Competition Humiliations

When I was promoted to black belt, I felt like there was a huge weight on my shoulders. My professor, Megaton Dias, has a reputation for being stringent with his promoting criteria, and only turning out high level guys. I had deep doubts about being worthy. I decided I need to push myself and establish that I deserved the black belt, and so I decided to compete at the next world championships.

BJJ competition loss
Now, you need to understand something. At the IBJJF World Championships, there is only one age division – everyone. So basically, it is the province of the young, elite athletes. I would be 45 at the time of the event (I would turn 46 the next month). What I did not quite realize was that not only were the other competitors much younger, they were also essentially all professional fighters. They either made their living by competing, or they ran their own gyms as a full time occupation. That thought never occurred to me and I was somewhat caught off guard when I saw the names of the other competitors (Super-heavyweight division – 222lbs limit). Not only was I the oldest one (the nearest one in age to me was 12 years younger and the guy I fought in the first round was 19 years younger), I was also the only amateur! I knew it was going to be a long day.

It wasn’t. It actually was really short. I got caught in a flying armbar and tapped in eleven seconds. Yes, I wrote that correctly – eleven seconds. Want to see for yourself? Get a copy of the DVD set form the 2010 Mundials. I am on the section covering the tournament’s best submissions……….

I was humiliated. My daughter still talks about not being able to approach me after the fight because I was so pissed at myself. The next day, my coach took me aside privately and talked to me. He talked me off the ledge and pointed out the uphill battle I had. He told me he was proud I stepped up. After that, I was able to function in society again.

So what is the point of this article? Something he said during our chat really resonated with me. He said “Cecil, you were the 18th best Super-heavy weight black belt in the world for 2010 because NO ONE else had the guts to get on the mat”. That was it exactly. It was not about the win or loss; it was that I went through the fire of the battle, and all the training that preceded it. At that point, I was demonstrably better than any other black belt in my weight class because they were not willing to put it to the test. I was, and I can hold my head up. Even though I lost so badly, it was still more than the person sitting on their couch watching the broadcast on the internet could say.

I bring this up because I have been seeing talk going around recently about people being afraid to do certain events/courses because they were afraid of how they would do. Whether they are unsure about entering a shooting match because they see better shooters entered, or not doing a training course like Craig Douglas’ ECQC ( because they think they will “fail”, or not doing a combat sport competition because they are afraid of losing in front of their teammates, it is all irrelevant! What matters is what lessons you take away from the event. Regardless of win or loss, what did YOU learn, and how will it help you be better? If you can answer that in the affirmative, then you win! Because you will get better. And that is all these things are about. Making you a better, more capable and more dangerous person.

So Damn The Torpedoes and get out there and lay it on the line. Ignore what the person who does not lay it on the line says, and be better.


TR critic

Recommendations Monday #2

I love book anthologies. Collections of articles, short stories, novellas, poems, etc. are nice and convenient when you only have time for a few minutes of reading. Also, in the case of an anthology that is collecting articles, it may be the best place to have a ton of references all in one place, rather than scattered over a bunch of magazines or online bookmarks. Here are some of my favorites:

Combat Shooting by Massad Ayoob – a very enjoyable collection that covers a wide ranging number of areas involving defensive firearms use. The chapter comparing the experiences of noted gunfighters Wyatt Earp, Charles Askins, and Jim Cirillo, and how they apply to the current day was particularly enjoyable.

Never Let Go / Before You Go by Dan John – Dan John is one of the most intelligent and experiences strength coaches in the world and is an extremely entertaining writer. In fact, he has the same gift that Ayoob does in being able to reach people with the written word. These tow books are compilations of John’s online articles over the past 10 years or so. Before You Go is the most recent (published in November 2015), and may be his best and most helpful work yet. I re-read Never Let Go on a regular basis even though I have owned it since 2010, and I am sure I will be doing the same with the new one. You can get them form Amazon, but I encourage you to buy from the link below. It will ship just about as fast, but the publisher throws in extras that you will not get with Amazon. Check out the link (and the entire site):



Recommendations Monday

I am starting off 2016 with a commitment to post at least twice a week, as well as a new regular feature – Recommendation Monday.

The idea being that I will point out things that I think are help in our journey to being an accomplished multi-disciplinary tactician. It may be video clips, articles, books, websites, gear, or what have you. Some of them may be new, some may be new for me, or some may be stuff that has been around awhile that  I think deserves a second (or third) look.

So let’s get started:


One of my favorite websites. Constant amount of excellent material being put up my one of the best around.


Another of my favs. Again, constant new awesome material being put up. Also be sure to take a look at his archive of articles. Chris Fry was writing about stuff years ago that people are only now starting to pay attention to.


This is a pretty new page, and it only has a few things on it at the moment, but oh what fantastic articles. And the definite promise that this is only the beginning.


The website of talented knifemaker Ian Wendt.


The website of knifemaker Ban Tang.

Both Ian and Ban are the two knife guys I turn too to make me EDC knives that I can stake my life on. They know what they are doing.


Paul Sharp on Maximizing Training

I am obsessed with squeezing as much training time into my day as I can. I have written a number of posts here on this page about that, and ideas on how to do so. I also talk  A LOT about the subject in my coursework when I am teaching. It matters so much, because most of us don’t have that much time, and we need to use what we have the best way possible.

Quite possibly the only human being on the planet who talks more about it and is even more obsessed than I am is Paul Sharp of Sharp Defense. Not only is he a monster fighter, awesome shooter, experienced in real world usage, and is a fantastic coach, he is also and excellent thinker. Literally anything he says about fighting/training should be looked at as gold. Here is a particularly great one that is immediately useful for anyone:

After watching this, go check out his website, that way, you can see for yourself where I steal a bunch of my ideas from: