How to become a Champion
Article written by Jonathan Cobb; BJJ Brown Belt, Jiu Jitsu Competitor
On October 23rd, 1951, Grandmaster Helio Gracie fought the judo legend Masahiko Kimura in Rio de Janeiro. Helio challenged the much-larger Kimura after defeating Japan’s second-best Judoka, Yukio Kato, by front collar choke in just eight minutes. Kimura ended up winning the challenge, but the Japanese delegation was so impressed by Helio’s performance that they promoted him to 6th Dan – the same rank as Kimura. This was a surprise because the Japanese Judo delegation had originally come to Brazil to challenge Helio’s rank and reputation.
Although he lost to Kimura, Grandmaster Helio fought and beat many of the best boxers, sumo wrestlers, judokas, and grapplers in the world during his incredible 35-year-long fighting career. These fights included no-holds-barred rules, fighters nearly twice his weight, and a former student half his age. His no-holds-barred fight against Valdemar Santana lasted a staggering 3 hours and 42 minutes.
Helio was an undaunted 140-pound man with no excuses. For Helio, being a champion meant more than simply winning. The Grandmaster once said, “I prefer to get beaten like a man than win like a coward, so I always tell my students that there is no shame in losing.” Even when defeated, Grandmaster Helio gained the awe and admiration of his opponents by fighting with true courage and conviction. To become a true champion, you must harness the same invincible mindset that made Grandmaster Helio a living legend.
Being a Champion
Being a champion has far more to do with how you train and compete than how often you win. You know you’re a champion when you begin to tap into your true potential and refuse to let anything hold you back. Being a champion is a state of mind, not a title. It takes a great deal of heart to overcome the doubt, failure, and compromise everyone faces along the way. Grandmaster Helio had the strength of will to overcome all of these obstacles. Do you?
Many people will never know what they are capable of because they do not believe in themselves. There are many reasons why you might not reach your goal, but never let your lack of faith hold you back. Successful people often appear to have absolute confidence, but everyone has doubts at some point. Those doubts will destroy you if give in to worrying, so never dwell on them. Les Brown said, “Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.” Champions surround themselves with people that believe in them and they condition their minds to stay positive.
Having faith that you can reach your goals is the first step on the path to becoming a champion.
As Greg Plitt and many others have said, “The road to success is paved with failure.” That means that every successful person has faced failure at some point along the way. Some of the most successful people first had to overcome catastrophic, gut-wrenching, humiliating failure. Each time you come up short you have to decide whether you will work harder or give up. You will be honest with yourself about the mistakes you made or you will blame your circumstances. Failures make us confront our weaknesses more than anything else. When you miss your mark, realize how much you want to succeed and recommit to reaching your goal. Setting goals that force us to grow, however, means that we will also have to risk failing again. If you haven’t failed at something for a long time, you are probably not pushing yourself hard enough.
Everyone knows that you’re not supposed to quit, but the subtle dream-killer is compromise. Compromises are the excuses we accept or create that prevent us from reaching our potential. You hold back because you are tired or you skip class because you convince yourself that you might be injured. Of course there are days when your body needs to rest, but you must learn to be brutally honest with yourself at all times. There will always be reasons to quit or take a step back
that may seem reasonable at the time, but these excuses usually pop up when it starts to get hard. If you want to be a champion, you must find unreasonable excuses to succeed. As Jim Rohn said, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”
Decide what you want and how much you are willing to sacrifice for it, but never leave room for regret.
Psychologists have done countless studies on successful people and how to develop good habits. Time after time, they have proven that the most important factor to become successful is to have strong willpower – the discipline and fortitude to keep pushing yourself. That inner strength is more important than talent, intelligence, or money. Know that you are only as successful as you choose to be.
We tend to focus on the physical benefits of our training, but conditioning your mind to go further is the greatest benefit of the time you put in at the gym. Always be the hardest worker in the room and train to develop an unbreakable mindset. Train your spirit to become unconquerable and remember that success is waiting for you on the far side of doubt, failure, and compromise.
At the end of the day, there’s only one way to know that you’ve become a true champion: You look inside yourself and realize that you are truly, truly proud of yourself. It’s when you know that you’ve ignored your doubts, pushed through your failures, and never compromised. It’s the feeling you get when you accomplish something you thought was impossible. That kind of inner peace can only be earned because only you will ever know how hard you worked.
And that’s all that matters.