The Power of Humility

Several years ago, Caol Uno, the formidable 155 lbs MMA fighter, showed up to a submission wrestling class at one of the top gyms in the US. Although many of the grapplers in the class he joined were much larger than him, he showed no trepidation in rolling with them. Shockingly, though, he got pulverized. Over and over, as he rotated through opponents, they all had their way with him. Some people present that day might have wondered if every person Caol rolled against was just so darn good that each could beat him. But more likely than not, Caol was simply allowing them to look good. He was letting himself get dominated.

Learning requires humility. It is a cliche point, yet when it comes to submission wrestling, it is all too easy to succumb to ego by trying to dominate your training partners. It may taste like victory to slap an armbar or a rear naked choke on a first time grappler, but in the long run, it hinders learning. Particularly when your training partners are weaker and less experienced, you will have very little to gain. Instead, take a lesson from Caol Uno.

You should let your training partner dominate you, especially if you are the better, more experienced grappler. Allow him to play to his greatest strength, and see if you can use your knowledge of technique to defend, escape, or reverse your vulnerable position. If you make a mistake, your partner might even tap you out. You'll feel silly and embarassed, but then if you stay humble and embrace the weaknesses in your grappling game that get exposed, you will learn something. Over time, you will be better for it.

The prologue to Caol Uno's story is that the submission wrestling class he participated in took place amid his preparation for a UFC lightweight tournament. He may have looked silly as he tapped out repeatedly in training, but he didn't look so silly when it came to the actual UFC tournament--he went undefeated. Such is the power of humility.