A few years ago I fell in love with martial arts, and it’s become a great source of learnings and insights for me. In the Way of the Warrior series, I’m going to share these lessons with you—and I find that most of them are relevant not just in the context of fighting, but also in other areas of life. It’s part of how I do my inner work.
Being in the ring is a very humbling experience for me, and it forces me to look at the world with beginners eyes. In the ring, nobody gives a fuck that I’m Mr. CEO. And that’s a beautifully honest way to be.
In today’s episode, I talk about two recent realizations I had while training. The first one is about how being pushed to our limits can make us do things we wouldn’t normally do, and why people commit acts of desperation.
The second one is about using compliments as a way to implicitly ask your training partner to go easy on you.
As always, I’d love to hear from you!
So this is part of the martial art journey recordings. Like the, the little things I learned about life while practicing, we tie while practice in Brazil, while doing these martial arts, going through these martial arts, cancel training sessions. There’s so much of this. Like, there’s going to be a lot of recordings on my past learnings, but I wanted to capture this because it’s a recent one and it’s um, yeah, it’s about like, Two there’s two ideas, how grabbing shorts shows that you’re panicked and how making compliments shows that you’re trying to beg for mercy.
[00:00:43] And I’ll unpack this back. This for you. So. Um, in MMA, when you watch fights at the UFC at the highest level, for instance, there is striking. So punching kicking is wrestling, you know, try to bring somebody to the ground or defending from somebody that’s trying to get you to the ground. And then there’s.
[00:01:03] You know, fighting on the ground, which is usually jujitsu, which is on the ground, trying to the break, somebody, um, like, or not break it, but get them to a point where they give up, submit where they tap or choke them to the point where they double tap and say, I give up in this time. Right? So those are the three layers.
[00:01:19] When does grappling exchanges in MMA when there’s like. Some type of me grabbing you, grabbing me and me trying to put you on the ground or you trying to, when you’re on the ground, get back up on your feet and I’m trying to hold you down. When there’s this kind of grappling, it changes. Yes. Sometimes very rarely.
[00:01:40] Actually you’ll see somebody in an effort to gain an advantage or get an angle. Instead of just grabbing somebody’s legs or hips or arms. Actually grabbing somebody’s shorts and like pulling on the shorts in some way or grabbing the fence in the, in MMA, in the octagon. There’s a fence around them.
[00:02:04] There’s a, when you at the fence and you’re being, you know, you’re defending from being taken down and this, somebody grabbing you and you can tell, they want to throw you on the ground. You can tell sometimes that somebody will just grab the pens and it’s not legal to grab the fence and it’s not legal to grab it, pull in somebody’s pants or shorts.
[00:02:21] Right. This is not legal. So sometimes you’ll see a fighter that does this in the past. Commentators would usually say, say something along the lines of, Oh, I heard fighters that are, this is a better example. How many judges would usually just complain about grabbing shorts, being something that. The referee should have given them a, taken a point away from them or done something more drastic round the referees.
[00:02:47] Don’t usually like to do that. So for some people have a fence or short, usually they just give you a warning, but you could get away with this cheating quote, unquote. But I heard once a fighter and he was like, Oh, when somebody grabs my shorts, it doesn’t all of them need. Because in that moment, I know I have them.
[00:03:04] I know they’re desperate now. And I’d never, I heard it, it stayed in my memory. It made an impression on me, but yeah, could not fully compute it, understand what it means until they started grabbing somebody’s pants. My socks. So this is, this is what happened. So I’m going to Brazil. We’re doing no gay grappling.
[00:03:29] And a few times is usually when I was already exhausted towards the end of a session and I’m in a really bad spot. And then there’s a big explosive movement from my opponent. And I’m trying, like, I am trying to save myself like I am in a. Imagine you’re being in the ocean. There’s a huge wave to just hit your face, your water and everything.
[00:03:57] Your body is in panic and defense mode. All I want to do is whatever it takes to get back my head above water, right. This is the sort of sensation that I’m in here. And in that sensation, I pulled somebody’s pants. Right. And, and it took a second for me to realize, to let go of it. And then I did it again a couple of minutes later and it was not voluntary.
