The last of the 10 things I learned from Royce Gracie at the seminar in Dallas at Guy Mezgers Lions Dens Sports Club.
The 10th thing I learned is: You don’t plan a fight, you win a fight.
One of students in the seminar asked Master Gracie what was his favorite technique to win a fight? And he replied, “the one that wins the fight”. He went on to explain that he did not plan a fight. He did study film, if he had it and had the time, and he did have specific moves for certain times that he intended to use and to try at various times during the fight, but he did not make a plan of attack in his head and try moves that were not working or techniques that would not work against a particular opponent and try to do them anyway.
I asked him how St. Pierre beat BJ Penn last week and he said that St.Pierre took BJ out of his game plan. Every time BJ tried a certain move or expected to be able to try a certain move or implement a plan of attack for the fight. St. Pierre did something to take him out of his game plan and nullify the response that BJ intended to do. I remarked that I was surprised that BJ, who is so great on his back and on the ground was in fact on his back and on the ground almost the entire fight and was beaten so badly by a man who in no way can be considered the “ground jiu jitsu master” that BJ Penn was. And Master Gracie said, that was because every time BJ tried to do a move or a technique that he had planned, St. Pierre stopped it, countered it and proceeded to beat BJ to a pulp.
Master Gracie went on to explain to the class that you don’t “plan” a fight, you win a fight. You do practice and work on techniques that you think might be good for a particular opponent, but when the actual fight starts you have to use techniques that your opponent is giving you, not techniques that you are determined to try anyway, even though your opponent is fully prepared for them and will stop them. Master Gracie said that you adapt the techniques you know to the particular fight and the fighter you are fighting.
He also went on to point out that most of the times in the real World you do not have a video of your opponents old fights. You do not have 6 months to get ready for the fight and so 6 months to learn and practice techniques that you fell will work on that particular opponent. In all the street fights Master Gracie had been in, and he had been in 100’s, he only a few seconds of a few minutes to get ready for the fight and did not have any time to prepare a fight plan. And if you ever find yourself in a street fight you won’t have but a few seconds to a few minutes to get your mind and body ready for the fight.
What you have to do is “go with the flow”. Take what your opponent gives and you and use the techniques that you know that will stop what your opponent is doing, nullify his attack and allow you to control the fight, control the events in the fight and win the fight. You might be a great kicker, but if you are on your back, you won’t be able to use your kicks. You might be a great puncher and hard jabber, but if you are held against the wall, you won’t be able to jab and use your punches. You might be great on your right side, but find your opponent has held you from your left side. You might have a great guard, but find yourself caught in the mount. You might have some great chokes, but find yourself being choked. So all your “plans” and all the techniques you think you are good at or even great at, might not be able to be used because your opponent is not allowing you to do them.
You have to be able to change your techniques to techniques that will work against that particular opponent at that particular time in the fight. I can tell you from experience that you have to be prepared for anything. Master Guy Mezger is one of the greatest fighters to come out of Texas in the last 30 years was a UFC Champion, Pride Champion, Kick Boxing Champion and even wrestling champion. Master Mezger has some of the strongest and best kicking techniques in the World and has used his viscous kicks to win many fights, but if he can’t kick and winds up on his back, he is also a great jiu jitsu fighter and can beat you on his back. When I ask him about what technique he used to defeat a certain opponent in a certain fight, he will go into great detail about what and how he did it. Some of his fights he won with a side kick, some with a round house, some with a right cross, come with a rear naked choke, some with a knee bar, some with a arm bar. The more we talked about the fights the more and different ways he told me about the fights he won. He always adapted the techniques he used to that particular fight and changed whatever he needed to do to allow him to win that specific fight. He was constantly adapting the the changing conditions in the fight and using and changing his techniques that will is using in the fight to win that particular fight. You can and do the same thing.
You must learn to practice all aspects of your fight game. You must become great in punching, kicking, throws, chokes, hold downs, wrist locks, joint locks, combinations, strength training, diet, mental training, etc. You can not just be a good boxer and win all your fights with punching. You can not be just a good kicker and win all you fights with kicks. You can’t just be a great ground jiu jitsu player and win all your fights on the ground. You have to be good at everything. You have to train in all aspects of the fight game and be prepared to make adaptations to any particular fight at any time during the fight with easy and confidence. If you don’t adapt and change as the fight progresses. If you just keep trying the same punches, kicks, take downs and attacks you did in round 1, into round 2 a you probably wont’ make it to round 3. You have to be prepared to change the way you are fighting and defending to what your opponent is giving you. When you learn that, and when you have practiced enough to know what to do in any particular situation, you will become a great fighter and a Great Martial Artist.