing his best to break off your arm as you try to relax. So it’s different, right? Wrong. Never ever should you stop that dude by tensing or spazzing. When learning, whether you’re playing piano or are locked in a death-match with an NCAA All American wrestler, you have to relax.

Building Precision

So when you’re first learning a movement in grappling, here’s the process I recommend:

  1. Release tension: Relax as much of your body as possible while still accomplishing the movement.
  2. Move slowly: Perform the movement both in drilling and training at the slowest pace you and your partner can bare physically and psychologically. It doesn’t have to be glacial speed, but you can never go too slow at first. It is ALWAYS better to start super slow and increase speed when you’re 100% confident you got the movement down at that speed.
  3. Move smoothly: Each part of the movement should be performed at the same speed as every other part. Unless… gravity or momentum requires you to move faster in certain parts.

Once you achieve precision with the movement at the slow speed you can shift one gear up. For me, in training or drilling, each gear usually corresponds to approximately 100-500 reps.

When precision is developed, style can form. You might be an explosive cobra that’s loud and proud as it murders its opponent. Or you might be a giant python that hides away patiently waiting for the pray to wander into its death by asphyxiation.

But first: relax, slow down, and move smoothly.


I was dishonest in saying that there is no difference between learning piano and learning grappling. The truth is that getting smashed on the mat is somehow much more damaging to the ego. This is perhaps the biggest struggle of a martial artist: to relax and move smoothly as you get smashed over and over and over on your path to mastery.

Every man is born a spaz. It is his burden and his quest: to shed this robe of awkwardness and emerge a noble savage, a fearless primate in full control of his intent and action.

BJJ and Judo Competition Goals for 2014

worlds_medalI’m a big believer in setting goals: tough, reachable, and numeric.

Most of my day is spent at my job (that I love) but jiu jitsu is an escape from that, and an important escape. It’s the most easily accessible, systematic way I know of taking myself out of my comfort zone: especially when I compete.

I keep my goals for work and life private, but for jiu jitsu and judo I like to write it in a blog so that my teammates and friends might join me in on some of these, and we can support each other. So here we go…

Competition by Numbers

These are numeric goals I MUST reach, no matter what. It’s a small simple list, but that’s what a goal list should be. The rest of this post is philosophical chitter-chatter.

  • Win: Win 100 matches in BJJ competition (gi or no-gi).
  • Submit: Get 50 submissions in BJJ competition (gi or no-gi).
  • Judo: Win 10 matches in judo competition.
  • Big Throws: Throw 5 black belts for ippon in judo competition

Mindset Goals

These are not really “goals”, but things to keep in mind and strive for, in order to make the actual numeric goals make me a better human being and fit into my life.

  • Lose: It’s okay to lose over and over. Lose a million times, as long as I reach the above goals.
  • Forget: Put every loss behind me immediately (except for the technical mistakes made). Just because I get mounted and submitted, doesn’t mean I can’t come back in 5 minutes and return the favor to the same guy.
  • Fun: Have fun competing and training. Smile (at least on the inside) and enjoy the fuck out of the ride.

Competition Attendance

Again, these aren’t really goals but are guides. Travelling far for a tournament is tough especially when I’m working weeks of 10-12 hour days, so I’m not going to put the pressure on myself that I *must* do it, but I do strongly believe I should and want to. Here are the BIG tournaments that I want to attend with the full intention to win gold.

  • World Pro Trials Montreal
  • Pans
  • NY Open
  • Worlds
  • No-Gi Pans
  • No-Gi Worlds

See “Forget” above. It’s very important to put any losses at a major tournament immediately behind me.

Drilling, Cardio, Training

I set drilling, training, and cardio goals often and I think these goals work a lot better on the scale of 1-3 months. Competition goals are the ones that work better on the scale of 1 year, so that’s what I did in this post.

How to Get Back Into Judo or BJJ

One of the cool things I get from having this blog and competing a bunch is that people ask me for advice. I’m flattered, of course, but my advice-giving abilities are quite frankly shitty. I make no money from these sports, and so I have no interest in or practiced-ability of convincing people to sign up or get back into it. So my advice tends to be brutally honest and (I fear) not very empathetic. But I’m getting better. The beginning is always rough, and so most of us need to be guided gently at first, before we’re thrown in with the wolves.

