Travis Stevens: Judo, Olympics, and Mental Toughness | Lex Fridman Podcast #223 | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Travis Stevens: Judo, Olympics, and Mental Toughness | Lex Fridman Podcast #223".


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Intro (00:00)

The following is a conversation with Travis Stevens, 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist in Judo and one of the greatest American Judoka ever. But his story is inspiring not because of that Olympic medal, but because of the decades of injury, hardship, incredible battles against the best in the world, wrapping up in close heartbreaking losses at the 2008 and 2012 games, all of which eventually led to that very silver medal in 2016. As we talk about in the podcast, Travis is also someone who is largely responsible for me getting into Judo, for which I will forever be grateful.

Judo Techniques And Principles

Judo explained (00:32)

He also happens to be now my Judo coach and mentor. I'll release a video of Travis and I doing some Judo in a few days. To support this podcast, please check out our sponsors in the description. As a side note, let me say a few words that I've written down about the Olympic Games and the International Olympics Committee. Visiting family has the t-shirt, but I had to pull away to write and to say these words because this very video was taken down by YouTube as per the request of the IOC. You know it's serious when a Russian takes time away from family, food and drink. I am heartbroken to see continued incompetence, greed and corruption on the part of the IOC, infailing to do as the Olympic Charter states to "insure the fullest coverage and the widest possible audience in the world for the Olympic Games." I want to give you two facts. First, they do not make most of the videos of the games available for replay anywhere that is accessible, searchable and discoverable whether funded by ads or by subscriptions. For example, on YouTube or their own service, it is not available anywhere. Second, in the most absurd violation of the Olympic Charter, they've uploaded all of the videos of the 2012, 2016 and the 2020/21 Olympics to YouTube and they set all of these videos to private. This results in a situation like my 4-hour conversation that you're watching now with Travis Stevens being taken down due to us including a few seconds of a small video overlay of Travis's epic match against Oli Bischoff in 2012. This is done automatically as per the request of the IOC. I have the video due to having screen recorded it from 2012. Here you have Travis Stevens, an Olympic silver medalist, someone who spent his entire life overcoming injuries, losses, hard weight cuts, periods of no financial or psychological support, culminating in the biggest heartbreak of his career. In this one match, and this match is available nowhere online, not for free, not for 1 million dollars. Our showing short clips of it results in the IOC taking it down, not demonetizing it, taking it down, blocking it. The IOC silences this amazing story of Travis Stevens of heartbreak that eventually led to triumph. And there are thousands of stories like it, stories that are supposed to inspire the world. To me and to billions of others, the Olympic Games give a chance to celebrate and to be inspired by the greatest stories of human flourishing in the face of hardship and incredibly long odds or dominance in the pursuit of perfection at levels previously thought to be impossible. The Olympic Games inspire kids, like me, to dream and to work hard to achieve in our own lives the same moments of magic and greatness, small or big, that the Olympic Games reveal. I believe the members of the IOC are good people, but people who forgot the dream, the fire that was sparked and burned in their hearts when they first saw the Olympics as kids. They've allowed the gradual corruption of their own human spirit and thereby have robbed the world of this very fire, the fire of the Olympic torch, the fire that ought to burn in the eyes and hearts of kids watching the Olympics today, daring to dream, daring to be great. Please, please do better. The world needs you, the world needs the Olympic Games. This is the Lux Friedman podcast and here's my conversation with Travis Stevens. Judo is a martial arts, a sport, a set of techniques, ideas and philosophies. Can we start by maybe you giving a big picture overview of what is Judo to somebody who's like outside the whole spectrum of grappling sports? Yeah, Judo was originated in Japan that was used as a police tactic for self-defense and subduing people. It's the art of being able to throw somebody to the ground and hold and control the situation. I think it's pretty much evolved since then though. It's as you include the sport aspect of it, it's grown to be something more and more dynamic and it's gotten away from that. The basics is people wear something called a ghee, which I think nicely mimics outdoor clothing, like a jacket. They start on the feet and they get to grip each other and the scoring works by the more badass the throw is, the more points you get and if you throw the person big and hard on their back, you win the match and it's over and that's called an epon. Which is equivalent to a knockout. So I guess there's no knock downs, Judo. We don't count those. They got to hit their back and they got to hit it with force. And so there's a huge incentive for the big throws and there's also the drama of somebody catching off guard with a surprise big throw and it's over. There's two ways of losing really. I saw this coming. You just see it but you can't stop it and those ones tend to be the ones you can live with. The ones that are really hard to live with are the ones you never saw coming. Because that just shows that that person is really outclassed you.

the difference between a surprised and unsuprised throw. (06:40)

So there's a small set of throws. Maybe you can go through them that are like you saw a coming but you couldn't do anything about it. And then there's the set of throws that are more surprises. So first of all the counters or if you fake one thing and go the other way, then that's a surprise and it's like, oh shit, you off balance the person because they think you're going one way and then you go the other way and then there's this oh shit moment all of a sudden, your back is just slammed on the ground. I mean you're good of many throws but one of them is a that I think reveals the beauty of judo is the foot sweep. There's something about the off balance and the timing that you can catch them right all of a sudden. It's like I had the same feeling when it's kind of having like all of a sudden the ground is not under you anymore. Yeah and you just you go weightlessness for like a split second and you realize you've lost like all control of your limbs. Like it's like zero gravity, right? Like you just you can't turn, you can't rotate, you can't do much of anything. And then before you know it, you've hit the floor. Yeah. It's a cool feeling when you get thrown because you hope to do that. This is the thing for another person is like you just hit the ground hard because it's not you didn't see a common, it wasn't a big throw that got loaded up. It's like all of a sudden the surprise and then like this like feeling your back just slams and there's like the air is up. Yeah and the worst is when you get hit twice with one throw, right? Because sometimes like the guy throwing you didn't expect you to leave either. So you hit and then that guy comes down like a second and a half later. And it's like boom, boom. And then the wind is just gone from you. Yeah. Those are the worst. And then there's the disappointment. Like then the the intellectual, the cognitive part comes in where you're like, Oh shit, I just lost. Yep. And you don't have like a connection to why. Right. It's almost like you've just like you didn't literally get a concussion. Like you and you understand and remember everything, but you can't figure out how this just happened. Right. Those are the those are the tough ones to deal with. Actually, have you had moments like that? Yeah. Where you don't understand how it happened, you have to watch footage to understand what happened. Even when you watch it, you're just like, I don't get it. Like why wasn't I in a position to stop this?

When you can't understand how you lost a match (and must review the footage to puzzle it out). (09:00)

It makes zero sense. Conceptually, when you watch it, you're like, I understand how to play defense. I understand. It looks like I'm in a defensive position, but at the end of the day, I still got thrown. Yeah, you were talking about what is it? 2008 match. You have a non traditional gripping style. Yeah, that accurate to say. But and then you were going against another right handed player.

The Faking Drop Seoi Nage Throw (09:28)

And then there was some kind of fake that he did. And then he caught you. Yep. Can you describe the throw he caught you with? He caught me with a drop sale, but he he kind of like we were engaged. We were looking at each other and we were kind of at like a stalemate, right? He couldn't really advance. I couldn't really advance. And he kind of just let his gaze like wander off to the right like he was looking at something. And then I kind of like what's over there and then I got thrown. And it's like, so first of all, for people don't know, say I was saying, Nagi, drop means when you drop to your knees and say, Nagi is one of the fundamental throws of judo. That's just just a handful. But does that actually ever work? I was wondering that about like boxing or judo. Does the head movement of the person work? Because we're still like kind of dogs at heart. If you look somewhere with a dog, the dog is going to look that direction as well. Does that actually work ever? It does. But on a greater sense, what you try to do is not necessarily get like a physical reaction of a look, but a lull of security where like they've almost like relaxed for that split second because you've lured them into like a sense of comfort. And then that's when you can strike. So you have this speaking of San Nagi, you have this gigantic standing San Nagi. Yep. And you have a specific grip. One of our challenges is there's a large number of people that listen to the audio version of this. So we're going to have to try to describe some of this stuff. I'll do my best to try to describe with words. But you have you grip with your left hand on the lapel of the jacket or like that area. Yep. And there's kind of a lean into the person. And I suppose is there a feeling of a lull there that you're trying to get to where you're just it feels like you're both calmly dancing before you turn your hips and go in for the throw. I'm actually trying to create a sense of weightlessness for my lead leg, which would be my right leg and a sense of resistance from my partner.

How Travis Developed His Split Hip Throw (11:44)

So you aren't you both kind of leaning into each other and it creates like an A frame. Yeah. But when the A frame is held together at the top half, which would be my left hand and their right hand posted on each other's chest, it means our legs are free to move and our hips are free to move. Right. And they're not going to feel your leg move because of the weightlessness. And is there a feeling like for them is there feeling like nothing bad can happen here? We're all relaxed. Everything's fine. Yeah. And then they're standing off at a funny angle before they know it. I've spun and my back is on their chest and they can't go anywhere. Yeah. Yeah. How did you first develop that throw? So for people, it's called Epon say, Nagi, which means your right hand goes under their like armpit area. And that's like a vice that connects you to them. Yeah. And then they get go on for the ride. Yep. The interesting thing with the standing one is as opposed to drop say Nagi version, the drop say Nagi kind of drop under them. And because there's a vice, they're like pulled, pulled under and like over. Yeah. With the standing one, I suppose there's some similar physics, but you're kind of loading them onto your hip. And so they're in the air while you're standing still. There's a sense in which they're like you're lifting them above where they started. Yes. That's how you get the really big air. Yeah. If obviously if if everything is right. So how did you first develop that? How did you first? I first learned just learning like the very basics of the throw, you know, foot placement, all that kind of stuff. And then, you know, like anything, the basics are nice. But once you get good at the basics, it's very easy to stop. But it gives you a good like fundamental platform to learn off of and to expand off of. And then I expanded when I first started watching Koga, the new wind, right? Because he's the one that first like introduced that split hip style, saying, I do that. Once I learned that one, I built about eight different variations of sale off that one start position. That way I could regardless of your defense, I had an answer for a throw.

Why Travis Hates Leg Day (14:16)

So why that one though? Why can you can you describe love to me, Travis, too? Why did you fall in love with that throw in particular? It was really a sense of, you know, one of my shortcomings as a kid, like, I hate leg day in the gym. I hate it with a passion. I, if you ask me to do a squat, I'll get it done. But I will bitch and moan every step of the way. I hate it. I remember one time I was at the gym with my trainer and he goes, okay, we're going to do front squats. And I want you to put 225 on the bar. And I was like, I can't do that. And he was like, what do you mean? You can't do that. And I go, I physically, I can't do that. And he was like, are you serious? And I go, yeah. So he's, he didn't believe me. We put 225 on the bar and I bought him doubt. And then he was like, okay, let's go down to 185. And I was like, I can't do that. I just, that's not happening. You probably couldn't strength wise. You just refuse. I just mentally, I cannot wrap my head around like this ain't happening. I'm not doing it. So I ended up, you're like principal. 95 pounds on the bar. I got you at a front squat. No problem. By the way, bodyweight squats are rough too. So yeah, I just, when it comes to my legs, like, I want no part of like leg pressing single leg squats, split squat, any of that, well, no part of it. So you think like the more traditional variants of saying, I'll give you a requirement to have that leg strength, that mass. Like when you watch Japanese judo players, like their thighs and their hips, they're thick. They got a lot of power there. So you're almost like always dropping a little bit into a squat position. Well, the first one, no, no, no, no, not you. Sorry for the traditional ones. Yeah. And so the split hip, the split hip actually allows me to keep my leg straight. Yeah. And the farther I split my legs, the lower my center of gravity goes. Now I don't need my legs. Yeah. Perfect. Love it. Let's do it. That's the way you were thinking about it. Okay. Yeah. But it's, you know, the interesting thing about it is because, you know, as I mentioned to you, I've gotten to judo after first watching you in the Olympics and then watching Koga as well. And so you start imitating the people you first see. And then you take it to judo coaches and they're like, no, no, no, no, that's the wrong way to do it. And happens all the time. It drives me nuts, drives me nuts. I was in Poland one time teaching a camp. And I had two coaches, anti coaching, telling their kids not to do say, oh, the way I do it because it never works. Yeah. It's crazy. How do you have the fortitude and the guts to just go on with a throw that's nontraditional, a variant that's nontraditional? If you think about it, you know, from a very basic like root of it, there's a philosophy and a mentality of judo of how the throws work, right? There's a mechanical structure there of like, this makes sense. If I follow that principle, I can do anything I want.

Developing His Unique Variant of Drop Seoi Nage (17:12)

Nothing else matters as long as we follow those core principles. So in the early days, even, even then you were able to think on your own. Yeah. And I was able to develop a pattern for my foot placement based on my opponent's height, because the number one thing any judo coach will tell you is you need your center gravity below yours. Well, now I know exactly where to put my feet because the shorter you are, the bigger the split, because the lower I need to get, the taller you are, the less of a split I need.

Fundamental Principles of Judo (17:44)

Is there something you could say about fundamental principles of judo? Is there overall that time, not 20 over 20 years that you've been doing judo? It's not approaching 30, is it? Yeah, it's just getting it's going. Okay, it's getting a couple years away. Is there some like principles that have emerged? Like you said, you have to have your center of gravity below theirs. Yep. Is there other kind of both on the gripping side, the footwork side, leverage, anything you can speak to? There's some that have withstood like time, like you have to be able to get below their center of gravity, because you have to be able to rotate them around their center of gravity. And then the other one is, that was always a principle when I was growing up and I didn't change until later on in my career was you have to be able to pull, you need to be able to pull to get them off balance. But when you think about that statement as a whole, it ended with they have to be off balance. I don't need to pull to get you off balance. I just need you off balance. And when you think about it that way, it allows you to open up the doors to what do I need to do to get you off balance? I could push pull, I could flinch, I could fake, and you could put yourself in your own off balance state. Right? When you think about people who wrestle, right? If I fake shoot, it causes you to over lean forward, which means you're off balance. There's no pull, there's no push, there's nothing. I just get a reaction that leaves the opportunity in the door open for an attack.

