Being tough. Do you remember that time and age when everyday people were tough as nails? Yeah, I don’t either. Sad.
Times are changing. People are softer now. Every one’s a lover, not a fighter. That’s fine, the world needs lovers I guess.
Me on the other hand, I’d rather be a fighter. I’d rather be tough. I mean sure I guess I’m a lover at times, you know, when I’m out to dinner with my wife. Other then that, tough is my road.
I think for you to have success at anything worthwhile you’ve got to be tough. That includes BJJ training. For BJJ, tough is good.
When people ask me what I look for in a student, I tell them he or she needs to be tough. Everyone thinks it’s all about talent. Look, talents pretty much all over the place, toughness isn’t. I’ll take tough over talent any day of the week.
Take me for example. I’m not talented at all. I’m chunky, slow and weak. Pretty much I got dealt a bad athlete hand, haha.
BUT…I did so well in my career because I was tough. I wouldn’t quit and I took a good beating. The key is I could take the beating. So many people can’t. My former trainer, Renzo Gracie, had a great saying he used all the time. It went like this:
“He’s great when he’s the hammer but bad when he’s the nail”. I like that saying.
I won so many matches just by toughing out bad situations and then turning it around and coming on strong in the end.
Now of course, you need more then just tough to win. You need the skills to go with it. But if you put them together…you be a killing machine.
I’ve got a good story about tough and what it really means to fight hard.
Way back in 2001 I was training in Brazil at a place called Gracie Barra, at the time the top BJJ program in the world. I met a kid named Pedro Brandao. We trained together a lot during that trip.
Man if you ever wanted to roll with one tough SOB, this was your guy. It was brutal. He never stopped moving and god forbid he’d tap out or quit.
He worked very hard in the practice room. He would roll with anyone and everyone, no matter how big or what belt they were.
I remember one time I rolled two 10 minute matches with him and man these were brutal matches, back and forth, all over the place. The kind of rolls that really get you tired.
After the timer went off for the second round I was spent. Dead to the world. Pedro…nah, he was ready to go a third.
I was like dude you’re hardcore. No quit in him, all fight and toughness. I’m still in awe of that guy even today as I write this.
They told me a story about Pedro that I thought was cool and inspiring. He was competing at the Pan Am Games back in 1998. He was wrestling with another tough kid in the semi’s of his weight class, which was Pena (147 LBS).
The other guy broke both of Pedro’s wrists with wrist locks…Pedro didn’t quit, tap or stop. He kept going and eventually won the match on points.
He went on to win in the finals too and after he got his gold medal, went straight to the hospital and had both his wrists put in casts. Talk about tough!
This story has a sad ending. Pedro was killed a few years ago during a training exercise with the Army. It’s a shame, the world lost a good person that day.
RIP Pedro. You really were a tough mofo.
So the point of today’s blog post is this: Be tough, fight hard and never give up. That’s how you find success in BJJ.
*Click here to read the link about Brandao and his passing.
Below I threw in a video of Pedro competing. 100% worth a watch. Not only was this guy tough but also super exciting.