3 OF THE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO IN THE OFF-SEASON

The off-season for a lot of Taekwondo athletes falls during the fall/winter time. NCAA just finished and the UAAP will be ending in about a month for Taekwondo players.
Many athletes drop off the map completely. Many know they should be doing something, but don’t know what. Many just gain weight.

I’d like to share my personal focuses when the season is over.

3 OF THE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO IN THE OFF-SEASON:

  1. TECHNIQUE
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    WHY: Muscle memory fades away with time. If you don’t do something long enough, the technique gets sloppy. Why extra focus in the off season? Because you can improve on the way something looks because you don’t have to worry about throwing it 500 times as fast as you can in training.
    WHAT: I touch base with things I’m strong at and make sure those don’t deteriorate. I then spend a lot of time working on things that I want to or need to improve on for next season. It is so important to take the time to not only figure out what you need, but what’s missing and how to get there.
    Recommendations: Juice Athlete Compound for getting the body mechanics right. From personal experience; I’ve used their system, I’ve done their drills and exercises and the improvement has been immense
    Link to Order: The Juice Athlete Compound 5 Kick Domination Sequence (Some of the proceeds go towards the athletes).
  2. GYM
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    I always go back to the weight room and lift for mass.
    WHY:
    1) Because I I’m vain and I like the compliments
    2) Because I want my body to be able to use the muscle going into next year’s season.
    I wouldn’t say it’s difficult to get big during season, but with the amount of cardio in taekwondo, it becomes difficult to maintain if you’re not eating the right amount of calories everyday. I also think that going into a season strong is better than going into a season trying to get strong. It’s like going to class with your school supplies; except instead of a pencil and paper, you show up as Captain America.
    How: I go back into high reps with moderate weights. I do things like pushing towards failure and then trying to get a couple reps in even after I feel I can’t do it anymore. You don’t need to lift fast, you just want those muscles under tension for a long amount of time.
    Recommendations: Coach Jay and Coach Martin if you’re in the Philippines. Both study regularly and keep pretty up to date with the newest techniques and trends for strength and conditioning.If you’re not, I’m sure any program you find online is pretty good, just make sure the guy giving advice has the results you want.
  3. STRETCH
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    This is short because I’m a scrub in this area.  Please learn from my failures. If you don’t want to go into next season looking and feeling like an old man when you kick. Please heed my warning. From personal experience.
    Side note: I have started doing yoga and can now almost touch my toes!
    Recommendations: Ask Someone Flexible- Poomse competitors, gymnasts, contortionists etc. i.e. Someone who has the results you’re looking for.

My personal workout routine:
Right now I lift about 2-3 times a week and I do yoga on almost every other day I don’t lift.
During lifting sessions I do drills from the 5 Kick Domination Sequence and I try and mix in some cardio about once a week.

Most people believe that you should take or maintain training at least 3x a week. Keep in mind I’m talking about being a serious National or International athlete.

If you’re just trying to stay fit, you do you, do how often you think you need to do.

My last recommendation to those who are in off season:
Remember that Champions are made in the off season. Maintain the champion body, but remember, for Taekwondo at least, that the cardio isn’t necessary right now.
Use this extra time to take your vacations, use extra this time to spend time with your friends and family and remind them that they’re there for you. Use this extra time to do other things you can’t do during season.

You sacrifice during your season, don’t wait till the season comes around to try and squeeze it in again. The time is now for these things. Maintain the body, decompress the intensity.

The entire point of the off-season is to get you ready for the training camps next season. Be Ready.

The Juice Athlete Compound 5 Kick Domination Sequence 
Save 10$ before the 29th (some of the proceeds go towards the athletes).

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How important is rest?

I took a 6 month hiatus. From everything. No lifting, no kicking, no working out at all. I just sat at home losing muscle mass, strength, speed etc… Everything I worked hard to obtain and maintain the past 8 months of training before competition went into the abyss.

This is not the rest I’m talking about.

That being said, my motivation isn’t exactly back yet, but I’m doing the things I know need to be done, in order to give us the best chance at a medal this June. As coach Troy Garr used to say: “There’s a list of things that you must do in order to make team. Now, doing the list does not guarantee making team, but I can guarantee, you won’t make team if you don’t do the list.” Now substitute “making team” with “accomplishing a goal” and it still holds true.
It’s a little confusing, but it just means you have to do certain things when you’re supposed to do them. Or maybe, otherwise stated by an NBA player: “Being a professional is doing the things you love to do, even when you don’t love doing them anymore.”

For Taekwondo, especially now with the rule change, one of these things is hitting the gym.