Forward Throws (Nage-Waza) (19:33)

And that off balance could be very subtle, could be very subtle. And the better you get and the more skilled you get, the less subtle it is. So we should also mention that there is something called forward throws where you throw the person, they're going to fly facing forward, they're going to fly forward. And then backward throw, they're going to fly back. And then there's lateral, they actually go sideways over like a cartwheel almost. So the forward throws, there's the one we've been talking about, which is say Noggy, and there's a bunch of different variants, Epon, Marota, say Noggy, there's drop and there's standing versions of them. And that all, I don't know if there's a way to summarize it, but that's like as clean as getting your center of gravity under theirs as it gets. And then the rest is just gripping variations. Yeah, I guess it's all gripping variations on all of these throws. But and then there is in terms of forward throws, there's the other big one in competition is Uchimada, which is, I don't know, we can try to explain that one, but it ends up being where one, you're standing on just one of your feet, and the other one is up in the air. And I don't know if you put in that same category, Harai Goshi, like those kinds of throws where you're kind of a little bit single footed. Yeah. And so there's two footed techniques and then there's single footed. Oh, Goshi, where it's like you're doing a mix between Uchimada and the Sanoggy. Yeah, it's a hug. You hug a person and then you turn your hips around such that you're now hugging, facing the same direction. When it comes to forward throw, there's regardless of the name of the throw or the gripping variation that you're using. The whole principle is how do I get this person to do a forward roll in midair and land on their back? The more of a forward roll I can get, the bigger the score. If I get like a quarter of a turn where like you land on your side and you don't go over your back, it's a half score. Yeah. But they all require me to get you to do that forward rolling action. So just if we think of one person, if they do this nice leap forward and they do a roll and their back nicely rolls over the ground, you're trying to do the exact same thing with you connected to them. Well, and if it's nice and it's smooth, it's probably not a full score. It needs to have like somewhat of a violent impact. Right. So if you think of a drop, Sanoggy, if I, if I'm moving too slow and you still roll over your shoulders and there's no direct impact, it's only a half score. Right. They want the force. The force, the violence. Yes, good.

Backward Throws (22:29)

Okay. So then in terms of backward throws, the traditional ones, there's stuff where you trip them from outside their body, like a soda gari. It's a trip where you hook your leg onto their leg and you trip them, but your hook goes outside of their legs. And then there's the trips from inside their body. There's a one foot is called kuchigari and then the other is ouchigari. It doesn't matter. The most important thing is outside and inside. And then there's like, I don't even know how you throw them sideways except foot sweeps. And then there's the foot sweeps where you can sweep one of their legs from out of them or both of their legs at the same time. And like we're talking about this kind of is when timed perfectly, it's effortless for everybody involved. And the ending, like you said, is big, dramatic and violent. Yeah. Is there other kind of, oh, yeah, there's a sacrifice techniques. Yeah. There's a bunch of them. And then ultimately the variations have to do with gripping, but you're basically you, the attacker, fall onto your back, sticking your legs somewhere onto their body, which is like this fulcrum over which they fly and do that same kind of role that you mentioned. Yeah. You basically sacrifice your back to the mat in order to throw them into that circular pattern. So they hit their back. Sometimes we use a foot, sometimes we don't.

Counters (24:03)

And so we should probably say, it's okay for you to go onto your back as long as you're clearly demonstrating control over the other person's body. Correct. You can't go to your back in the same direction that your opponent is trying to put you to your back. You have to go the other way, or you have to initiate you going to your own back. All right. Like clearly. And then, and then there's all the counters, which almost kind of have a whole group of their own, even though they have echoes of the same types of techniques, it seems like they're their own whole thing. Yeah, but they follow the same principles. It's just most counters. Like if you wanted to counter Enujimada, for example, you're trying to throw me in a somersault over my right shoulder. Therefore, I would counter you by throwing you over your left shoulder. It goes in the opposite shoulder direction, but in the same somersault idea. And there used to be, I already forget at this point, forget the years, but it might be before the 2012 Olympics, where they banned, you used to be allowed to grab legs in the same way you do in wrestling.

All the Throws (25:08)

So you have basically all the techniques you would have in wrestling available to you if you would like. It's just that some of the techniques in wrestling are not that effective for getting your opponent to their back. Wrestlers want to take the other person down in any way possible and have control. Judo wants to take you down. Like we said, in a big fashion where your back slams on the ground. Yeah, it has to be to the back. A lot of wrestling takedowns happen because they get behind them. And then they they partare out. Yeah. So, but Judo banned all touching of the legs, which is very dramatic change at the sport. But I have the 2012 after it was after. It was in 2012. So 2008, I fought the games and everything was free. In 2012, we could only touch the legs as a defensive action or in response to an attack. So I could try to throw you with a normal throw. And then when you try to counter, I could grab your leg. So there had to be a secondary technique and didn't like didn't they disqualify on a first offense. First offense was a direct disqualification, which happened at the 2012 games to the 57 Brazilian who won in 16. Yeah. She was DQ'd and I think the quarters. And it was like, I wouldn't say it was blatant as much as I don't think the act changed the outcome of the match. Had they not disqualified her. So that's not that dramatic. And by the way, you say 57 that refers to weight divisions and that's in kilograms. And kilograms is the measure of weight that the rest of the world uses. And the state does not. There's we should say the divisions for guys, I don't know what the 70, I don't know, the lower level 60, 60, 66, 73, and 81, 90, 100, and heavyweight, which has no ceiling. No ceiling. As we're talking about. It is important distinction. And you competed most of your career at 81 kilograms. All of it. All you never did. I never did 73. But you had to cut big for 81 anyway, especially the end of my career. Yeah. Okay. I overly grew into the division. What's I'm trying to remember is that about 180 pounds, 178.6, I think. And you have to weigh in with the the the gee. No, nothing. You're not allowed to wear anything except for your underweights. I'm confusing you just so that's right. That's right. That's right. That's which is very nice. Okay. So we would you say we covered most of the throws and no. So if there's the forward and the backward, there's a sacrifice throws and the counters. Yep. And then there's the leg grabs. And we should say for the leg grabs that were effective, it's like the big pickups where you just kind of pick them up and try to figure out once they're in the air what the heck to do with their body to get them to the ground. You just kind of figured out as you go. I think the really nice one that was to me heartbreaking is a fantasy go is I guess what's called a fireman's carry, which is you know, it does lead to judo like beautiful throws. And the fact that that was gone is that one I missed a little bit. But then a bunch of people I guess came up with the variants where you don't need to grab the leg. It's definitely not as effective as being able to grab it. But I'm also on the side of the fence having competed in all three. It was definitely better for the sport to remove it as a whole. It's probably good to cover sort of the whole spectrum of rules of judo is there's ground work. So there's you do all the stuff on the feet where you're trying to murder each other with a giant throw. But then, you know, if the throw doesn't succeed, you go to the ground and you stand the ground for some amount of time, like shorter amount of time. You have to move quickly. You have to be attacking. And one of the ways you can win is similar to people who do jiu-jitsu as you can submit them. Chokes, arm breaks, all that kind of stuff, no footlocks. And you can also pin them. Yeah, we should just get around their legs. And this is very, no, this is not like wrestling. You have to actually get around their legs and pin them in what in jiu-jitsu is called side control amount, all kinds of ways that doesn't involve their legs. Yeah, and then you pin them for like whatever, 20 seconds, 25 seconds. Yeah, 20 seconds now. I think the distinction is their back has to be facing them at. You have to be past their legs and your chest has to be on the same plane as theirs. Yeah. So it doesn't have to necessarily be on top, but it has to be on the same plane. Yeah. And all of this is, I think, different sports of different versions of this, but it's like an approximation of what dominance looks like.

Art And Science Of Judo

Dominance (30:20)

Yeah. So pin and wrestling is dominating your opponent. Presumably, if you're in a street fight, that position allows you to then do a lot of damage. Obviously, submissions is dominant because you're breaking their arm or choking them to unconscious. And then obviously, the throw, which is not often talked about, but like if you talk about a street fight situation, a throw is like the best way to murder somebody. Like this could end anyone's life. Yes. It's terrifying actually. So okay, so these are all elements of dominance.

The Slipperiness Off Timing (30:58)

So going back to set of principles, you were mentioning getting your center of mass under theirs, which I think applies for type of like the forward, say, nagithros. Is there is there other stuff? Also, you mentioned off balance. Yeah, there's the off balance one where you can either pull to get an off balance, or you can give way to the force, which can also lead to an off balance. You can amplify somebody's force to. So, for example, if you push me, you expect a certain reaction that you're ready for. But if you push me and I pull you, now you didn't expect that much force coming out of you. Therefore, you're off balance. The thing that's distinctly recognizable about judo is like when done at the highest level, like it seems effortless when the big throw happens. Yeah, like that's just, there's no other sport like it in the combat sports where it's like when the timing is right, everything's just perfect. I think you get that out of my mate and boxing sometimes when this is a knockout. Yeah. Perfect strike. But it's not just like a hard hit. It's like, it's almost like the with Conor McGregor and Aldo, for example, when you just catch him just right. And that you didn't look like you hit him that hard, but he hit him just right. And like you get to see this all the time in judo is fascinating. And so the beginning part of that is because there's a jacket.

Principles of Gripping (Defensive vs Offensive) (32:35)

There's also this whole thing that you're master of, which is like, which is gripping. Yeah. So is there something you can say about, are there some fundamental principles of gripping that you can speak to? And like what the hell is gripping? Gripping is having the ability to hold your opponent in such a way where you have the ability to be offensive and also the ability to be defensive at the same given time. And it's a distinction because I can hold you in such a way where I might be able to feel offensive, but if you can take up purely defensive grip and then I can't be offensive, we are no longer gripping. We are holding each other. Right. Right. So like, that would be the act of being able to grip is to be in a situation where you have me and I have you and I can play both offense and defense at the same time where you can only play defense. So Don, I heard talks about like jiu-jitsu that way and not that way, but maybe you can see if there's a distinction. So you have a set of weapons. The other person has a set of weapons. You want to sort of maximize the use of your weapons and shut down the set of weapons that they have that you see gripping the same way on the feet. I do if we want to include body positioning with our gripping. Right. Okay. Because I can give you any grip you want and you still can't throw me because I can put myself in a position that nullifies your ability to use those grips in a successful way. And those, would you say the hips are critical to that or is it everything? Hips, shoulders, chin position, head position, you know, the angle of your foot. Yeah. Yeah, where you lean. Wow. Okay. And so, and there's a bunch of places you can grip. Obviously, if people that kind of think of a jacket, like there's a bunch of places you can grip that are interesting. So you can grip on the collar, you can grip on the sleeves, you can grip like the elbow joint. Yep. And then you could do those badass like Eastern European Georgian or the backpack over the opposite sides of the heads. Yeah. Yeah. The Koreans that grab on one side around the head with their hands together. Yeah. There's something really nice about just those, like, I mean, especially George, just throwing that hand. Yeah. Just over the person and just, it's you're not actually gripping a belt or anything. You're gripping just the entirety of like, as opposed to being all nice. So I'm going to grab this part of the jacket, this part of the jacket, you're just like taking the whole fucking jacket and just launching somebody. For those people that can't picture judo, think about it in like, if you understood like what a boxing match looks like, and you thought about that as like traditional gripping, when you throw like a Russian grip over the back, that's more like a hockey fight. Like, I'm just grabbing you and we're just gonna, we're gonna be throwing punches left and right. Cause when we have that grip, somebody has to get thrown. Yeah. There's no, there's no, we don't walk around with this grip. It's go time. Once somebody throws it. To me, as a fan and sort of amateur practitioner, there's two styles of Olympic level judo. One is where you're trying not to get thrown, and the other is where you're trying to throw. More specifically, when you're trying not to get thrown, there's like the strategy that using gripping to nullify their offense and all those kinds of stuff here. You're being very clever and strategic and all that, you know, maybe using conditioning. And then there is people who just like step in the pocket and they don't almost don't care if they're getting thrown because they have the confidence that they're going to throw first. Yep. And those, like, there's a clear distinction between the people that do one or the other. And I think both can be done extremely successfully at the highest level is just like, obviously, you admire the people that step in the pocket. And I think when you look at the people who do judo the best, like, we want to talk about like the top 10% of the people who would compete at the games, they do both. And they do both really well, but they favor one. Because if you look at a player like the Tepidiliani of Georgia, for example, there's a guy that stands in the pocket. But we can find numerous occasions where he's hustled some people for like a short period of time to get out of scenarios, to elongate the match, to make somebody tired. So you want both sides of the coin, but you better pick the one that, you know, 80% of your strategy is going to be built around. Sorry for the romantic question, but I talked to Dan Gable, and he always looked at the Russians as the artists in wrestling.

Is Judo an Art or Science? (Studying Opponents Mindset) (37:33)

And he always wanted to be an artist. But I think he's known for being that sort of guts aggression, mental toughness guy, but he always was drawn to the artistry of wrestling. It's hard to know when you just watch you, because it looks like you're aggressive and you got the guts and the mental toughness. But there's also obviously a mastery of technique. Which would you lean towards in terms of what accounts for your success and just the way you approach judo? Is it the guts, the aggression, the mental toughness, or is it the mastery of technique, the artistry? My mood be my aggressiveness, if I'm going to pick those two areas. But I think there's a third area in there that I would put myself in where I'm more of a strategist. I look at all of my opponents and all I ever see is their faults. And the way I do judo is built around their faults. And it's just I put myself in scenarios where I don't even know how I'm going to win. But what I've done in those scenarios is I've made it very difficult for you to win. And then I figure out the rest as I go. Like how do you study an opponent? Are there bins you can put them in? Like there's a lefty and a righty or yep, that's kind of stuff. How many bins are there in judo in your mind that you put your opponents in? Yeah, there's probably about 20. There's like certain players who you could put in a category of like they're only good for the first, you know, two thirds of the match. After that, they turn into a different player where they're either falling into a sense of panic or uncertainty. And you can, if you were to take a video clip of let's say, Church of Philly, right? They got George and I beat in the Olympic semi. He's somebody that would beat you in the first three minutes. And if you clipped out all of his matches and you only watched the first three minutes of every match, you would see one style. If you found all the matches where he got taken into the last minute and he wasn't winning by a major score, you would see a completely different fighter. And so going into like my Olympic semi, I put him into that category of like, I want to get to this guy, because this guy is beautiful. The trick is, how do you get there?

