Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lessons Learned The Hard Way: Pick A Style That Is The Right Fit For You

MMA has proven the value of amateur wrestling as a martial art. The overwhelming majority of American UFC contenders and champions have an amateur wrestling background, including Chuck Liddell, Rashad Evans, Cain Velasquez, and Chris Weidman. That being said, there is one person for whom amateur wrestling will never work: me.

It is not uncommon to spend your first year in a martial art getting your butt kicked. However, after that, you should be able to win consistently. If you have been doing it for two years or longer and you're still getting crushed, it's probably time to try something else. If you have been doing it for over three years and you're still getting dominated, then you shouldn't go anywhere near that particular style anymore. I know this because that was my experience in amateur wrestling. Even though I made the varsity team during my final three years of school, it was only because I was slightly better than the two guys I had to beat to get the spot (and one of those wins was by forfeit). My record was 0-11, 4-22, and eventually, 1-5. Finally, two-thirds of the way through my final season, I had enough and threw in the towel. Even then, I had overstayed my welcome. Too stubborn to quit, I took out my frustration on my coaches, my managers, and my teammates. In the process, I alienated a lot of people who wanted to be my friends. If I had simply accepted that amateur wrestling was not my thing early on and moved on to judo or Greco-Roman, that probably would not have happened.

Martial arts styles are like members of the opposite sex: you're not going to be compatible with all of them. Forcing yourself to stick with one that you are not a good fit for will just cause you to become frustrated, bitter, and resentful. If you stay too long, you will eventually take it out on your teacher and fellow students. That may lead to you getting kicked out of that school and getting blackballed in the local martial arts community. Why put yourself through that when you can find a style that is great for your body and personality? Perseverance is important. However, it is also important to know when to cut your losses and move on. I didn't do that with amateur wrestling until it was too late. Hopefully, you will learn from my mistake so that you don't have to figure it out the hard way.

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