[00:04:23] Not something I planned. I was not like, Oh, I’m losing, he’ll let me cheat because I’m not fighting for anything. There’s no life and death situation. It’s just training. We’re just sparring. We’re just like rolling. But it, that been a state of panic and I don’t know what to do with that moment. You can follow the gentleman.
[00:04:42] My buddy just wants to do anything and everything possible to survive. It’s just not it’s. My hands are just grabbing for anything. It doesn’t fucking matter. And I realized that when I’m fresher, when I’m not, when I’m in a position, we have more competence and I’m not in this panic state. I’m not grabbing anybody shorts.
[00:05:07] Because I am much more in a sensation of swimming in the ocean and maybe the water is rough and maybe there are waves, but I’m not drawing. So I’m just like putting one hand after the other. I’m like, I’m enough controlled. I’m doing martial arts against you. And I’m using technique. I know what you’re doing.
[00:05:27] I know what I have to be doing. I have the gas, the gas tank. I have my breath and I’m trying my best. But when I’m like completely exhausted and I’m in a really bad position. And then somebody makes a really big move. And I know now they’re going to definitely, and I’m trying to defend, I lose that little bit of control and I, and I was in the situation where I could realize, Oh, I’m panicking here.
[00:05:53] And that’s why grabbing. It’s not voluntary. I’m not decided to wrap it. Just my body does whatever they can. If your profile, you should never be in a position where you have that panicked. Right. But people are. And so. And this connects Starbucks into life as well, where it’s like, when you were in a situation of panic, you might be grabbing for shorts in ways you would never do.
[00:06:18] Otherwise you might break the rules, there’s something that’s not allowed or acting a way that is harmful to others or yourself, uh, or negative or aggressive ways that it’s not your quote unquote typical self. Right. And the act of desperation is an act of desperation. So the, the. Awareness of that. I mean, in a martial art, you want to be so competent and so conditioned that hopefully even when you’re losing, even when you’re losing badly, cause there’s people that are losing badly and they don’t grip shorts.
[00:06:57] Right. Because even when they’re drowning, they’re not desperate. Even when they’re drowning, their mind is not shut off. Right. They’re just, I’ve gone to their place enough times that yeah, when they’re drowning, they can be like, well, two more seconds and I’ll die and let’s see what I can do, but they’re not panicked.
[00:07:16] Right. And there are people that maybe have not trained or experienced that situation often enough like me. So the first time I made that situation, my body just panics and does something that is outside my cognitive competence. So control. So that was kind of a interesting little thing to experience myself.
[00:07:35] Like I wouldn’t watch people grab shorts and be like, what the fuck is wrong with you? You’re not like, Oh, I get it. Okay. I mean, this is not an excuse because I’m not a provider. This is not my. The job. I don’t have to be perfect. Um, but at least I understand the feeling it, and that’s why that fighter was saying, well, if somebody grabs the fence on my shorts, not angry, I just know I got this person.
[00:07:57] This person is in panic right now. Right? Like, Oh, I get it. This makes sense. The other short experience that I wanted to share. What’s interesting recently is the, what I explained is like compliments as begging for mercy. So when you go to a gym, um, this is an example from, uh, my last session at more time on Friday, when you go to a martial arts hi class.
[00:08:27] And did you, do you get paired up with people and you do rotate. The people that you work out with, and then this may be sparring. There’s a lot of indirect communication that is going on. There’s a lot. I don’t have a lot of things being communicated either. I’m not verbal or indirectly. And it’s very interesting.
[00:08:47] And I had this experience the first time from the different vantage point. So on Friday we had a more tight class. We started with clinch work and. Again, I’m such a like super beginner and more time all these, these martial arts, but in my class, when it came to trenching is very underdeveloped in our school here, kind of in the German gym that I go.