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As many of you had seen on my Instagram:@Kris_Uy_ , I just beat my one rep maximum. This is of note because when I first did my 1RM in November, on average, I was 15 kilos weaker than when I started last year before the training camps for the Olympic qualifiers.

These were my numbers during the start and at the end of the training camp.

Olympic Qualifying Training Camp: Initial – Maximum
Squat: 110Kg – 125kg
Bench: 90Kg – 97.5Kg
Dead Lift: 160kg -170kg
Bench Pull: 80Kg-85Kg

We took it again a third time near the end of the camp, but with the amount of intense cardio we were doing at the time, the improvements were almost zero in terms of weight lifting strength.

These are my numbers at the start of this training camp back in November:
Squat: 95KG
Bench: 80kg
Dead Lift: 130Kg
Bench Pull: 70Kg

If you notice, my starting squat is 15 kilos LESS than where i had started last year. My bench press and pull were 10 kilos LESS than where I had started in the training camps. The Deadlift? 30 Kilos LESS than my original starting point… Not a great start out of the gate.

My Numbers Now: (To all my weight lifting friends out there, I know this isn’t s*** compared to you guys)
Squat: 130kg
Bench: 100kg
Dead Lift: 180Kg
Bench Pull: 95Kg

This is huge improvement. Not only did I pass my benchmark earlier this year but I also passed my starting point last year…. before Olympic Qualifying. I am currently stronger than before I went to Olympic Qualifiers last year. This was done in a span of 3 months.

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So the question we are looking at is “How?”

I read a study a while ago that suggested a full two minutes of rest between sets. This was supposed to lead to both bigger and stronger muscles over a 3 month span.
During the Qualifier camps, the team was a bit rushed because we wanted to go rest before the next workout. This time around though, we’re currently running two workouts a day so I can take the full rest between sets and my results speak for themselves.17b92bd185d64a8bb99630b90e46c46f

I also don’t expect those gains after every 3 training revolutions. In the beginning of a new weight training program I understand the gains are massive. They’re dubbed “beginner gains” for a reason, but I did not expect myself to bounce back stronger than last year. I’m excited to see how I do and what my strength will be in the next few months.

Also things of note:
I don’t lift as often right now because of my school schedule and so in addition to one less workout a day, I get I have a bit of extra rest between workouts that way too.
Overall message? Rest. Is. Important.
(Don’t rest too much though, or you’ll be a couch potato.)

Key points:
1) For those of you doing strength training alongside your workout regiment, 2 minute rest may be something for you to consider.
Remember, when you’re working out it’s not about finishing the workout quickly or just getting tired. It’s about focusing on the goal of the workout and executing to make sure you’re getting the most benefit.

2) Something I notice here in the Philippines more than I do in the USA is not pushing till failure point.
When you’re in the gym, the last 2-3 reps on your last couple of sets should be difficult and should make you wonder if you can actually lift the weight on the next repetition. If you get finished with the exercise and it’s nothing, or in tagalog, “wala lang”, you need to add more weight. 

If you’re not feeling sore that’s either an indicator you need to add more weight or change up your exercise…

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I have to admit, when I first did those numbers back in November, a medal at worlds seemed really, really far off. Then, when I hit those new numbers last week, I gained such a confidence boost.
Granted, of course, I don’t know what any of my competition is lifting or if they’re lifting at all… but if I look at how I fought at qualifying and Asian champs with those numbers and now I’m stronger, I’m feeling pretty good about our chances. We’ll see. Only time will tell.

Hope this was of value to you guys. Please give it a like a share if it was!

Training Goals

This one is serious.

Many of us want to be great, but we’re only getting through the day, not from the day. Yes, showing up is 90% of success, but 90% isn’t enough if you’re trying to be the best. Master each day and you’ll have mastered your life. Master each practice and you’ll have mastered a championship. Nothing in your day should be arbitrary – everything should have purpose, similarly each training should have a goal and reaching those training goals are the stepping stones to being a champion.

Warming up:
When you’re doing anything. Ask yourself, “What’s the purpose?”
During warm ups it’s all about the range of motion and getting the body hot. It’s about taking a mental inventory about how my body is feeling. It’s about breaking a sweat. It’s not to race anyone, it’s not to kick higher than the person next to me, it’s simply to make sure my body is ready before we start working out for real. It’s the pre-flight checklist before takeoff.
Many people neglect this or have their routines completely random. What if your pilot’s pre-flight checklist was random?
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Maybe it’s because they’re still young or because we live in a hot country so “getting warm” is easier to attain. As you get older, having a warm up routine is imperative, not just because it checks off my “to-do list” listed above, but because it lets your mind know, “it’s go time.” Michael Phelps warms up the exact same way before every race. In golf, if a pro-player’s pre-swing routine is off by more than .2 seconds, it’s enough to throw off the whole swing.
Don’t skip out on the small but integral part of training. Don’t do that to your body.  Don’t be on that crazy plane.

