October 14, 2013
I am pretty confident that I am like most other people on this planet. I do the things that I do in large part because of genetics and social conditioning. However with that being said, I still recognize the fact that every human being has agency to choose what they will. One thing most people do, including myself, is to hold myself back from doing things that I really want to do.
Last night I went to the wedding of a close friend. I was really happy for the bride and groom. They make a great couple and I wish them the very best. At the post reception party, I witnessed a lip synching competition. It sounded like fun, but I didn’t want to go out and embarrass myself in front of people. I just sat on the side and watched the brave few, or crazy few depending on how you would like to categorize them, lip synch and dance the night away. I had mixed emotions. On one hand I felt superior for not doing such silly things, but on the other hand I wished that I would be brave enough to calm the fear of getting in front of the crowd and dancing away. I was stuck in the midst of an emotional paradox. In the end, the fear of looking foolish in front of others won out, and I let a small piece of me die because I stifled and suffocated the desire to express myself and share a human moment with other beings.
Fear is such a liar, such a fraud. How many times do we let fear govern our decisions? Fear has been a constant in my life and at each stage of life another one comes up. When I was an awkward teenager in middle school I was afraid to ask girls to dance. I was afraid to try out for the choir because I thought my friends would tease me. During wrestling,there were plenty of times I was afraid of losing and I did all I could to avoid losing. Sure there were times when I wrestled to win, but I held myself back so much. Now I look at my fears from earlier stages of life and realize that I had nothing to be afraid of. If I had asked the girl to dance, the worst she could have said was no, and then there was probably someone else who I could have asked who would have said yes. If no girl would have said yes, I could always have just started to dance by myself, and maybe then a girl would see how cool I was and said “yes” to dance. As far as the wrestling goes, who cares if I would have lost? I still won more than I lost, and many of those smaller matches meant less to me than many of the bigger matches that I wanted to win but lost anyway.
So do I have anything to really fear today? My fears have changed now. I am afraid that I won’t make enough money to take care of my family. I am afraid that I won’t ever be as successful at anything else like I was at wrestling. I’m afraid that I won’t teach my kids well enough to make good choices in life and they will make choices that cause them great pain just like some of my choices caused me. I’m afraid that I will waste my human potential.
In my heart, one of the things that I would like to do is to eradicate fear. I would like to do things because I want to and I can. I want to be able to recognize the fear and not let it deter me from doing what I really want to do. I want to stop living a life of regrets and to start living a life of adventure. I want to be one of the great explorers who was willing to put everything on the line to try new things and have new experiences. I don’t need to discover a new piece of undiscovered land, but rather discover unexplored regions of my soul and character. I want to see what I am really made of. I want to go on an adventure and bring the ones that I love the most to come with me. I want to overcome fear of everything. I think that there is a saying that instructs to face your fears and the death of fear is certain. In this moment I feel ready to kill my fears.
September 28, 2013
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” I don’t know who said this for sure. I looked around online, and it appears as if the quote is attributed to Dr. Seuss, but I read that it was really Bernard Mannes Baruch who said “those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” I guess he was using it in reference to a dinner party when someone asked him about the seating arrangements for the party. I guess both of them are dead so they probably aren’t too concerned about who is getting the credit for the quote.
I was laying in bed last night eating a slice of pizza and drinking a glass full of root beer. It was delicious, but as I sat there eating and drinking, I started to think about goals. For years I had one huge life purpose, I was training everyday to become an Olympic champion. I put all of my eggs in that one basket, and it didn’t work out. That’s life though right? Sometimes you have something that you really want to work out, and then BAM life says “No.” Life doesn’t even tell you sorry as you are struggling. It just keeps going along in the same way that you keep going down the highway if a bug splats on your windshield.
Anyway the whole point is that we need goals to keep us going. We need a huge life purpose to keep us waking up every morning and striving to get better. Without goals we drift, settle, and eventually die unfulfilled. I know that sounds pretty dark and harsh, but that is reality. All of these thoughts were going through my mind as I sat in bed eating pizza and drinking soda pop. So the first thing that I did this morning is wake up and write some new goals. I am excited about them, and if I am persistent with them, I will have some great results. If I don’t persist, I will probably be eating pizza and drinking soda in the middle of the night while I waste time on facebook in another hundred days from now.
If anyone wants to set some goals and write about them for the next 100 days, please let me know. I would love to hear about them.
