I can share what my mentality was when I was able to overcome and win.
The first match is from 1997 and was the 2nd North American Grappling Association tournament ever held by Kip Kollar. It was held at Elite Martial Arts Center in Pawtucket Rhode Island and was owned by the classy Manny Neves RIP.
NAGA as it became know is one of the most famous grappling organizations today.
I was a beginner and entered the open weight division. I weighed in at 230 pounds, was in great condition, very strong and really green (meaning inexperienced).
My opponent was a Black belt and good Jiu-Jitsu player.
I ended up taking 1st place that day and winning my first amateur championship.
The next fight that stands out to me took place at the Wonderland Ballroom/Dog track in Revere Ma year 1999.
I can’t imagine a better set up as a grappler than the one my opponent had me in.
This would have been
a dream come true for any grappler and most likely would have led to a victory.
I had other plans.
Here I was, the match just started and I made a costly mistake. I over shot my strike and my opponent was able to take my back and put me on the floor. He was able to hook in both his legs and sink a full rear naked choke.
This gent was very strong and I was all about finished.
I remember lying there and thinking to myself dang! I don’t want to tap out. Guess I’m going to sleep.
The lights became dark as my eyes began to water. Pressure built in my head what felt like to the beat of my heart. My tongue felt like it had swollen and my throat became very sore.
The yells from the crowd and the instructions from my corner became very distant like an echo. All the sudden the pressure stopped, the pounding in my head was almost gone. I felt faint and very relaxed.
I think I was close to going to sleep……when all of the sudden my opponent adjusted his arms giving me more space to get my hand inside his wrist!
The lights began to brighten, the screams from the crowd became louder then I heard my corner yell “Mike grab his foot!”
Easier said than done since I was so out of it I didn’t know where I was and I couldn’t see his legs or his feet.
Controlling one of his wrists I let go with my other hand and reached down till I found a foot.
As you see in the video I grabbed the wrong foot LOL.
My goal was to grab the foot and ram my elbow down into the same shin bone of the foot I was holding.
This would put pressure on the shin bone enough to get him to loosen his grip around my neck thus allowing me to make my move to escape.
I was able to escape, recover and move forward winning the Western Ma Submission Wrestling Championship.
Did I win because of my neck strength or was it because on that day I was mentally strong and determined not to lose?
Maybe it was a combination of both mental toughness and a strong neck?
In my opinion it is a combination of both.
You can have the biggest, powerfully yoked neck on the mat but if you are not mentally tough you will only go so far.
|Old newspaper clipping about my strength and work ethic from High school for the wrestling team.|
Training our neck in all 4 ranges of motion will definitely help our grappling game. It helps us be harder to control in the clinch and gives us the ability to defend better against chokes and neck cranks.
The most important trait a man can have when stepping on the mat is a strong character.
A strong character, strong mindset and a strong desire to succeed will far outlast a strong neck.
Own your day,