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My frightful nightmare

There I was, in the semifinals, feeling confident…

when all of a sudden, my best friend and teammate told me who my next opponent was…

Jim “Grim Reaper” Leghorn…the most feared leg rider in the entire valley!

About 6 foot tall with a menacing snarl and a bloody fang for a tooth (the only one in his head), he was a gruesome nightmarish ogre of a teenager that struck fear in the hearts of the helpless kids who were unfortunate enough to cross his path!

And here he stood before me, fists clenched, snarling and growling every step of the way!

Right now I was wishing I’d have brought the magic potion, carried my silver stake and eaten my garlic bread!

Alas I was unarmed (and unprepared).  As he approached, I ran…and ran very fast.  Unfortunately he was faster and was catching up to me at an alarming speed.

Just as he reached for me I heard a loud blood-curdling SCREAM!

I quickly recognized it as my own.

Then I woke up in a cold sweat in the fetal position.

That was my nightmare…

the day I met the nicest guy OFF the mat who was the meanest guy ON the mat…and how he won gold

Yesterday’s (shall we say) discussion with a Facebooker reminded me of the late great  Olympic Gold Medalist Dave Schultz…

the nicest guy OFF the mat who was also the meanest ON the mat.

He spoke to me like he'd known me all our lives.  Asked me questions that let me know he remembered me.

And while its true that I'd seen him before, even trained in the same room with him before, this is a guy who'd met thousands of people and seen thousands of faces.

That he could put one at ease, like longtime besties, was beyond amazing to me.

That's the way he was. 

People revered him around the world.  Russians, Germans, Iranians, all revered him and spoke highly of America's #1 wrestling diplomat…

despite the fact that on the mat, he was one of the meanest SOBs you'd ever see.

He routinely choked out the opposition, leaving coaches and wrestlers scrambling for trainers.

His style led to the 'Dave Schultz rule' that was specifically designed to take away his edge (no matter – he beat them anyway).

While not overwhelmingly strong or athletic, he was extremely good at this…

Insanely incredible positioning

He'd stand in front of an opponent, bent at the waist, hands in front…

and it was nearly impossible to penetrate his defenses.

and while excellent positioning is a common trait among elite level athletes…Dave's was exceptional.

This was his trademark

The Dave Schultz front headlock was his trademark.  He would shut down, punish and score with it.

In fact, his was so devastating (illegal by today's standards by the way), that FILA assigned an extra referee to his and brother Mark's matches in the 1984 Olympics (they both won Gold).

This day, he was running a clinic in Grove City Ohio. 

Here's what I remember most about his clinic:

  • his nearly counter culture view of wrestling
  • his affability
  • finally, his flamboyant style

Counter culture view of wrestling technique

Dave embraced some things others wouldn't.  For instance, he didn't mind wrestling with his head down and didn't particularly care of the opponent tried to grab or control it.  He blocked with his head, he led with his head, and he defended extremely well when people grabbed it.  In short, nobody could do to him what he did to others in front headlock.  This day, he was gentle in comparison – meaning, nobody had to gasp for air after drilling with him (unlike his unfortunate Olympic opponents).


very friendly to talk to – would spent hours conversing with anyone and everyone, especially kids.  That day, he probably spend about as much time after the clinic, talking to folks (including me) as he spent doing the clinic.


He was out there – a one of a kind personality that led people to be drawn to him and admire him…even internationally, where he had a reputation as a nasty, on-or-over-the-edge competitor – the opponents still highly respected him and he was heavily sought after.

Dave's front headlock was designed to do one of two things (sometimes both):

  • punish
  • score

Great lesson for wrestlers:  make them pay for daring to attempt an attack on you.

These days, Dave's front headlock is illegal.  So I can't teach it to athletes.

However, our goal in Attack System Wrestling is to score first (although punishment will happen too and is an essential element).

Since I implemented this system, and fined tuned it to near-perfection in just the last two years, our wrestlers who have adapted it have devastated opponents at every level…local, state, national. 

Dave's front headlock was designed to do one of two things (sometimes both):

  • punish
  • score

Great lesson for wrestlers:  make them pay for daring to attempt an attack on you.

These days, Dave's front headlock is illegal.  So I can't teach it to athletes.

However, our goal in Attack System Wrestling is to score first (although punishment will happen too and is an essential element).

Since I implemented this system, and fined tuned it to near-perfection in just the last two years, our wrestlers who have adapted it have devastated opponents at every level…local, state, national. 

I'm teaching it to athletes now

Warning:  Time is short
One expires tomorrow, the other in about a week.
Why Cliff is wrong and I’m right

A wrestling enthusiast disagreed with me on Facebook regarding my recent John Smith interview. 

Here’s what Cliff said (and why he’s wrong):

Yes. In today's world a World Champion's son here in Ohio follows this strategy which wrestlers can watch to confirm this strategy – David Carr. However, the sport of wrestling like most sports offer various examples of strategies to success that are very different in concept. I suggest you watch some of Dave Schultz, Randy Lewis, Sergei Beloglazov film. These guys had an arsenol of moves available for the moment. I would think the probability of success is enhanced when opponent do not know what move will be presented for variety of reasons seen in all sports. So both will work but what is best for your personality – some can do same thing million times and not get “bored” while others need variety to stay tuned, the free spirited. I do not think you mess with personalities. I have seen this done with some kids going to college level and they just do not make it out let alone win championships.

