Just less than a month ago I sat sweatily in my assigned corner, waiting for my name to be announced, then signaling my entrance to the stage where I would face my opponent in a submission only no gi (without the traditional uniform/kimono as seen in karate) match. These types of events differ from a tournament, they are what we in the sport refer to as a “superfight” with oftentimes select rulesets that vary from one promotion to the next. Some super fights contain a point system in the event that the victor is not decided by a submission or tap out, and on the other end of the spectrum a submission-only rule set where the outcome is based almost primarily on one opponent submitting due to a joint lock or choke. In the event no submission is attained by either athlete, the promotions themselves feature their own individual variance in format, regarding length of time or scoring criteria to determine the winner. Historically while there have been submission-only matches with no time limit they generally make for poor spectating especially in regard to the casual observer but I digress.
As I sat there like I do before every bout, breathing and calming my nerves, attempting to maintain an almost meditative state, I took notice of the fear or nervousness that every fighter finds themself intertwined with prior to a match or any competitive bout set to take place in front of an audience. As humans we are quite adverse to losing in front of others, it is an inescapable truth due to our built in demand for self-preservation past a physical sense. There is an existence of irony in the fact that our fear stands to guard us from an experience that we stand to gain from, which is the pain of failure in front of others. Without subjecting ourself to such criticism and public defeat the motive towards self-improvement would be greatly diminished. This is true for artists, athletes and business people alike. By confronting our fears, whether they be public speaking, singing, making people laugh or charting into the chaotic and unpredictable world of free market, only then can we stand to reach the heights of our greatest imaginable human potential. I have always found motivation in the fact that the repercussions of not giving your best in training, in preparation in discipline will be reflected in your performance by way of you being choked unconscious or knocked out cold in front of your family and friends. As dramatic as that may sound, for many it poses a very martial dilemma (hence the term martial arts) that they may then use to look within, ultimately finding their success and/or greatness. Without such loss at stake, there is a tendency for us to stray from what is right, growing ever complacent and succumbing to our human emotions and desires. We are all human, we all err, but we can always improve and by challenging ourselves and driving towards discomfort will we find the gold that we are truly made of.