Drills
My goal during drills is always in three steps.
1) Make sure I’m doing the drill properly. I pay attention to any detail that the coach specifically points out.
2) Once the drill done properly I try to “do it for real”, as if I were in a match or a game. American football player Jerry Rice used to run into the end-zone after every drill, no matter where he was, so he was always prepared to do it in the game. That’s called “making it real”.
3) Lastly, I do the drill and I add to the end of it. I’ll usually add something I’m working on or I’m going to use in an upcoming match.  When the coach gives the team a drill it’s probably because a majority of the team needs to strengthen or refine that area, but you, as an individual athlete, have your own strengths and weaknesses you need to sort through as well. You gotta do you. 5633a35b1954c86ee70302af04906812d377a1e77e1f3042536f018f0ea2bb62
Tailor your training to suit your needs.

Scrimmages/Sparring
ALWAYS be prepared to fail.
I cannot stress this enough. You must be willing to fail. I see many athletes, coaches, and yes, some parents, too concerned with “looking good” or having their child “look good” during training. I say to throw that in garbage. Always be willing to sacrifice your ego now for skills later.
I’ve been working on my offhand punch for more than two weeks and in the ring, it still looks ugly. That’s okay, progress is usually subtle and slow like that and that’s why patience is key. The first time I tried to use my offhand punch in a match, Butch got me in the face three times. The last time we sparred, he only got me twice. Hopefully next time it’ll be only once or better yet, zero. Needless to say, both matches I lost, but both matches I learned. It’s all for the sake of learning and gathering of skills.
Yes, there are some days when my goal is to win every match. I’m not just checking the score at the end though. I’m checking to see how I’m recovering, I’m checking to make sure my offensive strategies are still working, I’m checking to see if I’m adjusting quickly enough to my opponent. Am I pressing correctly?  How are my main weapons doing? Is the strategy right?
Always test and get feedback, even when playing to win.
Now, when you are playing for skills, I’m not saying to throw out everything either. Try and mix up your base game with the new things so you can see how the new skills fit in.  You need to experiment with everything and anything to see how it affects you.

Here’s some food for thought: 

  • Have you thought about testing a different “pre-fight” meal? Or do you eat the same thing every time because that’s what you’ve always done?
  • Do you have an actual warm up routine? And if yes, when was the last time you tried something else in your routine? How did it affect you?
  • Do you walk onto the field or the mat with the exact same mindset every time? Or have you tried different mindsets to see what gives the best results?

Are you testing?
Are you risking?
Are you actively trying to get better?
Or are you just sitting in your comfort zone?
(We’re watching)
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Set your goals, push towards them and test, test, test.

Lastly: Track Your Goals
Training goals can be difficult. How do you track landing an offhand punch? Apparently it’s being tracked by the number of times I get hit in the head. Think of your own metric, then compare and contrast. You need a baseline to track improvement.

Never be afraid of experimenting for the sake of learning. Never be afraid to fail because if you’re not failing, you’re not growing.
Remember:
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God Bless.
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*I don’t own any of the images used

Winter’s End

My cousin once told me: “You don’t know how many people are watching your story.”
This is an update to my story.

I finished the book “Purpose Driven Life” and I’ve been attending SaddleBack Church. Now I attend a small Bible study every Thursday. Who would have thought?

What about the rest of my life?
Since Asian Qualifiers, I attempted to relaunch a small business I started a few years ago and that failed. The 7/11’s here started carrying the things we delivered and it became much more accessible to all of the condos. The need disappeared. As they say, timing is everything in business.
I took a few trips back home.
Besides that, I’ve just stayed inside and pondered my life.

My schedule was, wake up, go to school, go home, do homework, do a little bit of work and play a couple of games.
I stopped waking up at 4:30 a.m. I stopped reading. I stopped writing down my goals and assessing them on a weekly basis. I stopped journaling my days. I stopped listening to audio-books. I stopped doing all of that and I just floated through my days.