The Secrets Behind Weight Cutting for Fighters (40:09)

How do you get there? And by the way, we're talking about the 2016 Olympics where you won the silver medal, you're a part of three different Olympics. But the cardio aspect of it, have you faced exhaustion often in your matches where you have to go deep and go like past? Yeah, but that's not from the judo side of it. That's from like, I did a very bad job of making weight. It's always the way cut. Yeah, it's always the way cut. And I think people really struggle with that they blame cardio and training and everything else. But when it really comes down to it, like we train for an hour and a half, two hours twice a day. How are you tired after five minutes? Right. Right. It becomes into a mental struggle, your anxiety, your stress, your lack of belief in yourself, or in my case, sometimes it's poor nutrition. Sometimes I had one, two, many McDonald's meals. It just, it happens. Okay, so let's talk about weight cutting real quick. I've seen weight cutting break some of the toughest fighters, wrestlers, grapplers ever, like burnout break, like where they makes you want to quit the sport. So, this is what people don't often talk about, but mentally is one of the hardest things, especially when you're doing it kind of wrong, because it becomes a mental war. So you competed, like you said, your whole career at 81 kilograms. You walked around at 88, 89, so about 15 pounds, sometimes 20 pounds over that giver, giver tail. And so what was your process like mentally and physically? First of all, maybe you can comment on when the weigh-ins are relative to the matches. And then what was your process like leading like a week ahead, a day ahead, hour ahead, minutes ahead of the way in? Man, everyone varies tremendously because we're not like most sports because you're dropped off in foreign countries with who knows what, right? Some places have sauna, some places have treadmills. I went to a place one time in China in the middle of winter, where the roads were frozen with ice. And we had to use our hotel rooms because it was, you couldn't sweat outside because it was too cold. And every one of my Olympics, the weight cut was different just given my mass. When I went to 2008, I was probably like 82, 83 kilos walking around. So weight cutting wasn't a thing for me. In London, we actually weighed in the morning of. So weigh-ins were at like 6 a.m. And the Olympics were always beneficial to me because they actually don't start until like 10 or 11. So you actually were able to recover. We're on the circuit. You would weigh in at 6 a.m. And the competition started at 8 a.m. It's like, well, I was cutting weight at 5 a.m. And most of it for people who are not familiar, but maybe you can also correct me. Most of it, you're really just getting the water out of your system. At that point, yeah. Like 24 hours before, even like, so like an hour before. But yeah, but like leading up to it. And have you eaten the day before? Do you try to minimize the amount of food in your system? My weight cutting process was a little bit different than the most people because I like to eat. I'm not the type of person that believes your athletic career is determined by your nutrition. I don't believe that. I think some sports are built that way. But when it comes to combat sports, like, you know, your ability to knock somebody out has nothing to do with whether you had a cheeseburger or a salad. My ability to throw you is not determined by that. I may be able to perform better because I've eaten a certain way, but not enough to justify an entire diet change. Your body is built and my body is built to operate with certain things that I've had in my system for years. Yeah, I think I'm with you, but I also believe that there's a mental aspect. So if you're surrounded by people that tell you diet matters, then if your diet is off, you're going to believe you're going to be off because the people around you tell you your diet should be good. So yeah, I think it's the same. I've had an argument with Matthew Walker who's a sleep scientist about sleep. And it's like if you believe sleep is essential, it's essential to get eight hours of sleep every single night perfectly, then you're going to be very stressed when you don't get it. And then I think you will negatively affect the stress will negatively affect your longevity and all kinds of aspects of your life. If you actually just learn to truly listen to your body, become a scientist if your own body, it will sleep and food, it might end up that it will be the eight hours a night or whatever, but it might be something else. And probably diet here, I remember when I was meeting with the USOC nutritionist after London, it was probably around 2014, I think. And when we had our team meeting at the beginning of the year and I was talking to him, he was talking about the nutrition plans that he could put us on. And I was like, time out, I've done the USOC thing, like, I've done the kookus, I've done the lemon in my water, I go full shit. The kookus? The kookus? Oh boy. Like there was just because there's like a cookie cutter plan, right? Right. And I was like, look, here's what I want you to do. I go, I'll listen to you, but you're going to walk into the 711 across the street from the USOC. And if you can't buy it in that 711, it's not on my plan. I go because I go to places where the only thing I can eat is Pringles and a Snickers bar. I've done that. Like I've flown to Azerbaijan, stayed in a hotel where the restaurant is closed, USA-Jito hasn't paid for the meal plan. And the only thing that's available is the thing across the street. So you were eating Pringles before fighting a grand slam event while cutting 20 pounds. And a Snickers bar. Yeah. I just the visual of that. That's some like, that's some rocky shit. Okay. Build me a nutrition plan. Go for it. Because I'm not paying my own way to travel with 14 days of food. Right. I mean, that's, that's one of the magic of your whole career and also Juto. I mean, I'm sorry to say, of course, you want athletes to be super rich and super well-funded from an athlete perspective and the sport to be popular and managed in an ultra competent way. But as a reality, but as a fan, it's fun to watch somebody like you who's exceptionally driven have to suffer in all these interesting ways. It's only suffering if you expect the other side. I don't expect it. I accept it for what it is, which is why I write off nutrition for athletes. Right. Because it can be done without it as long as you know, to what you said before, like, you don't believe you need it. Some people believe they need it. The mind getting your mind right is the most important thing. You know what I believe I need? What's that? A Snickers bar when I'm tired. I want a little bit of sugar. Makes me feel better. You want me to? See you. What are you going to do? Yes. I just love the visual of you eating a Snickers bar when I was thinking about it for a transplant.

How does it work so garys not missing weight every single time (47:41)

But that became part of my nutrition plan. When the USOC guy wrote my nutrition plan, I was eating a burrito bowl with brown rice, white meat, chicken, black beans, guacamole, cheese, two chocolate chip cookies and a diet coat. This is like a chipotle or a local, but same concept. Same concept with two chocolate chip cookies because I needed the sugar. I was 88 kilos when I stepped on the scale at 6.3% body fat. Now I got to make 81. What? Really? Yeah. And the USOC was like, hey, you know, you can't fight 81 anymore. You have to fight 90s. And I go, I'm already into the quad. I'm not changing. I go build me a plan where I can do this. And now we have to have an acceptable weight cut. Like it's just what do you want me to do? I'm not the IJF. I can't just change the fact that it takes two years to qualify. I know where I'm at. I know what I have to go through. And I accept the consequences. It is what it is. We want. All right. So what was the process? I mean, can you can you speak to? So you wake up early in the morning, the day of the way ends a few hours before technically my weight cut never started until I got off a plane and to a hotel. And how many hours? Three days. So it's a three day cut to three day mentally you're thinking of it that way. Yep. And then you're still eating. I eat every day. And then like, what do you load up on water? Maybe as you start and then the water stops. It just it is what it is. So you I mean, it's a slow, you're not actually like sweating all three days. Yeah. But then it's like torture to sleep. For the process. Are you able to sleep? Sometimes. It depends. So you're dehydrated further and further dehydrated with six, seven percent body fat, trying to lose 10 pounds. I even developed a way to drink water out of a bottle where I don't drink anything. But I feel like I have swishing it was the no, so I take like a bottle of water. And like if we were to like to draw a line on it, I would tip it and I would go like this. I'd go. And you would draw that line, but like I've drank now water for 20 seconds or whatever it is. And I feel I get the fix. Yeah. Brain told me I got there. No problem. That's amazing, man. You just, your mind's a very powerful tool. And the problem a lot of people have is they don't accept the reality of the situation. They bitch about the reality of the situation. I just first of all, you could always quit. Right? Yep. So like you're not. Never missed weight. Never. You can, you can perform poorly. You can't miss weight. Don't miss weight. Don't miss weight. Because you, you can always win regardless of how bad the weight cut is. You can never win if you miss weight. But your brain is also really good. Maybe not your brain. But I know my brain, I think most people's brains are good at generating the more desperate things become the better it's generating excuses.

Travis'S Personal Experiences And Challenges

The plan and accepting the consequences (51:23)

So what were you doing with your mind that the result in you never missing weight? The plan. So like I said, like my weight cut would never start until I got to the hotel. Because I didn't check my weight the morning of. I didn't check my weight when I got there. I just, while I'm traveling, I'm doing things at like a minimal level. But I'm never not giving myself something I'm creating. If I'm thirsty, I'm drinking a Diet Coke. If I'm hungry, I'm buying a Snickers bar. I'm buying a sandwich. I am. And I accept the consequences when I get there. And then when I get there, if I step on the scale and it says 88 kilos, I instantaneously know exactly what it's going to take to be 81. And then you just follow like a robot follow a very specific process. Yeah. And then I mean, because there's a lot of seconds in three days, seconds and minutes and you just, I just know exactly what it takes from my body. I know exactly what a one hour gym workout wearing a sauna suit is going to take. I know exactly what I'm going to lose on day one. And I know exactly what I'm going to lose on day three, because they're not the same. So I can instantly look at a hotel, decide is there a bathroom sauna, gym, temperature of the gym, access to the gym and when it is, access to the judo mats, my training partners, the roads versus streetlights, the weather outside, I can take a look at that environment and say, this is my weight, this is way ends. And instantaneously in my head, there's a plan to make weight. And you have a sense of how much sweat adds up to 10 pounds, how much sweat plus time, and I make sure in my plan, all of my meals and how much water I need in between is allocated to still make weight because you have to eat or drink during that time. Are you incorporating like mental exhaustion into this? That doesn't exist. So it doesn't, it doesn't. Do you like meditators? The thoughts come, especially three days, we're not talking about four hours of suffering. I'll tell you, this has broken some of the toughest people in the world. The hardest weight cut I ever had, hardest one. I fought Pan Am Games in 2015 in Edmonton, Canada on a Wednesday and I won. So I've made weight on Tuesday. I fought on Wednesday where I had to weigh in 5% of my weight class, so 84 kilos. On Wednesday, I was 84 kilos. I got on a plane on that Wednesday night and landed Friday morning in Sochi. Okay, so I've traveled now. I got on the scale. All my bags got lost. Everything. So somehow I flew from there to here, no bags, and I threw all of my stuff in my bag. I wore sandals, one pair of pants and a t-shirt on the plane. I'm just tired. I just fought. I don't even want to carry it. I don't care.

Richard head (54:50)

What are the odds that I get there my bags are gone? Very low. Very low. Sure enough, it's gone. I get all the way to Sochi. I check into the hotel. There's one sauna. Guess what? You have to reserve it and you're only allowed to reserve it for an X period of time. Guess getting a small tangent, when you phoned out your bags are gone, this is something I often think about. There's people that are helping you. There's a person in a airport who goes just like that. And then the person at the hotel who tells you that you have to reserve the sauna and looks at you like they don't care that you've been suffering. They don't even understand why you need it. They don't even understand why you need it. Yeah. Oh, this little kid reserved it for five hours or something to block it off. I'm sorry. Is there a frustration that gets in there? Are you just accept reality? Don't even hinder on the things you can't change. Because the second you get frustrated, the second you think you can change it, you'll harp on it. And that breaks most men. That little thing in the back of their mind thinking, "Oh, what if?" There's no "what if?" There's only right here right now. It doesn't work. It doesn't work. Let's just quickly come up with the solution to fix the problem. By the way, as another small tangent, all the greatest people I've interacted with at the highest level think like that. They don't linger on that. It's like the next thing. If you want to do something great, hard stuff is going to keep happening to you. And if you're going to let that affect you, you're not ever going to do the great thing. It's fascinating, actually. That's the one skill you have to learn. Elon Musk is great at this, constantly dealing with emergencies. Okay. Okay. This happened. What's the next step? Yep. It's not that big of a deal. Every problem has a solution. And if I can't solve it, it's not my problem. You don't want me to do it? Yeah. Exactly. So what? So how did you figure it out? It sandals. Get this. I get to the hotel. I check in. I don't even know about the sauna yet. I go, "I need to find a clothing store. I'm in the middle of Russia. I open up Google Maps and I'm like, 'Sportstore.' I find in Adidas Sportstore in the middle of Sochi, Russia. I spend like $500 on average sweats. No plastics, no nothing, and no running shoes because they don't have any. What's the temperature outside? It's cold. It was kind of like springish, so it wasn't cold, but it wasn't hot. Yeah. So you still need a lot of layers, preferably. You would need a lot of layers just to cut the amount of weight I'm about to tell you I have to cut because after I bought that stuff that next morning and mind you, it's a Friday. It's a Friday morning. I go to the venue where we have the mats open to train and I step on the scale. And then second bathtub, Mongolia goes, "Oh, pretty good. You're almost there." And I go, "No." "Oh no." I stepped on the scale at almost 94 kilos. And I looked at him and I was like, "I'm 81." And he went, "Good luck." You're almost there. Yeah. For the next weight class above. Oh, this is on a Saturday or Sunday? Friday morning. No, no, sorry. Friday morning, the competition is on Sunday. Sunday. I weigh in Sunday. Okay. All right. Holy crap. I throw on all my layers and there's one other person with me there, Kalita, who was my girlfriend at the time. Now my wife, we start doing judo because I'm like, this will be the easiest way to knock off like three or four kilos. Well, it's cold. I have no ghee and I'm working out with a female. I can't get like overly physical to like really get my muscles going to really break that sweat because she has to compete in a day or two. She's not a training partner. You can't just use this person. I stepped on the scale. I was 91 kilos. So I went, "Well, I was a nice dad." I had to work out. Yeah, I go, "That's not going to fly." So, sure enough, the clothes are now ruined. They didn't help me lose any extra weight.