Here’s where I’m coming from… I train jiu jitsu almost exclusively now, not having gotten my black belt in judo… yet. That’s where my current struggle lies: trying to get back into judo while maintaining a more-than-full-time job and a serious competition training regimen in jiu jitsu. Anyway, the following are good rules that have worked for me many times in the past when I was first starting or re-starting an activity.

1. Just do it, and never stop

uphill-both-waysYou don’t need a master-plan. Just show up, and keep showing up, until you figure out a plan that works for you, but never EVER stop showing up. If you are injured, have staph/ringworm/ebola, do something at home that physically drains you more than training. You can’t let your mind see an escape from training. If you get sick, you should be upset that you’re sick, because that means you have to do something that’s less fun than training, but you still have to do that something.

When I drill, there’s a tendency to not do it until I figure out a detailed set of techniques that I’m going to drill, but thanks to the infinite capacity of the brain to procrastinate, that approach results in me never drilling. What works is just doing it for 40-60 minutes, with or without a plan, and what happens is I actually quickly figure out a regimen that works.

No matter what, do not stop. If you’ve ever quit anything in your life, and I’m sure you have, you know that quitting gives your mind the knowledge that there IS an escape. And when shit gets tough, your mind will immediately against start looking for that same escape. You have to convince yourself that quitting is not an option. By the way, quitting is okay as long as you acknowledge to yourself that you are quitting and accept the consequences, but most people (like myself) gradually fall of the wagon without ever being brutally honest with themselves and quitting openly, clearly, and carrying the full weight of that decision.

2. Make a set of rules that cannot be broken

must-be-at-least-this-tall-to-rideAfter you started showing up (see #1), it’s now time to make the concept of “showing up” more concrete. You have to set a minimum number of times you’ll train every week. It has to be tough but realistic. This is a “rule” you can never ever break, unless you plan for it way ahead of time. You have to write down modifications to this rule for special situations like if you’re sick or you’re traveling or there’s a huge deadline at work or something you have to do with the wife, kids, family, etc. For example, for training, here’s a rule for a competitor:

  • Normal: Roll at least 40 minutes (actual rolling time) every day.
  • When a little sick: Run outside or on a treadmill (at home) for 40 minutes, at a pace of 7.5 mph or faster.
  • When really sick:¬†Your body needs rest, but we can still torture the mind (in a good way)! So, watch 2 hours of instructionals, taking notes.
  • When hurt: Do any kind of exercise that doesn’t affect the injured area for 40 minutes at heart rate of 150 bpm or higher.
  • When traveling: Try to find a place, if not do the same as if sick.

That might sound like a lot, but it’s not. I’ve never actually have written it out like that. It’s just in my head. I have the same for reading, for programming, for learning.

3. Set a numeric goal

Tally_marks_counting_visitorsI write about this a lot, and those that train with me, know that I’m a big fan of spreadsheets and numbers. I like setting goals like: get 100 submissions in competition or do 30 tournaments this year or run 365 miles. A good goal is quantifiable, reachable, but tough. It should last several months, or at least a month. The point of a numeric goal is to get you to focus on progressing from 0% to 100% completion, one percent at a time. And while you focus on those small increments, time flies much faster, and most importantly: the habit of “showing up” builds. Once you get the habit going, everything becomes easier. For me, it takes about 3-4 weeks to build the habit of doing a new thing on a regular basis.

Hope some of this helps.

5 Ways to Avoid Injury in BJJ

I have had the good fortune so far to avoid major injury while still training hard every day and competing frequently. Let me dive right in, without warming up, into the list of things I do to avoid injury.

