Sunday, January 26, 2014

Me, myself and I

I'm not satisfied with my performance unless someone's life is changed forever by witnessing it. Winning is great, and losing definitely sucks but more than anything, to me, it's about the performance. I find that in the end the fans, and even the athletes for that matter, don't really remember the wins, the losses, they don't remember the titles won or what your record was. What really sticks with people, years after you've hung it up, is what you left in there every time, what you gave of yourself...... But then again, maybe that's just me.

-El Presidente'  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Injuries#2

I've had my share of injuries throughout my career, more than my share actually. The worst of which would be tearing my ACL. Well having my skull fractured in China after being kicked in the back of the head from a guy wearing a steel plate in his shin guard (which is another story all together) was definitely the most devastating injury I've ever had but the ACL was the toughest to come back from. 
 
I think the most difficult thing coming off an injury is the mental aspect of it, as is most things in fighting/life. Getting to a point where mentally you believe you are 100% again is such a tough thing to do. Doubting yourself, doubting what your body can handle is one of the most debilitating things to people's recovery. This is why you will see two people coming back off of the same injury, one taking 6 months and another, years later, will still not fully be recovered. Obviously other factors come in to play, mainly that being people's work ethic but I think all those things boil down to ones mental strength.
 
Going into my ACL surgery I was full of confidence "I'm going to come back from this better and stronger than ever and I'm going to do it faster than anyone ever!" But I gotta tell you, the day after surgery, when I'm lying in bed suffering in agonizing pain, I didn't have a shred of belief left. I didn't know if I would walk again let alone ever be able to fight again. When we are in the middle of something difficult it can be very challenging to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's so easy to get lost in self-pity and doubt. Thankfully I'm too hard headed to ever quit and I pulled myself out of it. However once I was able to walk again, and seeing how tough it was just getting to that point, I had moments where I told myself "This is good enough, just quit." These thoughts would continue to creep in all throughout my recovery but as the weeks and months went on they slowly faded into the background.
 
I believe you need to have passion, a driving force, in anything in this life you hope to accomplish. Why? Because we will all have moments where it would be so much easier to quit, so easy to feel you've done enough and just stop trying. Moments of injury, sickness, loss, etc, where everything in your body is telling you enough is enough. Passion is what will keep driving you through those times, and trust me; we will all have them no matter what.
I believe I was put on this earth to inspire people and Muay Thai is the outlet I found which allows me to achieve that. Being good isn't good enough for me, at the same time I don't need to be the best of all time, I do however need to be the best that I can be, which is a never ending journey and something that constantly keeps me driven. 
 
You can use your injury, your sickness, your failures and inadequacy’s as excuses to give up, excuses to never even try. You can use set backs as signs that maybe you should be doing something else and who knows, maybe you should. But I would say the majority of the time those set backs are just tests to see how bad you really want something. If it were easy everyone would do it, everyone would be living their dreams. You think people that have "made it" never had any excuses to quit? They had more than you could ever even wrap your brain around. But they had a goal and refused to let anything in this life keep them from it no matter what. If you ever want to achieve your dreams you need to have an all or nothing mentality. A "As long as I'm still breathing then I'm going after it" approach.
 
I would often have injuries throughout my career and people would always ask, "You're still going to take that fight? Why don't you heal up first?" Sure looking back there were times I probably should have. Times I fought with a broken hand, times I fought with the flu, etc, that might not have been the smartest thing to do. But fighting through those times, regardless of my physical state, is how I got to where I am today. "If I'm breathing I'm fighting" was always my mentality, even if someone has to carry me to the ring, prop me up against the ropes and just see what happens than that's exactly what I'm going to do. No way I would ever back out or give up. Your body will tell you to quit but your heart needs to tell your body who’s really in charge.
 
Once you start making excuses it becomes that much easier the next time. Ok so I broke my hand and I need to take this fight off to let it heal then next time a twist my ankle and let that keep me from fighting. Then maybe I stub my toe real hard or maybe have a fight with my girlfriend or ate some bad sushi. Once you allow that weakness into your life it will poison every aspect of it until you are left in ruins and completely useless.
 
