The Self-Taught Champion – Fact or Fiction?

July 16th, 2012 In Theory | Comments Off on The Self-Taught Champion – Fact or Fiction?

Another good article on the psychology of BJJ and MMA


This UBGB (Underground Blog Guest Blogger) is by David Avellan. Along with his brother Marcos, David founded South Florida’s Freestyle Fighting Academy (FFA) in 2001, and has trained fighters for the UFC, WEC, Bodogfight, EliteXC, Strikeforce, and dozens of other promotions.

Everyone loves a rag-to-riches story.

Fighters such as former UFC Champion Evan Tanner had learned much of what he knew training on his own. Evan was famous for studying instructional books, videos, and even getting into bar fights to practice his techniques!

But that was over a decade ago before the evolution of MMA. Is that still possible today?


In fact, I would dare say that it would be easier now than ever before.

How come?

There are so many more resources available to the public now that in the past were guarded secrets. With the growth of the internet and MMA community, it is even possible to be trained online for free by world class instructors such as UFC sensation Alan Belcher, America’s Jiu-Jitsu Coach Lloyd Irvin, and my brother Marcos and I.

If that is true, wouldn’t there be thousands of UFC keyboard warrior champions?

LOL! The beginner’s folly is to think that knowing enough technique is all it takes to become the best.

When I started competing in grappling, I didn’t have a BJJ instructor. I didn’t know how to do an Omo Plata, or how to sweep from the half guard. In fact, I didn’t even train with the GI.

Yet, I was able to defeat BJJ Black Belt World Champions such as Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu, Alexandre “Xande” Ribeiro, Rafael Lovato Jr., and Rener Gracie.

I didn’t have access to all the talent and resources that these individuals had, yet I still was able to defeat them.


One thing, and one thing alone will decide your fate – your mind.

You can have all the talent, resources, and techniques in the world, but without the proper mindset you are doomed to fail.

Somehow, this all important fact is lost on 97% of people.

The most important thing I learned from my high school wrestling days was not a double leg shot, it was the principles of champions.

The first and most important of these principles is very simple. Most people know about this principle, but have never bothered to use it. They think they understand it, but they really don’t.

If you want to be a self-made champ, you HAVE to follow this principle to the letter:

Written Goals
We all have heard about goal setting many times throughout our lives, yet I know very few people who actually do it.

To understand the importance of goals, let me give you an example.

Say we have the Guinness book of world records archery champion. The guy is so good that he can hit a grain of salt in mid-air. Now I blind fold him, spin him in circles and tell him to hit a target I never showed him in the first place.

You think he has a chance of hitting a target he doesn’t know exists? Very, very slim.

You see, it doesn’t matter how good you are. If you don’t know what you want, you are not going to get it. This is why it is crucial to set goals and write them on paper.

If you say you understand the concept of goal setting, but that you don’t need to write down goals – you don’t understand the concept! Writing down the goals is important and makes the goal real.

Goals need to be written in specific detail. Just saying that you want to be the best is not enough. Think about:
•Exactly what you want to achieve
•When you want to have completed your goal
•How you will feel obtaining it
•The price you will have to pay to succeed

Once you have thought through this and KNOW exactly what you want, then you must write it out. It is good practice to write your goals as if you already have achieved them. Think of it as if you are in the future, writing down a journal entry just after completing your goal. Insert as much emotion into the writing as possible, as emotions are the strongest motivators to action that we have.

Next, you need to read your goals out loud to yourself every day. Each time you do this you are programming yourself – reaffirming your belief that you can achieve your goal. When you read your goal, it is important that you do so with a positive state of mind. If you just read the goal without emotion, it will do very little to help.

Finally, I go an extra step and tell everyone what I plan on doing. That way, I’m now accountable for my actions. Most people feel uncomfortable doing that, but as you will learn later, being uncomfortable is crucial for growth.

I will post more principles over the next few days and give you time to digest the material. Remember, just reading this is not going to help you. Many people say that knowledge equals power, but that is false. Applied knowledge equals power. So go and apply this principle!

Believe and Achieve,

David Avellan

P.S. > Do you write goals? If not, what is stopping you? Let me know, as I want to know all the reasons (good or bad) why people don’t do it.

Going from Chump to Champ requires this…

July 10th, 2012 In Theory | Comments Off on Going from Chump to Champ requires this…

This is a great article by ADCC vet, David Avellan. It talks about many of the same principles I believe in! It talks about discipline, motivation, consistency, goals etc. IT’S a MUST READ!!!