Mental battle (59:15)

So I go back to the hotel and I start reserving the sauna. Do you know how hard it is to lose that much weight in a sauna by yourself? So it's hard on many levels, but one of them is just mental. Yeah. You're sitting in heat and you're not doing anything. Like if there had been a bike or like the sauna was big enough to use a jump rope or you could do some sort of activity, but you just sit and you stew and you're there mentally. At one point during the weight cut, I actually had my mouth on the bottom part of the door where there was a little gap and my legs up on the benches and Kaleedah holding the door so that it didn't open so I couldn't open it, so that I could lean against that thing and have fresh air because I was like, I was struggling. And we're talking about, I mean, how many hours is that? Hours. And then the thing is, is because you have to reserve the sauna, I can't even take like a 30-minute break because the sauna is not going to be mine in an hour, which means you have to use the sauna in the heat for that a lot of time period. And I hate saunas. That is always my last resort. I would use a bath, I will train, I will run, I will jump rope. Sauna is like, oh, let me do that for 10 minutes after all of my gym workouts, just to keep the sweat going while I stretch and cool down. That's never like the, hey, I'm going to do five 10-minute sessions because I need to lose two kilos. That is never the plan. Yeah. But I mean, if I've done plenty of sauna for weight cuts to know, I can't even imagine what you went through. Yeah. The seconds slow down, that's one way to achieve immortality is like the time flows down to like a stop and you're left alone with your thoughts. You can't do anything just like you said, you can't. There's nothing worse than sitting in that kind of heat for 10, 15 minutes. Yeah. And then you walk out and you're not even sweating. Yeah. There's nothing worse than that. And maybe if you weigh yourself, which you probably shouldn't be doing because it'll break you. Yep. You haven't lost anything. Yep. And I was weighing myself every time because I only get breaks when I was hitting weight allotments. So if I could lose .3 in 10 minutes, I'd give myself a break, but I had to hit certain numbers because I only have the sauna for a certain amount of time. And I remember one time I went downstairs to get my key to the sauna and the Japanese team and reserved it and took it from me because the guy didn't put my name on the list when I called down to get the sauna. So I lost an entire session that I had to get made up towards the later part of the day, because I still have no running shoes. And then sure enough, my bags show up 30 minutes after weigh-ins. Great. That's like the universe is kind of giving you a little wink there. Yep. I think like, because so few people do this weight cut at this high of a level, people don't often realize because people get a sense of how hard it is to run 200 miles in a desert. Like they because they go outside here in Texas, you can run five miles. Oh, it's hard. But like, the weight cut is really, I can you. So you just like, how did you do it? Just fucking not refusing to you have to make weight. You have to make way. I am astounded when I hear like UFC plighters like miss weight, right?

Weight missers - UFC fighters perseverance (01:02:44)

Like when Jaden Cox missed weight at the Olympic trials, I was like, at least his was understandable because he missed the actual weigh-ins. He didn't, he wasn't like not on weight. But when UFC fighters like miss weight, I'm like, how did that happen? You clearly like gave up a long time ago. There were times where I was like, I can't do this. There have been times where I've been in a, in a sauna suit wrestling with a training partner who's probably 60 kilos who fought earlier that day to lose point three. Did lose point three. Like, are you considering your mortality in this moment? Like, aren't you thinking you're going to die? Because like, it's severe dehydration. You could damage your body. Are you thinking about any of this or this is just man. Okay. Yes. I'm on the other level too, where like, I've been in Belgium, right? Belgium, there used to be a B level tournament and the tournament used to go on. And because I was always on the heavier side, like 81 fights on the second day, which is the heavyweight day. weigh-ins were always at like, let's say two p.m. the day before for that tournament. Well, there was a sauna at the tournament. I remember like being in the sauna and like, oh, I'm 80.9 kilos. weigh-ins aren't for three hours. Fucking, I'm gonna have lunch. Because I mentally understand that what I eat right now is going to fuel me for tomorrow. So I don't want to skip it. I have the time to put it into my system and still lose it. Right. It's almost like a computer program. You're running through the process. You haven't. I get it, but like that all relies on your ability to be to get it back off. Yeah. I mean, but also just like go through this process, which is painful. It's like those monks who meditate while sitting in a fire kind of thing. Or something. Right. Like it's that, yeah, it's really interesting. Is there other people that are critical to this or is this all internal to you? Are there people that you know, everybody has their own way of doing it? Some people don't cut that much. Some people can't wait cut at all. Right. They would rather have been like 83 kilos fighting 90 than you know, be 83 kilos fighting 81. So why did you never move up to 90? What's your sense? Is it from your deep understanding of your own judo and like the judo opponents you would face at 90 and 81? Because 81 is probably the hardest, if not the second hardest division in the history of judo compared to 73 and 81. You know, when I was a kid, like I always wanted to be like the middleweight Olympic champion, like the 81 kilo Olympic champion. When I was in high school, I made a decision when I was trying to make weight for 73. I was like, this is, I was cutting weight for 73. Like I was cutting weight at the end of my career. Right. And I was like, I'm just going to bag it. I'm going to accept the fact that I may not make a junior world team. I may not make this team, but I'll grow into the division. So when I'm a senior player, like I'm ready to go and I'll naturally be stronger. There's an understanding of like a growth process when you move up a weight class. Most people can't just, Oh, I'm going to fight 90s and I'm going to win because I wanted 81. The style of judo is different, how you move is different, how they do things is different. There's like a learning curve that goes into it. And because the weight cut didn't really happen until I was getting ready for Rio, I wasn't about to have my last Olympic games be at a different weight class that I may or may not be able to grow into. I mean, this is an awesome story of you kind of decided that this will be your life's work in terms of judo competitor is like the 81 division.

Why 81 Kg was Trab's jam (01:06:55)

I'm going to, I mean, I don't know if you saw it that way, but you're talking about three Olympics. And it's like this story of, I would say tragedy and triumph of just wars and 81 kilograms with with the usual cast of characters of the, you know, top five in the world kind of thing. So you just became a scholar of that, let your body grow into it and then let your body out grow it and still suffer through it to keep it in 81 kilograms. You never competed at like at the highest levels at 90. I entered one tournament at 90 kilos. And that was because before Rio from 20, from the end of 2014, all the way up until Rio's every time I fought, I got hurt every time. There was no time where I made weight and got injured because my body weight was so high, my body fat was so low that by the time I dehydrated enough to get down there. And you take the physicality of judo and throw that into the mix, something broke every time. It was like nature of the beast. So the plan was before Rio, we made an agreement with USA judo that Travis, you're going to fight 90 kilos, but you're not going to weigh in at 90 kilos. Like, hey, there's no like, you get to be 94 kilos and cut to 90s. There's like a, you're going to step on the scale at 84 kilos, like a little bit of a weight cut, but not a full one, just so that you feel like you get into like the tournament. Because when I around 2012, when I was talking with the USOC nutritionist, I actually got my weight down so much that I didn't really need to cut weight. The problem is, I wasn't cutting weight. I didn't feel like I was competing. Right. There's, you have to go through like that mental process. And I never really reworked that. It was easier to just cut the weight and be ready to go. But when I entered into the 90 kilo division, I was rushed to the hospital the night after because my body broke out in hives, like full body. They said it was stress induced. That's a, so a month before the games, I was hospitalized and hungry and filled with steroids to get the hives to drop. And every couple of days, my body, when I got back home, I would end up in the hospital because my whole body would break out again. I wonder if it's like deviating from the process that you so like perfectly crafted already. Or it was stress from my mind thinking like even though it's not top of mind, there's probably a portion of me that like the Olympics is coming around and it could be my last. That like my body just reacted to something chemically. So I was breaking out in hives. I actually bought like a 600 euro Hugo boss suit because when I was in the Netherlands training at the time, I thought I had dead bucks because I was getting bit everywhere. Then I thought there was something in the detergent at the local thing. So I threw away all more clothes. Like I was paying for showers because I was trying to get the detergent off my body and buying new clothes at the airport. Trying to figure it out. Trying to figure it out. Just go. Yeah. Accepting the situation. I mean, but the level of stress is exceptionally high here. Can we talk about the other side? People are going to love this. But you're you have a long history of persevering through injuries through insane amounts of injuries.

His injury history (01:10:36)

My ability to tolerate pain is probably more than most people. But see injuries aren't just pain. It's like it's also mental like psychological. Like again, like the weight cut, it can make a lot of people quit. Can you tell your history of injuries? What are the biggest injuries, the toughest injuries in your career? Starting from what your early teens, my early teens, I actually got out of sports from 11 to I was like 15 years old, 16 years old because a kid shot a double leg through my kneecap. And I partially tore all the ligaments in my knee, cartilage, meniscus, the whole nine yards. And I had to learn how to walk again. I spent two years in a leg brace, crutches, you know, hobbling around the schoolyard. That one was a challenge to come back from. I've broken most of my ribs. I won nationals with nine broken ribs. I was actually getting novocane shots into my chest to avoid feeling the pain and then wrapping them to try to make sure I didn't pop along. I've broken my collarbone. I have five herniated disc in my neck. I fractured my back twice. I've broken my tailbone. I tore my SI joints. I've torn my right hamstring twice. My left one once. I've broken my ankles a few times. I spun it once in a 360 that had depth surgery. Fingers, toes, elbows, shoulders. All of these are, first of all, you're a tough, you're a tough dude. And so each of those have a story behind them. So if you're talking about the collarbone or the ankles or the back, the neck, is there interesting stories here that behind these injuries? Hard training, hard competing, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, so ground stuff like sparring in the dojo or like drilling or all that kind of stuff? If you were to sort of break it down, you understanding of the landscape of injuries you went through. I've never had one in Jiu Jitsu, ever. I mean, I might have torn a fingernail or gotten gi-burn, but I've never been seriously injured. I know when Ponza straight ankle locked me at copopodio, that hurt, but I wasn't injured. Like it felt sore, but like if I had to run, like I could run. I can now understand probably exactly what the injuries came from then. You're very quickly excelled at Jiu Jitsu. You have achieved another level in Judo. And I think that means the intensity with which you approach Judo to achieve that world-class level probably is the source of the injuries. Yeah, because the mentality of how I approach Judo versus Jiu Jitsu, Jiu Jitsu to me is like a game that like we would play. Like if you wanted to grab a basketball and like go play a game a one-on-one, that's like Jiu Jitsu to me. Like I can't take the sport in its entirety seriously, because I feel like the community of Jiu Jitsu doesn't take it seriously. So just for people who don't know, just to set some context, you're a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, but more importantly, you've beaten a lot of world-class Jiu Jitsu people.

Influential Jiu Jitsu And Wrestling Cultures

Jocko's Jiu Jitsu career (01:14:17)

You've done very well at the highest level of competitions. Yeah, I would necessarily say I've beaten them as much as I've trained with them. And they understand whoever it is that through training with me, that like I'm not just a Judo guy. Like I know how to do Jiu Jitsu. Right? And if any one of them were to come to me and like say, hey, you know, I want to feel what it feels like to do Judo with me, they would quickly understand that like the way I approach one is very different than the way I approach the other. Like we probably wouldn't be friends if they did Judo with me versus if they did Jiu Jitsu with me. I'm curious asking for a friend because mostly because I'll do a little Judo with you today. So you clearly, because you're a great instructor and teacher, you have a mode where you can demonstrate a technique. Do you know how to like spar where you're going like 50%? It's hard to put like a percentage to it because I've never in all of my Jiu Jitsu ever gone 100% in Jiu Jitsu. Yeah. Like I had a conversation with Salo one time where we were talking about like Jiu Jitsu and training. And I was like, well, if I got his arm, I would just break it. And he was like, but what if he tapped? I go, that's not my responsibility. If he taps in the ref, doesn't say anything, you just break it. You just keep going. You know, but the tap means it's over. And I said, no, the ref tells me when it's over. I go, I never give you the opportunity to tap. Because if you have the opportunity to tap, that means you had the opportunity to think about how to get out, make a decision that you can't then tap. I clearly operated too slowly. So there's a, it's either broken or I don't have it.

Judo (01:16:19)

You're a terrifying person to go against in Judo. Like the on the ground is like everything you did. That's, that's amazing. That's really amazing. That's what made you a really fun person to watch. Because you really went to war with these people. Yeah. So you know what it's like to go 100% in Judo? I do. Because I know what it's like to train with somebody under the mentality of, I'm going to do everything I want to do. You're going to do nothing you want to do. And you're going to accept that. Do you have a train in Judo where, where you let people get stuff? Of course. All the time. No, or like always, even when you're sort of building up the four years, building up to the Olympics, like there's smaller guys that are throwing you in the gym and that kind of stuff. No, I never said that. Okay. That never came out of my mouth. I said, I let people do stuff. I never said smaller people throw me. Oh, you mean you let them get a grip, but then you'll position yourself in such a way that it's, it's, it's hopeless. Like what the number one skill set that Judo is going to teach you is the ability to give people false hope. Right? Because I'm really looking forward to the video. We're going to shoot. Like I can let you take a grip. Yeah. I can let you think that there's opportunity, but what you don't understand is by the position and angle that I'm in, it's actually false hope. Yeah. Like as long as you don't know that it is, then now I'm free to operate and do what I want. See, I competed in Judo against Blackbells where I would go in and it looks like I could should be able to throw them and then you just hit a wall. And then I also saw you destroy those Blackbells. Yeah. So there's levels to this. Yeah. It's the cliche thing of there's Blackbuds and there's Blackbuds. You're unique in this. There may be a couple other, uh, Judo, in America, but you're really like unique. I then get to see people that really, I felt like we're 10 X better than me. It just feels like that sometimes I've learned it. My nest and it said to be truly might only be just a little better, but I saw you destroy them. And it was like, holy shit. There's a thing in Judo, right? Where, you know, imagine like you as like, just an adult, right? Um, and I hope people can like conceptualize this when they hear this, but imagine like you're a full grown adult, even male, female, it doesn't matter, but there's a little kid in front of you like call him five or six years old and he's acting out. Like, do you think you have the physical capability of with one hand grabbing that person or that kid and making sure that they freeze? Like they feel like they're nervous and like they can't do anything. When you fight a good Judo player, when they grab you, that's what it feels like as an adult. Yeah. When people, even I've felt that from like certain players in Japan, like when they get a grip, I'm like, I've now lost the function of this one. Yeah. That's a really good way to put it.

