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Why Socks???

In the world of sports coaches, there is a name revered by all, no matter what the sport. And the first thing this legend taught his players, at the beginning of each season, was how to put on their socks.

He said he taught his players to put on their socks first because success was built from the ground up. And that it was the little details that make the big things come about. Like how when you make sure there are no wrinkles in your socks, your protect your feet from blisters. And how when you have a ritual, when you perform the fundamentals the same way every time, you build the careful awareness, attention to detail, and the habits that make success nearly inevitable.

And his results speak for themselves

Sometimes known as “The Wizard of Westwood”, John Wooden is respected as the most winning college basketball coach of all time.

Here’s what ESPN writer Mike Puma had to say about Coach Wooden:

“No dynasty in college basketball history compares to the monster Wooden built at UCLA in the 1960s and 1970s, winning 10 NCAA titles in his last 12 seasons before he retired in 1975. From 1967–73, the “Wizard of Westwood” guided the Bruins to a record seven straight national championships.

There’s more. Starting in 1971 and ending in 1974, UCLA won 88 straight games, an NCAA record that hasn’t come close to falling. Wooden’s teams also compiled four 30–0 seasons and won 19 conference championships, including eight undefeated Pacific Conference seasons.

A three-time All-American guard at Purdue, Wooden was the first man honored in the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and coach. In his 27 seasons at UCLA, the Bruins went 620–147.”

And to achieve all of this, John Wooden was obsessed with perfecting the fundamentals.

It’s common in competitive sports, especially at the high levels, for teams to do as much “research” as they can on each other.

This is true in fighting especially. Fighters will watch videos of their opponent’s past fights in order to come up with a winning strategy, or even hire spies to spy on their training and report back.

But Coach Wooden was famous for being so predictable, that opposing teams wouldn’t even waste the effort to “spy” on his practices or try to get a sneak peek into his playbook. Everyone knew what Coach Wooden’s teams were going to do.

And they were helpless to stop it anyway!

Because John Wooden’s teams had perfected the fundamentals. They were so good at what they did, it didn’t matter if their opponent’s knew what to expect. They were still crushed in competition.

That’s how Grand Master Jim Mitchel would train his Kenpo class.

Often times, GM Mitchel would tell us what he was going to do before he did it. He would let us know what was coming. And sometimes, he would even handicap himself in some ridiculous fashion, like tying his arms in his belt. (like it wasn’t already embarrassing enough that he was 72 years old and still kicking our asses)

But still, he had focused so long on perfecting the fundamentals, that nobody could stop him from imposing his will. Most people lack the patience to do this.

Most people get bored with repeating the same things over, and over, and over. And most people lack the hunger for those tiny, incremental improvements that make the difference between being good, or even very good… And being great!

If you want to be great…

You need to have the patience to build perfect fundamentals, piece by piece. You will be well on your way to being unstoppable from every position and every situation, even when your opponents know what’s coming.

Personally, I have known a gentleman that would devote 50% of his solo training time to the very basic of moves. These moves consisted of only 12 Techniques! He has built all of his competition-sparing combos from those 12 moves.

What was even more amazing is that he would only use about 2–3 of those combos in a match and maybe a total of 9 combos in a tournament. That’s it! And These techniques and combos are things that are typically taught to the white and yellow belts of most traditional arts.

Its not flashy or fancy… but the collection of grand champion trophies tells me that his approach works.

So take some time, go back to your basics with a beginner's mind, and work on making them just a little better each day.

You will be glad you did!

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