I love hearing people’s stories. Not necessarily stories about how they trained, competed, and eventually won – but more stories about how they became who they are.
George St. Pierre’s story in his book The Way Of The Fight was awesome.
Here was a kid who grew up in St. Isidore Canada. He had very little, got bullied, and eventually found a coach who believed in him.
Believed in him so much that he started bringing in much more experienced fighters (including UFC veterans) to train with George at the young age of 16.
As the story goes, George would beat them every time.
These grown men would walk away thinking “Who the hell is that kid?”
This is a story that I think we can all pay attention to.
Here are 5 big steps that St. Pierre took – that I feel were instrumental to him reaching his potential.
Steps that both you and I can take with our sons.
Cultivate a close relationship based on love and respect – For me, this is why wrestling is even on my radar. I want it to be an opportunity to bond with my son while also teaching him discipline and preparing him for a tough world. St. Pierre had both of these with his coach. A fatherly love – where he knew his coach truly cared for him and a respect where he would give 100% and never question his intentions.
Make gymnastics a staple in his training – I’ve thought about this since my days in gymnastics and read about it again in St. Pierre’s training regimen. He considers gymnasts to be superior athletes … and I agree. Pound for pound, there are no athletes who are more explosive, have better control over their bodies, or who have more relative body strength. If you lay solid wrestling technique on a gymnastics background … you will have a dangerous wrestler. These are kids that can throw you on your head and land on their feet when you go to throw them.
Seek out the best mentor and technique – This is obvious but yet not too many people do it. St. Pierre found the best coach in his town and literally parked his car in the middle of the street and ran after him one day when driving by. I am amazed by the sense of urgency that this 15-16 year old kid had… and the awareness of how vital a coach was to reaching his potential. Depending on how old your son is, you may have to be the one to “run after” the coach. Personally, I am looking for the best clinician with the best attitude. A few people I know who fit this bill include Mike Eiermen, Bryan Medlin, Adam Tirapelle, and Alex Tsirtsis. All of these guys were phenomenal wrestlers – but more importantly, they live for wrestling. If you are in central Missori (Eiermen), central Illinios (Medlin), central California (Tirapelle), or NW Indiana (Tsirtsis) – you are doing your wrestler a disservice if you don’t reach out to them.
Teaching a positive attitude and a learning mindset – I’m reading a book now that is called Positivity. The book talks about the power of a positive mindset and how there have been many recent studies that show a positive mindset leads to success. St. Pierre talks about this many times in his book. In one example, he talks about how he trained with much less skilled fighter who kept hitting him with this funky looping jab. George says it broke all of the rules on how a jab should be thrown – but he didn’t discount it. He actually decided to learn from this guy – who was a nobody but was landing these punches on George. I love this story because it really shows how keeping a positive and learning mindset is so important. It would have been easy for George to have gotten pissed and smashed this guy – instead he learned from him. George later reveals that he used this awkward jab to catch opponents off guard while defending his belt in the UFC championship.
Mental Toughness – It’s a given that St. Pierre was mentally tough. You don’t go on to win the UFC championship without having this quality. The book actually explains a lot on how this came about. His days with being bullied and roughhousing with other kids during the cold winters near Quebec Canada. I am always looking for glimpses of mental toughness in my son. Here are two quick stories. My son recently started kindergarten. On day 2 he was stung by a bee. No big deal – it happens. I found it interesting however that he decided not to tell anyone. He didn’t tell the teacher, a nurse, nobody. My wife and I asked him why … and he said that he didn’t want to disturb the class. The next day, he’s climbing on this jungle gym and misses the footing – cracking his temple on a metal bar and fell 4 feet to the ground. This was around the time recess was ending so he got back in line and acted like nothing happened. It wasn’t until the teacher found the goose egg on the side of his head that they sent him to the nurse and then called my wife to bring him home. Even then, he didn’t want to come home because he still wanted to ride the bus. We never want our sons to get hurt – but there will be many opportunities to see where they stand with regards to mental toughness.
So there are 5 takeaways from St. Pierre’s book The Way Of The Fight.
I think that we can all learn a lot from his journey and how he interpreted his personal and training circumstances.
Hopefully, with lots of hard work (and some good fortune) – soon people will be asking the same question about your son ….
“Who the Hell is that Kid”.