It took a visit from a loved one to bring up “Kris I think you’re in a depression” My rebuttal was “I don’t think so. I don’t feel sad or lonely and I can sleep properly.” to which she replied “It may different. But you’ve lost interest in everything you used to like doing. Taekwondo, reading, business, your ambitions…”

Maybe I entered the depression after I lost. Maybe mentally I hadn’t accepted it, though, rationally I thought I had. Maybe the emotional pain surfaced itself by draining the interest out of everything else. Slowly each of those habits I worked hard to cultivate fell away and I didn’t make an effort to stop it. It was true that I let go of everything.
During that same visit, we had a DLSU had a match versus U.E. I did not want to go. I did not want to compete. I did not want to put my gear on or have to warm up or have to fight. I felt the same way I did Korea months ago.
Still, the team needed me and I did my best, but I lost in sudden death to U.E.’s National Team Member. I analyzed my emotions afterwards and found it held no bearing. I may have also chalked it up to the chest protectors not registering, but I know myself and I know that if it were the old me, the old me would have cared. A lot. Regardless of the technical difficulties. The old me would have gotten up to train twice the next day and everyday after that because nothing really fires me up more than a loss. That is what the old Kris Uy would have done.
I trained once the next day, but the day after that I got up, and said “eh” and just went to school.

My siblings also came to visit and I’m glad I got to spend time with them. Besides hanging out with everyone, my dad made sure they attended morning training with the DLSU team.
What did I do? I slept in, drank coffee and just stayed home doing what I’d been doing for months. Nothing.
Two weeks ago, the National Team had held their annual National Team Selection. I did well, but informed the coaches I was going to take a break. I appreciated their understanding of the situation. I didn’t think I would be mentally ready for the major tournaments this coming year and I don’t like committing to things I’m not all in on.

The week after the selection we had a match against the UAAP first runner up, N.U. I knew mentally this was going to be a tough match and in preparation I trained about 3 times… over the month… Nowhere near what I would have done before.
I was actually nervous for a local competition. I had not prepared properly.
I prayed about the predicament and the answer I got (I’m never sure if it’s actually from the Big Man upstairs or just my own voice) was “do you trust me?” and of course I said yes. Then the reply was, “let me handle it”.
Fight comes around. I’m nervous again and the conversation I had last night comes to mind. I remind myself of my mantra “Do your best and let God handle the rest”. I anchor myself and watch as the team fights.

DLSU loses the Philippine Taekwondo League Championship for the first time in 3 years.(We had lost previously in series, but never in eliminations). National University went on to win the whole thing. Congrats to them and well deserved.
I went home happy though. And for the first time in months, I had fun.

On the way home, Sir Tshomlee Go’s old coach texted me and asked if we could talk.

I went out to meet him. He greeted me with a smile. He proposed I keep fighting, even just this year, even just till this World Championships. We had a heart to heart and at the end he offered for me to just think about making an attempt at a World Championship Medal.
I thought long and hard about the proposal. I know that my lack of motivation may just be a stage. I gave myself a deadline for the break and if the motivation and urge to fight didn’t come back by then, then I was going to retire for good. Would I commit to trying to get a World Medal this year, so soon?

I went home and I talked to a couple of loved ones about it and they gave their advice, but what it came down to was the feeling I had earlier that day. For the first time in months, I had enjoyed the fight again.

I texted him that morning that I was on-board.

I don’t know yet if this will span for another Olympic cycle.
It is still true that my motivation has not returned. However, I could not deny how I felt while fighting and that was enough evidence for me that this may just be a passing phase.

So here’s for all of you who are still watching my story. We’re making an attempt at a World Medal this year.

My Spiritual Journey

I haven’t been posting much. Not on instagram, facebook, snapchat, or even this blog. So thank you for tuning in again!
I haven’t been posting because I’ve been trying to figure out the all-important question of: What is my purpose in life?

A famous author said that the two most important days of your life are the day you’re born and the day you figure out why.

Since Olympic Qualifiers I’d been trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. I thought for a long time it was to go to the Olympics and show others that you can do whatever you set your mind to. If that’s still God’s intent, then this is just a setback, but I really felt it was God’s will for me to go this past year, hence my confusion. God obviously had other plans. What followed after was this:

I went home after I learned the two lessons from my losses (never let up on offense and have fun). Some R&R seemed appropriate after a 9 month training camp. What usually happens after a major competition is I go home and there I’m with my family who loves and supports me, I have enough food and shelter and all of my Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs are met so I’m able to re-formulate or re-inspire myself to reach for greatness one more time. This time however, the fire and passion didn’t come back.

Was that it? Was that all I needed to accomplish? To reach the top 23 in the world? To stand before the world champion and knock his headgear off? To maintain the lead till the last 16 seconds to prove to myself I’m World Class at this game? Or was it that I held on long enough for my siblings and teammates to reach National team level and I was no longer necessary?

Upon my first return I read and studied more success books trying to figure out how the best of the best found their passions and stayed motivated. I crawled through my personal journals looking for the sequence of events that led up to me being inspired to try again.
I did as the books suggested and I looked internally for a month. During this time I trained semi-regularly and before I knew it, two months had passed and I was flying out to Korea Open. Optimistically I thought that perhaps competition would bring the passion back. I fought and made it till quarter finals and still nothing. There was no passion.

