To Master Kungfu, the Training Must be Severe

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I am happy to say that our tryouts went splendidly well, and that it had its intended effect…

First, a little background for those who are new to the scene: our tryout consisted of three very grueling workouts.  Since new wrestlers who do no know much wrestling would be trying out, I felt having a wrestling based tryout might not be the best way to go about it…therefore, it was mainly a conditioning based tryout.  The first, called “The Manmaker,” consisted of 21 squat thrusters (barbell in front rack position.  squat. put barbell overhead by a press), 21 pullups, 15 squat thrusters, 15 pullups, 9 squat thrusters, 9 pullups.  The second, called “the 50’s,” consisted of 50 pullups, 50 kettlebell swings, 50 double unders with a jump rope, and 50 overhead squats (a squat while holding the barbell locked out in the press position overhead).  The third, called “Murph,” was run 1 mile, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, run another mile.  Get each workout done as fast as you can.  Yah: I know, crazy stupid.

Each new wrestler to the team must prove his worth by completing all three workouts.  If a wrestler fails at one or more workouts, he may still continue working out with the team and training, but he may not compete in a meet until he passes all three.  For any who missed one or more this time around, they have as many chances as they need to pass.  The next opportunity will be late November, when the fall sport athletes go through it.

Edgar Monroy. This kid's got the eye of the tiger this year.

Here are some of my thoughts about what I saw:

1)  “Isn’t this tryout too hard?”  No.  I wish you were there.  You’d doubt at first, but then your doubts would be put to rest at the end, because you’d see all the guys rising to the occasion and accomplishing something past their conceived abilities.  I’m not one of those guys who will baselessly preach “you can do whatever you put your mind to,” partly because that’s false, but…one thing I have seen is that most people are capable of far more than many of us give them credit for. 

2) These workouts proved to be more than anyone bargained for, but the good thing is that we have a crop of new wrestlers this year who are game and simply won’t quit.  EVERYONE, even those who did not pass one or more workouts, pushed through the workouts and showed that they have the chops.  Six passed all three this time.  For those that didn’t, I have the utmost confidence that they will nail it next time.  They’ve got the right mental toughness.  The rest is just details and training.

3) This is the first year we’ve had anything like a tryout.  I didn’t want to have an athletically based skills test, where I would take, say, the 15 most athletically gifted young men and cut the rest, but I didn’t just want to let anyone on the team either.  I’m concerned about what’s between the ears.  Everyone says they are “serious” when I talk to them, but how many really mean it?  These workouts were a really good way to gauge who means business.  I just wanted to see who wants it bad, and the tryout made it crystal clear.

4) “Why all the high expectations?  You’re just going to run people off,” some might say.  Yes, it will run some people off–the kind of people you don’t want in the room in the first place.  Having pretenders in the room has been one of the things holding us back in the past.  Plus, see #5 below:

5)Look at how the new and veteran wrestlers have responded to this.  The proof is in the pudding, as they say.  There is no question that it has energized us as a team.  Tate said it all after he finished “‘Murph:’ that was awesome!  I can’t believe I just did that!”  The confidence these guys have gained by going through this process is priceless and will benefit them and the rest of the team the whole season.

The new guys are chompin at the bit and eager.  The older wrestlers are taking the younger ones under their wings.  I really feel like we are starting to gel.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my brief career, its that when young men are challenged with high expectations, they consistently rise to the challenge.  There is a desire, an energy, a buzz to this team that I haven’t felt yet, and this mental change is the main aim of all these risen expectations this year.  Even my wife has noticed it…the past few weeks I’ve come home pumped up about the attitude I’m seeing now, and my wife has consistently said, “I’ve never heard you talk like this before about the team.  Usually you’re frustrated.”  Part of that is due to our excellent leadership (the senior class), but part of that, I think, is due to the fact that the guys are really being pushed to accomplish, and are being given the dignity of high expectations just to get on the team in the first place.  No one is entitled to a spot; everyone must earn it, and this is having a HUGE positive effect on the attitude of the individuals who are being pushed.  The kind of attitude you guys are displaying now is infectious, and it will make the right kind of people want to be a part of this team.

6) Everyone had to push through pain and discomfort.  I wanted to see how you would handle adversity.  Get used to it.  Wrestling is a sport of adversity.

7) To the six that passed all three: you guys are beasts.  I’m sure some doubted you, but here you are.  Good job.  Cherish this accomplishment, and when you feel like giving up in mid season when all seems to suck, remember this time.  Remember how awesome you felt.  It was not for nothing.  Remember your teammates who cheered you on, pushed you, encouraged you, and suffered with you.  You are now bonded to all of us and are an integral part of this team. Recalling that will lift you through the difficult time.

8) To those who did not pass one or more: it is no different for you.  You still went through all that.  You are still bonded to this team.  It should make you more hungry for next time, more hungry to excel in wrestling, more hungry to stick with it and not only pass the tryout, but finish the race of your wrestling career.  I do not doubt you.  No one should after seeing your heart and determination this time around.  Over the next month, train hard.  Do stuff on your own.  You WILL get there. Once you pass in November, let those habits carry over into your wrestling.  Even if you don’t pass in November, don’t let up.  As many times as it takes.  Be crazy tenacious.  It will make the accomplishment that much more sweet when you do get there.  I remember I failed six belt tests before I received my black belt in Tae Kwon Do when I was younger.  As powerlifting guru Louie Simmons once said, “to master Kungfu, the training must be severe.”  Well, to master wrestling, you must consistently do absolutely crazy things.

9) To the veterans: first, keep doing what you are doing.  Keep training hard.  Keep mentoring the younger and newer guys.  This is your shot: make the best of it, and make sure you leave a lasting positive legacy when you hang up the high school shoes.

Second, I hope the tryout was energizing for you too, and I hope that this last week put to rest some of the doubts you had about the young’uns ability to get it done.  I also I hope you see the point of all these new things we’re trying on this year.  They are not mere “hoops” to jump through.

The season is now upon us.  We have some good momentum, so let’s keep it going.  It’s gonna be a good year.

  1. Great blog, Coach! I have to say that a lot of those workouts were mental for me. I totally agree with you when you say, “I’m not one of those guys who will baselessly preach ‘you can do whatever you put your mind to,’ partly because that’s false, but…one thing I have seen is that most people are capable of far more than many of us give them credit for.”

    I blog too! You can click on my name to read some of them!

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