This lesson is not only for fencers, but for everyone: get MOMENTUM on your side, and you will be able to do the unthinkable.
My senior year at Penn State, I fenced in the final of the Garret Open, and I was getting killed. I got off to such a bad start, and it was because I was reacting to my opponent. I was letting him lead. But, then I switched things up, and I began to establish my own rhythm. This threw my opponent off, and then everything changed.
As I started to score more touches, my opponent started to get nervous and my confidence began growing. The crowd on his side began getting quieter and my teammates started getting louder. At one moment, I had passed the tipping point and momentum was on my side. When that happens, it’s game over.
I don’t often yell, but this is a video of the very last touch.
At the Olympic level, the video below (watch on YouTube) is by far one of the best examples of a match that went back and forth in momentum. It is also one of the most exciting bouts I’ve ever seen. Period.
Skip to minute 39:52 to watch 3 minutes of absolute intensity between Ota and Kelibrink. Classic match-up.
Stopping your opponent’s momentum is one of the hardest things to do. But, you have to remember that the toughest moment of a come-back happens right before the momentum shift. So, it is critical that you stay composed. GIVING UP IS NOT AN OPTION. When you are able to believe in yourself during the most difficult times, you push through and eventually begin to see the light.
This idea applies to everything: you buy stocks when there’s blood on the streets – because the best rebounds always come after a sharp downturn; you keep submitting job applications and interviewing when it feels like it’s pointless – because the next call might be the one where you get the offer; you go back to practice and work on your mental toughness when you’re losing – because that will set you apart from others at the next competition.
In the video above, in very literal terms, Ota sees his light at minute 47:29. From that point on, he gets a huge breath. It’s when the tides begin to change in his favor.
Kleibrink knows Ota’s first touch after the 9 touches he just scored is a critical point. So, he stops the match to try to keep his momentum. But, lo and behold: Kleibrink’s break became exactly the time OTA needed to put his act together. While Kleibrink got cold, Ota got into the zone. He was fired up, and yet in total control. Simply incredible.
Whatever meaningful goal you are working toward, there’ll always be bumps along the way. Some will be straight-up walls – challenges that seem bigger than yourself. But, the question is: are you going to let that stop you or make you stronger?
Any goal worthwhile achieving will have moments when you’re gonna feel like quitting. You’ll feel stuck – like you’re wasting your time and you’re not seeing any results. But, if you just keep going, eventually you will reach the tipping point. If you just keep pumping the lever, sooner or later you will see the water. And when success comes, it gushes.
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