Getting out of your comfort zone humbles you (01:19:43)

I think I could potentially beat some of the people I've went against, but certain groups they took, it made me feel powerless. Yep. I was like, I didn't know this was possible. That kind of power was possible. And you don't even know where it originates from. Yeah. Because you're like, how does one person's hand do this where I can't use my whole arm? Yeah. Or like, I can't pick up my right foot because he's holding onto my right sleeve. Yeah. It was kind of on a basic animalistic sense, kind of terrifying. It's, I mean, you don't want to, part of this is like ego, but you realize that there's a food chain and you're not at the top of it. That's part of the humbling process, I think, of martial arts is like, I think everybody, like a lot of people think they're much higher in the food chain than they really are. And then when you realize this sweats a really healthy process for people, they're not even competing in the Olympics to practice martial arts because you realize, okay, that like putting yourself more accurately in the food chain is really good way to sort of place yourself in the rest of the world. It humbles you to the reality, the harshness of the world. Yeah. It's kind of like when people look at like survival and the wilderness, it's like, oh, it's not that hard. No, you'd probably be dying a couple days. Same thing with like judo and martial arts. Like, yeah, it's really not that hard, but you don't know what to do yet. And so when you find out that first time that you don't know what to do, it's devastating to a lot of people, but those that like stick through it and like start to learn, it's a very powerful, like feeling that now like you can take care of yourself. And I think when I talked to you a few times before, you talked about that there's like love like the top three, the top five in the world. I don't know where you put them, but there, there are another like level level. Yeah. And the fact that you're, I mean, it's so exciting to me probably because I just felt all the levels here. And I have seen you and others at that height destroy those. I've seen the exponential levels to this game. It's incredible that you're didn't quit, didn't doubt yourself and just persevered through three Olympics to get to that highest, always fighting at that like very highest of levels, but just like, you know, from the top 10 to the top five, like really breaking in through that. I don't know. What would you say it took to get to that highest of levels? Like if you, when you look back, though, all the way cuts, so just the insane amount of injuries, believe it or not, I didn't really think I was there until 2013. I thought I was recognized as one of the best because I was able to fight for Oppensburg, which was the professional Bundesliga team for Germany, which is one of the top clubs in all of Europe. When they asked me to, I felt like Europe had like accepted me as like, Oh, I'm a top level judo player. But I don't necessarily think that when I signed on to compete for them, that the division or the world of judo saw me as a top level judo player, right? There's, there's a, a mental shift that happens along that point. And for me, my mental shift really came into play in December of 2015 before Rio. That was like, when I lost in Japan, that's when I realized like the world respects my abilities and they compete against them. They don't compete against me as a person. They compete against the idea or the persona that I've been able to establish over the years of competing in the division. Wow. So you're the, they probably have a nickname for you. You're the system of ideas and thought that they study, but they're studying me as a conceptual whole, not me as the human.

Why is Jimmy undeniably the best? (01:23:53)

Is your style relatively unique in the 81 kilogram division? It was relatively unique for Kayla, I, and Jimmy up until 2016. Now, since 2016, you can see a lot of what we used to do throughout most of Europe and even Asia. Like you're starting to see some of those techniques that you didn't see before starting to get implemented. Because when I was, when I was gearing up for 2015, I had such a slew of injuries that entire calendar year that I never should have made it to Rio. I should have called it quits at the end of 2015 because I suffered that major concussion in February. I stepped on a mat in May for the first time. I lost five straight tournaments. I left the national team, went to Japan, won Pan Am Games, got a bacterial infection at the world, almost had my leg cut off, tore my SI joint later on that year, and then took fifth in Japan. And when you look at the calendar year as a whole, like the world should have treated me like I was washed up. Like this guy hasn't been training, he hasn't been doing anything, but I took fifth in Japan. Now, how does a guy that hasn't trained all year take fifth at one of the hardest tournaments in the world on two weeks of training? Because they were fighting the guy I used to be. Not the guy I was at the tournament, which means they were competing under the idea of like, what is he really capable of? Not what have I brought to the table today? And that just gave you the confidence. And that told me that like, well, if I can take fifth in this bad edge, you'd all right now, wait until I'm healthy and I'm back in shape, then they're not going to know what hit him. One of the essential components of being the number one in the world or up in that place is that confidence, the self belief and the rest of the world believing it. You can have all the confidence in the world, but if the rest of the room doesn't buy it, it's nothing. That's funny. It's like there's certain people right with Tyson, like I said, they all understand he could not train and they're still scared. Yeah, right? Like, he doesn't have to work out that hard anymore. The several judo, you know, this way better, but from a spectator perspective, like Ilya Ciliatus is like that. He's one of them. It's like, he's portrayed over the years. Why is everyone so scared of that guy? It's interesting. Yep. People were scared of you too. People just gave a certain level of respect to my skill set. And whether I had a bad way cut or didn't have a bad way cut or not trained for the last three months, which never happened, I'm just saying they were going to fight the persona. And it's an important distinction when you're looking at the top five, because everybody coming up, they're training against the persona, not who you are. Even I did that at a younger age. That's why I would always go to people's hometowns because like, I don't care about the persona. I want to know what you do day in and day out. When I couldn't beat a Russian, I told Jimmy, send me to Russia. I need to understand and see it with my own eyes what they do outperform so that I can believe that I can beat them.

The Gagston, Russia Combats Judo & Wrestling Culture (01:27:35)

Casa, on this, a small tangent, so Dagestan has produced some incredible wrestlers. Yep. I don't know what the story with judo is, where the source of greatness in Russia is for judo. But what do you make of Dagestan? What is it in the culture of there or Russia broadly that produces greatness, specifically in the combat sports? I don't know. Yeah, specifically in the combat sports, sorry. But I don't know if you want to draw the distinction between wrestling and judo. I'm almost curious, do you understand the differences there in the culture and still a combat sport to them? They're still in that same like realm of they're taking young kids and that's what they do. So Khabib speaks very highly of judo. Yep. It's funny. Khabib, Vladimir Putin, people don't get it, but judo's one of the premier sports in the world. But we just don't understand it. It's not just popularity, so definitely popularity, but also like this respect. And there's a certain thing which is why I really value judo internationally. You don't get this in the United States, but internationally, there's an understanding like later in life when you're a scientist meeting a businessman, when you both have done judo, there's this like nod of respect. Respect. Yeah. It's so interesting. There's very few sports like that. You know, basketball doesn't have any, I don't know almost any sport like that. And it's fascinating. Wrestling has that in the US. It is the US only. The rest of the world doesn't do that. There's a few like you could see that in like Iran or something like that with the respect wrestling in that kind of way. Yeah. It's, but judo on like a global scale is probably that only one due to its like physicality and the hardships that you have to go through to reach that upper level. So why do you think Dagestan? What do you think could be as good as he is? Is there, is this just the raw genetics of the human? Or is there something about the system? The system. It's all has to do with the system. So they, they grow up around fighting in all forms. Yep. They're also, I mean, their technique is exceptionally good because they grow up in it. They grow up in it. They don't, they don't understand anything else. So you don't have to, it's almost like you with the weight cutting. It's not like a big dramatic thing for them to fight. It's like, this is just part of life. Yes. And when you're, I don't want to say bread into it, but when you've done it for, you know, I want to say like 90% of your life by the time like could be probably has. Right from the time he could crawl, he's probably been grappling in some fashion they're off, right? Um, you know, when you as grapplers, like you can look at a wrestler and having never seen this person before and go, you wrestled. Yeah. Why is that? It's because he's probably wrestled since he was like six. So the way he carries himself, the way his body is built, the way he grew into it was framed around wrestling. Right. So the people in that culture are framed around fighting and grappling. You're right. It's like, first of all, philosophically, psychologically, but also just like the way you move your body. Yes. That means like when you're young, the people you admire move their body in a certain kind of way. And then genetically, it just as they keep doing that, they're just going to get better and better every generation. Yeah. It's just going to keep improving because they just keep building into that system of turning them out. And part of it, there's like cultural stuff where, I mean, it's such an interesting approach to wrestling. I really want to travel to Dagestan and just talk to them because I happen to be able to speak Russian because there's less value for this kind of materialistic success that I think sometimes can get in the way of greatness. It seems like it makes coaching more difficult. It makes like following orders as an athlete more difficult. I don't know. We struggle with that in USA Jiro. Yeah. Because you want more money, but then more money, if not applied correctly, can corrupt the system somehow, can split people up. It's just the same thing with the prestige around certain metals over others because athletes start chasing fame instead of development. Yeah. Yeah. That's, I mean, the city of brothers are famous for this, like ignoring fame, ignoring all of this, like focus on the art itself. Not even, so it's not even the metals, exactly like you're saying, just the purity of like when you're in it and let everybody else figure out their stupid metals and money and all that because it comes. It comes. Right. Exactly. It's a result. Yeah. Exactly. Like it's not that you don't appreciate it, but you know that it comes if you focus on the art. There's a distinction when you're talking about your athletic career or really any endeavor, right?

Rated Dreams and Anticipation (01:32:53)

The problem with goal setting is nobody teaches the athletes or the people how to transition from the goal to reality. Right. So when you look at my career as a whole, like when I was getting ready for 2008, I actually forgot to train for it. I was so happy at such a young age that I became an Olympian that that in and of itself was a goal that I thought had to be admired, had to be celebrated that the games are right around the corner. I didn't really come down off that high. You're the local optimum of just winning the trials. Yeah. That was a big thing. It's a huge thing, but then you're just focusing on the accomplishment, not the correct. But at some point, right, when I went into London, I actually went into London going with, I'm going to prove I'm the best in the world because I believe I'm the best in the world and I believe it from the bottom of my soul that I'm winning this. And then you're almost trying to tell the universe, like, I'm accomplishing this thing because it's a goal. But when I went into Rio, I just accepted the fact that I was winning. It's not a goal. This is happening. You visualize it, but I felt it. You felt it. Right? Like this is no longer a goal anymore. Like I anticipated like this is happening. I can see this coming down the path because I'm anticipating that the game's just happening and I'm going to win. It's not a goal. It's an anticipation and there's a distinct distinction there between the two. Okay. So for people who are just watching the video of this, there should be an overlay of young Travis.

Travis'S Olympic Journey

Travis's Olympic Match (01:34:44)

This is, you still had to make 81. Is this still a tough cut here? No, this one was relatively easy. This is going all the way back to 2008. So this is the summer before the games. This probably happened in June, I would say. So this is the Olympic trials. So in the United States, you have to, I mean, similar to wrestling, you have to win trials to qualify for that particular division to represent the United States. So this is, you say June before in August Olympics? Yep. So here, I just wanted to show this match because there's another one. I think you do a pin. You do some of this groundwork in the other one. But in this one, fighting a teammate, fighting a teammate, former teammate. Oh, there's an old school double leg. I forgot about that. And it's weird to see. So you, so there, the Travis's opponent, and he's Travis is setting up here that say, Nagi posting his left arm and getting it done. That's a big, that's a big throw. You don't have too many of those big throws on video, because like you, oh, often on video, you're going against the best people in the world. It's tough to get like that much air. And a lot of times the ones that we do see, and you know, the part that a lot of people don't experience is a lot of those times right through people with that throw, it was in training camps. So by the time I got to the competition with these guys, they were playing 100% defense to never let me do that. Yeah. So you do this. Here, are you kind of pulling him down? No, he's, I'm trying to get him to come up to come up. But are you pulling him down to get to fake him up? I'm not doing anything with my left hand. So here the, the opponent is. So what I'm doing right now is his head is like in my chest. I'm pressing him to get his head to lift with my chest. So I'm pressing his hand down so I can use my chest to like pinch my scaps and roll his head up so that he wants to pick it up. And then he, I mean, doesn't he know what's coming here? Oh no, he might not. Oh no, he knew he was a former teammate. He knew exactly what I was trying to do. And that was a really big step with your right foot. It covers about four feet. So you, step and you left, catches up in like perfect position. Yeah, you back it up a little bit. Keep going, keep going right there. That this is like an important distinction between mine and everybody else's is because I split his hip. I actually once I'm able to split, I no longer need his center gravity below mine. All right. And when you say split, you mean you put your foot in between my do that split, that four foot split. Yes. And then when I get my feet back together, it doesn't matter that I'm under his center gravity or not. Yeah. That's why my chest is right around his sternum height for me. Yeah. So so there, I mean, how does he get for people just listening to this? Travis steps is like, doesn't think a big huge step gets like my hip is probably right around his nipple because he's he's brought back so much. Yeah, that's right. So like, so your, how is the physics of this work? You're violating the principle of your center of ass being under? Oh, I guess somehow it is. I don't know, but he has nowhere to go. He's screwed. Yes. That's the kicker is the way mine mine works is in order for him to play an effective defense. He needs to have his feet firmly planted on the ground with friction. Yeah. Otherwise, he can't press into me to stop it. So when I get him to sprawl back, when I split his legs, he effectively loses that contact with the floor, even though his feet are on the floor, they're not in a position where he can drive from them. Yeah. Therefore, when I flip, he flips. So there's a, so there's a natural like flailing here. So he's not falling forward. You're falling forward. Yes. He's just attached to you. So like, you can keep him up there and then like legs would be just flailing. Yep. One of my, one of my golden rules when I'm training and I get really tired, one of the like mantras I would always tell myself is, I'm going to put my back on your chest and then I'm going to put my back on the floor. Yeah. Because then you'll be underneath me. This is a good principle to very simple. And it regardless of like all the chaos and how quickly things are happening, it's something I can just dumb everything down to and focus on regardless of the gripping situation, the footwork, all of that, get my back to your chest and then put my back on the floor. So this step of getting your back to their chest, like for people who are sort of more like, for example, for people like me, who are just like amateur judo people, like there's all kinds of ways to prevent this turn from happening, the gripping and just everything. How difficult is it at the highest level to get into this position? I mean, you make it look effortless often, but like to get to the position where you're from facing them to your back to them. Is that like strategies that timing is that timing? It's timing. It's like anything like if I wanted to punch you on the face, like how hard is it to really do that? If you know, you can just play defense and block it. The trick is to get them to play defense to something that never happened. And then you go through like another way. And then you just go through what would technically be your first plan if you planned on them playing defense. So I set the stage from the very beginning for this to work. So then this you're celebrating here. It's a huge sort of, once a big accomplishments, big relief to qualify for the Olympics. And then you go into the Olympics, and this is where I first saw Judo. And I kind of thought of him as the same as Judo and Jiu Jitsu. And I was really impressed by your performance in that Olympics. The footage nowhere to be found these days, but at that time, I think you could still you could watch it live on NBC Olympics or somewhere like that. And I remember watching several of your matches. One of them was the match against Ollie Bischoff, the German. And I remember being it'd be nice if you can talk to that match, because I don't remember it. All I remember is being frustrated. Yep. By him not letting you play Judo. Yeah. So obviously you faced him again four years later. And there's a lot of frustration there as well. But I remember being extra frustrated in 2008. What was that match like? So he might have been number one in the world at the time or up there. He was up there for sure, especially going into 2008. He was really high up there. Yeah. And did he win gold at that Olympics? Yes. Yeah. Because he's silvered in London. It was the same Olympic final, both in 2008 and London. Yeah. Okay. So you're facing him there. Were you intimidated? What was the strategy? Can you talk to that match? Because it kind of sets the stage for the rematch in 2012. Yeah. He was somebody that I had trained with in the past. And for some reason, when it comes to him and I, when we train together, it's more of a physical altercation than a Judo training session. You know, like it's just like the coaches have had to break us up a few times. Like you guys get almost like angry too. A little bit. It always goes, you know, farther than it should for we're friends.

