Let Big Daddy tell you how-to win a major tournament

  1. Show up
    In order to win at a tournament you have to be at the tournament. People talk a lot about wanting to compete, thinking about competing, and when they should compete. Unless you have a family and career or are on injured reserve these are excuses. Just go, you'll be surprised how well you can do just by being there. The hardest thing about competition is the training, the next is stepping on the mat or through the ropes. The actual competition is a reward, you finally get to showcase your efforts, win or lose.
  2. No I in T.E.A.M. (Together Experience Achieves Medals)
    Fight sports are individually competitive but team trained. You cannot excel as a competitor without a good team, that is, proficient coaches and a group of fellow competitors of different levels. Every gold I win is due in part to the efforts of my team and coaches, and they own a small part of it. Similarly a defeat is shared by the team. A competitor holds the lion's share of responsibility for both victory and defeat but the team must bear some part of the burden. Thus recognize your achievement as a competitor and your contributions as a teammate.
  3. Train hard for the rules
    Competition is a game that is played. Unless you can play the rules you cannot win. Thus you must train a game that works within the context of the event, scoring points and denying that opportunity to your opponent. Training occurs year round while training for competition is a brief, focused interval where we hone skills specifically for the event. Understand the legal and illegal techniques, score yourself. Become facile with the periods of activity, faux activity, and inactivity that scored fight sports demand. In other words know when action either offense or defense is required, know when to appear active without actually doing too much, and know when to stall for it all, forcing your opponent to push. This can only be done by practicing before the event, not implemented during the event.
  4. Understand the odds
    In a tournament a victor must be decided, thus there is a 50% chance you will win and 50% chance you will lose. There is a 100% chance you will be injured, although the severity ranges from something you'd have picked up lazing round the house to a visit to the emergency department. I get abrasions, bruises and a more every time I compete. Much less often I've seen fellow competitors removed in an ambulance for heat exhaustion and fractures. There is a very small but significant chance you could die. But there is a small but significant chance you could die every day with or without competition. These are the odds, to compete you must accept them.
  5. Set victory as a goal and transcend that goal
    Setting goals of victory with positive self-talk, visualization, and mental preparation is very important. But realize that once you have trained and conditioned for the tournament its completion is inevitable. Enjoy the moment, if you have prepared and peaked at the correct rate victory will take care of itself. There is nothing more to be done in competition than compete, at that point practices are complete, whether effective or ineffective will be proven during competition.
  6. Prevention is the only sure defense
    Half of competition is defense, but no defense except prevention is 100% effective. Thus you can maximize your offense and training by denying opponents their offense. For example, people always want to know how to defend arm bars after they have been all but locked out. If your competition strategy is defending arm bars at this point, it's already too late. Your opponent has done several things right to get you to this point, the defense of the arm bar should have occurred long before it was implement, that is, its set up should have been prevented.
  7. The other guy has very little idea what you are going to do
    You don't train with these guys. Unless there is a massive amount of tape out on you or they've fought you multiple times they have no idea what you are good at. The things that people are used to seeing from you in practice that they defend easily due to repetition can often surprise someone who doesn't know you.
  8. Mr. Spock, Combat Athlete
    During a fight there is no emotion, find the Zen-like state of combat no-mind. That is don't get excited, frustrated, angry or respond to pain. When someone starts to breath heavy I know that they are tired or think they are about to win. When someone experiences frustration I know exactly where to attack, along the same lines that initiated their frustration. If I'm hurt I try not to show it, if I see injury I attack the weak chink in the armor.
And yes a woman did call me Big Daddy this weekend...

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