A quote that is often attributed to Mike Tyson goes:
"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."
The actual quote is,
"Everybody has a plan until they get hit. Then, like a rat, they stop in fear and freeze."
He said this in an interview back in 2010 when he was asked about all the pre-fight jabbering regarding a particular opponent. I started using it as soon as I first heard it. It speaks volumes of truth.
As many of you know, I have been around the martial arts and shooting world for a long time. (I just celebrated my 52nd year in the martial arts). I have seen dozens of folks who talked a real good game – many even dropped a few names and some actually had some skills. But, when it came right down to it, they didn’t have the “sticktoitevness” it ultimately took become successful over the long haul.
Legendary coach Bear Bryant said:
“It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”
How true that statement is. I honestly believe my success, as well as the success of many others, was determined by the fact we put in thousands of hours training and honing our skills. Sacrifices were made, bruises and broken bones and other physical pain was endured. But the goal was pictured vividly, and everything was geared toward that end. The culmination being I can truthfully say the actual fights – in and out of the ring - were practically anti-climactic compared to the training.
To this day, when I regale people of ‘training long ago’, I really think they believe I am making things up or at least embellishing. Trust me, I do not have to. The training we did was ‘old school’ (i.e. it hurt). We routinely worked out six days a week for four or more hours a day. Weightlifting, stretching, running, sparring, bag work, teaching classes and more and we never gave it much thought. It was merely something we had to do to achieve our goal.
Because we trained so hard, and because the training was so diverse, we were exposed to a plethora of situations. This enabled us to apply our skills with an assortment of opponents with different skill levels, and in varied contexts. Often, we limited what tools we allowed ourselves to use. For example, one person could only use jabs and the other only front kicks. This made us adapt to the adversities and think through and/or react to what was presented. In short, it made us better fighters.
If we apply this to shooting and personal protection, there is an adage I like to use – “Practice what you suck at.” (Attributed to Clint Smith). This too is true. You will not gain much by practicing what you are already good at. True learning along with skill building happens when one fully understands the concepts and one understands what is physically necessary, and then the required work is done to achieve a goal. If this is done, discipline and proper mind-set needed to deal with adversity is developed. It is too easy to go along fat dumb and happy if a plan is working but, like Tyson said, “…If you’re good and your plan is working, somewhere during the duration of that…, you're going to get the wrath, the bad end of the stick. Let's see how you deal with it. Normally people don’t deal with it that well."
Most people are satisfied with doing it the “easy way”. They are more interested in the 'sizzle' than the 'steak'. That’s all good and well on a two-dimensional range, shooting at paper people on a nice Spring day or practicing on a nice soft mat in the air-conditioned gym. But, change that to dealing with a meth addled mugger at three in the morning or rolling around in the parking lot at a Wal-Mart, and you’ll quickly learn those warm, sunny days on the range and choreographed workouts in the gym may not have been sufficient.
Train hard. Do it the hard way once in a while. Sweat. Breathe hard. Train like your life depends on it - because it does.
BE SAFE • BE EFFECTIVE • BE READY