Courage

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Have Courage.

Courage in the face of solitude, which is to say fearless before your own mind, 

Courage in the face of error, which is to say facing complexity undaunted,

Courage in the face of age, which is the death of expectation, 

Courage in the face of poverty, which is to say unyielding to disgrace,

Courage in the face of disappointment, which means always trying hard,

Courage in the face of other people, which is to be strong enough to love. 

8 Life Lessons from the World of Mixed Martial Arts

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A while back I spent several years traveling the world and observing the best martial artists up close and even training and competing myself. As a writer I was always most interested in these fighters, not so much for their exploits in the cage but as models of excellence and fortitude. Counterpoints in a time of widespread cultural distraction and fractiousness. I looked for things that I could take away from what I was learning to help me in my everyday life. The following are the core principals I took from my experiences in the world of fighting that have helped me in my quest to live an authentic and empowered life.

  1. Don’t give up: This doesn’t mean charge blindly into destruction or court hardship just to prove how tough you are, but always recognize your authentic will instead of your animal appetites and develop the first unfailingly as a means to master the second.
  2. Use everything you have: Commit, and don’t hold back. Choose wisely what you do then expend yourself fully in whatever you put your hand to. In this way you will marshal all of your resources and develop new ones as well.
  3.  Always attack: Eliminate every vestige of passivity from your mind. Never hold back because of a fear of failure or disappointment. 
  4. Be courageous: Courage devours aggression because courage increases and reinforces itself while blind aggression burns out. Fortitude beats cunning in the end.
  5. Be first: Seize the initiative. Wake up. Be alert to as much as you can. Live with energy.
  6. The Killer Instinct: Always think in terms of winning. Don’t just survive. Be constantly aware of the circumstances for victory and watch for them. Close the show when the chance comes.
  7. Prepare: Focus on technique. Details matter. A mastery of practicalities will produce confidence and eliminate indecision.
  8. Visualize success: If your limbs are tied up, move forward with your mind until you free yourself. When you do, the power of Providence will be at your back. 

Donovan Craig

A Remarkable Battle

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By: Donovan Craig


The day was going badly for my body until glorious King Alexander shattered the enemy formation with a lightening cavalry charge from between my temples to the base of my neck. Astride wild Bucephalus he cut a figure of terrible beauty. 

The emperor Napoleon has ordered a barrage of cannon to dislodge the forces entrenched in my lungs. A part of his humble beginnings his time as a lowly artilleryman. I cough violently to aid him in his work. 

Hannibal, for my benefit, has buried the hatchet with the Romans. He and grim Scipio have surrounded the enemy with great slaughter behind my left knee. How long can such an alliance hold?

The aching in my right shoulder is where Stonewall Jackson himself has his opponents trapped in a withering crossfire of musket shot and grate.  Earlier an explosion knocked the General from his horse.  The concentration of this odd otherworldly man was unbroken as he dusted himself off. 

Julius Caesar is directing the entire operation from a base just under my heart. No detail of battle escapes his great mind, infinitely perceptive and utterly ruthless.  The most gifted killer of them all.

Although I’m in distress I’m heartened that my defense has fallen into such capable hands. A more crucial battle was never fought as the fallen are discharged with eerie precision in shivering tides of clammy sweat. 

Victorville

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“ Every talent must unfold itself in fighting.” Friederich Nietzsche.

Vigorous Creatures – Lost – An important Call 

Twilight on the edge of the Mojave Desert. A jackrabbit the size of a terrier lopes into the middle of the road, where I’m standing outside my parked car. I make eye contact with the animal and it stares back brazenly before darting off. I hadn’t realized it was possible for a rabbit to look mean, but that one sure did. Huge crows fly overhead and a rooster calls robustly somewhere in the background. All around me, dozens of Joshua trees writhe eerily in their fibrous, fire-resistant bark. In the distance a wiry feral dog, maybe a coyote, eyes me opportunistically. I glance at my phone, wondering if anyone got my text message asking for directions. 

I think back to a phone conversation I had exactly a week ago in my office in Atlanta. “Now this is going to be real, these guys are going to be training for UFC 91,” said Dean Albrecht, one of the most powerful agents in mixed martial arts. He paused, implying that if I were having second thoughts, now would be the time to back out. I didn’t say anything so he went on, “How’s your insurance?” 

“Good, I think” 

“Do you have all of your teeth?” 

“Yep.” 

“If you want it to stay that way, you’ll need a real mouthpiece, not one from the drugstore. I’ll handle that.” The uber-efficient super agent would handle everything for me over the next month. 

“How’s your Jiu-Jitsu?” he asked. 

“Okay, I guess. I’m a blue belt.” 

“Mmm,” Dean grunted skeptically. “And you used to box, so your hands are okay. Can you kick?” 

“Nope.” 

“How old are you again?” 

“Thirty-six.” 

“Ahh.” Dean changed the subject. “Listen, everybody reads the magazine, but I doubt they are going to know who you are.” (Referring to my job as editor) 

“That’s better,” I said. “Don’t tell them. I don’t want to be treated any differently. Treat me like anybody else going out there.” There is a pregnant silence at the other end of the line. “Yeah, it will be great,” he then said. “You can go incognito.” Dean was enthusiastic about the idea of my training with top-level pros for a month before fighting in Las Vegas, in spite of his doubts about my ability to complete the assignment. Granting me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he had arranged for me to train for a week with one of his biggest clients, UFC lightweight star Joe Stevenson, at his gym in Victorville, California. 

Alone, lost, and with nothing to do, I start to wonder if I have made a mistake. It’s not the physical hazard of fighting and training that weighs most heavily on my mind but as always, my dread of embarrassment and the shame associated with failure. I know that I am going to suck compared to these guys. After all, they’re world class. But what if I really suck? What if I can’t do it? My thoughts are interrupted by the sound of a car engine, and soon a black truck speeds over the hill in front of me, churning up a cloud of dust. It skids to a stop beside me, and a guy who’s built like an anvil glowers out at me from behind the wheel. 

“Are you the editor guy?” he growls. 

“That’s me,” I say. So much for incognito. 

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