In any competition, there is a battle.
But being in a battle doesn’t mean being in a fight.
How to win by not losing.
And how can this help you to be successful in business and in life…
November 12th, 1993, was a night that changed the world.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship was a pay-per-view mixed martial arts competition hosted in Denver, CO, USA.
Denver had no governing sports needing approval for a bare-knuckle sporting event.
There were only 3 rules:
- no biting
- no eye-gouging
- no groin strikes
And there were only 3 ways to win the match:
- knocking out the opponent
- submission by tapping out
- throwing in the towel
There were no weight divisions.
You could be matched with someone who literally weighed twice as much as you.
There was little, to no, protective gear is worn.
Often no more than simple athletic tape is wrapped around your fist to protect your hand.
Prior to the UFC, most martial artists followed Bruce Lee, Jean Claude Van Damme, Bong Soo Han, and Ed Parker.
They practiced “striking” styles of karate, Jeet Kune Do, kick-boxing, hapkido, and Kempo.
Only a few pursued wrestling or non-aggressive styles like aikido or tai chi.
But UFC 1, as it became known, the international martial arts community was introduced to Royce Gracie.
And Royce Gracie introduced the world to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)
Fighting against strikers, bigger, and stronger than him, he was able to deflect, dodge, and defeat them.
He beat them by following the basic tenets of BJJ
BJJ is not a striking style.
Its foundation is taking the fight to the ground, akin to wrestling so that you can submit your opponent with a choke or joint lock.
So how did Royce, who had the less striking capability, win over some of the heaviest hitters in martial arts?
Master Han would often tell me, that the key to winning is not to lose.
An oxymoron, you might say.
But it’s simple, don’t fight to the strength of your fighter.
Royce did not engage in a striking match with his opponents.
He evades their strikes waiting for his moment.
His main strategy was to get these punchers and kickers down onto the mat, where their strikes would be greatly reduced.
All he was looking to do was to bide his time and survive.
Waiting for that one opening.
And then when it appeared, he would strike.
The same thing applies to business and life.
Often, you may be in a weaker position.
Because of seniority, authority, or finances, other players have an advantage over you.
The key is to bide your time, establish your strength, find weaknesses and wait for an opening.
After Royce’s first win, his next opponent, Ken Shamrock had a lot of experience with wrestling.
Ken took Royce down and assumed the dominant position.
So Royce applied the next principle, escape.
He avoided Ken’s attacks and escaped from the weaker positions.
After assuring your survival & getting the lay of the land.
It’s time to escape from your disadvantaged position.
Start putting out feelers, see the cracks in the wall, and find ways to expand those cracks and fissures.
Hopefully, breaking them wide open.
Escaping gives you the opportunity to slowly improve your position.
Because you do not want to alert the bigger, stronger players to see what you are doing until it’s too late.
In BJJ, there’s a saying, “millimeter by millimeter…”
Yes, that slowly.
After Royce was able to escape Ken’s dominant position, he was able to slowly shift positions and reverse the situation.
Taking Ken’s back, he was able to slowly improve his position making it harder for Ken to escape Royce’s control.
Like a wet blanket smothering a person…
We are always looking to improve the quality of our lives.
But sometimes moving too fast will often create resistance, frustration, and pushback.
How many times when you start a new healthy habit do you experience subtle comments from friends & family that do not support you?
Continue to improve, eventually finding yourself in the dominant position.
Be careful here, don’t overextend or become overly confident.
Slowly, continue to improve the position further, removing options and escapes that the other players can take.
At this point, you can put your hooks in, denying them escape routes.
Then slowly going for the coup de grace, you can show your full hand of how you have put their back against the wall and are in control of the situation.
Thereby ending the competition.
When Royce took Ken’s back, he slowly improved his position.
He locked up his legs and then wrapped his arm around Ken’s neck, forcing him to tap out or risk being choked unconscious.
Thus winning the match and starting a rivalry that would last for years.
Royce Gracie shocked the other fighters and the world.
How could a smaller, weaker man who didn’t punch beat his bigger stronger opponents?
He didn’t fight their fight.
He fought his own.
He focused on his strengths & abilities.
And used them to win the competition.
Competition in the ring is one thing.
But competition in life is another.
My aikido instructor in Honolulu of the Lokahi Ki Society, Naluai Sensei, told me the secret to turning a rival into a partner was simple…
“You gently assist your partner (he is never an opponent) to the ground, because that is where all negative energy goes to ground out, then… you help him back up.”
When you are in a winning position, you can help your rivals to do better, be better, and maybe become partners.
Master Han told me just because you’re in a position to hit someone that doesn’t mean you have to.
You can let the other guy exhaust himself while you dodge, deflect, and defeat his will to fight.
That’s one way to win without creating more enemies.