In everything we do in life, having a sense of purpose is one of the most important and rewarding aspects of any activity. The presence or lack of purpose can make or break your success. Stay with me, and I will tie this together with martial arts, New Year's resolutions and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Let’s start with the latter. In January of 2015, Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier came into their fight with a significant amount of “bad blood,” and the feud between the two of them was frequently marketed to sell the program. Jon Jones was the reigning champion of the Light Heavyweight division and was ranked as the number 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Daniel Cormier was undefeated coming into the fight and posed a significant threat to Jon’s belt because of a great wrestling background and intense style.
Jones dominated most aspects of the bout - including the clinch and takedown portion that DC, as a wrestler, should have capitalized on. The champion won the fight via unanimous decision and continued to show us that he is one of the best fighters, if not the best fighter, we have ever seen. What I want to discuss is that immediately following the final bell, Jones made a tasteless gesture towards Daniel Cormier. Jones himself described the act as "classless" in the post-fight interview.
The reason I bring this up is to discuss the purpose of the gesture (which is probably pretty clear - to insult his opponent and show his dislike for Daniel Cormier) and also his purpose for fighting in the UFC. If his purpose is solely for selfish gain (money, fame, pride, testing his abilities, etc.), then I guess the “classless” gestures don’t matter much. If he is fighting for a purpose bigger than himself (being a role model/inspiration, providing for his family, etc.), than I think his victory would be sweeter without the negatives gestures. The same goes for Ronda Rousey, who flipped off an opponent after defeating her, and the countless other fighters we’ve seen make unsportsmanlike gestures or remarks after the fight.
Before I go any further, this is not a judgment of Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey, or any other fighters. I have never fought in a Mixed Martial Arts fight, so I wouldn't understand how high the emotions are running. Maybe these gestures are adrenaline-fueled reactions that just come with the territory. I understand the trash-talk leading up to the fights to build excitement and sell tickets, and I know that sometimes they honestly don’t like each other (which seems to be the case this time). I also get that some fighters might have to build up this dislike to go in the cage and fight with enough tenacity to pull off the win as some people would find it difficult to hurt another person intentionally.
You can see that Jones has at least thought about the impact he can have outside of the octagon if you listen to or read some of his interviews and statements. In one such instance, Jones discussed another great fighter who returns next month, Anderson Silva, and the effects of his two devastating back-to-back losses to Chris Weidman:
“It was just sad. I know how long Anderson Silva’s been working to be who he is…It’s not supposed to end that way. What I’m hoping is that people remember Anderson for all of the magnificent things he’s done, all the lives he’s touched, all the people he’s inspired, and I’m hoping that Anderson just stays away from the sport and continues to be an inspiration outside of the octagon. Not fight again. Anderson can do seminars, he can do motivational speaking, he can help all the kids in Brazil. I mean, he’s such an idol. His greatness has just begun.” (http://mmajunkie.com/2014/02/jon-jones-hopes-anderson-silva-just-stays-away-from-the-sport)
So if Jones has the same ambitions for his career, is giving the “suck it” symbol to his opponent after the fight the way he wants to be viewed? What about Ronda flipping the bird? In both of these instances, there was a lot of bad blood leading up to the event, and the gestures came after an intense fight, filled with emotion and adrenaline. So my question is, would you enjoy these matches more without the “classless” remarks and gestures? Or do you think they are just part of the game? If the purpose is to inspire others and improve lives, I think doing so with the respect and discipline of a real martial artist would make a bigger impact than petty retaliation.
My brother, Nick Corrigan, once fought a professional Mixed Martial Arts fight, and he gets more amped by adrenaline than anyone I have ever seen (as you will see if you watch this video). At the end of the fight, however, you will not see any “classless” gestures. Instead, you will see him help his opponent up, shake his hand, and go back after the fight one more time to make sure he is ok. That image inspires me ten times more than watching an athlete getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars flip the bird or give the “suck it” gesture after winning their fight.
In case you haven't seen it, here’s my brother’s fight - it’s an old video I uploaded on MySpace many years ago so I can only get it to play in the FireFox browser -
So for your resolutions, have you considered how purpose could help you stay motivated? I think it’s been well documented how much we fail when it comes to our resolutions. Most Americans have good intentions, even if they aren’t “resolutions,” for the New Year, but studies say we will have lost that vision by Valentine’s Day! Maybe knowing your purpose can help this year.
For example, hitting a weight loss goal can be tough when all you are looking at is the number on a scale. If you stay focused on the reasons for being healthier and getting in better shape, you might find it easier to stay on track. That is why we put so much emphasis on the Martial Arts Way of Life in the Corrigan family and at Progressive Martial Arts. Remembering that it is a way of life helps to keep us motivated to get back on the mat every single week!
Black Belt might be one short-term goal, but martial arts training is SO much bigger than that. If you miss class one day, get back on the mat the next. If something disastrous happens in your life that causes you to stop training for an extended period, get back on the mat as soon as possible. Make exercise part of your lifestyle, and you will reap the benefits over and over in every aspect of your life - living healthier, happier, being more confident and content in everything that you do. In the big picture, whatever your ultimate purpose is for your life, health, happiness and confidence should help you be even more successful.
Happy New Year!