Demonstrate, Don’t Pontificate…or?

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September 27, 2010 by David Gillaspie

(inspired by

Demonstrate means show; pontificate means tell.


And tell. 

You’ve all seen poor demonstrations?  Someone shows you how to do something they can’t do.

Then they spend three hours telling what they failed to show.  You’ve all heard poor pontification?  

Brian Clark gives three ways to persuade a reader to continue reading.  Oddly enough, they are the same persuasive tactics you can use to help someone pick a sport.

Mr. Clark’s list includes,

1.  A Reason To Read.

2.  A Reason You’re Different.

3.  A Reason To Believe.

A wrestling interpretation:

1. A reason to wrestle:  Be someone you’d like to know.  You take the hard road.  You do the work you know will make you successful.  You listen to advice because you know you’ll be all alone on the mat when it counts most. 

2. A reason wrestling is different:  You may compete in a half-empty gym but the experience fills you up.  The walk to the center of the mat isn’t the same as the walk back.  On the way out you carry the miles you’ve run, the weight you’ve lifted, the pounds you’ve cut.  On the way back you carry the results of the work you’ve done and the work you’ll do, win or lose. 

3. A reason to believe in wrestling:  Everyone who’s checked their shoelaces and snapped the chin strap on their headgear and shook hands with their opponent feels the same thing:  I’m going to win.  Not everyone gets the same results, but that moment between the handshake and the whistle is where dreams live.

You’re not waiting to get into the game; waiting for the ball; filling a role.  On the whistle you’re bringing your entire life experience to your match.  If your momma’s too fat, your daddy’s never around, and your friends can’t get away from WOW, it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is what you bring to the match.

You believe in your technique; you believe in your conditioning; you believe in your coach and team.  Most of all, you believe you belong right where you are.  The other guy probably believes the same thing, so who has the stronger will to win? 

The unique aspect of wrestling other sports could learn from is adaptability.  For example, you walk out on the mat knowing your coach thinks you’ll get crushed, even though he says all the right things.  Your teammates know you’ll be crushed, but they don’t say it out loud.  You’re the only person who thinks you have a chance. 


Because wrestling is one of the only sports where you can change your attack at the last second and win.  Say you are evenly matched against an opponent with similar skills.  Except you’re down a point.  You are both singles guys who stand up on the bottom and ride low on top.  Neither of you are throwers or pinners, but you need to break something lose or give the match away.

Maybe you’ll throw, or trip, or sit-out, or try and turn from the top.  You’ve done it all thousands of times in practice, but you don’t use those things in matches because you win with what you do use.  This is different.  The other guy will win by letting the clock run out; you’ll win if you surprise him with the unexpected.

If you pull out a victory in the last few seconds by springing an old move from your bag of tricks, the crowd will go into stunned silence.  If it’s a home meet, the stunned silence comes before a roar that echoes all the way back to ancient Greece and Rome.  The human sound enveloping you while the ref raises your arm is the same noise civilization reserves for its favorites.

You wrestle.

You are the favorite one.  If you are well-read, you recall Dan Gable‘s words:

“The 1st period is won by the best technician. The 2nd period is won by the kid in the best shape. The 3rd period is won by the kid with the biggest heart.”

Who are you?  You’re a wrestler.  Next question.

(The top image shows a demonstration for Civil Rights outside the Lincoln Memorial.  Honest Abe was a wrestler, and he approves of this message.) 


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