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The Law of Attraction
There’s a theory that like feelings and outcomes are attracted to one another. That is to say that positive thought supersedes positive outcomes and inversely negative thoughts precipitate negative outcomes. While this may not be applicable to all situations, it certainly plays a factor in martial arts success.
I can remember being a blue belt in the Hudson Valley and doing jiu-jitsu with higher belts and getting demolished. I felt like there was nothing I could do to stop their attacks or start my own. When I would look down at the color across their waist I felt like tapping rapidly was the only thing I would be accomplishing. However, one day I was visiting a different academy on a no-gi night. This particular night things were going well for me and I felt like I was going to tap anyone who got on the mat with me. I had a great roll with a guy I’d never seen before. He was technical, but I was able to catch him in a few triangles setups I had been working on. At the end of the class I had to leave, but my partner decided to stick around for the next class. I was shocked when I saw him pull out a tattered purple belt and strap it around his waist. I couldn’t believe that I actually pulled off submissions against a higher belt. I was the most shocked jiu-jitsu student in the Hudson Valley. I later saw that this purple belt was actually getting the better of many guys who I thought to be unstoppable. I realized then that the difference was largely mental. With the other high ranks I saw their belt color and assumed defeat before I even began. However, when I grappled confidently and without concern for my partners rank I was able to be successful. Although this realization helped me in practice, I still had mental hurdles that hindered my performance in competition.
As a brown belt I entered the Abu Dhabi North American Qualifier one of the toughest no-gi jiu-jitsu tournaments in the nation. Abu Dhabi is the most prestigious grappling tournament in the world and only a handful of people get the honor of competing there. No one from the Hudson Valley had ever made the grade. In order to earn my spot I had to win this qualifier. When I looked at my bracket there were about 30 people entered, but I was only concerned with one name – Enrico Cocco. Enrico was something of a grappling phenom who had beaten some really big names and earned a rock solid reputation – he had also earned a victory over me a few years back at a local tournament in Florida. I was relieved when I saw that he was on the opposite end of the bracket, we would only potentially meet in the semi-finals. I had a great day of grappling, easily winning my first three matches without getting a single point scored on me. I was one step away from the finals when I saw that I would indeed be facing Enrico. At that moment I felt completely defeated. I had convinced myself that there was no way I could top him. He looked so dominating in his prior matches that I just assumed I’d be another notch on his belt. I stepped on the mat and shot into a guillotine choke, tapping out in less than 1 minute. Enrico then went on to win the tournament and earn a spot at Abu Dhabi.
On my way back to the Hudson Valley, I was so upset that I gave the jiu-jitsu match away mentally before even getting on the mat. A few weeks after Enrico beat me we found ourselves competing against each other once again. This time though, I convinced myself I would win. I pictured myself getting my hand raised and grappled confident that I not only “could” win, but that I WOULD win. Sure enough, after a back and forth match, I had my hand raised. There was no technical improvements from the last match, no greater physical preparation. Indeed the only difference was my mentality. I believed in my success and I reaped the benefits. Having faith in your personal potential for success, is often times the biggest determinant between the possible and the impossible.
For centuries it was thought that no person could run a mile in under 4 minutes. However, once Roger Bannister achieved it for the first time everyone re-worked their understanding of possible. The result? Runners began hitting sub 4 minute miles everywhere, today even high schoolers can do it. The “Bannister Effect” was simply the Law of Attraction applied. Belief in success caused a new level of achievement. Even against seemingly impossible opposition, a focused belief can overcome.
A common pitfall people fall for Hudson Valley Jiu-jitsu students is when confronted with a challenge they tell themselves they cannot overcome it. They go forth assuming defeat and arrive at their failure as if it was complete inevitability. Muhammad Ali once said, “It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself”. Think about your goals in martial arts and in your everyday life. If these goals are worthwhile to you then chase after them with a steadfast conviction that you will be successful and watch your limitations be redefined.