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The Irish Open and How Competition Improves You

The Irish Open is the biggest Jiu jitsu event in Ireland. We have people come from all over the country and abroad to compete in it, and it is tough to win a match, never mind win a division at it.

The other thing is that I organise it, so I can coach all I want in the lead up, but I never get to coach on the day. Instead, I’ve to make do with watching, frustrated, from behind the organiser’s table!

But I’m lucky enough to have a team of coaches who do a great job, probably a better job, than I do in the corners of our fighters.

I won’t go into the results and the blow by blow, to be very honest, I’m really more interested in what competing gives you than on the medals (which come as a result of that). In other words, if you master your psychology, the physical preparation, the pre-fight nerves, your tactical nous, your grit and determination to win- you will become a better person as well as a better fighter.

If you rid yourself of the excuse mindset, and “Burn the Boats”*, you will stop giving yourself “outs”. You’ll learn to take more calculated risks and stop constantly playing the safe option.

And when you lose (and you will lose in almost every tournament you do) you will learn to take it. Not like it, but take it. Failure is seen as something to avoid at all costs. But (cliché coming), it really is the greatest teacher.

I tell the kids I coach all the time, “I am a massive failure!” Most of the takedowns I attempt, fail! Most of the sweeps I try, fail! Most of my escapes, don’t work! When I go for a lot of my submissions, the guy escapes! When I go to a tournament, I mostly don’t get the gold! What a failure!

So you stand up, dust yourself off, and go again. Maybe you change something in your training, or maybe you have faith that what you’re doing will come good in the end. And maybe it will and maybe it won’t, but you will develop a leathery hide and not take those supposed failures to heart.

That’s the “resilience” thing people keep going on about. Can I have a rant for a second?

People say “We need to teach kids resilience”. You can’t teach resilience. You develop resilience through experience. You fail, you f*ck up, you learn that the sun comes up tomorrow, and you get on with it.

That’s why my kids do Jiu Jitsu.


Okay, I will see you on the mat!




*As a Neil Young fan, I just think of Cortez the Killer when I use this quote. 

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