1. Warm up and stretch

sebastian-brosche-bjj-yoga-judo-jiu-jitsu-podcastI’ll start with one that seems to be a point of disagreement for people. I’d like to underline the fact that this list is what works for me, and not for anyone else. So take it with a grain of salt. I experiment with different approaches to training all the time and am always open to trying a new system. But since after high school, I’ve noticed that warming up and stretching has been a huge part of me remaining injury free. There is a lot of stuff out there that says stretches actually increasing chance of injury. For me, that’s not true. I ultimately need a good 20 minute warm up and stretch routine. And not just ANY routine. It’s important to warm up personal “problem areas” like shoulders, neck, hips, back, groin, etc. I just recently started doing yoga, thanks to the advice of a great competitor Sebastian Brosche and my instructor Phil Migliarese. I highly recommend Sebastian’s website, it has a lot of cool stuff for jiu jitsu guys.

2. Drill to build up muscles you actually need for your jiu jitsu

I think there’s a belief out there that you have to do strength training of some kind outside of jiu jitsu to building up the support muscles that help avoid injury. This is true conceptually, but often what happens is when you start strength training, you lose focus on jiu jitsu, and start strength training for the sake of itself, and so you build up certain muscles, neglecting ones that you might actually need for your particular style of jiu jitsu. For me, the most important way to build up the right kind of muscle is drilling, usually the fast paced kind. Depending on the technique, I prefer to do it on a dummy vs a real person, because a dummy doesn’t complain and I don’t need to split time with a dummy. You have to be creative. I don’t usually drill sweeps on a dummy, but it is very much possible. For example, here’s a guy drilling berimbolo:

3. Good technique

leverage-fulcrumThe best and highly unreasonable advice to avoid injury is: get good fast ūüėČ While you can’t magically attain black-belt-level skill in a week, sticking to fundamental principles of good technique is probably the best practical way to avoid injury. What do I mean by fundamental principles? Things like: elbow discipline, good posture, bent knees when standing, good base, good head position, don’t post your hands on the mat, etc. There are exceptions and variations to some of these, as you probably know. In fact, most of us know the good fundamentals, but we get lazy, and there’s nothing worse for injury than “lazy”. Note: there’s a huge difference between lazy and relaxed/chilling/efficient. You want to be the latter and not the former.

4. See positions in terms of injury potential

Snake_warning_signYour body bends and moves comfortable only in a small number of ways (relatively speaking). You need to understand these ranges of movement, and learn proper technique to avoid crossing to the line outside your comfortable range of movement. This is very much connected to the previous point of “good technique”. This means different things in different positions, or even for different body types and jiu jitsu styles. For me, I learn way to maintain a strong structure in most positions. You need to utilize the natural “frames” of your body (formed by using your arms and legs).

But, of course, unless you are perfect every second of every roll, you will be put in positions that place your body outside its naturally strong structural positions. This is where you have to be careful to allocate an especially large part of your thoughts to avoiding injury. That sometimes means telling your ego to shut up.

5. Don’t try crazy stuff with the wrong people

hockey-fightA big part of jiu jitsu is exploring new techniques, positions, and transitions. Obviously, that kind of exploration can put you in compromising positions. That’s good as long as both people are paying attention to #4 above. And that’s just it, when you are trying crazy stuff, pick your partners wisely. With some people you are safe to explore as much as you want, and with others, the combination of explosive power and ego can lead to serious injury in the compromising positions.

Bonus! 6. Avoid taking any risks in life.

Remember, that injury and pain are a part of life. So toughen the fuck up. You’ll be dead soon enough. None of this lasts forever, so it’s best to go out doing what makes you happy, and for me that means taking risks and challenging myself.

The Cycle of Learning: Going Back to the Basics

As my jiu jitsu slowly improves, the inclination to become complacent grows as well. It’s easy to stop drilling, to stop studying video, to stop being obsessive about the smallest details of favorite techniques. None of this happens overnight of course. It’s a gradual relaxation. It’s fun to come in, learn a couple techniques, and then train hard for an hour where you mentally relax and just enjoy the game of the jiu jitsu. The better I get technically, the easier it is to enjoy the experience.