August 28, 2013
This fall, I am starting a new wrestling club. The name of the club is Fortius Wrestling, and I am very excited to get the ball rolling. One of the reasons why I am so excited is because I have teamed up with fellow UVU assistant coach and friend Erkin Tadzhimetov. Erkin is a freestyle wrestler from Uzbekistan. He won a junior world silver medal and was also a senior Uzbekistan national champion as well as a multiple time national champion as a youth. He brings a lot of training experience from the former Soviet wrestling system. He has a lot of experience working with youth and college level athletes.
Together we will be striving to help young wrestlers set goals, train correctly, and compete with tenacity. We would like the youth that we work with to continue to hone their skills and broaden their horizons. It is one of my personal goals to continue to train athletes and prepare them for the world championships. This year I worked year round with two athletes who made the FILA cadet world team that recently competed in Serbia at the FILA cadet world championships. I remember what an impact wrestling in my first world championship had on me, and I would like to help other athletes compete on the world stage as well. Of course we will also be focusing on preparing athletes for their state tournaments and national tournaments. We want our wrestlers to be the very best regardless of the level that they decide to compete at.
To kick of our new club and to answer any questions that parents of participants may have, we will be holding a parents meeting in the UVU wrestling room tomorrow August 29th at 5:30pm. If you would like to attend the meeting, the wrestling room is located on the corner of 800 s. and 1200 w. in Orem, Utah. Please feel free to invite your friends and spread the word about this great opportunity.
It isn’t often that youth have the opportunity to train under two world medalists, national champions, and former NCAA Div 1 wrestlers. I would highly encourage all parents to attend this meeting and learn more about how we can help your child reach their wrestling goals. Thank you for all of your support, and I hope to see you at the meeting. However, if you don’t live in the area and would like great training tips and updates on Fortius Wrestling, stay tuned as we will be setting up a site in the future.
Fortius wrestling: Stronger. Don’t think, just throw!
August 14, 2013
I remember my high school coach talking to the team and putting a lot of emphasis on “finding a way to win”. I was always confused as to what he meant by that. The way my mind worked at the time, (and still does a lot for that matter), was to think “if you do A then you get B”. So if he couldn’t give specific instructions as to how to do something, I felt a little bit lost. I won most of my matches in high school, but there weren’t a whole lot of them where I feel like I had to find a way to win. I just did what I knew how to do, and I ended up winning my matches. It seemed simple enough.
Years later, now as I reflect on what he said, it makes a little more sense to me. As I wrestled various international matches, I felt like I was not in complete control of the match, and I had to just keep wrestling and trying things in order to win. There were matches that I was down with very little time left that seemed like I was going to lose, and then somehow someway I would find a way to win. I never thought much about it during those times. Now as a coach, a father, and husband with a myriad of responsibilities that I feel resting on my shoulders, I do think about what it means to find a way to win. Whether or not I have come up with the right answer, I don’t know, but I at least have an idea of what I think and feel that it means now.
To me “finding a way to win” means not giving up. As long as you keep trying to do something, you are still in the match. As long as you make attempts regardless of the possibility of failure, you are still in the match. As long as you keep believing in yourself and working toward your goal regardless of what other people think, do, or say, then you are still in the match. As long as you don’t give up, you are still in the match. As soon as you mentally break and give up, you are no longer in the match.
Don’t give up. Stay in the match. Find a way to win.
July 25, 2013
When I first started wrestling, I learned three wrestling moves and used them almost exclusively throughout my first year of competition. The moves were: a double leg, a stand up, and a barbed wire turn. I wrestled less than 20 matches that year, but in all of my matches, I stuck to those three moves. I didn’t know any other moves, and I didn’t know if the moves that I was using were any good. All that I knew that what I was doing was working so I stuck with it. Due to my lack of knowledge, I was forced to do the best I could with what I had.
Years later, I traveled throughout the world to various wrestling competitions. I set foot on five different continents. I got to see how the rest of the world lives. One of the places that I had the opportunity to visit was the island of Cuba. I really loved going to Cuba because I speak Spanish and was able to connect with the athletes there because I was able to communicate with them. I was also fascinated by how they were able to do so much with so little. Their training facilities and conditions were very spartan, but they consistently produce world and Olympic medalists and champions. Despite their tough circumstances, thy find a way to win.
The ability to make due with what they have didn’t just exist in the wrestling room, it flowed out throughout their society. I have never seen so many cars from the 1950’s as I have when I was in Cuba. The people were able to do whatever it took to make their cars last or repair or rebuild them. They were able to make the best of a tough situation.
