By Matt Opheim, Insidecoloradowrestling.com
Wrestling is hard. Is it harder for some, or is it just as hard for everyone? I think wrestling poses the same difficulty for everyone. Take for example two healthy individuals starting at the same weight, the same age, the same number of years of experience and think about that. How could it possibly be harder for one over the other? Now, say that both of these individuals that are the same weight, the same age and have the same number of years of experience both know the exact same moves. A single leg takedown, a double leg takedown, a half nelson and a cradle. Both know how to execute a takedown, both know how to turn their opponent and work for a fall. Who wins?
"Strong enough to withstand adverse conditions or rough or careless handling." What does that mean?
"Involving considerable difficulty or hardship; requiring great determination or effort." What does that mean?
Who is "tougher." That is the bottom line. Some of the words that are associated with "tough" are arduous, onerous, strenuous, grueling, exacting, difficult, demanding, hard, taxing, tiring, exhausting, laborious, stressful, Herculean.
Now consider the kid that lives in a very small town in Colorado, in the middle of nowhere. Compare that kid to one that lives in Denver or Colorado Springs. There is a huge difference in opportunity. The kid in Denver or Colorado Springs has options, different workout partners, camps, clinics. The kid from the middle of nowhere has several more hurdles to jump for opportunities, more times than not, they don't get to take advantage of these opportunities.
There is no way that the kid from the middle of nowhere Colorado with the same number of years of experience, weighing the same, at the exact same age can beat the kid from Denver, it appears to be impossible, the nowhere Colorado kid is not nearly as good right? He's only been able to work out with his little brother who is 30 pounds lighter than him and his workout facility is the table-less dining room in his families home.
My money is on the kid from the middle of nowhere. Why? Because he is "tougher", it's practically always a guarantee.
I am not sure why he is tougher, I have some theories, but it's an interesting dynamic in wrestling to watch. There is a great possibility that the kid in Denver knows more moves, wrestles all year long, has a long list of workout partners and still loses to the kid that looks forward to November through February every year because that is the only time he gets to wrestle. Isn't that just weird?
We use the word "tough" often in wrestling. "Oh, that kid is tough." "Did you see how tough that kid was in that match." "How did that kid get so tough?"
Theorize all you want, many of the theories we come up with are nothing more than excuses. When we lose it's because we were not tough enough and that is an absolute in my mind. It's because we didn't fight hard enough, we don't care as much.
All of us have heard the stories about the young man that exhibited extraordinary strength in rescuing his mother, father, brother or sister from the car that rolled over. "He became Herculean and lifted the car for enough time that his sister could escape." That is an extraordinary instance, but we are all capable of Herculean efforts if we want or need something bad enough.
"Tough" can only be taught by circumstance. You can't tell someone to be "tough" and expect that those words are magic. I really wish I knew where true "toughness" came from. It would be so easy if we knew. Instead, we scratch our heads and wonder. How did we lose? We have worked so hard, we have taught this and that, we have drilled this and that, we went to camp, we wrestled all spring and summer. These are all great things and eventually equate to improvement, but all of these actions will prove fruitless without the "tough."
Being "tough" is really all that is necessary to be a great wrestler. No matter what we do, we fail because we were the opposite of "tough" we were weak. We were weak for one moment that opened up our vulnerabilities. When one is "tough" they rarely weaken. It's like the pickle jar lid that just won't budge. It takes several people to crank on the lid until it finally loosens, but it sometimes takes three or four people to get it to budge. Did the pickle jar lid finally loosen because three people cranked on it before the fourth came along? Nope. The fourth person was tougher than the pickle jar lid. The previous three did not effect the lid at all.
I challenge everyone to be like a tight pickle jar lid. If you are nothing else, be "tough" and great things will happen for you in wrestling and in everything else that you endeavor to do. They say you can't teach "tough." This might be true, but circumstances can be created so that one can learn to be "tough" through their own experience. Never stop searching for the "tough" and see what happens. The only one that can find it is you.