The Cycle of Learning

Over a period of several months, I’ll drift into this peaceful state of comfort, until… I get a wake-up call, usually at a tournament, when a tough match will make me realize the obvious: that systematic learning is not something you do as a blue belt and then you’re done. It’s something you do for the rest of your life, the same pain-in-the-ass mentally-exhausting “deliberate practice” that got you to improve in the first place. But no matter how harsh the wake-up call, once gain, in a few months, as sure as day, I start becoming lazy again and again drift into my comfort zone. Then it’s time for another wake-up call, and so on… In this way, the journey of learning continues, running in circles. I would describe it in the following 4 steps:

  1. Get good.
  2. Get lazy.
  3. Wake-up call.
  4. Go back to step #1.

Laziness is something that everyone battles against in all aspects of life. It’s the process of stepping outside the short-term comfort zone in order to attain a longer-term benefit. There’s no way around the fact that this process is unpleasant, but it’s ultimately rewarding.

The Basics as a Process

Rhadi Ferguson described the “basics” process well in a video a few years back (see below). He explains that you have to return to doing the same old process that you’ve done from the very beginning. That’s what he calls THE BASICS. It’s not some set of techniques that’s “basic”, it’s the process of drilling, improving, perfecting those techniques that’s “basic”.

Tournaments as Wake-up Calls

Jimmy Cerra was the first person to tell me about the importance of the “wake-up call” in reference to jiu jitsu. I think he saw me lose a match, and mentioned briefly that this experience should serve as a wake-up call. That concept stuck with me.

competition-losingWhile I compete mostly for the challenge of testing myself and for the fun of winning, those reasons are short-term, and last only a few days. The practical long-term benefits of competition is that it gives me plenty of wake-up calls. Even if I win every match, I’m bombarded by instances where I realized how weak certain aspects of my game are from general problems to the the tiniest details. You can get the same kind of wake-up call in training as well, but it’s not as “in your face” jarring as in competition.

Train Less and Save the Fun Stuff for Last

It’s been said many times in many ways that “practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect”, but I was reminded of it with a particularly good phrasing of this concept in a new book Winning on the Ground by AnnMarie De Mars (her blog):

“The difference between being #1 in the world and #100 isn’t so much the hours on the mat. It’s what you are doing in those hours.”

I think this applies to people who train professionally as well as to people who train as a hobby for different reasons. In the former case, your body and mind can only take so much in a day. Anyone who’s ever tried to drill (really drill) a move for an hour will know the wear it can have on you, not physically, but mentally. The focus required to perform a technique to the best of your ability is as draining as trying to solve a difficult math problem¬†(or puzzle for the non-math-inclined).

For the hobbyist, the reality is that you really do have a very limited amount of time per day that you can train. Ironically, with the higher constraint on time, I find that people do less of the good stuff (drilling very specific techniques, transitions) and more of the fun stuff (rolling in jiu jitsu, randori in judo).

rocky-in-russia-in-the-snowI was always of the opinion that you have to earn the fun stuff. To me “fun” is rolling without any constraints on my game, without a focus on a particular position/technique, etc. That’s very good to do a lot of, especially if you have 4-6 hours a day to train. But if I only have an hour (or less as usual), I have to become my own drill¬†sergeant. I’ll get in 30-60 minutes of hard fast paced drilling on a dummy or¬†a partner no matter what, and enjoy a few sets of training. It’s a balance between short term “happiness” and long term “happiness”. Ultimately, I really enjoy getting a better understanding of the art of jiu jitsu, and that requires the not-so-fun process of drilling and rolling with a purpose.

By the way, I’m also realizing that “drilling” is like “dieting”. It’s a concept that is used by a lot of people to describe a wide variety of activities. So I have to be more specific. I do a lot of kinds of drilling, but the one I refer to as “really drilling” is where I do 100-200+ reps in 30 minutes of one technique. This isn’t some new technique, it’s one that I’ve already done thousands of reps of and most importantly have tried in positional training, live training, and competition. Every other kind of drilling is more relaxed. This is hard work. Productive hard work.

Best BJJ Competition Regimen: Strength, Conditioning, Technique, Rolling, Rest

rocky-in-russia-in-the-snowPeople learn, live, train differently. I’m not going to judge, but for me, the best regimen is just drilling and rolling, approximately twice as much drilling as rolling.

