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I knew this was a huge opportunity and when I arrived, I fought my heart out and amazed myself and my friends. I had pretty much run my gas tank out five minutes into the match and fought on pure will into overtime, where I lost. My head instructor was nowhere to be found and a teammate helped corner me. So in a way I felt that in that match I gave it my all. I often wish I could tap into that feeling more often. It’s a hard place to get to, and mental will is, I think, the biggest thing to be concerned about in a match at that level.
In the beginning, I don’t think there was much else to do than to just train with everyone that you could, which meant that sometimes my partners were close to double my size. In a class of two or three people, you can’t really pick your partners. Coming up through the ranks, I wasn’t very intelligent about my own safety because I hadn’t figured out that being squashed by a 240 pound man, who was better than me, and had no mercy on a beginner wasn’t helping my game much, and I didn’t have people to tell me this was a bad idea.