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Embrace Your Suck or Continue to Suck Says Gordon Ryan
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Embrace Your Suck or Continue to Suck Says Gordon Ryan

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At the risk of being called Captain Obvious, it's safe to say that Gordon Ryan does not suck at jiu jitsu.  At just 25 years old, Gordon Ryan has three ADCC gold medals,  3 IBJJF No Gi World Championship gold medals, 2 IBJJF Pan American No Gi gold medals, 4 Eddie Bravo Invitational titles, and a seemingly endless litany of super fight victories. 

Through his efforts on the mats and off to grow the sport's audience, he has been instrumental in helping grow the sport of submission grappling which has created much more opportunity for other grapplers to actually get paid to compete, something that was limited to only the ADCC World Championships and a few early competitions.

As amazing as his performances are on the competition mats, he has proved in the last few years to be an even better teacher of the gentle art.  With many sold out seminars under his belt, some exceeding a hundred or more attendees, Gordon Ryan would bring his teaching ability to the largest stage in the world, the internet through his partnership with the BJJ Fanatics team.  Now with 9 best-selling instructionals and many more planned in the future, Gordon Ryan continues to shape a legacy that's far from completed.

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In his latest release,  THE SPORT OF KINGS:  HIGH PERFORMANCE MINDSET FOR GRAPPLING, Gordon Ryan gives viewers a tour inside the mind of the world's most successful young submission grappler.  Gordon Ryan covers all topics from the perspective of both hobbyist grapplers (who make up the largest portion of practitioners) as well as budding competitors.  Topics like drilling, training schedule, dealing with loss, goal setting, dealing with injuries, and supplemental training are just some of the subjects that Gordon addresses in THE SPORT OF KINGS.

Forged with equal parts gritty, New Jersey, screw you attitude--the same that helped shape athletes like Tom DeBlass, Garry Tonon and Frankie Edgar, and high-level philosophical awareness developed with the help of Columbia scholar and former nightclub bouncer, Professor John Danaher, Gordon Ryan thrives in a world of self-imposed hypercritical suffering.  

Just listen to any of Gordon Ryan's post-event interviews.  Even after one of the most incredible performances in ADCC history in 2019, Gordon Ryan spent much of the post-event discussions lamenting the fact that he had submitted all of his opponents.  He is also an athlete who rarely takes time off and is usually on the mats the very next day after a competition, working on things he felt he did not accomplish.

In the excerpt from THE SPORT OF KINGS below, Gordon Ryan talks about the importance of putting oneself in bad spots.  Check it out and we'll talk about it after.

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You Can't Handle the Truth, But You Can Teach Yourself To Handle It Better

In order to improve at jiu jitsu (or anything for that matter), it's important to work on the weaknesses in our game.  No one likes it.  It's not pleasurable at all.  Nearly all of us if given the choice, would prefer to work our A game, stay in our comfort zone and go home satisfied.  But not Gordon Ryan.  He prides himself on being brutally honest with himself, honing in on a perceived weakness in his game and then structuring his entire training plan around fixing that weakness.  And he thinks we should to, no matter if we are a hobbyist or an aspiring, future world champion.

Try this exercise before your next training session.  Take some time and write down in a list all of your favorite positions and submissions.  What are your go to moves?  That's part one.  In the next column write down your least favorite positions and submissions.  Once you've written both lists, you now have the raw material for your next few months of training (or more depending on the length of the least favorite list).

Choose one position or technique from your LEAST favorite list and focus on that technique for the next 30 days.  Let's use Gordon's example of being stuck in teammate Doug's mount.  After being trapped in Doug's mount for longer than he liked, Gordon made it his mission to focus on this position and let every big training partner he had try to hold him in mount in every training session.  Once he began to find ways out of the heavy opponent's mount, you would think the mission was accomplished.  Not for Gordon.  He would make the mounted situation even worse by having the opponent pin one arm above his head, then two.  He would constantly make the situation worse and worse to continue to challenge himself and learn to improve his position and escape over time.

So for the next 30 days, whenever you have an opportunity to train live, find creative ways to put yourself into whatever bad spot you are starting with or if there is a particular submission you are struggling with, that doesn't seem to work for you, find ways to put it into your game.  If your omoplata game is weak, it does you no good at all to tap your teammate with your go to armbar just to please your ego. 

You may be wondering why I had you write out the list of techniques and positions you feel good about.  Your job during this process is to avoid using them at all costs.  Basically, you will handicap yourself by avoiding your A game.  You will get tapped, your guard will be passed, you will feel like you suck because without your comfort zone go-to moves, YOU DO SUCK and recognizing it and focusing on your weaknesses is the first step towards fixing it.

Set up the omoplata, miss the omoplata, find a way out of the bad spot that your failed omoplata put you in and go right back for another omplata attempt.  Fail over and over until you succeed.  There is no honor in the hollow A game submission in Gordon's mind.  It's better to go home punching the air because you landed ZERO omoplatas knowing that the next time you train, you'll be one step closer to getting that elusive submission and developing a more well-rounded game one position or submission at a time.

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By taking an honest, third-person look at your own jiu jitsu and then developing a solid plan of attack to focus on those weak areas, you will begin to grow towards being a more well-rounded practitioner.  Tackling the holes in your game one by one, will make you a more formidable opponent, but more importantly will give you a sense of accomplishment that no easy submission will ever do.  Give this plan a try and assess your progress at the end of 30 days.

The good news is that this is your journey and you can give yourself an extension if you need it or more on to the next problem area.  In a martial art where it takes the average practitioner at least a decade to achieve the rank of black belt, what's your rush.  Give yourself 6 months if you need to in order to figure out a troublesome position.  No matter how long it takes, when you arrive at your destination, you will be amazed.  The beauty of jiu jitsu is that even for Gordon Ryan at the top of the food chain, there is always another problem area to work on.

No matter where you are in your jiu jitsu journey.  No matter if you're a hobbyist or a full-time athlete, Gordon Ryan has the answers to all of the nagging mindset questions you may have now or will encounter in the future on your way to the podium at ADCC.  You can get your copy of THE SPORT OF KINGS: HIGH PERFORMANCE MINDSET FOR GRAPPLING here or at the Buy Now link below.

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