It is easy to fall into the “if only” attitude about being able to find success. “If only I had more resources.” “If only I had better people.” “If only I had more time.” “If only I had more…” I’m guilty of falling into this trap. There are plenty of times when I have thought “if only”. The problem with that is that nothing changes with “if only”. Change and success comes through hard work, persistence, and consistency.
I’m looking to challenge myself, and if you’d like to join me, I’d love it. This is the challenge: anytime I’m frustrated with trying to do more with less, I’ll turn that frustration into gratitude because if I can become an expert and master things with less, imagine what I’ll be able to do with more.
June 5, 2013
The physical world that we live in doesn’t care about should, but so many people that live in this world, including myself, care a whole lot about should. The really unfortunate part about it is that people that we don’t even know or care about are the ones who are telling us what we should do. The media, marketers, and advertisers largely are the ones who tell us how we should live our lives. Don’t forget the Joneses either. Nobody knows them, but too many are trying to keep up with them. You should buy this, you should buy that, you should look like this, you should like that, you should watch this, you should, should, should, should!
So this is one of my observations. Should doesn’t matter. The physical world doesn’t care at all how it should be, it is just what it is. So really things are exactly the way that they are supposed to be based on a cause and effect equation. As soon as we accept ourselves for who we are, we can find peace in that and bless not only our own life but others as well.
I also am not saying that we don’t need to improve ourselves and work to improve our lives and others. If you don’t like who you are and want to be someone else, you can always change. You are the only person that you really have any control of, and as soon as you change yourself, everything else will change for you.
So I am trying to do better, a little bit everyday. I am trying to not give a should anymore and to just change what I can about myself. It’s all I can do.
May 7, 2013
The first time that you are doing anything that has a degree of risk to it, your brain freezes a little bit and tries to scare you out of doing it. You can’t blame your brain. Our ancestors sense of fear is what helped them to survive. However, this caution can also hinder your performance when it comes to wrestling or to life in general.
I remember when I was first learning how to throw people in greco roman wrestling. I was afraid that it was going to hurt me if I threw somebody else. Despite wrestling on soft wrestling mats, there was something that scared me about picking somebody up and throwing them backwards. I thought that it was going to hurt. However, after I was taught proper technique and had some practice and repetitions picking someone up and throwing them, I loved it! To me there was no better feeling in a wrestling match than picking someone else up off of the ground and being able to hurl them through the air. One thing I learned while training to lift and throw people was that you couldn’t go about it with a half effort, otherwise the throw would end sloppy, and those were the times that you could get hurt because of landing incorrectly. To have a successful throw, you have to commit 100% to the move. After you get your opponent up in the air, you can’t just start to throw and then chicken out and still be able to get the results that you want. You can’t over think it.
Over thinking is something that can hurt you in everything that you do. Obviously you don’t want to go out and make wild, crazy, and poor decisions that will negatively affect your life, but after you have done your research, you don’t want to sit around twiddling your thumbs about whether to move forward or not either. When you start to think too much, it is quite common that the whatif monster will show up. The whatif monster is a creature that comes around every now and then when we are looking to take a chance, even if the chance is one that will greatly enhance our lives if we succeed. The problem with the whatif monster is that it is always so negative. It asks you questions like “What if you aren’t any good? What if people say mean things about you? What if you fail? What if this decision ruins you and you end up sleeping on a cardboard box in the gutter?” A lot of these questions are ridiculous, but the whatif monster doesn’t know that or even care that they are ridiculous. It is just trying to help you to avoid pain.
So it is up to you to work things out with this whatif monster and teach him a new way of thinking. You start asking him different questions like: “What if I am great at it? What if a lot of people love and support me in this? What if I succeed beyond anything that I even thought was possible? What if this decision is the best decision that I could ever make in my life? What if I have a ton of fun and love it?” Then you are putting yourself in a position to have some great success or at least to learn some great lessons through experience.
So the next time that you are trying to lift and throw in wrestling or other areas of life, do your due diligence, but don’t over think it. Don’t think, just throw.
P.S. If you like this post, take the time to read Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster
May 4, 2013
One of the benefits of having been in the wrestling world for so long is that you get to meet a lot of people. Over the course of my wrestling career, I was able to meet so many great people from all across the world, and they all had experiences that I was able to learn from. One of my college wrestling coaches was Matt Lindland. He wrestled for the University of Nebraska and as a senior was undefeated all the way up to the NCAA national tournament. Unfortunately he lost his first match of the tournament, and at that time, if you lost in the first round of the tournament, the opponent that beat you had to win their next match in order to pull you back into the consolation bracket. Matt’s opponent lost the next round and thus eliminated him from the competition. However, after his collegiate wrestling career, he was able to garner world and Olympic silver medals in greco roman wrestling. He also went on to have a very successful career in the UFC, and now coaches other wrestlers and fighters who are working hard for their dreams to come true.