Back to Back Bronze (01:43:09)

Like we say hello to each other. But for some reason, when we train together, there's something about like him and me that just oil and water. I don't know what it is. It could be also the gripping because he's a great gripping strategist. Yeah. Does he frustrate you with certain kinds of grips and then you get pissed off and then you frustrate him and then he gets pissed off. And then before you know it, somebody's kicked somebody or punched somebody in the mouth or done something. Yeah. So one of the only evidence we have online if you're fighting him is you, your foot in his groin area is the only thing we have from that Olympics from 2008. From 2008. Yeah. And to answer everybody's question. Yes, it was deliberate. Now you can say this. Yeah. But yeah, I remember there being a lot of frustration.

Travis's Foot in Oli's Groin (01:43:56)

You go, you're actually going for a lot of stuff like sacrifice those. I mean, maybe you're not going for the highest scoring e-ponds, but you're just trying to shake things up if I remember correctly. Yeah, because when he, I was so young then that and he was in his prime really at that time, right? He was must have been 24, 25, 26 world medalist European champion at the time. And when he would grab me, I would, I had that sense of feeling stuck. Like I was strong enough if I used all my strength to not let him do anything, but then you can't be offensive when you're using all your strength to hold on to the situation. So I was getting really aggravated because I couldn't, I couldn't generate any offense with, every time I felt like I gained an advantage in the gripping scenario, he would take some obscure grip somewhere that was like, well, now I've got to go address this thing, give up what I gained and I have to go back. And it, if I were to think about watching the match now, it probably looked like a lot of flailing because we're just trying to generate enough to not get a penalty, but also not enough to where he could counter it.

Previous Olympic Final Match (01:44:52)

Did you think you were, you could beat him like when you were walking into the match? Until I gripped him for the first time, like, I, because I had trained with him before, he felt stronger and more in shape than I've ever felt him that day at that Olympics, which begs a whole nother question, but I remember when I, when he grabbed me for that first time, I went, this is different. And I, there was a sense of panic at the time because I was like, holy crap, where did this come from? This is not the guy that I've trained with that I expected. Because it was a definite like level change in like his ability, strength, speed and stamina. Like looking back at that, can you explain that? Is it just you being more less confident because of the Olympics? It was, is there some kind of routine that he followed to like really level up in intensity for this particular event? I've been told that he only gets to like his prime for like really big events. Yeah. Like he doesn't train like year round, like I would train, but when it comes to like the games, he doesn't do social media, he doesn't work, he lives, breathes, eats his training for the games, which could, you know, institute that level. What about you? Is there a, like Dan Gable famously said, like the one loss he had in college, he was doing a lot of media and stuff. Back then there was no social media. That was a huge mistake for him. Do you do social media? Do you do like, at that, at this point, well, at that time, it was like, a well, I don't know what's the thing. I didn't even have a Facebook page, my space, nothing at this point. I got my first Facebook page from the USOC in 2012. Yeah. When I went through the media thing, the lady was like, you have to have it. I go, I don't want it. I don't like people. I want to deal with the people. I'm supposed to deal. You know, like the social part of the social media. No. Okay. I have to bring this up because, and then you went on to face, you have Camilo, you lost that match, but you went on to win bronze. That's also an interesting one, but we can skip ahead. I just remember being really impressed both by your groundwork.

Travis Stevens Defeats Camilo For the Bronze Medal (01:47:23)

That was a match. I should have won. Yeah, I should have won that. I was, if you don't know Judo, you would visually watch that and be like, I'm winning, but he was technically winning on the scoreboard. So it is what it is. But the point that he got that solidified his win. Yes, it was a point back in those days. So I can't say anything, but like, my shoulder nicked the ground. So it's like, I don't know. Yeah. A lot of the stories of your Olympic career is like, from a fan perspective, it seems like you should have won or you very close to could have won. Yes. And there was a lot of frustration in your game being like shut down in certain ways. But like, the thing that immediately grabbed me in 2008 was how much something about the way you approached Judo, how much you wanted to win. That was young then. I was, when I was at this time in my career, I was out to like, win. Like there was no like, I'm going to grab you. I'm going to throw you. And if not, you're going to go through a battle. Yeah. You're going to make sure you earned it. It's so happened that you competing in 2008. I became a fan of yours at that moment. And since then, I kind of knew about Judo. My university had a Judo club. And I kind of knew about Jiu Jitsu from martial arts. And obviously I wrestled for many years before and I love wrestling. But there's something about you competing that made me, well, there's no other way to say it, but like, change the direction of my life. Because it forced me to say, you know what, I'm going to start Judo in Jiu Jitsu. And first of all, for that, I'm really grateful. But it's fascinating to think because this kid who's 22 years old, I'm sure I'm not the only one that you've influenced. Like you've changed the direction of my life. And there could be huge number of others like that. I mean, that's the power of use individual on the Olympic stage.

The pressure of inspiring others (01:49:37)

You ever think about the pressure of that? Did you think as a 22 year old, there's a bunch of people, like, I know I'm not the only one who changed. I just happened to have them like a microphone recently. You know what I mean? Like, is that it's fascinating to think about, right? Like, you, perhaps you didn't think about this. It's just a judo match. But you're like, you influenced hundreds of thousands of people from that millions. Is that interesting? It's not something that really hit me until 2012 when I lost. Because that's when like, I would say like the world felt bad for me at that point. And that's when you knew that like, people were watching and people were inspired by the loss because of how much went into that match. Because, you know, the 99% of us who watched it thought I won, except for the 1% of the people who were considered judges at that day in the event. So, but I mean, that's the winner lose that that wasn't really inspiring match. And that's when it dinged that like, because I don't, I don't watch something and really get inspired by like, the person and the act. It's like, it's an accumulative thing. But for a lot of people, like, when they watch how much goes into it, and then when I broke down on the match, like the amount of suffering that happens when you lose a match like that. And then, you know, really coming back in winning and Rio, there's a trend of people who were inspired that knew about London. And then, when they found out I won in Rio, that's when like people like, in droves felt like they could overcome their own personal obstacles to still achieve something because they've witnessed somebody who's fallen and gotten back up. Yeah. But it's not something that you think about like, on the day. It's when you look back and you go, Oh, cause and effect. I wonder if you can comment on that. I'm trying to realize and live up to the fact that there's like young people that come up to me and I'm starting to realize like, certain words I say will have a long lasting impact on them. Yep. Cause you say it is like, you don't even doesn't just, yeah, the win. Some of them might come back 30 years later. And a word I said was the reason they quit a thing and started the new thing that led them to become their true self, like to find success, all that kind of stuff. Like on the flip side though, some people based on the actions that we do today, even with this cast will alter the course of their lives forever. I had a guy one time. Was it after London? And it must have been after London. He actually found me on Instagram, wrote me what seemed to be like a dissertation on Instagram about how much he, I disrespected him 14 years earlier because I didn't step on a podium to take a picture after winning a tournament where he bronzed. Yeah. And I'm thinking to myself like, at the time, like having dinner with my family because I had to leave the next morning was more important to me as a person, not thinking about who you potentially will become. And the actions of whatever you do today, if you do become quote unquote famous or somebody in a spotlight that that could come back to bite you. To me, I don't know about you that this that's super motivating, like not to be a lesser version of myself ever. Yeah, just be on top of your game, whatever that game is, be on top of your game when you're interacting with people and when you're just in your own private life. I'm trying to make sure that I'm the exactly same person privately as I am publicly and like making sure I'm on point. I see like just hanging out with Joe Rogan a lot. I see how he's first of all the exact same person. And second, he like walks around and there's like a huge number of fans and you'll just take pictures and like very cool. And it's very cognizant of like certain words he says, especially young people like they're going to take that. And that's going to be a memory for them for a couple years. Yeah, that might be influential for the rest of their life. So I don't know, that's a cool responsibility. Not to fuck it up. But anyway, I bring all that up to just say, thank you. So even if you like were frustrated that you didn't win a medal at least at least you influenced one silly Russian kid to get into the martial arts. And what happens when you get into martial arts alters the direction of your life. Mine for for the better. Okay, so let's go to London 2012 Olympics. One of the most dramatic judo battles of all time, rematch. Yeah, so you reach the semifinals once again to face the German, only Bischoff. You might have to step through that match a little bit. Fucking to buy all means. I've only ever watched the entire thing one time, just because. Fucking. So for context, for the listener, Travis, first of all, you don't like losing. I think that's fair to say, you know, the hard part with this match is because I went into this Olympics thinking, I'm not fucking win the Olympics.

2012 London Olympics Experience

2012 London Olympics, Travis Story (01:55:43)

I'm the best in the world. I never in my right mind thought, oh, I'm going to win a medal. Like that never, that never crossed my mind. So it's like, I would have rather him just fucking beat me. Yeah, because then I lost. So here, the referees as many people thought robbed you of a victory, but it was also really close battle again with many of the elements of frustration as 2008 in terms of strategically and gripping wise. And it was just the fascinating battle that went to overtime. So can you set the context? So what did the bracket look like? Who were the players here? Who did you beat leading up to this match? Like, as you walk onto the mat, what happened the day before the hours before as you're standing there, but how bad is this? We just do people are standing like this. And yes, that fucking guy, man. But this bracket. Was really interesting if you look at like the backstory of 81 kilos, like leading up to the Olympics, right? Because at this point in time, you know, I was inside the top 10 at all times, you know, eight, seven, five, four, you know, sixes. I fell out of there sometimes due to injuries, but I always climb back in. There was another guy from Azerbaijan that was the Olympic champion at 73 kilos in 2008. And the entire division got rocked by match one because his first match was with Antoine Vales for Tierra of Canada. And everybody who saw the draw come out was like the yards of Pajani's going to win it. He's the former Olympic champion. He's pretty much won most of the major events, including at 90 kilos because he just had smooth judo. And, you know, match one rolls around, match two rolls around Antoine's in the shoot, and he's looking around and he's like, the Azerbaijan, he's not here. Well, where is he? No joke. He runs into the venue a match before throws his gion and runs on the Olympic platform. Wow. Loses the Canadian in like a three minute Golden score battle. So do you think he warmed up? Didn't he ran? He literally ran into the venue through his gion and ran out, did no judo. And there you see Antoine losing in the quarters. So how good was Antoine? At this point in time, this is, I believe, his first international medal was the Olympic Games. So I don't think he'd ever metled in Paris. He went into this bracket on ranked, beating the ranked guy first round because he, I don't know if he missed the bus. I don't know if he was off his cycle and planned on losing because he didn't want to test positive. I don't know. There's a lot of like questionable things out there that could have potentially caused him to run on to the Olympic platform for a match one. But, you know, it catapulted Antoine into like a belief that like, I beat the seated guy, I'm ready. And that was like a turning point in the Canadian's career just as a whole.

Throwing the Brazilian (01:59:34)

Right? That's that everybody has a defining moment. Like mine was when I beat Bisch off and do so dwarf at the Grand Prix for Germany after 2008. Right? I beat the Olympic champion in on his home soil to go win the entire tournament. So we all have like those moments. It's just when it happens at the games, it throws the bracket like into a tail spin because typically you'd know like who's going to beat who, where it's going to happen. And when you look at my quarter final against the Brazilian, what most people don't know is I was I was so thankful I had that match. Most people would never in a million years be like, I want to fight the world number one at the Olympic Games. That's what I want to do. I want to be the AC fighting the world number one because I'm going to win. I was pissed off at him. I was so angry because we we were at the Pan Am's I think the year before. And there was a team tournament and I wanted to fight him. I lost the quarters to a Cuban I think in like the first gripping exchange he threw me with a drop sale out of nowhere. I was pissed. So I wanted my hands on the Brazilian and the team match. Well, the Brazilian team is warming up. So I walk up to him, no joke. I walked up to him and I go, you're fighting? And he goes, not today. And I went, are you fucking kidding me? I warmed up. I taped up through the only fucking guy I want to fight. And you're going to fucking sit in the stands and read a goddamn book. I was so angry. I carried that anger because I never fought him until this day. I was fucking pissed. I was ready to beat him. That's right. I remember I forgot he was the world number one. Yeah, how did he because I remember like being really excited at that match. How did you beat him? I threw him with two hands on the same side collar, like drop sale. I crossed script. I yanked him behind me and I threw him. I was already. And then the match ended. 30 seconds later. Yeah. I was pumped. I was I thought, well, I think, okay, if I'm remembering correctly, I thought, okay, this guy might actually win gold. That's what that's what made for me as a spectator. Remembering now, the next match that much more like painful. And then the fans of judo that really followed the sport, the stats when you look at the games in my draws, I had the worst possible draws you ever could have imagined. At both London and Rio, I fought the world number one to get to the final or into the semis or past the semis. And everybody I fought in the draw either beat me the last time we fought or I had never fought before. So I always held a loss going on to the mat at the Olympic Games. How'd you feel about that, by the way, like, what were you feelings about facing the Brazilian first?

Winning with a Grand Throw (02:02:32)

I was so excited. This, well, that was match three. In London, I fought the Slovenian guy first round who beat me. Where'd he beat me? Was it the world's? Might have been the world's. And then churches, Italy, I fought in the second round who threw me for Wozari in Japan. And then Leandro, who I don't think I ever fought, who was world number one, that avoided fighting me at the team tournament. But I mean, every single Olympics you've fought, it really stepped up. It's the only tournament I've ever prepped for. Mentally and physically and just the whole thing. Yeah. We never trained through this tournament, like we did for the others, or I would go into it injured. All right, well, let's talk about what you're standing there next to the German. He looked always smaller than you, but you said like strong. Yeah. So what are you feeling now? Jimmy Pedro behind you? I was fucking ready to take your set off. Did you have an idea of what you're going to do? Did you try? Do you're thinking of winning by Epon? Were you thinking like going for big throws or taking deep waters? I'll grip him. What were you thinking? We were about to have a battle and I wasn't going to throw him until he broke mentally. Okay. That was, there was no like, oh, this is going to be a clean throw. That was never, that was never the thought process. So, so here, you know, there's going to be a lot of gripping. So we're seeing a shit on a gripping. And right here, he throws it. Bang. Close-fisted. You got a lot of adrenaline. You seem calm. I'm pissed. You're pissed. Like, you don't look at this. You just look like, well, I'm looking at the ref like, because he keeps telling me to get up. I'm like, I blood running down my face. I go here, see blood. See, and he's like, oh, yeah, go fix it. And that's on your eyebrow somewhere? Yeah, he split it just underneath it. So you split your eyebrow. And so in Judo, they don't, they're allergic to blood, probably for a good reason, but they, so now you have to try to figure out how to tape that up. Yeah. Which already sets up one of the most badass looks in Judo history. First 15 seconds. Yeah, busting my eye open. Was that getting in the way of your eyesight at all or no? No. Damn, he looks good at gripping. How difficult is it to get a grip on that guy? Very. Like, I'm struggling just to get my hand in the collar and he wasn't even blocking it. Is he being cagey? Yeah. Remember, like, is he interested in offense? No. He's a very cagey, you know, methodical player. Like he, he never opens himself up. Yeah. There you go. You grab the leg as part of a combination. Yep. And people have told me that he's actually very good at throwing people. He just doesn't. So, but he just doesn't show it at these. Nope. Because he, he doesn't care how he wins. He cares that he wins. Yeah. Which makes him very difficult to beat. Because he knows when you strategize to do that, where you look at the ruleset and you develop a plan to get through the matches, then you've really got to figure out a way to get that person off that game plan. You know, whether you get ahead by a penalty or something. Right there. Like he wouldn't give me the sleeve. So, I grabbed all of his fingers. Oh, nice. In which I opened like, like this way or I grabbed them the other way and I started lifting them. I start nice. Oh, like, first playing mercy. Like this. Yeah. This is great. Because he wouldn't give me the sleeve and I needed an attack. And I'm like, okay, I can't hold on to this forever because that judge is going to see it. So, let me just do a quick throw here while I'm using the fingers and the finger. He's holding on. Yeah. And then I just sit out. Yeah. Yeah. And then he goes to get up and I go to get on top and right here. Nice. That elbow. You get him? You got him. Yeah. It looks like I elbow him. Did you do it kind of? No, I didn't. I at the time, I never knew this happened. Yeah. Until after I watched this like three or four years later. Didn't even know I didn't even feel it.

