The Greek word “arete” means looking into your own soul and not only discovering what it is that can make you great, but also identifying the source of that greatness and activating it every single day of your life. It's the well you draw from when there's no other resource. It's the absolute truth that sits in the deepest part of your soul.
George St-Pierre, or GSP, is a mixed martial arts athlete with a 25-2 record. Some give him the title of best ever fighter in the UFC, the main pro league in the sport. This book is GSP’s manifesto, his samurai DNA, written with Justin Kingsley, who built and managed his brand famous all over the world. The Way of the Fight was sketched during George’s recovery from a severe knee injury in 2011. The essence of the story is broken down into five major parts: Mother, Mentor, Master, Maven and Conscience. Each section is connected to the voice of someone who changed his life.
Here are their key learnings
1. Find value where others see boredom
GSP works based on a system of growth that understands how learning comes from anywhere.
He is able to learn and add diverse components to his martial-arts core, out-smarting his adversary, on a daily basis. Here are some added value subjects that account for his differentiated passions:
o Gymnasts can produce power from the most awkward positions. It blows me away. True power is generating force from all positions, in all situations.
o How could these unbelievably powerful fearsome creatures completely disappear? They didn't make adjustments, either because they didn't feel they needed to, or couldn't understand that they needed to.
· The cockroach
o It's adaptable to almost any situation it encounters. Unlike the dinosaur, the cockroach is built for and exists for one single purpose: survival. It's the total opposite of a dinosaur. It's adaptable to almost any situation it encounters, and that's what makes the cockroach so interesting. It's a mobile radar system designed to identify and avoid threats.
o A punch starts in the feet. My feet are the most powerful, important parts of my body, but for most of my life I ignored them. For most of my life, my feet were dead. Until I had to fix my knee. This truth about feet and their power is so old that most human beings have forgotten it ever existed. We're too busy wearing shoes we think are comfortable, shoes we believe support our weight, to even think about the meaning of our feet, their purpose in our lives.
2. Build a team
I created many of my opportunities, but they would have meant very little if I hadn't met the right people at the right time. Being smart is knowing what you're not good at, and finding someone who is. I have to be surrounded by people who are better than me. You need to hire to your weakness so you can focus on your strengths. I've always looked to learn from experts who know more than I do.
If I or anyone else wants to become the best at something in this millennium, none of us will get there alone. And I've always hated doing things alone. I need to be near other warriors.
Here are the key members of team GSP
· Mother: childhood and shaping lessons.
· Kristof Midoux: Mentor, sensei
· John Danaher: Master, growth and transition book
· Firas Zahabi: Maven, coach, standing and knowledge
· Rodolphe Beaulieu: Conscience, manager
3. Fear only cares for itself
What I want to do is demystify fear. Take fear’s power and use it to become better. People feel fear because they sense a threat. So fear’s purpose is ultimately good. That's what people forget. They follow the fear and dedicate all their energy to moving out of the way, toward safety. Simply put, fear makes you instantly ready for a fight, no matter where you are. When you master this, you open new avenues to generate power and knowledge. You discover new ways of thinking. You learn that fear can be a natural ally, a homemade power source.
I want my training to be harder than my actual fights so I can be prepared to face the toughest opponents, so I can be ready to deal with fear. If you prepare your subconscious for highly stressful situations, you can create harmony with your fears. You can tame fear like a wild animal and use it to your advantage.
4. Knowledge is the true calling
GSP’s career shows he can dominate people with more skills. How did it happen? His secret is the white belt mentality: everything is knowledge; all must be learned.
Strategy is more important than pure physical power, tactics surpass repetition, and the brain is the most powerful muscle in the body. As I get better and acquire more knowledge, my preparation to meet my fate is improved. The key has always been simple, though: discovery. Knowledge is about building a relationship with learning. It's not about the tittles. It's not about the money, either. It's about the experience and sharing experience.