[00:09:15] And so I have a little tiny bit of an idea about punching and so very rarely, but this time I’m kind of the most competent person in this class. Right. But not because there’s real competence, just because there’s. Nobody knows anything about it. So I default, I know a little bit about it. It’s better than anybody.
[00:09:34] I used more technique and lessons, whatever. So I’m being paired up with all these people and I’m going very easy. And I’m trying to share with the people what I know about punching and what they should be improving. There’s one guy that’s very, that you can tell. It’s kind of like, he looks much stronger than me.
[00:09:50] Um, like if you were to look at the two of us and be like, who would you want to be in a video game fight, you would not choose me. How’d you choose that guy? I would. And so, um, but because pitching is like, everything else in martial arts is much more about technique than if power, you have power, but you don’t have technique and somebody has to keep it as much.
[00:10:09] Has less strengthened. You they’ll still win right in the clench clench game that I, that I did with him, I was much, I appeared to be bored stronger than him, but I wasn’t, I just had more techniques. So what’s giving them feedback or showing them something cool. I’m really grateful about it. So we did a couple of rounds of punch work.
[00:10:28] And then when we started doing sparring sparring, it’s like for arm punching, kicking everything with view, with heavier and everything on. So inspire, inspiring as well, two or three minutes, uh, rounds, and then just rotating to another person. That’s your spark and then rotating to another person. And in my third session, I’m being paired up again with that guy right in the moment he sees me, he goes, Oh, with theworking with a pro right dude.
[00:10:57] And that little bit of like, Oh, I’m starting with a pronoun. Okay. I recognize that because it’s something I’ve done many times myself before it was the way he communicated. It was very positive. It was submissive to a certain degree, was basically telling me, Hey, dude, you’re much better than me. And I know it.
[00:11:21] So please go. You don’t need to prove it. You don’t need to make a point here. Let’s go easy. You’re much more experienced than me. Just please go easy. And I’ve done this so many times. I’ve done this so many times and more tied up with somebody inspiring and they’ll make a compliment or comment. And what are really want to say is you’re much better than me go easy.
[00:11:43] Please want to see. So it was weird and surreal to have somebody say that to me. But in also also the first time I really recognized, ah, so interesting that we’re doing these little things that it’s given me a compliment, but really it doesn’t want to give me a copy of it’s all about me. What he wants to tell me is, dude, please go easy.
[00:12:06] Don’t don’t go nuts. I think you’re much better than me. Right? I’m intimidated right now. And. There’s so much of this going on in the gym in martial arts is so much of this indirect communication. I think we recorded a session. I don’t know. Maybe there’s a close video that I did about this. Maybe there’s a.
[00:12:25] Startup check episode. And if not, we’ll record it. And we’ll record one of the future where I was talking about this, this one time that I went to training and I, and I had a cold and my whole mental toughness exercise was not to tell on a one on one training session, not to give the excuse. Hey, I’m not feeling that well today just to train the trainer session without telling my trainer that I don’t feel as well.
[00:12:50] How mentally exhausting. It was how loud my inner voice was the entire session, because I really was desperate to tell him, please don’t judge me for being shitty today because I don’t feel well, please go a little soft for me today because I don’t feel well. And for me practicing these things with martial arts, the mental aspect, that’s so much harder than the physical aspect.
[00:13:18] Even like I’ve been talking about this with Sophia for a year now, like practicing what the ties called me. It’s like your presence, your attitude, your energy. Like walking, shoulders back, chest out, walk it with pride. Doesn’t matter if you exhausted, it doesn’t matter if you’re hurt, like your posture should be communicating strength and dignity and honor.
[00:13:42] Right. And how like Western or sometimes especially Westerners ties observe, have this exhaustion theater that they play. Where in training they’ll exaggerate how exhausted they are. Just so that they’re like, want to tell their trainer just go easier in the next round with me. Right. Just to communicate, Hey, everybody just go easier now.
[00:14:07] Right. But they don’t want to say, Hey, can we go easier? So they go,
[00:14:13] they do this well plate. I’m so tired. Already over is a lot more in the tank. And for me a big part of why I love martial arts and what I’m training when I’m training, martial arts is the mental aspect of these little games are these so many times when I step on the mat, I don’t feel great. And I don’t feel like training.
