8 Degrees On A Learning Curve


February 8, 2011 by David Gillaspie

It’s Not Geometry

Then Start Over

Every sporting event shows something special to the audience, some more special than others. 

When it’s a wrestling match, you see the whole kaleidoscope of sports compressed into a small time frame. 

When an opponent gets injured but continues, the other guy sometimes goes after the injured part.  Either leave the mat and forfeit, or suffer through.

When an opponent runs out of gas, the other guy pours it on.  Either roll over and get pinned, or gut it out.

Wrestling is a microcosm of all sports.  Mistakes show up right away and bigger than life.  You never need to explain what went wrong; everyone watching already knows. 

The beauty of wrestling is in its simplicity.  You show up in shoes and a singlet just like the other guy.  Then you either make him pay for stepping out against you, or you pay for that same privilege. 

When the difference between two guys comes down to a one point win, they shake hands with a new respect. 

You know how wrestling works.  The list below puts wrestling in a different context. 

The clock:  What do you say when big-time football coaches lose track of time at the end of game and lose?  You know they can tell time, but something else happened.  

What was it?  Pressure?  Mental lapse?  Breakdown? 

When they blame an assistant, it’s a leadership failure.

  • Who does a wrestler blame for anything?  They always blame themselves.  And they’re right.

Strength:  Weight lifting is more than brute strength.  The guy who can push a car for a compression start isn’t the same guy that yanks his body weight over his head.

The same goes for the field part of track and field.  The hammer, discus, javelin, and shotput fly down range by technique and balance.  A four hundred pound bench press doesn’t hurt, but those paying attention to the particulars of their event place higher.

  • Wrestlers have the technique and the strength without the hardware.  Use it wisely.

Endurance:  Long distance running means placing one foot in front of the other over and over and over.  New insoles in running shoes means your feet are on fire after the first half mile.  You get past the friction burn because you trained for the race and you’re going to finish, skinned feet or not. 

Long distance auto racing doesn’t get enough credit for what the drivers go through.  A hot engine on a hot day means a sauna for the guy in the fire suit.  There’s no rest stops at Daytona; no turn signals at Indy.  You go until you can’t go any more.

  • Wrestlers run.  They overheat.  That’s when they separate themselves from the pack.

Power:  Football is ballet for the big guys.  Timing and speed combined to make a big hit means you win the play.  We like football because it stretches human capabilities.  You might think you want to make a big hit, but stepping on the field means you’re willing to take a big hit, too.  You don’t get one without the other.

  • Ideally you step on a wrestling mat knowing a set of moves as well as the counters.  The more you practice, the less likely you’ll get a surprise.  There’s no ‘blindside’ in wrestling.

Intelligence:  Soccer players seem smart in the way movie stars seem smart; the good ones pull you into the unfolding story.  When they go down with a crippling injury, you just know they’re maimed for life.  They’re carried off the field, stand on the sidelines with crutches, then go back into the game like nothing ever happened. 


Tennis players, especially Eastern Europeans, prowl the baseline with an assassin’s look on their face.  Their pinched mouths and squinty eyes would fit right in behind a high-powered scope on a heavy-duty rifle.  Except they’re tennis players, which means they’re built like a long distance runner.  Why the scary face?

  •  A wrestler’s face changes all the time.  One face before weigh-in, one face after; one face before a match, another after.  They just don’t show it.  Tennis players should take a lesson.

When to quit:  MMA tap-out.  If you don’t tap-out you’ll get a broken bone or lose consciousness.  It’s a choice to make sooner than later.

In a boxing knock-out, the evidence is on the ground.  It’s not tap-out as much as lights out.  If you don’t hit the canvas you get the TKO, or technical knock-out.  You don’t know your name or where you are.  Either that or you’ve lost enough blood to fill the corner bucket.  Let the referee do his job.

  • Wrestlers have the same options as tap-out or knock-out.  It’s called a pin.  It’s only a problem when you get the fluke pin.

When to step up:  Baseball is famous for its walk-off home runs.  If I understand it correctly, a player climbs out of the clubhouse whirlpool, lays down his cane in the dugout, picks up a bat, and swings for the fences.  If he connects then he’s Kirk Gibson limping around the bases trying to start his imaginary lawnmower.  Game over.   

The basketball step up always goes to Willis Reed, the center of the New York Knicks’ championship teams in the early 70’s.  This is the guy who can’t possibly play due to an injury in the game before, but somehow drags a leg up and down the court to inspire his team to greatness.  It works.

  • Wrestlers are always hurt.  If it’s not a knee, it’s an ankle.  If it’s not a shoulder, it’s a wrist.  Anyone ever tweak their neck?  They don’t make a big deal out of it, they just wrestle.  Their teammates know how it is.

When to rest:  Back before Tiger Woods went off the tracks, or road, he played a tournament on a bad wheel.  Each swing looked painful.  You could feel the ache in each step.  Where John Daly could fire up a heater and air out his done-lop belly between swings, Tiger was in the grip of certain agony, and won.

  • Wrestlers also get to rest…it’s called blood time or injury time.  They might rest, but they don’t want it.  The rules, and first-aid, says they have to take it.

The stick and ball guys, as well as the glove guys, all tout their sports.  If they take it too far, explain how wrestling leads the way.  If that doesn’t work, invite them to the wrestling room for a demo.

If they show up, try and not scare them too much.


One thought on “8 Degrees On A Learning Curve

  1. […] 8 Degrees On A Learning Curve « DeeGee's B&B No Comments by admin on February 8, 2011  •  Permalink Posted in […]

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