“I became a successful Judo player after I had learned three hard lessons: the first lesson was to ignore the crowd and concentrate on the opponent, the second lesson was to disregard the rank and reputation of the opponent, and the third was to just go out do the best I can do.”
– Jesse Glover
Growing up, my childhood heroes were Jesse Glover and Bruce Lee. I would spend days and weeks studying their stories, reading their training notes, and gazing upon their pictures as if I was peeking into a mysterious realm of mythical beings.
Bruce Lee was the exotic charismatic one to my young mind, rooted in a Chinese culture which fascinated and inspired me. He was a radical mix of traditional and the present, always dressing in cool clothes, training hard and posing with beautiful women.
Jesse Glover was the opposite to me, an intense quiet brooding figure who turned to martial arts to literally stay alive and grow stronger in a dangerous western urban world.
To imagine these two individuals training together as teacher and student became a living mythos to me fueling all studies throughout my adult life into the present time.
“Ignore the crowd and concentrate on the opponent.”
This quote from Jesse Glover was always posted over my writing desk, in my books as a bookmark, and studied daily as I pursued the life-long path of martial arts and medical study. Although this quote is geared towards practitioners of martial arts, we can discover many important pearls within this quote which are applicable to all areas of life.
This idea is one of the most common concepts which competitive athletes must take to heart and embody. It is very easy to listen to the screams of bystanders while competing and allowing this to break our concentration and focus resulting in quickening fatigue or stupid mistakes which cost us the victory.
We must always remember to tune out the noise and focus on the opponent in front of us in a fight or running beside us in a race. This concept is a powerful idea which should be applied to our pursuits in all aspects of life.
We must be able to ignore the armchair critics who are jealous of the pursuit of excellence and keep our focus on the path we choose to walk to manifest our dreams. The ordinary person is not comfortable with individuals striving for excellence. Fueled by jealousy and envy, they are all too ready to dispense with criticisms and accusations.
We must always be open to constructive criticism from trusted friends and coaches, but we must be ready to ignore the whining and crying of the ordinary man jealous of our attempts to reach new goals.
We must always be on guard to not fall into the trap of pursuing goals just to make the “crowd” happy.
The achievement of our goals and dreams may have the support of the masses and if so, we can appreciate this as a transient joy. However, we must make pursue our dreams and goals for ourselves not for the crowds.
For myself, praise and adoration from 2-3 close trusted friends / coaches means more to me than accolades from thousands of people who do not even know me.
“Disregard the rank and reputation of the opponent.”
This concept presents a very important idea of the background noise of our minds. Just as in the previous concept, we discussed the idea of ignoring the crowds to focus on the present challenge, in this concept we must ignore the inner mental chatter which feeds our worries and insecurities.
When fighting an opponent, we often want to know their rank / belt / level of training.
Are they more experienced?
Are they stronger?
The questions can be never ending.
It makes sense for us to ask ourselves these questions and a good coach will ask the same questions as they prepare their student for a fight or a competition. However, at some point, these questions become poison.
We must learn to focus on our own issues: capitalize on areas of strength and work on areas of weakness. This is the reason why the coach or teacher is so vitally important in training or in the pursuit of life goals.
To embody this concept from Glover, we must be ruthlessly honest with ourselves and find individuals who can challenge us, teach us, and help us to grow stronger. Worrying about the opponent or the challenges of life is like mental quicksand, it will drain us of all our energy until we exhaust ourselves and eventually fail.
It is more important to focus on our own strengths and weaknesses than to obsess or worry about others.
“Just go out and do the best I can do.”
People spend too much time planning and worrying. At some point, we must just act. We must gather our courage and walk onto the mat or onto the path of our goals and do the work.
Concepts of failure, success, the screams of the crowd, or the opinions of the masses eventually must fade away and we must focus strictly on doing our work to the best of our abilities.
Bruce Lee sums it up:
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”
Or as stated by Jesse Glover:
“Close in on the guy and get the fight over with.”
We can use these important ideas from Bruce Lee and Jesse Glover as daily reminders in the dojo, in school, or on the path of life. I kept all my childhood books and journals about Lee and Glover and they remain constant talismans and fuel for the path of my life.
“How far are you willing to go? I’ll see you there…..” – Jesse Glover