Hard Work Beats Talent

‘Hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard’ Talent is a gift, skills are learned and when combined with hard work that is where the magic happens. We have that saying painted on our walls because it is truth. The mechanics of kicking, punching, knees, elbows, takedowns, submissions, etc… are all skills that are won through hard work, repetition and continual practice. Skills affect your growth as a martial artist just as talent does. If your technical skills are sharpened through hard work you can be very good, maybe even great! However, we have seen countless Academy members with no special talent and average mechanics become some of our best students and even successful competitors.

Talent and skill are important to becoming a great martial artist, or a great anything. However, they are not the most important elements to that success. We have many high ranking students, competitors in BJJ, MMA and Muay Thai, and instructors who are not gifted with natural talent nor have achieved technical perfection. So what is the most important factor when it comes to achievement? It’s called a strong work ethic.

Remember, ‘Practice Makes Habit’, so make a strong work ethic your habit.

What is a strong work ethic? It is the ability to consistently do the work at your highest level no matter what your circumstances are. In other words, no matter what happens, no matter what outside struggles you may have, you are still able to get in and bring all the talent and skill you have to every class, practice or training session. A strong work ethic is simply you doing your best every chance you get with everything you do.

A strong work ethic is a learned skill. Work ethic has nothing to do with genetics, natural talent or whatever you want to call it. It is developed the exact same way any of your technical skills are. If you don’t have a strong work ethic it simply means you haven’t ‘trained’ it enough yet. Anyone can develop a strong work ethic when they decide to put it into practice. 

Remember, ‘Practice Makes Habit’, so make a strong work ethic your habit.

Creating the habit to work hard starts with simple steps. First and foremost, you have to decide to work hard…it is a choice. Next, you must create a schedule and stick to it. Consistency is key! Stay disciplined, come to class and do your best. Do that every class, week after week, making a habit of pushing yourself and let your hard work speak for itself.

Dealing With Life’s Distractions: The External

No matter who you are, you will have many distractions in your life. Ultimately, no matter what your goals are in the martial arts, your job, academics, a new skill you want to develop or whatever, everyone will face an array of distractions. One of the number one areas you can develop is your ability to maintain your focus, despite all of the distractions that everyone has to deal with.


One thing I have learned is that no matter how much you prepare, life happens. Even with the best laid plans it is almost certain that something will come up. You must learn to ‘expect the unexpected’ and save an emergency, do what you have set out to do. Unfortunately, many people do not live with this attitude. Research has shown that your ability to keep focus on what you are doing, regardless of distraction, has proven to increase success. In the martial arts, students of equal ability and skill, in most cases, those that can put distractions aside and focus on their training will learn better and advance faster.


Just like training your physical skills, you need to train your mind to focus on the task at hand and set aside the distractions that attempt to train alongside you. Once you start to develop your ability to focus and set aside distractions on the mats, you will start to bring it to the rest of your life. Initially, I learned to totally focus while doing gymnastics. You had to be 100% in the moment, you couldn’t be distracted or you would be tempting fate. Regardless of what you are doing the distractions you will encounter can be categorized into two areas: Internal and External. We will deal with external distractions first.


External distractions are ever growing, and becoming an issue to everyone coming up in this era. There is your cell phone with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, texting, email….However, other stuff like the weather (heat, humidity, cold, rain, snow…), everyday issues and problems with your family, boyfriends, girlfriends, job, school, and work are things that everyone has to deal with are always present. Once you get into the classroom and you have to deal with other students, what they say, how much they know, their intensity level, physical ability, their smell….Your list could continue. Guess what, everyone is dealing with the same things but, some are able to set all of those external distractions aside and get busy.


First, you need to recognize the distractions in your life. You need to see what of the above distractions make you nervous, anxious, or lose focus. You need to see if you have any patterns, specific times or situations which distract you most. Once you know what, when and where you get distracted you can start to make changes.


Your ability to minimize distractions can be developed and refined just like your attributes and technical skills. One of the most effective ways to minimize distractions and increase your focus while training is to develop pre-class routines. Your pre-class routine can be totally individualized and modified as you find what works best for you. It is important to understand that your pre-class routine allows you to relax and prepares you to focus totally on your training.


There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A person’s life is a succession of moment after moment. When one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do and nothing else to pursue. – Yamamoto Tsunetomo (Hagakure)