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How to fight one of the worst demons in the life of a fighter

When he was just nineteen and was making his debut in vale-tudo, Rickson Gracie started getting tired. And puffing. With his brain less oxygenated than he would like, he began hearing voices. "I need to stop. I can't take this anymore; I'm tired. Better give up." Those were the thoughts popping up in his head. 

During the break, however, Master Hélio Gracie ignored what Rickson was asking for, and his older brother Rolls poured a full bucket of ice water on his head. Rickson went back in and quickly finished the feared Zulu on that night in Brasília, in 1980. 

"Right there I learned that our biggest enemy lives inside our own head," realized the family's undefeated champion, who, by a thread, dodged a losing debut. 

In a recent talk with Joe Rogan, Rickson expounded his reasoning, producing some advice on how to deal with such voices in the process. 

* Joe Rogan: “Losing faith in oneself in the course of a fight is probably the most common ghost in the routine of professional fighters. Everybody, one day or another, looks for a way out, right?"

* Rickson Gracie: “Yes, and that happens mainly because the fighter is unable to see through the opponent's point of view. The guy on the other side is also insecure, exhausted, lacking oxygen, dying to hear the bell. It's a very human characteristic, in reality: when we have problems, we usually concentrate on the negative aspects and exaggerate the size of the problem. The person who realizes that their opponent is going through exactly the same feelings as you doesn't get shaken and pushes through, because they understand that it's all within the normality of a fight. Talent lies in seeing your problems in their true size, and not exaggerating the proportions; after all, that's only going to impede the solving of that problem. And that is a power that we all have inside us. Certain athletes can benefit from specialists and psychologists, but the main path goes through understanding that it's an internal problem, in our own head, and that those ghosts can be fought without external interference. It suffices to have a true acceptance and total illumination of the problem."

How about you? Do you analyze your problems with a magnifying glass or run far away from them? Breathe and focus on the solution. And enjoy your training.