Underground Blogger David Avellan, along with his brother Marcos, founded South Florida’s Freestyle Fighting Academy (FFA) in 2001, and has trained fighters for the UFC, WEC, Bodogfight, EliteXC, Strikeforce, among many other promotions.

Most people that begin martial arts do not have it.

They come to the martial arts with the idea of learning it, not realizing how important it really is.

Every person who quits doesn’t have it.

Those that stick with it begin to develop it.

Like a muscle, it grows stronger with use.

With it you have the power to accomplish anything you desire.

What is it?

It is the single, most important aspect of developing greatness.

To be able to reach the high levels of aptitude required for championship level performances, you must be able to stick to a structured training regimen for a long period of time.

The path to greatness is very treacherous – filled with dangers and wicked twists that will throw off all but the few souls that possess the will and the discipline to stay the course.

Being disciplined means that no matter what is happening in your life, you will complete the task you set out to do every day.

It doesn’t matter if you are tired, sick, grumpy, have a hot date, have work to do, or (add your favorite excuse here) – you do what needs to be done.

When you have your own team of trainers, you don’t require that much discipline. Your coaches ARE the discipline. They will call you, contact your family, or even come to your house to make sure you train.

To be a self-made champion, you need to have discipline. While this can be a challenge, the rewards of having a high level of discipline are well worth the price of attaining it.

The Challenge

When you first start a new program, it is easy to stick to it. You are excited and pumped up to get results and have fun.

As time passes, the initial high fades. That is when your discipline (or lack of it) will kick in.

Those of little discipline quit quickly. They find all sorts of excuses to not fulfill their duties.

Those with discipline buckle down and stay with the program.

They have to push themselves out of bed, hype themselves up, and get their butt moving.

The hardest part is deciding to follow through. Once they are in the gym, it is relatively easy.

How do you Develop Discipline?

Discipline is like a muscle – it develops with use.

You train for discipline just as you would setup a weight lifting program, by increasing the difficulty gradually over time.

A simple way to start is by giving yourself a daily task to perform that is easy.

For example, set out to do 20 pushups every morning when you wake up.

This is not very challenging (physically), but you will find that sticking to this can be mentally challenging.

One day you will get up and be in a rush to do something. As a result, you forget to do it. Then you just drop the whole regimen altogether, deciding that will start over again tomorrow…

…And we all know how long in the future that tomorrow will be.

The key to developing discipline is consistency. You HAVE to do what you set out to do. No ifs or buts.

To keep yourself accountable, write down your discipline challenge and place it on a wall that you will see every day. This will be your reminder to do your task.

Start off with a simple task, such as:
•    20 pushups
•    20 sit ups
•    1 mile run
•    20 repetitions of your favorite technique

Once you master this challenge and are able to stuck with it for at least 2 weeks, add another simple challenge or increase the difficulty of your challenge (instead of 20 pushups, do 30).

In this fashion you will continue you to develop your discipline, but there is one more thing required.


The reason it is easy to start something new is because you are motivated.

You watched a UFC and got pumped up to “train UFC” and become the next Anderson Silva.

In those first few weeks, you are riding the high of your initial motivational source.

However, motivation is like a cup of water with a leak.

Over time, your motivation drains out of your body and before you know it, you could care less about becoming a UFC champion.

Even someone with superb discipline would have a hard time rationalizing the effort required to stick with a tough program without the proper motivation.

So how do you stay motivated?

Simple, keep filling up that cup!

You need to have a wealth of motivational sources. Think of them like wells of water.

A good motivational source can supply you with endless amounts of motivation.

A bad motivational source gets tapped out with a few uses.

Motivation goes hand in hand with getting or visualizing results. When you picture yourself with the UFC belt around your waist, and the feeling you would have being known at the baddest man on the planet, that might motivate you to train hard.

Everyone is different, so you have to find out what motivates you. You then want to protect these sources and make sure you can call upon them whenever you need to.

Motivational sources can be:
•    Books
•    Movies
•    People
•    Objects
•    Memories
•    Goals
•    Results

Once you have a sufficient amount of sources to keep you motivated, you can truly begin the process.

Discipline Building Process

1.    Write down your discipline challenge (20 crunches)
2.    Write down your key motivation for completing the challenge (I want to get six-pack abs)
3.    Post them somewhere where you will see them every day.
4.    Complete your challenge every day, no matter what happens.
5.    When you are struggling, read your key motivation, visualize the results, and get pumped.
6.    Once you mastered the challenge, increase the difficulty or add a new challenge.

Believe and Achieve,

David Avellan


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