Lessons from Rousey and Holm

Credit: rondarousey.net

You may or may not have heard of Ronda Rousey. You may or may not be aware that she’s an “American mixed martial artist”, or that she’s “the first UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion,” as well as a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter.

You may care nothing about that. Admittedly, the only reason I am even aware of Rousey is that she regularly appears in the various social media feeds I follow as well as in a few memes.

Rousey headed into her latest fight with 34-year-old W.B.A., W.B.C boxer Holly Holm undefeated, and the expected winner of their recent bout in Melbourne.

Rousey got her @$$ handed to her by Holm in the second round…a stunning defeat. Boxers don’t typically do well when they enter MMA, so this took a lot of people, particularly Rousey, by surprise.

I’m not writing this to glorify martial arts or combat-for-entertainment. I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch such a match. The only time I can remember watching boxing (except for rare occurrences) was when I was very young and visiting my Grandpa’s house. He liked boxing. I’d be laying on a throw rug on his living room floor coloring while Grandpa smoked his pipe and watched a boxing match on his (now) ancient, black and white Sylvania TV set…the kind you had to manually change channels, way back in the early 1960s.

For some reason, those black and white TV boxing bouts remind me of how much I loved being with my Grandpa. I don’t know why. Probably just the association of the two situations.

I’m not here to talk up boxing or other martial arts matches. I am here to talk about competition. I am here to talk about winning. I am here to talk about recovering after you lose.

leave me aloneAnyone who participates in sports, no matter at what level, knows about winning and losing. Winning is great, but nothing will test your character better than what you decide to do after you lose.

Although I am a lone wolf lifter, some days I walk out of that gym after a workout a winner, and sometimes I don’t.

My back feels better, but since lifting last Saturday, just about everything else, particularly my quads and glutes, is really sore. I think walking has something to do with it.

Circumstances have required that I go on a couple of “high-speed” walks over the past few of days. On Sunday, I walked for almost an hour at an estimated average speed of around 4 mph (about 6.43 kph), and today I walked the same distance, but doing about 3.5 mph (~ 5.63 kph) for just over an hour.

Now I can barely get out of my chair and start walking. Well, I’m not horribly debilitated, but I am sore enough to have to take it a bit gingerly.

Assuming my car is ready by the end of the business day, the soonest I can get back into the weight room is tomorrow. That’s 2 days of rest (except for the walking…and of course, yard work on Sunday) between lifting days. Squatting stresses mainly the glutes and quads. My glutes and quads are currently begging for mercy.

If I can get back to the gym by tomorrow, will I be a winner or a loser? I guess that depends on how you look at it. I’ve heard it said that showing up is half the battle. That’s true as far as it goes, but Ronda Rousey showed up for her most recent fight and look what happened to her.

It was brutal to watch. These fighters don’t hold back.

rousey holm fight
Credit: bloodyelbow.com

But how I approach lifting, my performance, and especially how I walk out of the gym afterward and deal with whatever happened in the gym, will be just as important as how many pounds I lifted for how many sets and reps.

Some days, when I’m lifting like a champ relative to my abilities and limitations, I feel great. Other days, my limitations are in my face and I do the best I can with that I have.

And some days, I get hurt. Rousey got hurt. I don’t think severely. But now she has to face the road back. It seems inevitable that she’s going to have a rematch with Holm. Most of the sports pundits say she’ll eventually get her title back. If she intends to stay in the sport, Ronda can’t let one defeat define her.

She has to push past the pain, the doubt, the embarrassment (she was pretty cocky going into the fight…she was undefeated, why wouldn’t she be?), recover from her injuries, train, and then get back into the octagon and fight again.

That’s how it is with us, those of us who are lone wolf lifters or whatever sport we do. Especially for we older folks, we are going to get hurt, sooner or later. Hopefully, it’s nothing severe, but whatever it is, we too will have to push past the pain, the doubt, and the embarrassment, recover, and then get back in the gym and start lifting again.

psych couchI know that ostensibly, I lift in order to get stronger, to stay more healthy longer, to improve the quality of my life. But there’s a strong psychological and motivational component of this as well.

When I returned to the gym after an absence of a mere 4 days, I realized how much I’d missed it. That sense of accomplishment from doing well. The challenge of increasing the weight on the bar just 5 more pounds than you thought you could lift. The surprise at being able to do 6 reps when you would have sworn you only had 5 left in you.

Even the “defeats” are bittersweet because at least you tried. You showed up. You did your best when a lot of people half your age were still in bed or sucking down a donut and a latte for breakfast.

I don’t know anything about Ronda Rousey or Holly Holm personally, so I can’t say that I like or dislike either of them. I don’t know them at all. I just watched a few YouTube videos and read a couple of news stories.

But I can learn from their examples. I’ve already briefly described what faces Ronda next and how that applies to us. Holm is currently the winner, the underdog who didn’t just get lucky, but who used brains, patience, and skill to unequivocally beat what everyone thought was a far superior opponent.

Now she’s got to live up to all that and not let it go to her head. And if Ronda Rousey is half the fighter most people think she is, Holm will have to face Rousey in the octagon again.

And this time Rousey will be ready.

dark gym
Photo credit: combatfitnesskids.com

No matter what happens to you and me, no matter what knocks us down, either in the gym or outside of it, we have to get back up and get ready to face our opponent again. And even on days when we “win,” when we do great, when we “kill” the gym, we are only as good as the next session in the weight room.

Each morning is a new fight. Win or lose, we are only truly defeated today if we don’t go back tomorrow.

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.

Ernest Hemingway


4 thoughts on “Lessons from Rousey and Holm

  1. Absolutely fantastic. I love this article. Thanks for sharing with me out of ur vast life knowledge.
    It’s doesn’t matter how many time life beat u down, what matters most is getting back up. Wiser and stronger.


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