At 12 years old, Ronda Rousey broke her toe in Judo practice and cried in front her mother. Judo Olympic medalist AnnMaria De Mars promptly made her daughter run laps around the gym with the broken toe. By then, her daughter had already made a choice to commit to winning an Olympic medal in Judo.
Today, Ronda thanks her mother’s discipline for the success she enjoys as the most iconic star in Women’s MMA and as a Judo medalist in the 2008 Olympics.
This controversial training had an objective purpose: to keep Ronda’s Olympic dream alive in case she had injury that was possible and reasonable to fight through. Toe injuries occur frequently in competitive Judo and, Rousey’s mother knew from her own experience that winning an Olympic medal is a small window of opportunity.
When we hear stories such as these, we may be inspired, shocked, and upset at the same time. There are many people who choose to dismiss these methods as backwards. Some ambitious trainers and athletes are driven to emulate the same work ethic. Unfortunately, harsh working styles are often picked up without actually increasing performance effectiveness.
It is a common pitfall to associate brutality and self-deprecation with hard work. An incomplete logic follows: the harsher your training, the harder you work, therefore, the more successful you will likely be. Until only recently, self-care in athletics was seen as a luxury or weakness rather than an essential component for growth.
People who defend this sentiment often bring up the countries that train their athletes brutally and enjoy success at the Olympics. The instructors of the national Chinese diving team reportedly tried to encourage their western guest coaches to strike their female diving champion in order to “get the best out of her”.
Mircea Badulescu - who taught a recreational class at UC Santa Barbara had trained 19 Olympic and World Champions in his previous life. Mircea would tell stories of how many programs in his native country trained young girls with methods that closely resembled torture.
“Is this what it takes?” “Are people in the west too soft?” Many people ask every time the Olympics roll by and these stories circulate on social media. Never mind that the country that overwhelmingly wins the MOST Olympic medals makes those practices completely illegal.
Excessive training methods are often incompetent training methods. They are often used by those who don’t know any better. More importantly, they lead to psychological and physical injury. Any training regimen that disregards long-term physical, mental, or spiritual health is destructive training. One should never glorify destructive training practices as toughness.
Destructive training does not have to be absurdly torturous routines. It can be as simple as an overzealous father shouting at his child for losing a game, having a bad locker room culture, or not taking measures to prevent common injuries.
The value of self-care should be at the top of the list for any serious athlete or coach. We at Grappz wish to raise awareness and provide for this value. We understand that our customers are athletes or fitness people who love their activities passionately –otherwise you would not be visiting our site. Therefore, it is our purpose to lend you an extra pair of hands to keep you safe, help you perform better, and to let you do what you love as long as you can.