As always "It's all about balance". I'm not going to say that every time you are injured you need to suck it up and go in there anyway. I would never tell anyone to do the things I have done. It's what I did and what worked for me and who knows, maybe I did it all wrong, but it got me to where I am. I think it really boils down to a question of "Are you hurt or are you injured?", and knowing the difference between the two. Beyond that it's knowing that no matter the injury, there is always something you can be working on to improve. Even if you are in a full body cast and can't move, you can always be working on the mental aspects of your game. Take a look at Bruce Lee, when he was bed ridden with a back injury. It would have been so easy for him to sit there and feel sorry for himself but no, what did he do? He used that time to write his book and really break down the things about martial arts that he thought needed addressing and changing. He used a set back to propel him even further.
 
You can use this injury as an excuse to quit or a reason to reach greater heights than ever before. You can truly find out if this is something you want or just a passing phase. I'm not saying you won't still have doubts or bad days, you will have plenty, but get through that bad day and get back to work. Each and every time you do that it will be that much easier to push past it next time. Every moment of strength we can have will add that much more to our lives just as each moment of weakness will only lead to more weakness. When I'm in a fight or a tough workout and  want to quit I just tell myself "Push through this and next time it will be that much easier, you will be that much stronger." This can be applied to all things in life #dontactlikeabitch 
 
 
-El Presidente'
  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Heart

Is heart something that you are born with or is it something that can be attained? I would say you either have it or you don't, but then again everyone has a little or else they wouldn't even get out of bed in the morning. When it comes to fighting it's very apparent who does and who does not have it. Granted it takes balls to get in the ring no matter what but that will only get you so far. To the uneducated eye a lot of fighters get away with pretending to have heart but real fighters know the difference. When someone gets poked in the eye, cut, hit low, etc and the ref comes over asking if they're OK. This is that moment where someone with no heart has a way out without having to actually quit but in reality that's exactly what they are doing. It's easy to spot that difference, the fighter who truly has heart is going to beg to keep fighting no matter what, whereas the one without might take a little longer to answer the doctors questions or really play out the “injury”.

Most have more heart than they ever could have imagined but unfortunately it usually takes an extreme situation for us to realize our true potential. A mother of 4 that is suddenly left single and has to work 4 jobs, a fighter that breaks a hand in the 1st round and has to decide if they should quit or go on, a power lifter that is moments away from lifting their personal best but they are barely hanging on to the bar by their fingertips and start feeling their muscles tear...hell just watch this video


So can heart be taught, not really, as I said you either have it or you don't. One thing that can be taught however is that you have more than you ever realized. The only catch is that you have to go through a situation where having heart is the only option and from that you learn how big your heart really is, or you learn that you have none. Most don't realize how much of our training, even though it's physical, really plays into the mental aspect of when we actually are in the ring. When your trainer is pushing you beyond your limits, only you know whether or not you are truly giving it your all or not. It's easy to pass things off as giving 100%, it's easy to even make yourself believe that you gave it your all, it's usually not until afterward that we realize how much more we had left. Take this for example; if I asked you to start doing push ups until you literally could do no more you would start knocking them out and really give it your all. But guaranteed, 99% of the time, you are going to quit before your body truly can't function anymore. Let's just say you did 100, now lets do that same thing but this time I tell you that if you don't give me 200 then I'm going to kill your entire family, think you could do them all then? The thing is most of us quit mentally before our physical bodies can actually do no more. And the more times you give in to that the easier it gets the next time. So for me I really try and pay attention to those things as I'm leading up to a fight, and not just things in the gym. All things in life can lead to us weakening ourselves unknowingly. Any little moment of weakness, even if it's something as insignificant as eating a little piece of candy when you know you shouldn't, ultimately will lead to you being that much weaker when it truly matters. Obviously that's an extreme example but it's usually not one big thing that ultimately ruins us, it's a series of seemingly insignificant ones.

Now what is it that separates those with heart from those without? The ones with heart are willing to die in order to achieve their dreams. Some might say “well it's just not worth it, I'm not going to end up handicapped or worse just to win a fight.” And to them I wouldn't try and change their minds, but that's the thing that separates one fighter to the next. The one that is willing to go that extra mile, the one that is willing to keep pushing through pain and serious injury, the one that will never quit no matter what is happening, is the one that will reach heights that others never dreamed.

People are either born with heart or they are not, but that doesn't mean we all can't grow and strengthen the heart that we do have. Whether it's in your day to day lives, in the gym, in the ring, or anywhere else for that matter, take the time to recognize those moments where you can either strengthen or weaken yourself. And realize that when it truly matters, those small, insignificant moments are the ones that will help strengthen you in the end when it truly matters.


-El Presidente'