I Watched My Best Friend Get Brutally Knocked Out
Even though the fight took place 5 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday.
I was in the Army back then, and a buddy of mine named Jude was making his mixed-martial-arts (MMA) debut. He was one of my best friends and training partners, so that night I took a special day off work to cheer him on.
As you can see in the above GIF, the fight did not go well.
The end came at just 25 seconds of the first round. Jude’s opponent pressured him back towards the cage and threw an illegal flying knee, catching him flush on the jaw and knocking him out.
It was one of the most brutal knockouts I’ve seen in my life. His legs were stiff and trembling, and his memory was wiped clean. Till this day, Jude only remembers bits and pieces of the fight. The experience was sobering, to say the least, but if there is a silver lining in this shitty situation, its that it taught me an expensive life lesson that I hold close to my heart till this day.
When you take part in a high-stakes endeavour, you must ensure that you are 101% prepared.
This goes things like for:
- Business pitches.
- Important exams.
- And of course, full-contact MMA fights.
That’s not to say that Jude was woefully unprepared. He is a high-level Jiu-Jitsu exponent and had a good training camp for this fight. Good, however, is the enemy of great. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as being over-prepared for a winner-takes-all situation. There is a great quote from Mike Flanagan (author of The Ranger’s Apprentice) that goes,
“An ordinary archer practices until he gets it right. A ranger practices until he never gets it wrong.”
When the heat is on and the arrows start flying, you want to be an expert ranger, not a rank-and-file archer. And the only thing that separates a ranger from an archer is the quality of their training.
Stalwart practise is the only thing that separates the ordinary from the extraordinary. Before entering any sort of competition, you want to have the best level of instruction possible. You want to cover all your bases, to dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s. You want to, in short, be as prepared as you possibly can for what is at hand.
Because if you’re not ready when the time comes, the consequences are very real — and yours alone to bear.
Bonus: No matter how terribly you failed the first time, muster up the courage to try again.
Jude’s first fight went just about as poorly as a debut can go.
However, what defines a story is not how it starts, but how it ends. After taking some months off to recover from his concussion, Jude went right back to training. He decided to give this MMA thing one more go.
This time, I made sure to be there for him every step of the way. From the training camp to the weight cut, to the fight itself. And this time, the roles were reversed. He won by first-round submission, just as planned.
Fighting, like life itself, is completely unpredictable.
To try and dictate the action as it is already happening is futile. As far as I know, there are only two factors we get to control.
- The level of our preparation prior to the match.
- Our attitude towards the outcome.
When you’re playing a high-stakes game where disastrous consequences abound if you zig when you should have zagged, you want to be at the top of your game. And the only chance you get to put on a perfect performance is if you’ve put in perfect practice prior to the performance itself.
Lastly, don’t be too caught up over the outcome. If you win, great. Celebrate, then get back to practise. If you lose, pick yourself up, dust yourself off — then get back to practice.
At the end of the day, results are nothing but an indication of skill. It’s the process that nobody sees — of hard training sessions behind closed doors, of writing another blog post at 12 am, of running another mile when you don’t think you have it in you anymore, that actually serves to increase your skill level. And being skilled is the only thing that can prevent brutal losses such as the above from ever happening.
Focus on consistent, purposeful practice, and the rest will take care of itself.