Maybe I needed more time at home to recover. My Uncle, luckily, got me a ticket home and I took this time to reflect and read more.

All the books said look inside: What is it that I wanted to do? Go do that. What am I good at? Go do that. What do I think I’ll succeed at? Go do that. What fills me with joy? Go do that.

Another suggestion from the books is to ask your friends or take tests to find your strengths and weaknesses and sometimes within those strengths, you can find your purpose. I took an audit of my friends and asked them their opinions. I read about how to find my strengths. I did the exercises, answered questions, took aptitude tests and nothing conclusive.

I think part of the problem is that for better or for worse, I’m a little arrogant. I fully believe, with my entire being, in what I stand for: anyone can do anything they set their mind to and if you put in every last bit of effort and energy into your craft, for years, eventually you’ll end up where you want to be. You’ll be a success in that field no matter what you do.
I still believe this to be true. The books kept asking me: “What can I succeed in?” but in my mind, I needed the answer to: “What should I succeed in?”

Les Brown says that everyone is a dream wrapped in skin and that everyone is sent down here on Earth with a purpose.
I believe you’re here to fulfill a purpose and that the purpose is not arbitrary and that there’s something specific here on earth that each person is supposed to do.
I was still searching for the answer to “What is my purpose here on earth?”

 

Four months soul searching, reading, test taking and dabbling in different hobbies and my brother moves here, ready to attend De La Salle University. Once we get his stuff settled he pulls out this book and says to me. “I brought a book here, Miachael Phelps read this after 2012 and it made him to go for 2016. He found the purpose of his life after this.” To which I replied “If it’s good enough for Phelps, it’s good enough for me.”

I look at “The Purpose Driven Life” and it looks highly religious. Despite being a best selling book, I’d never heard of it; and though I’m raised catholic, I don’t read many spiritual books because I like more grit application.
I was expecting a more of a “how to” book than a this. I reminded myself “Phelps read this and it got his life going in a good direction.”
I pray that at the end of this book, I’ll know a few things: 1) Do I keep fighting or do I make a career transition? and 2) What does God expect me to do here on earth?

A C.E.O. I had lunch with once said, perhaps I just need to have Jesus in my life. Maybe it’s me coming full circle.

I’m currently have 7 days left on this journey that this book is taking me on and there’s a lot I’ve learned.
I’m changing my perspective but overall what it’s teaching me is to remember God in my day to day. I’m learning how to really love other people outside of my family. I’m learning to see people as souls and not as whatever value they can bring me. I’m learning that I’m not supposed to imitate Jesus, I’m supposed to be me and let Jesus live inside my heart. I’ve learned that your talents and abilities are there to serve the living body of Christ and the people around me in ministry. In the last phase of the book I’ll be learning about my mission in life.

Overall it’s brought me a sense of calm and happiness. I feel like I had built a house upon the foundation of success and I thought that would be my stability. That the foundation of goals, skills and efficiency would be the basis of my life and that would be my rock. When all was said and done, even those didn’t hold. Now, in the ruins of everything I’m starting to rebuild and this time God is the foundation. Not success, not money, not goals or skill, but God. I’m not sure what’s going to happen or how I’m going to come out on the other side of these 42 days but I feel like I’m getting closer to what I was searching for. The answer to the question: “What is my purpose in life?”

Will it be another Olympic attempt? Or a career transition into a hobby I’ve loved since I was a child? Perhaps it will be neither of these and God has something else planned entirely.
I heard the best way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans and I’m sure I’d been making him laugh quite a bit this past year.

How to Take a Loss

DLSU didn’t take home the result we wanted in the recent 2016 Philippine Nationals.
[Nationals in the Philippines is a 5 on 5 competition and the first team to 3 wins wins.]
Congrats to the women’s DLSU and CSB teams for taking home first and second.
The men’s team lost in the quarter-finals to San Beda College.

Losing happens in sports. It’s just a part of the process. Instead of feeling bitter, remember that every failure comes with a lesson. I generally deal with each loss the same way and this is my method.

