Friday, June 20, 2008

It's personal

Mark Kreidler describing Dan Gable's mother...

Kate was every bit as hard-willed as one would expect a parent of Dan Cable to be...

"It was so hard on her," Gable says now... "She'd go stand outside the room when I wrestled, just go outside in the foyer. She'd come back to the door every now and then to look through the glass, but she couldn't stay in the gym.

Gable pauses, "This sport, it's a heart-wrenching sport...I'll be at the State Tournament this month, and I'll guarantee I'll choke up. I'll feel so good for the guy who is winning the championship - he earned it, it's finally there. But then you look over at the wrestler he just beat to win it, and that guy is crushed. And I just choke up for that guy. It's personal.

What is is about competitive martial arts in general and grappling sports in particular that seems to engender this kind of attitude... this type of identification of self-worth with performance outcomes? I can remember winning second place in the Mississippi State championships and third place in Louisiana years ago - but did I feel like a winner? No, I felt like a loser. Second or third best.
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The above quote comes from Four Days to Glory by Mark Kriedler. A study of the midwest wrestling ethos. I don't know that it really answered my question, but it was an entertaining read that certainly delves into the personal side of amateur wrestling in the parts of America where wrestling counts for a lot.
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If it sounds like something you'd like to read, please get your copy from my Amazon bookstore...

2 comments:

  1. It's complex.

    For one, grappling is an intimate sport. It's not like standing back and hitting or kicking the other guy. I find that's different. There's more contact and feeling in grappling.

    Second, the tradition there is just so strong that getting second feels like failing. It's like letting down the tradition.

    Third, it may be an over-emphasis on the sport/winning aspect. Look At Dan Gable now. He's broken. Winning is fine, but is it everything? Are we going to gaze at our trophies from our wheelchairs?

    At a certain point, this stuff should be done for fun and the love of the game. Not just winning all the time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good points, Dave. Here's a cool video of Dan Gable talking on these ideas...

    http://www.mokurendojo.com/2008/06/dan-gable-its-personal.html

    ReplyDelete

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