The Self-Taught Champion - Fact or Fiction?

source: The Underground

This UBGB (Underground Blog Guest Blogger) is by David Avellan. Along with his brother Marcos, David founded South Florida's Freestyle Fighting Academy (FFA) in 2001, and has trained fighters for the UFC, WEC, Bodogfight, EliteXC, Strikeforce, and dozens of other promotions.

Everyone loves a rag-to-riches story.

Fighters such as former UFC Champion Evan Tanner had learned much of what he knew training on his own. Evan was famous for studying instructional books, videos, and even getting into bar fights to practice his techniques!

But that was over a decade ago before the evolution of MMA. Is that still possible today?


In fact, I would dare say that it would be easier now than ever before.

How come?

There are so many more resources available to the public now that in the past were guarded secrets. With the growth of the internet and MMA community, it is even possible to be trained online for free by world class instructors such as UFC sensation Alan Belcher, America's Jiu-Jitsu Coach Lloyd Irvin, and my brother Marcos and I.

If that is true, wouldn't there be thousands of UFC keyboard warrior champions?

LOL! The beginner's folly is to think that knowing enough technique is all it takes to become the best.

When I started competing in grappling, I didn't have a BJJ instructor. I didn't know how to do an Omo Plata, or how to sweep from the half guard. In fact, I didn't even train with the GI.

Yet, I was able to defeat BJJ Black Belt World Champions such as Roberto "Cyborg" Abreu, Alexandre "Xande" Ribeiro, Rafael Lovato Jr., and Rener Gracie.

I didn't have access to all the talent and resources that these individuals had, yet I still was able to defeat them.


One thing, and one thing alone will decide your fate - your mind.

You can have all the talent, resources, and techniques in the world, but without the proper mindset you are doomed to fail.

Somehow, this all important fact is lost on 97% of people.

The most important thing I learned from my high school wrestling days was not a double leg shot, it was the principles of champions.

The first and most important of these principles is very simple. Most people know about this principle, but have never bothered to use it. They think they understand it, but they really don't.

If you want to be a self-made champ, you HAVE to follow this principle to the letter:

Written Goals
We all have heard about goal setting many times throughout our lives, yet I know very few people who actually do it.

To understand the importance of goals, let me give you an example.

Say we have the Guinness book of world records archery champion. The guy is so good that he can hit a grain of salt in mid-air. Now I blind fold him, spin him in circles and tell him to hit a target I never showed him in the first place.

You think he has a chance of hitting a target he doesn't know exists? Very, very slim.

You see, it doesn't matter how good you are. If you don't know what you want, you are not going to get it. This is why it is crucial to set goals and write them on paper.

If you say you understand the concept of goal setting, but that you don't need to write down goals - you don't understand the concept! Writing down the goals is important and makes the goal real.

Goals need to be written in specific detail. Just saying that you want to be the best is not enough. Think about:
•Exactly what you want to achieve
•When you want to have completed your goal
•How you will feel obtaining it
•The price you will have to pay to succeed

Once you have thought through this and KNOW exactly what you want, then you must write it out. It is good practice to write your goals as if you already have achieved them. Think of it as if you are in the future, writing down a journal entry just after completing your goal. Insert as much emotion into the writing as possible, as emotions are the strongest motivators to action that we have.

Next, you need to read your goals out loud to yourself every day. Each time you do this you are programming yourself - reaffirming your belief that you can achieve your goal. When you read your goal, it is important that you do so with a positive state of mind. If you just read the goal without emotion, it will do very little to help.

Finally, I go an extra step and tell everyone what I plan on doing. That way, I'm now accountable for my actions. Most people feel uncomfortable doing that, but as you will learn later, being uncomfortable is crucial for growth.

I will post more principles over the next few days and give you time to digest the material. Remember, just reading this is not going to help you. Many people say that knowledge equals power, but that is false. Applied knowledge equals power. So go and apply this principle!

Believe and Achieve,

David Avellan

P.S. > Do you write goals? If not, what is stopping you? Let me know, as I want to know all the reasons (good or bad) why people don't do it.

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tags: David Avellan   BJJ   

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Recent Comments »

DavidAvellan site profile image  

7/5/12 5:06 PM by DavidAvellan

Exactly :)  

TimFerrissFan site profile image  

7/5/12 11:24 AM by TimFerrissFan

wonderful and inspirational, thanks

bigD13B site profile image  

7/5/12 11:18 AM by bigD13B


birdo site profile image  

7/5/12 11:12 AM by birdo

The thread got off topic. Dave is telling the truth that the mind is a powerful tool. No halfway intelligent person would claim that formalized training is useless. But, the brain acts before the muscles, therefore a strong mental composure in life can get you where you want to go. Just ask the kung-fu masters, and the Wu Tang Clan: the RZA -the GZA - ol' dirty Bastard - Inspecta Deck - Raekwon the Chef - Ugod - Ghostface Killa' - Method Man

JDOKLR site profile image  

7/5/12 9:22 AM by JDOKLR

ATTN: HoldYerGround “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” This was quoted over 2000 years ago......Not much has changed in human behavior since then !!!!!!!!!!    Something-to-say and saying-something are 2 completely different things....Fool !  

Soup Nazi site profile image  

7/5/12 7:06 AM by Soup Nazi


Kirik site profile image  

7/4/12 4:58 PM by Kirik

And now you are giving lessons in online etiquette? You have yet to articulate what you were trying to say - I remain waiting for the point your rhetorical question "proved."  Constructive criticism is always welcome, but what you wrote, and what you are writing now, remains incoherent at best. Might be best to quit while you are way behind though.

KC007 site profile image  

7/4/12 2:30 PM by KC007

You may have had a disagreement with the article but the way you conveyed your question/assumption was not even remotely close to what David was implying /writing about.

HoldYerGround site profile image  

7/4/12 1:21 PM by HoldYerGround

^^This is the point I was trying to make BTW.

BLACK and BLUE Comic site profile image  

7/4/12 1:12 PM by BLACK and BLUE Comic

 I think the goal setting material is great, BUT you cannot compete at the elite levels of MMA without formal instruction. Evan Tanner started out learning on his own, but didn't get to the championship level until he was firmly embedded in a training environment. Also, David, you may not have had formal BJJ instruction prior to the time you beat some of those guys, but you come from a wrestling background don't you?