Coach’s blog – Shut up and get on the f’ing mat

Heart is something that can not be taught.

This is for all those guys that say they want to be fighters. If you train to get in shape, or because you like gym camaraderie, the following isn’t directed at you.

“I can’t train today because I am sore, have a cold, hyper extended my elbow, have a headache, my knee hurts…” Come on guys, training injured or not feeling 100% is part of the game.

Work through the minor injuries and discomforts. How the hell are you going to be able to hang with a guy who is willing to sacrifice his body to become the best if you won’t train because you‘re sore?

Hell, I am 40 years old with a neck injury, two bad knees and my shoulder and hip dislocate whenever the hell they feel like it, but I still train and can outlast most of the guys in class. Actually, let me correct that; there’s not a person in class that can outlast me.

So when my fighters tell me they can’t train because they’re gassed or hurt I don’t want to hear it. Period. End of sentence. Shut up and get on the f’ing mat. Now.

My friend Max Bishop had a heart attack a few months back and died, yeah, that’s what I said: HE DIED. But the doctors were able to bring him back. It’s only been about two months and he’s already back teaching at his gym.

Now Max has the ultimate trump card. Can you imagine when one of his guys tells him that he has to sit out of class because he sprained his ankle? Max is like, “I died and I’m out here, get your ass back on the mat.”

Now there are the occasional injuries that you do need to take time off for and let heal but they are much rarer than most guys think. Most of the time you’re just being a pussy. Push through it and train. If you’re training just for fun, then that’s a different story, but if you are a fighter, pain tolerance is a major part of the game. Suck it up; stop looking for an excuse not to train.

If you find yourself coming up with excuses all the time, then maybe it’s time to look into yourself and see if you really want to be a fighter… if you have what it takes to be a fighter.

Anyone can learn technique, but you can’t learn “heart”. If you don’t have heart then you will never be a real champion.

“Heart” is the single biggest factor I look for in fighters. I am confident in my abilities as an instructor and in my instructors’ abilities, we can teach a guy all sorts of ways to hurt someone, to win, but we can’t teach heart.

It’s the single thing that every instructor searches for in prospective fighters. Without it, it doesn’t matter how technical the guy is, how good the guy is, against someone with heart he will always struggle, and eventually lose.

Conditioning is another thing that you have to work on. I’ve seen guys with much better skills lose to guys that are in better cardio conditioning than them.

Once a fight goes into the 2nd round, the better conditioned guy is at the advantage. Conditioning and heart are an unbeatable combination. Conditioning is something we all can achieve.

Most schools do 5-15 minutes of conditioning, but at SSF Submission Academy we treat conditioning as a priority.

Every class at SSF has a minimum of 30 minutes conditioning, and then conditioning is brought in various ways throughout the remainder of the class.

Some days we will work an entire class on conditioning and rolling/sparring. Running on a tread mill or a few miles a day isn’t enough.

Fighters or wannabe fighters: there is no excuse for gassing out, giving into pain, or well, like I said, just being a pussy. Shut up and get on the f’ing mat.

By: Ron Dayley

Ron Dayley is a trainer, manager, promoter, and owner of SSF Submission Academy. He is the author of’s popular “Coach’s blog” which is published about once a week or sometimes more often if he needs to vent. You can find previous editions of “Coach’s blog” in our archives.