There is no better example than shootbox, the ability to merge skills from different martial arts, to illustrate GSP’s true unfair advantage in the octagon, his inquisitiveness, smarts and passion for intellectual property. John Danaher, George’s Jiu Jitsu coach, puts it best:
Shootbox allows to determine if the fight stays standing or will it go to the ground. It means his opponents must adapt to him, not the other way around. That is the key to understanding the greatness of George St-Pierre. Yes, he had good teachers, but all they taught him were components. What makes him great is not the components, it is the ability to go beyond those components into the sport of mixed martial arts itself (of which shootbox is one component- arguably the most important). GSP made a science of shootbox. That was not taught to him by any one person, that was self-taught. He invented it all on his own.
In the end, George St-Pierre is the only student I've ever had who taught me more than I taught him.
5. Genius is one tenth inspiration and nine-tenths perspiration
GSP has an obsessive-compulsive disorder and a hyperactive personality. He has been able to focus that energy, that anxiety into victory by acting daily on a simple question: « What can I do to become better? ».
The truth is, I've become great at maybe only one thing: dedication. Many people have a good idea of what they want to do in their lives, but they lack their discipline and the patience to work their way there. The power of the marriage of vision with discipline. The change was going from having visions about my life to living them concretely. And then, all of my energy, everything I had inside me, went toward achieving that unique goal. I wasn't making sacrifices anymore; I was making decisions. Train instead of party. Eat well instead of eat poorly. Work instead of play. Perfect practice instead of casual repetition. I started living life with purpose and direction. In the words of Buddha: '' First, intention; then, enlightenment.'' The best version of the truth appears to you and you alone, when nobody else can see.
You don't get better on the days when you feel like going. You get better on the days when you don't want to go, but you go anyway. The outcome of my next fight is not determined in the octagon. It's determined in the weeks and months before the fight, when I'm getting ready for it.
I've found a way to turn what some call had work into a game and an exercise in efficiency. The secret is routine, a system, like a machine, that performs to the best of its capacities in any situation.
"The Way of The Fight" inspired a movie, "Takedown. The DNA of GSP" in 2014
6. You win or you learn
I believe that our greatest victories in life are hidden behind our biggest losses. If I can learn from past mistakes, I'll shorten my path to important knowledge.
Losing taught me a new kind of patience. It showed me the value of waiting for the right opportunity and accepting life's cycle. it gave me the time to acquire knowledge about myself to prevent losing ever again.
We must learn how to lose. Just because someone beat you badly the first time doesn't mean history will repeat itself. The first stage after losing a fight is anger. But eventually, you have to accept the loss. Only then you can see things objectively. Only then you can observe your own mistakes, try solutions and improve. The only way to see the defeat was an opportunity to get better.
The key is looking at the problems as opportunities to find new solutions. This is where we learn how to invent life by removing the BS, looking at the plain facts hard and directly, and then moving forward.
The maven is a trusted expert. The maven understands, because the maven acquires a great deal of knowledge. And then the maven seeks to share it.
My goal here is to write the greatest book ever written, including these words about fear. It doesn't make any difference that this happens to be the first book I've ever written. What matters most is the spirit in which it's being written. The reason behind writing this book is that I'd like to find a way to tell you my story in a different way than it has already been told. From the moment I started learning and acquiring knowledge, I realized how much there was left to learn. About fighting. about diet. About love and life. About fear! About dinosaurs, even. The more I learn, the less I know. Yes, more is less. For me, that's the secret to a big part of my life and how I became who I am.
What if fighting was just the start for GSP? St-Pierre retired in 2013 after his controversial fight against Johnny Hendricks. One would hope his future lies in the heart and soul of this book, far from the risk of a head injury. With his passion for knowledge and sharing it, GSP could open an academy and embrace his true calling: sensei, coach and mentor. Many rumors have emerged and by his own account, he is ready to come back to the octagon. You cannot retain a thoroughbred from running. The Japanese have a saying for this, Bushido, literally meaning "the way of the warrior". A phrase for the way of the samurai life.
By Jean-Philippe Gagnon