What do I do for strength and conditioning? It’s simple. Here’s my complete training regimen:

  • For technique learning:¬†Drill slowly.
  • For “rest” days:¬†Drill at a medium pace.
  • For conditioning:¬†Drill quickly.
  • For strength:¬†Drill moves that require lots of legs, hips, shoulders, core, back.
  • For rolling:¬†Drill against an opponent who’s resisting at 100%.

When I say “drill”, I mean very specifically designed drills to improve aspects of my game that I’m working on for periods of several months. I don’t randomly switch drills around. I keep doing the same drills for months a time. I do drills with a partner, solo, and on a dummy. The latter two are extremely important because those can be done no matter where you are or what’s going on in your life. Meaning: there’s no excuse not to do it.

Again, when I say “drill”, I mean doing the same move thousands of times for years. My personality is much like that of the the chef in the documentary¬†Jiro Dreams of Sushi in that I enjoy exploring the tiniest details that make the same old simple thing work better. Work at it every day, over and over and over. And that kind of exploration can and should take a lifetime.

Nobody Likes Drilling Sweeps

sumi-gaeshiDrilling is about doing something 50, 100, 500 times. When you do something 100 times, the little unpleasant aspects get magnified.

There are techniques where my drilling partner does nothing more than put their body in the correct position, provide the correct resistance, and maybe move their arms and legs in a certain way. There’s not much strain on them, and their body never has to hit the mat. A good example of such a technique is the x-pass or almost any guard pass.

On the other hand, there are techniques that do require the partner’s body to get some air time and hit the mat. In judo, it’s throws, in bjj, it’s sweeps. The basic butterfly sweep, for example, seems innocent at first, but when done a lot of times with good technique can put a lot of impact strain on the partner’s shoulder.

As you can probably already tell, I have a seemingly excessive concern for my drilling partner’s well being. Part of it has to do with my nature. But mainly, it’s just a fact that the less pain involved in drilling the longer you can drill, the more willing you will be to drill, and the more likely you are to be in a good mood while drilling. I all for working hard and working through the pain, but if you don’t have to, it’s much better. Work smarter not harder.

This is why I’ve drilled guard passing much more than sweeps. But that slowly has to change. While I play the butterfly game a lot in training, there is no substitute for drilling.

There is no deep insight in this post, just some thoughts. I often struggle with techniques that may be painful to my training partner. From day one, I loved the idea that jiu jitsu has a large number of techniques (e.g. chokes) that could painlessly defeat somebody going 100%. The problem is that there are techniques that do cause pain on their way to submission, everything ranging from armlocks to neck cranks to certain versions of arm-in chokes to wrist locks to calf crushers. That’s effective beautiful jiu jitsu as well. I continue to struggle with finding a place for these techniques in my game and my personality.

Evaluating Your Game Based on Rolling with Killers

Note: By “killer” I mean guys who¬†are MUCH better than me in particular positions. So that might include white belts to black belts.

I spend a considerable amount of time on and off the mat evaluating my game. Every single practice is in fact a process of figuring out details that make a particular aspect of my game work better in a particular situation. For example, any time someone passes my guard, I think about how they did it and what kind of adjustment I need to make in order to prevent that guard pass in the future.

That’s simple enough. The problem comes in with the fact that in some cases it takes¬†time to make such adjustments to my technique. It takes a lot of reps in drilling and training for the details to be internalized. So I have to shut off the skeptical part of my brain that doesn’t give a technique enough time before passing judgments.

The-Black-Night-monty-python-and-the-holy-grail-591464_800_441I had another illuminating experience with (let’s call him) Bob¬†where, through positional training, he armbarred me maybe 50+ times in a period of an hour in the same exact way as I played my favorite guard. I could avoid the armbar if I didn’t play my favorite position and grip combination. But that doesn’t solve anything in the long term. When you see the 50+ submissions, you’re probably thinking “this guy really sucks”. Whether I do or not, I certainly feel like I suck after those sessions. When I get off the mat and walk to work or home, what should be the thoughts in my head? What are my next steps?

