"Mental toughness can take you to the top, and mental weakness straight to the bottom."—John Schiefer
Ask any Olympic medalist or top-ranked professional athlete, and no doubt they’d be the first ones to tell you that competing in any sport at the highest possible level requires just as much (if not more) mental preparation, as it does the physical.
It is for this very reason that I find it more than a little disturbing that Nick Diaz’s coach and trainer, Cesar Gracie, would so willingly point the finger of blame and publicly proclaim his deep disappointment in his student/client for his failure to attend a recent media event, which was being held in Las Vegas for the purpose of promoting Diaz’s upcoming title fight against current UFC Welterweight Champion, Georges St-Pierre—an opportunity by the way, that has now been taken away from Diaz and given to fellow contender, Carlos Condit.
In a recent interview with MMAJunkie, Gracie had the following to say with regards to his feelings about Diaz and what he perceives to be a major disrespect perpetuated by his fighter:
“I'm extremely disappointed. He's done a lot of stuff, but this is the worst of it. If I were him, I would be begging Dana White to get my job back and work your way up to a title shot at some point. I'm not a psychologist, but I personally think there's some kind of social anxiety happening here with Nick.
“He's a great jiu-jitsu guy. He's a great fighter. I'm saying this because I care deeply about the guy. He's one of my black belts. But in this situation, he is 100 percent wrong, and he got what he deserved.
“At this point, I don't know what I'm going to do with Nick because he's not only disrespected the sport—he's disrespected me and himself.
"I've barely slept in the last couple of days, and it's sickened me. Here's the opportunity that I've worked for for over 10 years—to mould a guy to become the best possible guy, and to show he can be the best guy in the world. And he takes this opportunity and he acts like an immature child about it.”
If the role and responsibility of any coach is to ensure that their athletes are not only physically prepared, but mentally prepared as well, then I have to wonder why Gracie isn’t taking more personal accountability for Diaz’s recent actions and shortcomings. After all, he’s had an entire decade to work with Diaz. It’s not like Gracie hasn’t had the time to help Diaz prepare or change his personal or professional mindset towards the sport of MMA.
And if indeed Diaz suffers from some form of “social anxiety” as suggested by Gracie (even though Diaz doesn’t seem to have any problems fighting in front of thousands of live fans), then why should Diaz’s recent actions come as a surprise to anybody...especially his coach?
And why would Gracie take Diaz’s actions so personally, as if Diaz meant to disrespect and undermine the collective efforts of his entire team on purpose, if in fact it was Diaz’s own mental discipline that failed him?
On one hand, Gracie accuses Diaz of possibly suffering from mental anxieties, but on the other hand, he calls Diaz an immature child. The problem with that, and why I see these two comments are being very contradictory to each other, is because if in fact Diaz does suffer from some form of mental anxiety, his actions could only then be interpreted as being non-intentional and therefore, maturity or respectfulness have nothing to do with Diaz’s decision that ultimately let his team and his coach down.
And not to be too critical of the guy, but Nick Diaz has become notorious over the years for having one of the worst attitudes in the entire fight industry—something that his fans absolutely love about him. As a professional coach and “martial artist,” why hasn’t Gracie been able to help Diaz in this area of his life as well?
It certainly makes me wonder if there is in fact a great deal of truth behind the following observations made by Dr. John Williams:
“I am a traditional martial artist. I began my training in 1947, long before any of these guys were even born. I saw the arts evolve from what was once a very small, private sanctuary for a select few individuals, into a complete joke. When the Gracies came out with their version of judo groundwork and called it Brazilian Jui-Jitsu, and began their ‘challenge’ matches, I saw the handwriting on the wall. I knew that money would ruin what they were trying to present, and after a few years, you had exactly what Taekwondo brought to the martial arts scene—books, tapes, and quickly everyone was a BJJ champion or ‘Professor,’ and hundreds of Brazilians relocated and fleeced the gullible out of a lot of money (that’s how Taekwondo ruined the arts in the 80's).
“The philosophy of any traditional martial arts system is about helping others to live a better life by treating them like members of your own family. But to do this requires character, and to be a teacher means that one has to learn how to easily hurt (or even kill) another person in order to test their character, because with this ability, one is tested often, and choices must be made. Only good character can control them.
“That’s what is lacking in the MMA world today. It is not there in Brazilian Jui-Jitsu, or in Gracie Jui-Jitsu, or in the hundreds of training facilities, because the ‘coaches’ are not true martial artists. They merely provide the necessary vehicles for MMA fans to be able to live out their fantasies through the ‘celebrity fighters’ that are all driven by the need to be accepted.”—Source
A lot of people are blaming Diaz for his recent actions and feel very strongly that he deserves all of the fan and media hatred that he has been receiving—and maybe he does. Personally, I think that Diaz should be held completely accountable for his actions—I just don’t think that he should be an island of blame in all of this, or that his trusted coach has any right to distance himself from the problem, when in reality, he has been completely ineffective in helping Diaz to overcome the personal and emotional challenges in his life—obviously.
Gracie claimed that he’s not psychologist, but perhaps that is exactly what Diaz needs right now at this stage in his career. It can’t be easy being a very private person in a very public world as many professional athletes are now finding themselves in. If Gracie can’t give Diaz the help that he needs in order to salvage what’s left of his career, then perhaps it’s time for Diaz to seek out the counsel and guidance from someone who can—someone who doesn’t place his own importance over the fighter that he gets paid to help.
“Here's the opportunity that I've worked for for over 10 years.”—Gracie
Is it any wonder why Diaz has such a selfish attitude?
Cesar Gracie really needs to look in the mirror on this one.
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