Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The Spirit of a Warrior
On 6 - 7 June I experienced two of the most exciting, satisfying days of my life: I witnessed my son, Zak Maxwell, light up the Long Beach Arena with a dazzling display of jiujitsu prowess.
On the first day he fought in the feather-weight division. He posted five straight victories before losing, by the narrowest margin possible, in the semi-finals. He received a single penalty point, which cost him the match...and the gold. While bitterly disappointed, he vowed to come back the next day and wreak havoc in the Open Weight category. For those of you who don't know, in BJJ the Open Weight means just what it says: anyone of any weight class--including super-heavyweight--can enter; therefore, winning the Open Weight is the most prestigious win of all. Most of the lighter weights typically shun the Open because it's dominated by true heavy weights--and can be dangerous to your health!
Over 100 fighters entered the Open. At a body weight of only 148 lbs., Zak was the lightest competitor in this event. No one gave him a chance, except the people who really know him. Zak went on and electrified the stadium with a stellar performance: for example, in the quarter-finals, despite the fatigue of six straight victories, he stunned his next heavy weight opponent with a 14-0 spanking. The referee could only shake his head with a smile. Because of his diminutive size, Zak quickly became the crowd favorite. While people love an under dog, they didn't yet know the fight in this little dog!
Many of the great black belts of the world, including Royler Gracie, Saulo and Xande Ribeiro, recognizing his superior jiujitsu skills, were rooting him on and coaching Zak from the sidelines. On his way to the finals, he defeated a current middle-weight (that's two weight classes above Zak) world, and national, champion. He won the match by virtue of a beautiful, outside, single-leg takedown. It was the decisive factor in the match. Anyone thinking takedowns aren't important in BJJ, take a lesson from this and get out there and perfect your judo and wrestling skills! In the finals, he fought a valiant fight against a heavy-weight champion and lost by the narrow margin of two points. At the buzzer, Zak had the guy in his famous Oma Plata shoulder lock. It was a stunning performance! On the podium, as he received his silver medal, Zak's coach, Regis Lebrè, promoted him to brown belt. And why not? He'd just gone through the best purple belts in the world.
I am so incredibly proud. From the time he was in diapers, Zak was raised to be a warrior. In another blog, I'll describe my unconventional methods of training children to excel in physical sport. Zak's conditioning is one of his major assets and he has followed--and exemplifies--the Team Maxercise protocols to the letter. He's a prime example of excellent genetics combined with maximally effective training, along with hard work and a single-minded dedication. The brown belts at the tournament were already worriedly scouting him and taking mental notes for next year--look out!
Enjoy the photos in the slideshow below!
Yours in Strength & Health,
P.S. If you'd like to see some of the training methods I used with my son over the years, definitely sign up for the Gladiator Seminar 12 July, with Zach Even-Esh and yours truly! Click here for more.