I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do, but my solution to that has been to re-double my focus on the position. By that I don’t mean I’ll try harder in training. In fact, I’ll try less hard. All the effort goes into learning (online and through questions on the mat) the little details around the position that make it work. While 50 submissions sound like a lot. From my limited experience, and my faith in the gods of drilling, I believe that those 50 submissions happened because of 1 or 2 details that I wasn’t doing. My job is to find those details. They are probably obvious. They have probably been taught to me many times. What I need to do is to re-discover them for myself.

This process is humbling, putting my efforts in the world of academia in perspective.

The Role of a Coach in Preparing an Athlete for Competion

A post by Marco Perazzo about what makes a successful competition team¬†got me thinking about the coach-athlete relationship before and during the “competition season”. It may seem absurd for me (a purple belt) to write about the role of a coach, especially given that majority of jiu jitsu tournaments I competed at I attended alone. But I’ve always worked best under a coach, and have gained an understanding of the kind of relationship that works for me. It’s all complicated by the fact that I’m 29 years old with a more-than-full-time career, and am not as focused on sport as I may’ve been when I was 16 on my high school’s wrestling team. So this blog post is about coaching, but from the perspective of a competitor with zero coaching experience.

I think that a coach has three roles in relation to the athlete: (1) on the mat, (2) in competition, and (3) off the mat. That’s in increasing order of time and mind that it takes from the coach. Loyalty, trust, and respect develop with time, and I believe the athlete has to earn the coach’s time through hard work and dedication. A coach’s time is kind of like a father’s approval. Many of us go through our whole life without getting it, especially the ¬†dudes that cry during the Lion King scene where the father dies.

On the Mat (at the School)

The coach sets the mood of the training, provides technical fixes to techniques, and makes sure to push the people that need to be pushed. Not much special one-on-one attention is required here. In many ways, the coach is the conductor/general, and it’s the training partners that really push the competitors to step up their game.

In Competition

I always loved having a coach on the sidelines. I draw a lot of strength from being able to look up and see someone who has been by my side for a long time, who has seen me win and lose tough battles. A coach can provide step-by-step technical instructions, watch the time, the ref, and the score, or most important in my case: yell at me when I’m tired and need to step up the intensity.

Off the Mat

This one is the most scarce forms of a coach’s attention, but I believe it’s one that can have the biggest effect on a competitor. It’s where you sit down and plan out your goals with a coach. Together you outline the competitions, the training regimen, the drilling sessions, the competition a-game, the b-game, the competition strategy. A lot of times all of these things are already known, but they are put on paper, they become hard reality. They become a guiding principle and motivator and a source of strength through the days when the last thing you want to do is drill, train, and watch competition footage.

Coaching an Amateur

1983-dan-gable-with-tim-rileyThe problem, of course, is that most competitors in jiu jitsu, even those obsessed with the sport, are not willing to do whatever it takes. They have work. They have family. They have other aspiration and responsibilities. The following story about Dan Gable as coach is only possible with someone who has a singular unbroken focus on a goal of winning. Coaching someone like that is much easier than coaching a part-time competitor. This is an excerpt from a 1984 Sports Illustrated story:

“You’ll get pinned.” The words snarl and snap as they come from Gable’s mouth. How could anybody allow himself to get pinned? Suddenly, he’s focusing on the efforts of 126-pound Iowa senior Tim Riley, who’s clearly at the brink of mental and physical exhaustion. “Riley,” barks Gable, “you have to move your feet more in order to create openings.” With that, Riley quits and walks off the mat.

“Sorry you couldn’t make the end of practice,” Gable calls after him.

“I could have made it,” says Riley, “I just didn’t want to.”

“Naw,” says Gable. “You just weren’t tough enough to make it.” Gable shakes his head sadly, as if unable to grasp how an athlete√Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚespecially one of the best collegiate wrestlers in the country√Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚcouldn’t finish practice. The next day, of course, Riley is back with an apology and excuse, and of course Gable takes him back. And Riley redoubles his efforts. But Gable muses softly, “In wrestling, you don’t break down, you don’t quit. See, that’s the problem in life. It’s too easy to turn on the TV and pull up the covers.” Gable has never pulled up the covers. He’d have to be tutored to learn how to quit.