PART 1: ASSESS THE AFTER ACTION REPORT

  1. Seeing what my real mistakes were
    I’m not a believer in the blame game. Saying the refs were like this, the equipment was like that, or the judges were bias, etc. None of that.
    Why? Because it will rob me of an opportunity to improve myself.
    If I have failed, I analyze what I did, not what happened anywhere else. At the end of the day you made the choices, you took the actions and you got a certain result. We have to analyze to make sure we make better choices in the future.Here’s the benefit of the loss: Now that you know what doesn’t work.
    Thomas Edison found 1,000 ways to not make a light bulb, but with each successive try he got a bit further.
    You can only know and fix a mistake if you’re aware of it.
    When looking at what went wrong, answer honestly. Only you will know if you’re cheating. If you performed horribly, you need to look at why. Why did you not play your best? Was your warm up too short? How was your mental game? Did you eat too much before game time? How many hours of sleep did you get? etc.
    If you feel you performed decently well, think about where you can improve: Maybe it was the wrong technique. Maybe it was your defense. Maybe you didn’t choose the correct offense. Maybe you didn’t adapt in time. Maybe it was lack of following up. Maybe it was lack of strength or speed or conditioning. Maybe you didn’t manage the ring. (You’d be surprised how many matches are won and lost by ring management).  etc.

    Whatever it is, figure out what you honestly think it is and try and come up with a solution. Don’t let your ego get in the way.

  2. Ask someone outside for what to work on.
    Your own self analysis is good, but you’re also in the ring and you can’t see the picture when you’re in the frame.
    Was your coach or a teammate nearby? Ask people whose insights you trust about what you did well and what you need to improve on. (This should be done during a win and loss).
    Maybe you didn’t see you were too close the whole time. Maybe you didn’t see he/she was open for a follow up or that he/she had a “tell” you didn’t catch onto.I’m sure your coach is going to tell you this anyway, but just in case. Getting different perspectives on the problem can help you formulate your solution. If you disagree, at least try what they are suggesting before you dismiss the advice, you might surprise yourself.

    Look internally to see what you can see, then ask someone outside for what they can see.

  3. See your strengths
    Unless you got completely decimated, there’s a large chance you did some things well. Figure out what those are. Those will be your building blocks.
    As you go back to the drawing board, let your strengths be the foundation of your strategy. You want a game plan that allows for victory, not the simply the prevention of defeat.

PART 2: TO THE DRAWING BOARD

  1. Your weaknesses give clues to where you should spend your focus.
    I know in businesses they say to focus on your strengths and then hire people who are strong where you’re weak. In sports, you can’t hire someone to block for you. You have to do that yourself.
    As a trainer, I need to see my fighter fight to know where they are strong and where they are weak so I can start making a strategy. If they don’t fight, I have no information on where that person needs to improve. I can only make guesses. This is why competition is so important.
    This coach mentality is what you should bring to your training. If following up was your problem, make sure you add a follow up after each kick. If it was blocking, make sure you pay extra attention to your hands. If it was ring management, imagine you’re actually fighting and practice what you’d do to get better ring positioning. The whole point of practice is to improve yourself. You’re weak in certain areas because those areas don’t get that much attention. Give those areas extra attention now so you can adjust to fix your mistakes.
  2. Work on your weaknesses in respect to your strengths.
    If you’re good at attacking but get countered easily, don’t throw out attacking completely. Work on your defense just after your attack or work on motions. If you have a great off the line/back leg kick, but you land incorrectly or are always in the corner, work on your landing properly and controlling the ring so you can keep using your back leg.
    In Korea, I lost because I had no way to counter a cut kick that didn’t involve my hands. Now I don’t throw out all the traps I have that use my hands, I simply add a front leg hook kick/full moon, or work on adding more motions to my game.I keep what I’m good at and add skills around where I’m weak. I do not however, change my entire offensive strategy to fix that problem.
    Ask your coaches for help on what to do if you’re lost.

    It’s difficult to go into great detail on this because each person is different, with different strengths, weaknesses and tendencies.
    Figure out what’s working for you and add skills to cover your weaknesses.

  3. Use that motivation when working out.
    One of the greatest thing you’ll probably pull out of a loss is motivation. I’d never worked harder than after I had come from defeat. In 2011 when I didn’t make Collegiate National Team, I became extremely motivated for redemption. I had never trained more intensely or had been more willing to sacrifice. After my horrible international performances in 2012 the same thing occurred.
    It’s difficult to maintain high levels of motivation, even Usain Bolt admits to that. So when you have the opportunity to go hard in training, ride the wave and go with it.Remember, the scoreboard tells a story. Maybe not the whole story, but a story nonetheless. It serves to show you what you did well and what you need to improve on. Wins and losses are not on the scoreboard for me. Wins and losses are about performance. You could have performed terribly and won or fought your best ever and still lost. No matter who I’m fighting it’s always the same, it’s about performance. Everyone wants to win, but don’t let that be the end all for you.
    Learn from both, your wins and your losses.

    At the end of the day, losses will always taste horrible in your mouth and you want to gag, but if you can swallow it properly it’ll do you some good; like vegetables.