[00:14:39] And I feel like I want to go easy today. And I feel like communicating that in some way. Right. I just went and had a weightlifting session and I’m toast. My legs hurt, everything hurts. And so I’m going to beat you J session. All I want to do is make a joke or a comment. How you doing, dude, just coming from weightlifting to my legs are hurt.
[00:15:02] I’m not interested in really you knowing that I went to weightlifting, right? What I’m interested in is telling you, can we go easy today? If I don’t do well, can you not judge me because I’m not feeling well and learning to shut that up and be like the moment I’m on the mat. This is not the time for explanations excuses.
[00:15:26] Hi. Yeah, it’d be great. Even if you don’t feel great. And if you are performing shitty, learn to suck it up and swallow it. Don’t explain don’t excuse. Just have a PD session. It doesn’t fucking matter that those aspects of the mental part, the mental game of martial arts is that’s the stuff that really fascinates me.
[00:15:49] That’s where I’m going most passionate about. I like the technique I like working out. I like learning how to punch, how to do this or that. But the thing that really fascinates me is to see the fear of human emotion and the theater of mentality on the mats. Because it’s so much harder and so much more obvious for me to see what other people do and what’s going on with myself.
[00:16:09] So I’m just two little tiny little things. Like someone commented me and me having somebody shorts where it was like, Oh, now I get it. I get the metal. So did you give him what he asked for? Yeah, of course. Like I told him, I mean, I don’t have it need to go, like I’ve learned. I’ve learnt and built the confidence that if you go hard with me, I can go hard.
[00:16:39] It doesn’t mean that I’ll win, but I can’t go hard. I’ve learned to go hard, but my natural. But what’s in my heart is actually a little bit skewed to the two soft side of things. Like I just want to playful nice and easy all the time, because I honestly don’t have aggression when I do martial arts.
[00:17:00] There’s nothing inside of me that feels angry or aggressive maybe to a fault. Like if I had a real fight practice to be more me. No on the, on the mats, but I don’t have that. Like I, so I’m, I have a super, it’s very easy for me to go super light with people. I went super light with them. It was, you know, it was super nice session.
[00:17:20] I have no problem with that at all. Um, how about the other way around, where, where you complimented others and then they didn’t respond by softening up? No, I think that the beginning. I was like a very typical reaction to this. And I had, this was like, what the fuck is up with you? Like, why the fuck? And then tensing up, like being like, I’m going to have to make sure I never get paired up with this fucking idiot again, because.
[00:17:50] He’s going to hard, like I said, go easy and the person’s going to way too hard with me. And then eventually I think one time I listened to something from Sylvie. Um, I’m a big fan of, uh, uh, Sylvie Douglas. I don’t know her last name, but Sylvia would tell you you’ll find her if you’re yeah. Content on YouTube.
[00:18:08] And she was talking about this, like. How do deal with a bully in the gym in a way where it does require the bully to change. Right? It’s just like, if you go hard, well, I’ll go hard too. We’ll see what happens. Right. And also maybe taking this with a, more of a life philosophy of sometimes people will just not play as nice and easy as I want them to.
[00:18:33] Right. And so I need to be able to adjust to that. Right. Maybe I will decide, I don’t want to trade with us. It’s not going to be my main trade department, but in the session, not complaining, not becoming a victim, just being like all, I want it like this, person’s going hoc. I guess I’m there to learn how to go hard today.
[00:18:52] I’m guess I’m going to learn how to deal with this. Right. Um, so, so by now there’s still times where I’d be like, I hope this person’s going to go lights. Um, but when they don’t. I’m not as tripped up about it mentally. I just go all, I guess I have to learn how to deal with, I guess I have to deal with this now.
[00:19:13] Like that’s kind of my current attitude towards this. Yeah. The mental game grabbing shorts, say nice things to people. Ask yourself why you’re doing it. You know, there’s a lesson there.