Professionalism and dealing with a Crisis
There is always a chance in competition that something completely unexpected and detrimental can happen to you mid match - you must have a set of protocols in place to deal with it and have enough adaptability to get this protocols to work in every unique situation and a professional demeanor to apply them in a stressful environment.
This weekend, Gordon Ryan had an epic match with João Gabriel Rocha. Near the end of the first period he went to elevate the big man just as Mr Rocha set his weight back and down. There was a sound like ripping canvas audible above the crowd and then time ran out. When Mr Ryan came back to the corner it was obvious from his gait that something was very wrong. When he came close he said matter of factly, “My left LCL is torn, feels like a serious tear. I have no stability in my left leg.” No emotion, no exaggeration.
Whenever this kind of thing happens I always begin with one question - DO YOU BELIEVE YOU CAN WIN THIS MATCH? Rule number one of all combat sports is this - NEVER SEND AN ATHLETE INTO A MATCH IN WHICH YOU DO NOT BELIEVE HE HAS A SERIOUS CHANCE OF WINNING. If i don’t believe it myself during a match I will immediately throw in the towel. My approach is that you can always abandon this attempt and go back to the gym and improve and win in the future.
Now often times an athlete will SAY yes, when they don’t really believe it to be the case. I always look at their body language when they answer and make my assessment. Mr Ryan looked me square in the eyes and said calmly - yes. Next step is is to use the remaining forty five seconds to reconfigure the game plan. Obviously standing grappling was out. Mr Ryan would have to walk to center without limping (revealing a problem) and sit to guard. His body was running hot so we figured he had another couple of minutes before his movement would be totally compromised. That meant in this rule set he had around two minutes to launch a serious submission attack to either win or score and then hold on with one leg, favoring guard retention via turtle rather than leg pommeling. Mr Ryan got up and did exactly that - professionalism in a crisis.