Monday, June 28, 2010

Hero of the Week: George St. Pierre

Time for another hero of the week.

George St. Pierre is the welterweight champion of the UFC.  He's an incredibly gifted athlete, and widely considered to be one of the best wrestlers in all of MMA.  What's odd about that is the fact that he doesn't come from a heavy wrestling background - the guy was a striker and jits guy before he wrestled.

Now the fact that he's a talented athlete and probably the most successful fighter in North America isn't why he's my hero.  In fact, I'm not a huge fan of his fighting style, though it is effective - I'm not a big fan of wrestling in MMA. 

St. Pierre is my hero because of his willingness to recognize his own deficiencies and then travel far and wide to correct them.

The first time he won a title he got knocked out by a huge underdog, Matt Serra, in his first title defense.  Lots of guys would react in lots of ways, but St. Pierre did something I really admire. He went to see a sport psychologist to get his head right.  He started working with new trainers and camps to improve his skills.  He started to surround himself with new people to make sure it didn't happen again.

I'm not a huge fan of his fighting style anymore, but I can't help but admire St. Pierre for his relentless commitment to improving himself and becoming the best MMA fighter he can be.  His willingness to go outside the box - to see a psychologist, to work with a strength and conditioning coach who doesn't do the typical MMA training routines, all show the kind of qualities I'd like to see in a karateka.  We should all be willing to try new avenues for improvement in our art, whether or not they fit in with the history of karate practice.

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