Golden Score (02:07:07)

Look at that. So, he's legitimately angry here. Yeah, he's angry. And of course you can't. You can't move. Why would you move? Look at this. This moment, right? There's this gold. If you're not watching this on video, you're missing out. Do you never get this in judo? No. I don't know if that's ever happened. That little face off, especially on a stage like this, the reference, and then he brings us in to like talk to us. And he's like, hey, we're good, right? Like you guys aren't about to do what I think you're about to do. You put up here and he's like, hey, shake hands again. Because the first time we did it, that wasn't good enough. Well, you got to do it again. The heartbreaking part about this and why the IJF switched it to an unlimited Golden Score because we fought five minutes through the entire normal part of the match. And then we did the entire overtime period of three minutes. Now one penalty was given. No gripping infractions, no goals attacks, like no stalling. That's great. Nobody was really backing up. I mean, he was, you know, so what was Jimmy telling you here? Or was he was he talking to you at all? He's not allowed to talk during medical things. And my nose is now broken. But he's also the nose is broken from what? I caught an elbow from him. Glad his face is clean. That's fun. And right here, like I was pissed. I was so angry at the medic because he's fumbling around and I'm like, my whole plan is to break the German mentally. Yeah. You got to hurry up with the tape, man. Like he's supposed to be tired. Like he's not supposed to be resting. And Jimmy yelling here? He can't. No, not here, not here, but during the match. Yeah. And you can see I just take it from him and I'm like, give it to me. I'm going to do it myself. Get out of here. How scared is the medic? He's like, this guy's gonna kill me. Can't even tear the tape. He's like, I'm nervous. He is. We made fun of him for this. Yeah. So much. Yeah. Throughout the years. Still due to this day. All right. Here we go. Oh, you look great. Can't really see. Don't care. It was there some outcome in your mind that you could possibly beat him on the ground with a submission or a pin. You knew you're gonna have to throw him. I knew I was gonna have to, if I was gonna throw him or on bar him or pin him, whatever the case may be, it was gonna be his mental like, I'm just tired of this. Yeah. Right. He's too cagey of a player. He's too experienced. You know, he has to mentally make that choice to give that inch. And then you just have to be ready to take it. So I was just waiting for it. And so now this is four minutes in, one minute left. Yeah. Oh, is that in your game? Plan two potentials, like assuming gauge like the sacrifice throws him. Because the whole point of that, that technique and the sacrifice throws wasn't because I thought I was gonna throw him, but it disrupts the pattern enough to like get him to make a potential mistake. Yeah. Like see, he should have gotten a sheet over there. Hands in the face. But again, that's just part of judo. Yeah. He poked me in the elbow. This is a rough match. It does he act at all or no? Like was he acting frustrated or anything like that was all like he's like acting for the ref, you know what I mean? Like, oh, that, all that kind of stuff. You're just going in hard, not stop. Like angry, aggressive, feeling cardio here at all. Like, I don't, I'm not tired during this. And then just always pressing forward. Time runs out. Now we're into golden score. Twelve minutes and 38 seconds later. Yeah. You think about every judo exchange, right? Every time we grip up, every time we attack, sometimes it can take longer to get back to the line than the entire exchange. Yeah. So the more aggression, the more exchanges you have, the longer the time stretches. And then here, the six seconds left in golden score, your tape is, is now like a yellow and red. Yeah. With sweat and blood, literally, and time is out. Now, where are you thinking here? Do you think you won the match? I thought I won the match a minute ago. I remember thinking to myself, like, if this goes to the flags, I won. No doubt in my mind. Because I felt like the whole time, like I was going to him. Yeah. Right. He was never coming at me. Yeah, that's the way it felt. And like, like, that's the way it felt body language wise, just the intensity, how fast you're moving towards him. You constantly going for throws. Now, if you want to rewind that, we can talk about the whole because it's a part of this clip. So wait a minute. They all went blue. They all did. So in judo, there's three referees to on the side one in the center, and they all vote on. And now it's positive right there. Now, the way this is supposed to work, they raise their flags, they do like a one, two count. And then on three, they all raise it together. Yeah. Now, as a little pretext to this entire match, up until this point, not one match at the Olympic Games has ever been a split decision, meaning out of three people, not one of them voted against the other group members. So they were all unified blue or all unified white. Yeah. Right. Which is statistically difficult to imagine. Yes. It's almost like the, they had a referee meeting and said, it's better for the Olympics to never have a split. Yeah. Okay. So the question becomes, if you click that frame by frame, right? So right now we have all the refs with their flags out, and then click that. So the middle, middle guys, he is all the way up. All the way up. The other side judges haven't moved. We now have one side ref all the way up. Then we have a third side ref all the way up. Yeah. So there's a time point when the middle guy has the flag all the way up, if not 80, 90% of the way there. Yeah. Then the other one does. And then the third one goes. So now the question becomes, who really, like did the outside refs really have an opinion? Or were they told to wait for the center one to start and then lift whatever flag the center ref picked? Yeah. This is very unfortunate. It's very, honestly, it's very possible that they had this meeting. This is the problem with the Olympics. They sometimes, it's also the problem in the Soviet Union with communism. You think the committee knows what's good for the people and so on. So they decide universally as opposed to letting the magic of the Olympics be what it is. But nevertheless, in this case, the center ref decided blue. What do you think? Do you think it's just a shitty call? Or he has the right to pick. But the problem is, is the other two, I don't think did.

Three-Row Referees (02:14:42)

Yeah. And that's so when you do this frame by frame again, right? Like I can see from my own perspective, two of the refs. And I see them both blue. Right. So when you fast forward that a little bit to get to like all the flags, I see the two go blue and I go, I look over and I look at the other guy and I'm like, really? Yeah. All three, I've fought for eight minutes and I can't even get a vote. I didn't even get a penalty. I can't even get a vote. And that's when I broke. I like, Oh, I couldn't believe it. And I'm not going to lie. He looks shocked. And here you're on your knees. You're crying. Literally. Yeah. I think it's an amazing match. It was such a war. I mean, both people can't believe what happened. I know that's the end. Like, honestly, I wish we had the rules that we do today as far as the unlimited golden score because I would have loved to have seen what would have happened. What was Jimmy saying here to you? I mean, I guess there's nothing to say. Yeah. He was kind of apologizing for the way the the score is went because he knows how badly you want it. He saw the match and he felt I deserved to win it. Yeah. Based on like, you know, what happened. But he probably with all his experience knows that this is what the Olympics are about. The refs sometimes. Yep. I mean, that's the magic of a man. Well, and at the same time, we're at we're in the Olympic semi final in a sport that's dominated by certain continents. And when you look at the three refs on the mat, they're all European. Yeah. You tell me there couldn't have been one Pan Am, one African, one Oceana, you know, different. Like why they all have to be European. But to be fair, it's back to your son a story. Correct. You've dealt with this stuff before.

Broken Brain (02:16:53)

And you've won over this stuff before. And that's why like I was broken. And you thought you won here. And when I hindered on that for a year and a half, like I couldn't even stand, I was done. But I'm pretty sure there's a slow motion replay on this when I watch the A's all excited, that fucking guy. And he's all has to relieve. Hey, hi guys. I did it. Yeah. So here's like teeth, slow motion replay of the five being raised, the heart being broken, Travis just spending over here. Watch his reaction. Like he like you could see his mouth like open and awe like yeah, really? Yeah. And he's looking at two refs just like I am. He didn't celebrate until he looked at the third one and said, Oh, all three. So you think he knew he lost in his head? Like I don't think he really believed he was winning. He did enough to win. Yeah. Yeah. Because when his mouth draw like, Oh yeah. Hey, all three, like that's not really the reaction you would give. Yeah. I mean, that was one of the greatest matches I've ever seen. I mean, obviously it's painful for you, but that pain first of all sets the stage for 2016. But even without that, I think it was just a beautiful story at the Olympics. You've still did incredible job at the Olympics. You stood toe to toe. I think in hindsight, having lost that match did more for me and more for the sport.

Controversial Match And Training Experiences

The Controversial Match (02:18:37)

Yeah. As a whole, me losing that match. Yeah. I mean, stories aren't about winning stories. They're about the fighting. So and that made one hell of a story. But it, it also has to do with, you know, treachery is probably not the right word to use. It's probably the wrong word entirely to use. But because of the conflict in the match and because of how the refs handled the match there at the end, it created controversy that was spoken about for months on world media. Right. I remember articles being written about the Olympics and you know, the reffing and how it was corrupt and that match was one of them. There was another one in fencing where like something happened with the timer, where one of the fencers, I guess what happens in fencing, the timer resets up a second if it's down. So the fencer got one second played out, I think like 27 or 28 times and then one on like 30. So like there was like clock fixing for fencing. There was this match that I think just got publicity good or bad. Publicity is publicity for judo. And then you came back to, I mean, this is the hard thing after this hard break to step up and continue fighting, right? I really, really struggled. Like unbelievably struggled from 2012 to like 2014. I almost quit numerous times. I was so angry. I mean, at one point, I got so mad at the IGF feeling like they were fucking me every step of the way. I throw a water bottle at a referee after a match. I cussed out a referee one time on a mat. I got suspended from the sport because I was just so angry at that point in time. And IGF is the International Judo Federation and there are the people that supply the referees, basically like the certification run the sport. They're on the global scale. So you sent a few emails 2014, 15, basically quitting. One of them said I'm mentally and physically broken. Another said, well, the subject line, I'm done. Yep. The weight cuts didn't break you. No. So if this broke you, you were really going through a hard time. I was like, you know what? We're just going to like dumb it down a little bit and get some wins under our belt. I'm going to go to a world cup, which is like three stages down or four stages down from like the Olympic games. Like this should be like a cake walk, like making the final of a world cup should be a walk in the park. I show up. I barely beat a 16 year old kid barely. Then I got smoked in the second run. I got thrown three times. I was like, I'm fucking done. They changed all the fucking rules. They fucked me out of the Olympics. Like, what am I supposed to do? And it was at that moment when I wrote the email where I remember sitting at a bar. I don't drink by the way, but I was sitting at a bar at the hotel sending this email. And I got a response back from Jimmy and he goes, well, just just stay for the training camp.

Mental Struggles & Training Camp (02:22:04)

Go to Germany and then whatever happens, don't worry about it. We'll talk when you get home. I was like, fuck that. Fuck these people. Fuck the rules. I don't fucking care anymore. I'm just going to do judo the way I want to do judo. If I fucking get sheed out, fuck them. That was my response. Can you become an Olympic champion? Can you become an Olympic medalist? Would that kind of think anything or no? Was that that's counterproductive? Yeah. Okay. It's just checking because maybe that's also liberating. The expectation was no longer that Travis is going to win this tournament. The expectation was Travis is going to come home and be fucking pissed off. We're going to have to figure out how to manage a pissed off person that's trying to quit that shouldn't be quitting. And the people still believe that you can well be a medalist again. Yeah. Like who believed that? Jimmy believed it. The team managers believed it. Some of my teammates still believed it. My training partner still did, but they're not the ones that are cutting the weight, flying around, feeling like all of your judo is now no one void, right? Because at this point, they took away leg grabs entirely. You couldn't break a grip with two hands, right? The meta of judo has changed again, right? So I got fucked out of it. They took away how I did judo again. And now it's just got more difficult. So when I'm sitting in the hotel and I'm sending this email, I remember being at the training camp, like I was like, I don't even fucking care what the rules are. I'm just going to fucking throw people. I don't even care if I'm cheating. It doesn't matter to me. I'll just play stupid. Yeah. Right. So I just started going back and doing judo without the leg grabs, but with all the same gripping that I was doing beforehand. And then when I got to Germany, I was like, I don't fucking care. I was like, if I got a cheat to win, then I got a fucking cheat to win. If I get sheed out, like, then I get sheed out and I won Germany. Which event did Germany? The German Grand Prix, which was a week after losing the World Cup, because I was trying to do judo around the new rule set. I wasn't just trying to do judo, right? Because when you get to the highest level, your game tends to morph around, you know, what can you can or cannot get away with?

tough to decide when not to follow the rules (02:24:28)

I was more focused on trying to figure out what I can and can't get away with. And I stopped actively doing judo. Once I said, fuck whatever the rule changes are, I'm just going to keep doing judo the way I know how to do judo. And if I get a penalty, then so be it. And so that that when that started the road back, the road back, yeah. Because now it's like, I don't care if you penalize me or not, because I'm going to throw that guy anyways. I'm going to beat him anyways. And if I get a sheet for doing something wrong, then I'll just stop doing that one thing and just keep doing all the other things that they told me I probably shouldn't be doing, but they're not calling me on it. So I'm just going to keep doing it. Well, you, you found yourself to 2016 Olympics. Was that ever a doubt, by the way, after this after 2014 in Germany, I had a lot of doubt after the concussion in 2015. I remember when I first came back after four months of nothingness that like even trying to like train, the room would start to like tilt the world on me. And then when I finally got over that and I could start doing things again, I stepped on the mat for the Pan Ambs.

