Life isn’t fair; distinguish yourself with intense training. Remember when your coach told you size and strength don’t matter? He was wrong: strength matters. When all else is equal between opponents, whoever has the edge in the smallest way will distinguish themselves in victory. Oh, and size matters too. A big guy with like skills will crush a little guy. Sorry little guys. Coming from a featherweight, I share your pain. Literally. On the other hand, technique, stamina, and aggression can imbalance a much greater differential in size and strength. I have beaten much bigger guys than me, but there was always a reason: no magic, just training.
Cross Train - If you want to be a good martial artist, you need to be a good athlete. I don’t care what you choose to do, but cross train in something. Swim, lift weights, run, bike, rock climb, play soccer. It will help your strength and endurance. It’s also fun. Don’t be a martial arts nerd: get outside.
Be a Good Student; Take notes. Good students take notes. Committing your training to personal notes is an important step in memorizing your training, and recording a permanent document of what you may end up spending a lifetime acquiring.
Test yourself. Good students test themselves to get a fair measurement of how they stack up against others.
Things Need to Change: Keep an Open Mind. Don’t get stuck in the same old habits. Find new positions to fight from. Take off your gi and fight. Put on a blindfold and fight. Don’t ever ask permission to try something new.
Question all assumptions made by students and teachers. Any teacher that can’t deal with curiosity is in the wrong business. The only dumb question is the one you didn’t ask.
Trust your experience. Have faith in your accumulated mat time and experience in fights. Clear your head and go with your reflexes. If you can’t do this, get back on the mats.
Let yourself heal. Don’t pretend to be a hero if you have an injury. Take time off from training, and don’t let anyone talk you back until you are better. But, know when it is time to get back on the mats. The longer you are gone, the harder it is to get back out there. [Read more about injuries here]().
Break the rules, and don’t be afraid of (or surprised by) the consequences. Non-conformists drive people nuts, so be prepared to go it alone if you have to.
Reward the most curious. Be prepared to learn something from your students. Support an atmosphere of creativity and openness, so everyone feels comfortable asking questions.
Don’t beat your dog and don’t beat your students with your dogma. Never ask your students to have faith in you or “just trust” you.
Nobody has all the answers. Admit when you don’t know the answer, but be ready to get in there and figure it out with sweat and hard work.
Have fun. If you can’t have fun and make fun of yourself every day, you’ve lost yourself in your own self-importance.
Knowledge is wealth; Share it with others. If you don’t spend at least 51% of your time coaching others in something, you are adding no net value to your time on Earth. Don’t get self-absorbed. Give it away.
Your students aren’t your property. Don’t whine if they go to another school. [Read more about this]().
Compete, or don’t push your students into competition. If you can’t be a positive role model for the courage required to step on the mats and potentially lose in front of them, then don’t be a hypocrite and encourage them to compete.
Learn from other sports. Develop training tools. Drill, drill, drill. Videotape student fights and analyze them with your students. Introduce circuit training. Get your students into shape.