There was time when Matt was in town in Colorado Springs for a training camp that we had at the Olympic training center. He showed some great technique, and I was able to have some great training sessions with him while he was out at our camp. As we were talking with some of his old team mates, who were also out in Colorado Springs, they began talking about one of their old friends. This friend had gone through a divorce and was with quite a younger woman. Matt and his friends were lamenting that their old friend had wrecked his previous marriage and that it was too bad for his ex wife and kids because they really liked them. During the conversation it came up that I was getting married in the upcoming fall. He gave me some marriage advice that I will never forget. It was very direct, and it actually caught me off guard and made me laugh a little. He said, “Oh you’re getting married? Let me give you some advice. Don’t bang whores.” It was simple, but apparently there are plenty of people who have a hard time with that. Infidelity causes plenty of divorces and break ups every year. I’m not judging anybody for the way that they choose to live their life. I know what my marriage commitment means to me, and as long as I focus on how I can treat my wife with love and respect, I think that we will be okay.
I have followed Matt’s advice and it has worked out well for me. I have been married to an amazing woman for 7 years who has given me two amazing daughters, and I hope that she sticks around for plenty more. She has been with me through all of the ups and downs and never complained about me being an athlete who was chasing my dreams around the world. She even flew half way across the world to see me wrestle in one of my last competitions, but that is a whole different story that I will have to tell another time.
May 3, 2013
We all have routines. Just think about it, whether the things that you do right when you wake up are positive or negative, you still have a routine. It’s like we can’t help ourselves but to do the same things over and over and over again. When you are able to recognize that you do have routines, that is when you are able to shape them to your liking. This is something that I have really tried to work on lately with myself and a little bit with my kids.
This is what my morning routine has looked like in the recent past: I wake up at 5am, use the bathroom, look at facebook (I know in a previous post I said I wasn’t going to waste time on FB, but its tough) in the bathroom, find some workout clothes, drive to work. I didn’t realize that this was my routine until I read an article on being intentional about your routine. Then I realized, wow, there is probably something better to be looking at every morning. So this is my new routine: wake up at 5am, read some inspirational reading material, kneel down and pray, review my goals, find some workout clothes, drive to work. I know that the change isn’t huge, but I feel like it has made a significant difference in my life. I like my routine and its manageable.
Sure there are times when I catch myself drifting back into my old routine, but I am doing my best to stay on track. My next challenge to mastering my routine is finding a way to blog more frequently. I love blogging. It’s fun and it is amazing some of the people who you end up coming in contact with all because of a blog. This post will be post number 189 so I see that post number 200 is within reach. I would like to get to post number 1000 some day, but one step at a time just like everything else.
Thanks for reading. Good luck with your routine. I hope it is one that you are consciously choosing and are happy with.
March 31, 2013
The Art of Wrestling
Everybody that has wrestled before knows that it is a tough and intense sport. The workouts are grueling, the competition intense, and the lifestyle of a committed wrestler is unlike that of most of his friends and family. He is only as good as his last match and he must be ready for his next opponent, the one that wants to take everything from him and humiliate him in front of a crowd. If you are a wrestler, your whole life revolves around a series of battles in a long process of war. You battle with your own mind telling yourself you’re good enough, you battle with your team mates to hone your skills, and finally when you are on the mat in competition, you are battling for the victory over another man who has trained to beat you. His goal is to stop yours.
With such an aggressive sport how can it possibly be compared to art? Well just like the artist who spends time learning how to develop his stroke and mixing his colors on a palette, a wrestler must develop his skills and learn the best blend of technique, power, and endurance to find winning combinations against his opponents.
The artist creates art for the love of it, and for a fortunate few they are able to make a living off of it, but the art comes first and the reward comes second. A wrestler doesn’t start wrestling with a hope of million dollar contracts, they start it because a friend or family member brought them to a wrestling practice. They keep wrestling for the love of the sport. At some point they will get caught up in winning and losing, but what if the wrestler could just focus on the love of the sport with an intense desire to continually improve their craft? Where would wrestling be at today if everyone who participated in it thought of it as art? Perhaps we would have more wrestlers doing what they love even at an advanced age. Perhaps this special art would change the world.