(He’s right about David Carr though – that’s the part where he agrees with me)

First, allow me to point out that I’ve seen all of those guys wrestle and met several of them personally.  Dave Schultz was one of the nicest guys in wrestling history (unless you had the misfortune of wrestling him…I talk about that tomorrow via email).

To clarify, John Smith lived off one move, while others use an arsenal of moves.

Point taken.

However, he missed the main point of my blog, which is this:

I can tell you with 100% confidence that every one of those guys that I knew, did one thing exactly the same….

And it wasn’t the Smith single, which was unique to him.

What they did that was similar though, is the main point of the article…

Even though they had different styles…some with an array of moves, some hit only one or two things…here’s what was similar…

every one of them trained to do things exactly and precisely.

Every time Dave Schultz got a front headlock, he did it the exact same way.

If you were brave (and foolish) enough to shoot a double on Randy Lewis, he’d counter you (painfully) the same way.

The champions train hard to use winning technique….  drilling their core moves over and over again until they reach phase five.  That’s why they are prepared to score with it at the highest levels in wrestling (Olympics).

And this is the very element that most wrestlers are missing today:  the understanding of how you get from phase 1 (learning new technique) to phase 5 (being able to execute said technique in a Live Match, against the highest level of competition.

There’s a big difference between everyone winning with the same move, and everyone (of note) training in a similar fashion.

This is the process that led John Smith to Olympic Gold, but leads every champion athlete to high levels of success as well.

PS  Unfortunately, the Facebook world doesn’t embrace this.  But champions do.

PPS  Tomorrow’s email subscribers learn what made Dave Schulz the nicest guy off the mat and the meanest guy on the mat.
What John Smith told me

Number of years ago I interviewed Olympic Gold Medalist John Smith for my newspaper column, Winner’s Circle, that ran in papers around Ohio.

First, a little background:

John Smith was one of America's greatest wrestlers.  Three Time National Champ for Oklahoma State, followed by two Olympic Freestyle Gold Medals.

John's style was unique.  Not fancy but unique

He would attack the low ankle using a short list of set-ups, get to the same position, and finish multiple ways.

In his honor, some still call this shot the Smith Single.

Everyone in the world knew exactly what he was going to do. 

The Germans, the Japanese, even le Ruskies…

nobody could stop it – even though the best coaches in the world tried.

How incredible to be able to go out there, tell your opponent exactly what you're going to do…and do it anyway.

What I discovered by talking to John Smith

John shared a lot of great information with me, including his family background, training regimen and incredibly strong mindset.  I'll have to share some of that with you another time, but there's one question I asked him, that I want to talk about today:

I asked him:  “How did you develop your world famous single leg so that you could hit it on anyone?”

His answer:

I spent hours upon hours doing nothing but hitting that one shot.  Changing levels, getting in on the shot, perfect position.  I'd spend hours a day doing nothing but that move.  Setting up, getting in.  Setting up, getting in.  Having partners try to keep me from getting in on the shot, knowing it was coming, and me working to get in anyway.

Then I practiced getting in, and finishing from every imaginable scenario.  Whatever the guy could do to counter,  he'd throw at me.

“How much time did you spend on it?”

I spent several hours every day…for years.  Probably from the time I was about 8, until I won the gold medal.  Every day.

At an early age, John Smith discovered the secret to success in wrestling – and life:

Keep repeatedly drilling those things that lead to success….until you are better at it than anyone.

John Smith followed this process, and it led him to multiple Olympic Gold medals.

You can follow the same process, and as a result, find more success than you’ve ever had in your life!

First though, you will have to be strong enough to shut down the self-described ex-spurts that deceive you by telling you to learn a different move every week, and have you spinning in a circle to find the magic moves that make you a champion.

John Smith didn’t do that – he won world titles by learning one system and scoring with one shot.

Want to learn the process that led John Smith to Olympic Gold?

Control your takedown destiny

Its hard to believe, but in one month, coaches everywhere will crack open the doors and blow the first whistle signalling the start of the season.

and when that happens, you’re either going to be ready to execute a plan on your feet…

or you aren’t.

Most wrestlers across this land, will be in the ‘not ready‘ zone, content for life to take them where it will, as opposed to them taking control.

Here’s how you can take control of your takedown destiny

In a few short weeks, our accelerated takedown mastery camp takes place.

Athletes who come to this camp will learn our devastating hand-fight system, which leads to domination on your feet…

and being THE ONE in control.

This camp features accelerated technique –  high level stuff – so be ready to train at a champion’s level.

Even better….

At this camp you will learn how to internalize wrestling technique faster by fusing your mind with your body.

Want to make the connection…mind to body…so you can quickly incorporate new technique like you’ve been drilling it for months?

Break bad habits fast and adapt to new ones quickly?