Reading is for Squares

I used to hate books. I scoffed at reading. Books were for squares. I used to say “Who has time to read? That takes too long” as my nimble fingers pushed the buttons and triggers on my controller; my eyes slowly frying in front of my TV screen. That terrible habit developed in my childhood and continued into my mid-twenties. It took me almost a decade for me to realize I should be picking up books instead of the next best game.

During my teenage years, I was hungry. I was hungry to make the U.S. Junior National Taekwondo team and I was eager to learn from anyone who could and would teach me. My cousin and father suggested I start attending Troy Garr’s in San Jose. I went with my cousin the first couple of times. In a recent scrimmage he had not done so well against the current National Team Member and he was getting back into shape. He had been juggling coaching, a new job and training and it was a lot to carry. I was coming along just to improve the finer details of my game.
We make a left turn into a small in a plaza and see the small hole in the wall gym. My stomach turns and the butterflies go haywire. This always happened when I came here.
On the outside it doesn’t look impressive. It looks like your average martial arts gym, mats, heavybags, kicking paddles, shields, etc…
On the inside is a coach that demands perfection in every drill. On the inside is a level of intensity that’s almost visible like a morning fog. On the inside you’re in a pressure cooker, the way Gordon Ramsey puts his chef’s in a pressure cooker. Gordon Ramsey means business the way Troy Garr means business.
This coach was was responsible for putting multiple people on the Junior, Collegiate and U.S. Senior National Team. Perfection in the preparation, a.k.a. training, was demanded.
Practice starts and my ears are open. We start with a jog around the room as his assistant throws balls at us to catch. I hear coach Garr talking to Gilbert about his recent performance. Gilbert explains that he should have been training more. Coach Garr responds “Well you already know what I’m going to tell you. You can’t expect much. If you only train 3x a week, you’ve got to expect 3x a week results. That man has been training 3x a day for Pan Ams.” Gilbert nodded and kept jogging. He knew, they both knew. The words churned in my head and reminded me of what my father had told me; “In order to have what you have never had, you must do what you have never done.” Or in this case,
In order to have what the successful have, you must do what the successful do.

I’ve used this motto in training for over a decade now. I usually copy other successful training strategies, figure out what I like and then put the rest into storage. It’s not very original, but it’s effective. It’s not special. It’s simple. If you want what others have, you must do what they do. Just copy and paste.

Now, while I don’t lack on the side of fitness or physical health, I do feel an imbalance in other areas of my life. One of the major areas being financial and quite frankly, who doesn’t?

I was scared of growing up and even in my mid-twenties, that fear never went away. I was scared I would never reach the level of success my dad had. I was scared to start working because everyone says “work sucks, college is the best time of your life.” I was scared because I thought success in business was for a chosen few and I might not have been chosen. It wasn’t till a few years ago that all of that disappeared.
After winning the SEA Games in 2013 I flew home to the U.S. and went to visit my former coach and mentor, Tshomlee Go. He and his wife had both recently purchased BMW’s and I wanted to see what they were up to, so, you know, maybe I could buy one too…
We drove to a seminar all the way down in San Diego and Coach Go explained to me that any area in life is just like Taekwondo. If you work hard, are willing to learn and are willing to do what it takes, eventually the results will come.

We arrive and walk into the hotel’s grand ballroom. There’s already a couple hundred people there. Everyone has notebooks, is sharply dressed and they’re chatting excitedly. Just as we find out seats, the M.C. gets on stage, settles everyone down and introduces the first speaker. He talks about how much this money this guy making, how he’s a great leader and is a life long friend. I’m looking around to see which sharply dressed guy is about to walk out on stage. I  pull my own notebook out and am ready to learn. Suddenly, this guy wearing a hat, jeans and a t-shirt emerges from back stage with a big smile on his face and holds out his hand for the mic. I think to myself, “Something must be wrong with the microphone”  and he needs to adjust something.
Turns out this guy is the successful entrepreneur the M.C. was talking about.
My mind couldn’t accept it. I put my notebook down. There was no way this guy was making that much money. There was just no way. I thought only Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg could get away without wearing a suit and making a difference. I look around in disbelief, but everyone had their eyes glued to this guy. I wanted to go use the bathroom as an excuse to get out, but I was in the middle of the row. I sigh, lean back,  put a slanted smile on my face and listened.
I watch this thirty year old entrepreneur talk passionately about his story. How he used to work at In-N-Out Burger, how got kicked out of his apartment for not paying rent, how he hit a little bit of success and then how everything in his life collapsed. As he continued I listened in awe over the things he had to overcome. Like how he held his fiance as she died in his arms, how he spiraled into a depression and how his friend pulled him out of it. As he continued through his life story, I saw my taekwondo struggles in his life struggles.
He talked about how he became the man we saw before us. Book by book, obstacle after obstacle, trial after trial. I really was reluctant to believe at first, but he had pictures of most of his story. I thought back to my Taekwondo journey and it was similar to what this man had experienced financially. My jaw was on the floor by the time he was done telling his story. Successful person after another, I watched these people talk about their stories, of their trials and failures and how they never gave up. I thought about my taekwondo journey and how I never gave up. I watched speaker after speaker talk about how their lives were transformed through challenges and thought about how I was transformed through challenges. Even if it was all fake and they were all pulling a fast one on me, I was convinced I could make it. Just like when I was 12 years old and I was convinced I was going to make it in my sport. From that point forward that I believed I had a shot at being successful too; I simply had to do what they did.

