Motivation to Application with Travis Stevens
OK, so this is the straight, no chaser truth about motivation. Motivation is a lie. You know it’s a lie. Discipline and Drive are what’s going to get you to reach your goal, and there’s few better to talk to us about drive than Olympic Silver medalist Judoka and John Danaher black belt Travis Stevens.
You’ve had those days when you wake up, the stars are aligned just right, you feel great, the weather is perfect, you have your perfect coffee and no distractions to go train with helpful and inspiring people. We feel pretty motivated when life is like that. What about when life isn’t like that? What’s your first thought when you wake up?
Travis Stevens’ first thought when he woke up was to win a world title. Period. It wasn’t getting a private lesson. It wasn’t paying the rent. It wasn’t thinking about “what am I going to have for breakfast today?” It was I WILL ACHIEVE MY GOAL NO MATTER WHAT LIFE PUTS IN MY WAY.
When Travis couldn’t pay the rent? No factor. He’s living in his car so he can go train.
When Travis can’t afford food? No factor. He’s working in a restaurant so he get access to food.
But even getting to the Olympics didn’t guarantee that Travis would reach his goal of earning a medal. He had to be at the top of the international Judo game for well over a decade and go to the Olympics three times in order to win Silver in Rio de Janeiro in 2016! Now that’s some discipline and drive!
What we hear from Travis during the video is what psychologists call a shift from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation. When Travis achieves his external goal of winning a medal it’s like a 100lb weight is lifted off his chest! Huge relief, right guys? But now the questions is “OK, now what?!”
When you’ve had the drive to climb Everest and you’ve finally done that, where do you go from there?! Why even train anymore, right? If you don’t have the hunger, the fire, the drive to go out there and achieve greatness because you’ve already achieved it, now what do you do? If there’s no challenge there’s no reason to go through the grind of training.
This feeling totally changed when Travis walked into a class with BJJ Fanatics instructor John Danaher at Renzo Gracie’s academy and Travis felt that he could be challenged again. During one of John Danaher’s mid morning classes Travis was shown a simple move of a pull into X-guard then a sweep. Having never seen or tried that technique before in Judo Travis was able to understand it and successfully apply it in that very class.
This opened up a whole new way of learning and lit a whole new fire of intrinsic motivation - a love for the inner game of understanding technique not based on size or strength but on connection to the overall situation and understanding the nuances of the game and one’s own application of them.
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Travis has observed that a lot of people want to solve the Rubik's cube of their opponent with just one turn but what’s needed is a step by step understanding of the connections and details that let you problem solve and overcome obstacles day-by-day. These obstacles may be what your opponent is doing, but they may also be the holes in your own game that your opponent can exploit. Understanding this will take your game to the next level over and over again!
Now we’ve looked at the importance of understanding the small details and how much it can fire you up to get better everyday, let's take a look at a crucial detail from Travis himself that will change your turtle defence.
Have you ever been stuck in turtle and so crushed by your opponent that you can’t even see what’s going on, let alone defend against it? Sucks, right?
In this video Travis shows us that by using a chin roll to bring the forehead off the mat and the chin towards the sternum we create both a natural defence against chokes and allow ourselves to see back between our legs. This change gives us a whole new vantage point from turtle so that we can see our opponents hand switching and frees our own hands for defence. With this crucial adjustment of the chin in turtle our head also now becomes a pivot point that allows us to make quick movements away or towards our opponent, compared to being glued to the mat when our forehead is down.
The second big issue that Travis notes in turtle is our opponent pressuring weight down onto us. If this happens we’re basically immobile and our opponents free hand is going to keep coming in for chokes. Not good! So to keep the weight off we’re going to take the top of our head to the mat with the chin tucked in again. This creates a space where we can criss-cross our arms and make the most efficient defence against chokes and keep our elbow tight against our opponents attempts to get hooks in.
Often Travis sees white and blue belts defending with both hands against chokes but this is not an efficient use of the hands as the choke threat here only comes from one side. The position Travis shows gives us a way to defend both the chokes and the hooks. With this space we’ve now created there’s the possibility to move out the back door and get our own top position, hooks, seatbelt position etc.
Understanding these details lets us know where the actual threat is coming from and gives us the tools to defend against actual threats, rather than what often happens in turtle, which is trying to defend against all possible threats at all times.
Travis Stevens is on of the hardest working athletes in the game. He has become one of the most sought after minds in Judo thanks to his fundamentals. For more gaming changing fundamentals and concepts from Olympian Travis Stevens check out his course here: