Dana White would probably disagree

And that is ok. Mind you, I have never met him, and will be glad when it happens, as I have a few ideas to bounce off him. His name came up while training in my martial arts class last night: not because we, at the dojo, pretend to reach any level “worth” being televised, more because I was working on finding a position strong enough to then shift and impose a submission to my opponent. I am nowhere near delivering a punishment like late Smokin’ Joe against Muhammad Ali during the Thrilla in Manila. I am working on it though.

Most UFC fighters are experts in one martial art, and “just good” in others: that is why some fights look scripted to knowledgeable eyes. They are not boring, yet some fighters have become predictable in their own style, and made some TV shows too much of the same plain no-brainer entertainment (please note: I did not say “no-brain”). Fighting in a cage has little in common with a repetitive office job: one may have the competences to get into it and lack the skills on how to use them. Fortunately for the (TV) production companies, the script of every episode goes beyond the fighting tools to keep their audience engaged.

Running an event, coordinating a logistics project or negotiating a contract calls for the same: honing the skills to become sharper at handling and managing the details makes the whole difference. The foundations of a project lie in the techniques one can learn: its success depends on how and when to choose them. It is about positioning, adjusting, refining and matching with the environment, and sometimes the elements. Stepping into a ring is somewhat easy, staying in it with all human capabilities alert is another story. It takes practice, and not just in one discipline: being peerless at one is excellent, being great at others becomes a premium. This mastery gets earned: it is rarely given.

The overall goal is to reach an outstanding level in anything one commits to, especially in a ring, whether with or without protective gear. It is a mind game, and I have seen myself leaving my willpower at the door before getting into a (sport) fight: even if I believed in my skills, my heart was not there. No surprise about the outcome, telling myself I would do better next time. A little too late, maybe? Then I go back to the grind, or the blackboard, scratch a few knuckles, collect bruises, learn related arts and other techniques I can choose to use when I see fit. There is no secret: it is work, resonating like a substantial personal pledge to open my mind and expand my skills to unusual angles.

As my Sensei often reminds me: “less talking, more doing”. Avoiding an issue and debating about it only makes it bigger than it is. So I just keep on keeping on, and dig for a second wind to support my next jab.