On the way home, I was mentally digesting everything I had heard. Everything the speakers said made sense. It was as coach Go told me, it was almost the same journey athletes have in sports. A few key things replayed in my mind the during long car ride.
“If you’re doing average Joe activities, you will get average Joe results.”
“If you’re willing to do what the successful do, you will have what the successful have.”
“You must learn from someone who’s an expert in their field. You wouldn’t take baseball tips from Michael Jordan would you? He’s an expert at basketball. So you should ask him about basketball tips, not baseball ones. Think now though: are you asking your broke friends for money advice? They may be an expert friend, but perhaps not an expert with money.” I laughed at myself because I’d done this countless time before.

The biggest key point for me was something the first speaker said when he was explaining how we needed mentors. “If you don’t have a mentor, that’s okay. Most of my mentors have never met me, but I met them, in their books.” He rattled off the classics: Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich”, George Clayson’s “Richest Man in Babylon”, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie and many others. Since that day I’ve made it a point to try and read daily. If you do what a successful person does, you will have what a successful person has.
Also, if reading isn’t your thing, then listen to audio books.  There’s always a way. 

[Special add for people who influence children]
In the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, they performed a study between the study habits of students who make it into “Top Tier” universities and those who don’t. The one of the major differences was this:
The children who make it into the top universities read during the summer and those who don’t make it in, don’t.

It’s not just one summer. The children read books every summer. Even if a child only reads two books a summer, they are being tested against children who read no books during the summer. That means one child has 24 more experiences, anecdotes and references to call upon than the other.
It’s like you’re at a desk doing a research paper and the person next to you has 24 more books on their desk that they can reference but you can’t. Who do you think will have the better paper? It’s obvious.
Reading broadens the vocabulary so children can better express themselves. It takes children through all ranges of emotions and lets them experience loss, hardship and difficulty in a fraction of the time; giving them a better grip on it when it occurs in the real world. Now I don’t think we can experience life by sitting in a recliner chair and reading about it, but I do think that it helps to have a road map before you set out on a long journey, and life is indeed a long journey.
Remember too that it’s never too late, you can start the kids on something so they have one or two references going into their exams. Do it for the kids.
[End of Insert]

The question most people ask after learning this is: “Where should I start?”

I watched a TEDx talk recently with a  28 year old, who, in 3 years, became a millionaire. He too said reading was important, but what you read is just as important. He says
“There are books to solve every problem in the world, but you don’t have every problem in the world. You do have your problems. So read books that solve your problems.
It’s really that simple. Just like in sports, you identify a problem area you want to fix, you educate yourself on how to fix it and then you apply it. Darren Hardy, CEO of Success Magazine, reads 5 books, listens to two audio books and attends at least one seminar every quarter, all aimed at a single skill he wants to develop. I’m currently reading one book this month and listening to one audio seminar. I think we can all identify why there’s such a difference in our incomes.
No voodoo magic, no special ritual, just simple advice. Succeeding at any area of life is just like sports. Identify your problem area, educate yourself on how to fix it, and apply.

I used to think reading took too much time until I learned what it would do for my life. The late business guru, the Jim Rohn used to say “Wouldn’t it be an advantage to you if someone spent 5 years trying to figure out a problem and then they wrote a book about it; and you could read that book in 5 days? It is an advantage yes, if you read the book.” I’m a big fan of saving time and I’m sure you are too.
We all kind of pity the person who runs into the same problems over and over again, year after year. What about in your own life though? Are the mistakes and hardships you’re experiencing this year the same as you experienced last year? If you’re interested in changing that, my suggestion is to simply copy and paste what the successful do.

Read a book. Change your life. Read a book. Change a friend’s life. Read a book. Change the world with your own greatness.
To have what the successful have, you must do what the successful do. Identify, learn, and apply.