An Average Joe’s Pan Am Diary. Part Two.
Hi, my name is Micah. When it comes to BJJ competition I am just an average joe. I have never been considered athletic. Because I am too small to get an opponent, I usually have to fight in bigger weight classes. I lost my first eight matches in a row, and have never won a gold medal. After losing yet another tournament in a higher weight class I finally decided. I am going to the 2011 Pan American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships. This is the story of an Average Joes first Pan Ams.
Two hours to go until I need to drive to the airport and take off for Pan Ams. I just finished last minute packing and am thinking about the mental focus I will need as I compete tomorrow. A couple of years ago my wrestling coach told me a story explaining the mental game. (A short aside: I never wrestled in school, but Josh is a world class wrestling coach that trains BJJ at our academy and who taught me everything good I know about wrestling. I call him my wrestling coach.) Anyhow, the story he told was about two competitive mindsets, both were from the star wars movie “The Phantom Menace.”
Now whatever your opinion of the star wars prequels is, (I hate them) this example perfectly illustrated the mental game for me. The first mindset he told me about was the Darth Maul mindset.
“Remember that part of the movie where they are fighting and the energy barriers come down and block Darth Maul and Qui Gon Jin from fighting each other?” Coach started.
“Darth Maul glares at Qui Gon and paces back and forth like a caged animal. This is what you want to do when you step to the line in wrestling, whether you are being reset in the middle of the mat, or starting a new match, or going into overtime you always want to be the first person on the line with that same kind of caged animal intensity.” He explained.
“This focuses you on the match only and that focus shuts out all other distractions so you can be prepared to do the right thing and not be distracted by outside thoughts.” Next he said, “Remember Qui Gon though, he was calmly meditating while the barrier blocked them. When the barrier came up it was just like the referee in a match saying go and Qui Gon was focused on the fight. He was calmly meditating, but he was focusing and ready for the barrier to lift. You have to have the right mindset for different situations.” He said.
“But, when do you know which mindset to use.” I asked.
Coach replied, “You always want to be Darth Maul first. Sometimes, though, your opponent is better at being Darth Maul than you or sometimes the opponent beats you to the line and is prepared quicker than you are. In that case you need to throw him off his game. You become Qui Gon. You try to stall a little, maybe you retie your belt or something to buy some time. During this moment you meditate and prepare to focus while your opponent perhaps has a stray thought that slips into his head and breaks his focus. It is difficult to maintain focus while there is no action. When you are ready you step to the line mentally prepared and your opponent’s focus has cracked a little as stray thoughts bounce inside his head.”
I replied, “Then you had Obi Wan in the back looking all shocked and crazy eyed, just before Darth Maul stabs Qui Gon.”
“Yeah, you never want to go into a match looking like that.” Coach said. “If your opponent has the Obi Wan face on then you put on your best Darth Maul face and crush him.”
This illustration has helped me out a lot. When I started competing I used to always have the Obi Wan face on, but now I bring my Darth Maul face. Pan Ams better be ready for it.
Look for me in the Adult Purple Belt division, Pluma weight class.