If you would have said to me, three months ago, that I would have written on my Facebook status and started a thread on mma.tv about the fact I will never tap in another mma fight again then I would have looked at you with an element of distain, whist thinking “you really don’t know me at all”
Why would I ever feel the need to make such bold statement and put pressure on myself? Plus, if a fighter makes a mistake and gets caught in a fight the normal mantra is you tap, you lose, but you learn from it and you come back stronger (hopefully). It’s all very acceptable to tap out in a fight if you’re in an unlucky position you can’t get out of. I have thought this way for pretty much all of my fighting career. No fighter want’s to tap, but we know that it will be ok if we do as sometimes in a fight there is no other way out other than to tap… or is there…
I look at it as ‘my old way of thinking’, and now I have a ‘new way of thinking’.
Old way of thinking = ok to tap (if you HAVE to). New way of thinking = Not ok for me to tap, I’m just not going to do it.
The strange thing is, I still agree with anyone who has my old view on this subject – which makes what I’m saying even harder to understand (even to me sometimes and I’m the one that’s saying it) and I thought by devoting a blog to it, I could clarify my new way of thinking.
First off, me saying ‘I’m not going to tap in a fight again’ isn’t about being tough, it’s not about ego. All combat sport has, to some degree, ego issues but in this case it’s not the determining factor. It’s actually something much deeper, which I’m still trying fully to understand. Let me try and make myself some-what ledge able.
I was listing to the ‘Joe Rogan Experience podcast’ and his guests were Chuck Liddell and Enson Inoue. Now, I have watched Enson, a long time ago, and remembered him as being a tenacious, explosive fighter that always came to fight (understatement of the century). But while I was aware of him, I wouldn’t say I knew too much about him.
While I was listening to him on the podcast it struck me how intense, kind and thoughtful he came across. I got the impression this was a man who says what he means or he doesn’t say anything at all!
When they got to the point of discussing his fights, the subject of ‘tapping’ came up. Now, I was listening intently at this point as my view of the matter was like I stated above – tap, learn, and come back stronger because anything else is just ego bullshit. Enson took another view, quite the opposite of my own, which was the reason I was listening so intently at this stage in the podcast.
Enson hadn’t come across like this at all, in fact completely the opposite.
I remember back to watching him fight Nog and getting caught in a quick transition from arm bar to triangle and being choked unconscious. I remember thinking two things at the time. The first was that it was pointless and the second was that I had a begrudging respect for him.
HERE IS A LINK TO ENSON INOUE VS ANTONIO RODRIGO NOGUEIRA
What he explained next will change the way I fight, and by doing that it will change my life to some effect (I know, heavy right)
Enson said that when he fights, he has made a peace with himself. Right to the point that he has faced the fact he could die when he steps though those ropes to face his opponent. We know he overcomes this fear as he is there, in the ring, ready to fight.
Being a fighter I’m obviously comparing what he was saying with my own way of thinking. Was I prepared to die every time I was ready to fight? Well, in a way I suppose. I guess everyone that fights makes that choice. Is it likely to happen, that we might die in there? No it isn’t. So really grasping that concept and believing it is like letting that fear go.
I never thought too much about that side of it as a lot of the time I feel like the more you think about something, the more you worry, the more likely it is to happen. So I just go in there to do my best and fight.
After hearing Enson on the JRE experience I realised I had to try to free myself from fear as it was stifling me. I was scared to lose which was slowing me down in all aspects of my life, not just Mma. Now I’m trying very hard not to be scared of being scared.
Like any problem you encounter it needs to be looked at – otherwise how else are you going to figure it out. Only, it’s not that simple. Because fear can also be a good thing, it can motivate you and keep you, well… alive. The more I listened to Enson, the more I watched him fight, the more I saw a fighter with a massive advantage over most of us and there was a man who was controlling and using his fear to his advantage. How had he done this? Well like I said earlier, he was fighting like his life depended on it because simply… it did. This in turn made him train like his life depended on it… because it did.
He had come to terms with the fact he could, and was willing, to die in the fight.
Now when you take my old point of view “I’m not going to think and just fight” and put it up against Enson’s “I have accept I might die and now I’m ready to fight” Who do you think has the advantage going in?
I realise it’s not just as easy as this, to just adopt another man’s thinking to improve how you fight, because the way you think or what you believe in also depends on your personality, which complicates this matter even more.
Maybe if you look into it as deeply as Enson you’d get more nervous as thinking or doing without fear might not come naturally to your personality type. If you’re nervously inclined then Enson’s way would make you think ‘I’m only pushing myself and having a go at Mma, I’m not on about dying or suffering serious injury’.
I don’t think people who think this are wrong; there is no right or wrong way… It’s what is right for you and the only one that can tell you what’s right or wrong for you is yourself. No one else can.
What Enson said made real sense to me. He had conquered his fears by accepting them. Which made him more dangerous a fighter and, I’m guessing, as a person.
This hasn’t always been my view. I’ve never gone into a fight with this mind-set. Training like I’m going to have a fight that could end me. In fact for some fights I haven’t trained at all. I’ve drank, gone out, taken all manner of drugs and gambled incessantly and then (surprisingly) fought and lost. Only to wash, rinse and repeat.
You tell me which those two options is more dangerous, especially given the way I fight, which is flat out no matter what shape I’m in. I think the answer (in regards to me) is simple.
So I’m changing, not just the way I fight but the way I am as a person. This started happening before I listened to Enson on the JRE but this interview only accelerated things. This is why I made the thread on mma.tv and posted a status on my Facebook Page.
You’re probably thinking why did I have to make it public, why couldn’t I just adopt that way of thinking in silence. The answer is simply that I’ve noticed when I write something down it helps me get it done. I might not even go back to what I have written but just the act itself solidifies something in my mind.
When I’m doing my YouTube videos (Subscribe to my you tube channel Colossal Collective) I write all my thoughts down on my I pad, note book thing and it’s like I’m writing them into my mind, to regurgitate them in an entertaining fashion for your amusement. I also don’t say things that I don’t whole heartily believe, I just don’t.
So something as big as this wasn’t just a knee jerk reaction. I really looked at it, into myself, for the answers to find what’s right for me… and this is what I believe is.
I’m very aware that it can be perceived as ‘easy to write and say these things’ (even though it wasn’t easy or something I taken likely at all) but there is a big difference in saying ‘I’ll never tap again’ to then get caught in a knee bar with someone like Frank Mir hanging off your leg.
I’m not in that position and have only adopted this way of thinking recently so who knows, in the future I might be writing a blog about how and why I tapped. I don’t know.
All I know is that I’m not scared. If I have to write another blog in the future about me tapping and why I had to, either to stop my having leg or knee broken, or to stop me from dying in a fight, I’m not scared anymore because I will face up to these thing if they happen and look them straight in the eye. The willingness to do this, I believe, makes it less likely to happen and empowers me massively.
I’m now taking this this same approach in my life and its working out well. This is why I love MMA. I believe to be truly great you need to face your fears and let them enhance you.
Mind, body and soul…
This is the JRE that made me look at ‘tapping’ in a completely different light
Check out the LONDON REAL Podcast, where I talk about my ‘not to tap’ decision and loads more
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