I’ve been having fun these last couple of weeks.
Paulie, my old sparring partner has been away on a holiday so I’ve been covering his Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) class for him.
His crew is currently working towards the Doce Pares World Championships, so they’re working pretty hard.
At the other end of the room I have my Kettlebellers. The regular crew and also my Kettleheads Girevoy Sports Team who are ramping up for a Kettlebell Sports competition.
So you could say, it’s busy.
And that’s not counting working with the BJJ lads who compete this weekend…
All of these guys require a high level of conditioning. Being strong simply isn’t enough, being strong for extended periods of time is more important. Being able to recover quickly from exertion is vital but possibly more than that is the ability to stay focussed while fatigued.
I can’t think about this without thinking back to being a teenager coming up through the Karate belts.
Back then we all had serious man crush on a black belt that’d occasionally travel up and train with us.
His name was Gerard Burke.
He was a Fireman
He was a champion karate fighter
He had possibly the fastest Gyakuzuki (reverse punch) in the business (he even had a telegraph before he threw the damn punch, but he still nailed us every single time!)
He had insane fitness levels
He was a genuinely nice guy
He was a good instructor.
Needless to say, we loved him and were in awe of him.
As both fireman and Karate-ka, he placed a high value on fitness and the ability to resist fatigue.
He used to say to us, “When you get tired, you must tighten up your technique, minimise everything, become efficient, never sloppy.”
That lesson hasn’t left my head since he taught it to us over 20 years ago.
Anyone who’s trained with me, especially if it’s for a competitive reason will have had me yelling at them “You’re not tired! OTHER people get tired, YOU don’t get tired!”
I guess that’s my version of Gerard’s lesson. Maybe not as eloquent, but the message is the same.
Whatever it is you are doing, fatigue will build. Your vision may become obscured as sweat drips into your eyes, your heart of pounding out of your chest and muscles are screaming out for more fuel, more oxygen and to simply stop.
This is the point where you must decide, “Who am I?”
Or more importantly, “Who do I want to become?”
Then it’s time to strip away any excess movement, any excess thoughts, to dial in and focus. Become a laser beam, ignore everything that’s going on around you, even in you and simply do the job that’s in front of you.
It’s not easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.