Choked Out by a 15 year old: Being Humble in Life and Business

I remember the first time I stepped into Infinite Mixed Martial Arts Academy in late 2007. I had spent the past decade weight training and the last four years training under another martial arts system. The Ultimate Fighting Championship has been on the rise and I took a liking to the sport of MMA through the growth and popularity of the UFC. My family and I recently moved to Loveland, and I remembered driving by the Infinite MMA Academy on my way to weight train at the local Gold’s Gym.

One day I stepped into the gym and tried a free trial class of kickboxing. That was pretty fun, although the few times I walked into the gym to see what was going on, I kept noticing these people rolling around wrestling on the ground in what looked like Karate Gis, they were tossing and turning, arm locking each other, choking each other and many times I saw one of the two people competing against each other (also known in the Jiu Jitsu World as “Rolling”) tap out. Tapping out is submitting, calling it quits, which tells your opponent you are done rolling. One would tap to avoid being choked out or have an arm, leg, or joint broken or injured form an arm, leg or joint lock.

This may sound barbaric and crazy from somebody who has never been exposed to the sport. It is all about two people getting on the mats, imposing their will on each other and going until one person quits.

So here was the first lesson I learned and what made me fall in love with the sport. I will share this story and lesson this week and then share more stories and the rest of my lessons next week.

The first Jiu Jitsu class I stepped into, I remember very clearly. I brought in my gym bag and placed it under the bleachers in the front of the gym. I took a drink of water and stretched before I walked onto the mats. The beginning of class was lead by a warm up, some stretching and then learning some basic techniques. At the end of the hour long class, we would partner up and “roll” or grapple with each other. AS class was nearing the end, our instructor informed us it was time to partner up to roll.

At the time I was 215lbs, and very strong. I spent most of my time at the gym lifting weights, and though this translated into something useful as I stepped onto the Jiu JItsu mats. My instructor asked me to go roll with a young, very tiny, and very unassuming looking kid across the mats. I asked, “are you sure?” I thought to myself that I outweighed him by at least 60 lbs, and he has to be about 15 years old. This match was not going to be fair. I didn’t know much about Jiu Jitsu but I did know that this was about to go bad. I confidentially walked across the mats and locked up with this little kid. I charged forward with the thought I was going to take this kid out in about 10 seconds.

About 30 seconds later, I thought I was going to cry. I was thrown to my back, spun every which way this kid wanted me to spin, then eventually choked and arm locked multiple times. Each time I tapped, I became more upset, frustrated and just plain couldn’t believe what was happening. I was tapped out by a 15 year old. His technique, skill, and leverage beat the bigger opponent. He used my force and momentum against me. He imposed his will until I gave up, and he was left standing. I was left in the fetal position on the mats.

I learned a very important lesson that day. In life, and in business, never judge a book by its cover. Technique, skill, and leverage will beat brut force, muscle, and false confidence. To become a master of life and business, we must learn the proper skills and techniques and apply the right leverage to master and control a situation. Be careful charging forward into a situation where your force may be used against you. And remember that imposing all of your will, focus, energy and determination into a situation combined with the correct skills and techniques will allow you to win.

Over the coming three weeks, I will share more of my lessons learned as I have continued my journey through Jiu Jitsu, business and life.