I dont get tired, I get better (02:25:33)

And I was like, drowning is not the right word, but like everything was being done in such a slow motion, like I had sandbags everywhere that like I just couldn't keep up. Like mental fog. Yeah, like I remember fighting the Brazilian for in the semi final of Pan Ambs. I was halfway through this match. I'm just like, eyes roll up. I'm like, I'm just gonna fucking wing it. I just fucking winged it and I got countered and thrown free pawn. And I was like, I don't even know what to do. And I couldn't even think clearly. And that's when I was like, I may not come back. Yeah, you don't have control over how to come back from this. It's like, it's just your mind. And it's not operating. It's not there. It's not like I can like, Oh, my right hand's not working because it's fractured. Let me figure out a way I cannot use that like when your mind's not working. Like, it's the one thing you need. Like you got to have it. So then work through anything else. I needed that though. And so how did you come back from that time? That's when I wrote another email and I was like, I'm fucking off team USA. I'm not fucking I'm not done with USA Judo. I'm done with the tour. I was like, I quit. I'm gonna go do my own thing. They were like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Can't quit now. Olympics is in like a year. Like, let's talk about this again. Because it's the second time I've tried to quit in like two years. Right. So then we sit down in Jimmy's office and he's like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, you can't quit. You're gonna kick yourself if you don't go to Rio. I'm telling you right now, don't do that to yourself. Let's figure out a way of like doing this. And I was like, because when we trained before, we did it at a unit, right? We all went to the same tournaments. We all went to the same training camps. And I'm like, you guys are treating me like I'm the same player I used to be. I go, I don't, I'm not operating at the level you think I'm operating at. I go, I can't do that. And he goes, well, what do you want to do? And I go, I'll tell you what Jimmy, you know, I'm being serious because my answer is something you never would have expected. You know, I want you to send me to Japan for three weeks. And he was like, really? I hated Japan. I refuse to go there up until this point. But I was like, I have to get to a point where I can get so tired and get through it that like my judo will come back and my body will learn again. And when you say Japan, you mean the kodokan like what's okay, Tokai that is that the high level of judo. It's one of the top colleges in the world. Yeah. And that's so you can go with the best people in the world. You can go to war with them top level, like strong players. Yeah, there's a lot of very strong players. There's a lot of middle class players.

What was going to japan to train like? (02:28:28)

And there's a lot of volume of rounds. So you value all of it, the middle class too, like the, when you're tired, like you can't just train in areas where you're, you're battling for every inch. At some point, you have to be successful. Right. So you still under duress and under strain and through exhaustion, you still have to have the ability to score. Well, if you're training with the best people in the world all the time, you're not always going to be able to score. So you still need those B level players in order to really develop again. What is it like if you can comment briefly on training in Japan? What's it like to go into a different place? You probably don't speak the language that well. Like, is there an isolation aspect to it? Is it like purely about judo now? I really wanted to be isolated. No training partners, no coaches. I wanted to get back to my roots and just learn how to fight again.

What are the workouts like? (02:29:26)

I don't want to figure out how to beat the German. I don't want to figure out how I can develop a new entry into my sale against whoever it may be. It's not. You're just going to fight hard. You want to fight. Let me get back to fighting. Let me get back to the root of who I am. What were those sessions like? What were we talking about? Five-minute rounds? Like how many? Six-minute rounds, 30-minute breaks, 14 rounds a session. Sorry, what's the 30-minute break? 30-second break. Sorry, what? 14? 14 rounds. 14 rounds every day, five days a week and then 11 or 12 rounds on Saturday. Plus weightlifting, plus running. Plus weightlifting, plus running. Those are hard rounds. What's it feel like to go through that? You have a bunch of just a sea of black belts, Japan. I'm sure they're hunting you a little bit. Depending on who you are, I was hunted a little bit. I didn't really struggle because of who I am. Them as college athletes, they want to show to their coaches and their higher players. Like, "Oh, look, I can throw the world number whoever." But if you're just a guy who shows up, them beating you doesn't provide any value or raise their status. No, but you're a status raising. Yes. So I was actually in a situation where nobody was watching me and I was free to just battle at my own will, which is what it was about for me. And you just push yourself. Because I knew how to do that. I know how to push myself.

Travis'S Mma Career And Personal Goals

Are these 14 rounds a standalone thing? (02:31:17)

Are you, when you're doing these 14 rounds, is every single one a standalone thing for you? Yes. So you're not trying to pace yourself? No. It's just- Each one is as much exhaustion as I can get. But then there must be ones that were like, it's like ground nine, where you're got nothing left. That'd figure out how to score. That's all you got to do. You got to survive and you got to score. What's your memories of that in those three weeks? What's like, what stands out to you? It seems like, because that's the place where you found the silver medal. Because it's the place most people don't want to be. Everybody's comfortable. I would rather find out who I am and what I'm made of and find those endpoints. And if I can't find them, then that means everybody else has given up before me. Were there a few people that just returned to battle over and over in those times? And then it was just- Yep. No social media. No. None of that is just like to- You don't lock yourself in your room. You come back, you've thought about it, and you come back with a game plan for that day. Again, some players here and I would develop a hit list. I would be like, "Oh, that motherfucker grabbed me at 13 and I watched him sit fucking four rounds and then come try to kick the shit out of me. I'm gonna fucking grab that guy early and I'm gonna beat the shit out of him." And you just develop that list. There's probably some epic battles in that room, right? Yeah. What's it look like? How crowded is it? Very. And so you're just like, yeah, to see a people. See a people. And you're trying to- Are you doing groundwork at all? Just throws. Just throws. Just throws. No transitions, no nothing. But if I get pissed off and you keep dropping or not letting me do what I want to do, I'll rip a choke right across your face. Just to let you know that- Yeah. And if I wanted to- You have a really nice style of just like respectfully bullying the shit out of people. Because some people call me a bully and I have to remind them that a bully enjoys beating up the weak. I want to beat the person that fights back. Right. Exactly. It's not fun for me if you don't fight back. Some of the greatest people I've seen do this. They basically- You have this in the Iowa wrestling rooms. They'll push each other into the wall. They get- There's like anger. But it's ultimately underneath it all. It's like a deep respect. I was training with Colton Brown one time and I went to San Jose State because I was in California for something.

MJ gets him right through the door (02:33:55)

And he kept circling to the edge. They had a cupboard that had when you opened it. It had all the tape and medical supplies. I was like, "We'll fucking put you right through that." And he kind of giggled and then he went by that edge and I fucking ran him right through it. Yeah. See, to me that's an ultimate sign of respect that both you and Colton will remember. And we're still friends. We're still talking. I told him I was going to do it. He knew I meant it too. He did it anyways. Just testing me. Yeah. Listen, that same attitude was that was in Japan just day after day after day after day. 14 rounds. That's rough. And you didn't sit out rounds? And I did it all with a broken hand. How? How did you do with a broken hand? You show up every day. You show up. Okay. I actually left it right. My right. Okay. So that's okay. So you can then focus on gripping with your left. It's always the way. It's always the way. But that means you can't, I guess you don't have to grip your right sometimes. I would palm it with my thumb just like hanging out like this. Just like this. So you can do something. So you can do like a ghost because you have a... Because I... What were your main throws? It was say Nagi. Koshu, Garoma. Okay. Sumi, Uchimada, Uchimada. But you have this big like a ghosty type of thing. Like a... Yeah, but not from like around the waist. It's from over the shoulder. Over the shoulder. And I can do it with just the one hand. Oh, as I wish one hand. The right one. I don't need the sleeve hand. You don't need the sleeve hand, but you couldn't do it with the broken hand. I could. Because I can just put my hand in the gi so it can't come off. And then you just... Because what happened was three days before I was leaving for Japan, my hand was rested like this on a mat. And the guy took my whole thumb off and tore all the tendons in the palm. So when I went to the doctor, he was like, you know, we have to put a cast on it. And I go, I'm leaving in three days. You're not putting a cast on it. And I go, this is what I want you to do. Just like this, I said, I want you to build a cast that holds it, that velcros around so that when I'm not training, I can wear it.

A MMA career (02:36:15)

But then when I'm training, I'll take it off and then I'll put the tape on it. And then whatever happens happens. Whatever happens, happens. All right. So that's epic. And that led you to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Well, that led me to winning Pan Am Gold when I got back from Japan. And then almost getting my leg cut off in 2015. That was like, I don't know, maybe a month or two later. I was hospitalized for seven days. The leg being cut off for what? I had three different types of bacterial infections in my right leg, a whole leg swelled. And it was in my blood, skin, and in my bone, in my right leg. So I got stuck at MGH in a hospital for seven days until they figured out what the bacteria source was. Where was the source of the infection? It's in my knee. In the knee? Yeah. Okay. So obviously, there's a danger of like, that's life threatening. Yep. When I went into the emergency room, when I got back from the world's lady was like, hey, you need to call here, you're going to call because you may lose your leg tonight. Yeah. And then they put me in the hospital. What do you think in this whole time? Are you still thinking about Olympics? They put me into the room like four hours later, the doctor came in. I was at MGH in Boston. And he was like, you have a serious infection in your leg. I go, he's like, we have to keep you hospitalized until we can figure out what it is. And I was like, buddy, I have the Olympic Games in less than a year. I go, I don't give a fuck what it is. I go, just fucking take it out. And let me get on with my day. He goes, we can't do that. Like, I don't understand. I go, you told me this infected, just cut away that part of the tissue, drain it, do whatever you got to do, and then send me on my way. He's like, it doesn't work like that. He said, until we figure out what it is, we can't figure out how to stop it from growing, or how far it spread. So it took him seven days to figure out what it was. Then once they figured out what it was, I went in for surgery to remove it. Then I spent, I think it was eight weeks in in-home care with a pick line. And then I came back from that. On the first week and a half of Judo, I tore my SI joint, trying to throw a guy. And then I came back from that about a month later and then fifth at the Conno Cup. And then the game six months later. How quickly do doctors understand who they're dealing with? Like, is that difficult for you to explain who Travis Stevens is when you go to visit a doctor? I don't think they understand, you know, their role is to get me to do my job to the best of their ability as a doctor. Meaning it's going to be less than what they want. And they struggle conceptually with like, but the textbook tells me this. And I go, but I'm not a textbook. Right? Like when you go to physical therapy, the first thing they do is they pull out that binder that says day one, we do this exercise. I go, but I have my own goals. Your job is to help me meet my goal. Let's work a plan to do that, or I gotta go find somebody else. Did doctors in general people outside of your close-knit group step up? If they didn't, I found somebody else. And typically I could find a person who knew the right person. I was wondering with people like, because I'm constantly surrounded by one of the biggest problems in my life has been there's a lot of people in my life who love me very much, but who want me to the equivalent of that situation.

Finding Your Equivalent (02:40:03)

You know, definitely don't go to the Olympics. And definitely like take like, it seems like the world is full of people that want you to be average and happy, which is great, which is fine. I mean, perhaps that's the way it should be. Like, you know, my parents, people close to this. That's what love, how love manifests itself often in people. But then like, I think the ultimate manifestation of love is understanding who this person is. Here's a madman who's driven towards a particular thing. And the best thing for you to do is not to say like, rest is to say, work harder. Like, fuck your infection. Yeah, you should be training. Yeah. Have you ever met anybody as crazy as you that can help you? Most of us who get to this point get there because we're all a little unstable. Yeah, even my wife, Galita, right? Like when she was getting ready for 2016, or when she was getting ready for 2020, because she moved to Boston to be a coach, she had a neck problem. Right. And at that at some point in time, it's like, what's really important? Day to day life, or judo? And believe it or not, the doctor in Canada was like, I am never under any circumstances doing an MRI of your neck again. That's what she told her. She goes, if you have me doing MRI, you're not doing judo again. So just know, if you hurt your neck and it requires an MRI, you're done with judo forever. Yeah. So decide if you want to do judo or not. That was a conversation we actually had to have. That's a cool thing for a doctor to say. I mean, it depends how bad ass they sound when they say it. So that's the tough conversation. Judo one, what's this with your wife? What's that relationship like? So you're both a little crazy, a little bit in the good sense, or from my perspective, in a good sense. Yeah, it's just we've we understand that when it when you set a goal to do something, you're not signing on for the good. Yeah, you're signing on for the bad. And I don't think a lot of people understand that.

Travis Relationship w/ Himself and His Goals (02:42:26)

That's like a Valentine's Day card from Travis Stevens. You have to like accept everything negative that could possibly happen. And until you do, you're never going to make it because you'll always sell yourself short. Yeah, you'll never go far enough. And if you sign up for the whole thing, then the negative is just like, oh, great. I expected that. If you're experiencing the negative, they're also experienced the negative. And if you overcome it, maybe they'll get knocked out from it. Yep. Maybe they won't deal with it. Maybe they won't train through it. Right. When I had my five herniated disc and I was in a neck brace, I was still in the gym at seven AM doing whatever it is I could do because my job is to be at the gym. David Goggins, I don't know if you know the guy, he's he's gone. He's damaged a lot of parts of his body like you, trying to achieve things. So, you know, unlike you, his achievements are like, your achievements come with the metal. He's just running in the darkness in the middle of nowhere by himself. It's like, I mean, it's the same probably as with you. If you're able to be introspective about it is he's just battling his own inner demons and working through those and is breaking up, breaking his body doing so. Are you cognizant of the trade off of the fact that you know, you're damaging your body to get to these levels of achievements of this level of excellence, of this level of greatness? I mean, I guess that depends on what you consider damage really because I don't really see that I have damaged my body. If anything, I think I've strengthened it. My body can go through more than yours can. Yeah. Who's his weaker? Yeah. Right. It's just like, it's just like the tie boxers, right? Yeah. And where did it strengthen their shins? They got to break it a few times. Yeah. It's just nature of the beast. You just had to break a bunch of stuff to find where the weak points are and then made them stronger. Yep. Of course, strengthen the areas around it to strengthen it by, you know, sheer relation to it. But the problem is like you may not be able to do judo like for until you're 70. Why not? I may not be able to do judo to the level I used to. Yeah. Don't get me wrong. But I can still do judo because the I think a lot of people struggle with they want to keep doing it like they used to be able to do it. I don't try to do judo like I used to like you're saying here. Yeah. I'm not that guy anymore. I accept that. I don't even try to be that guy anymore. I'm a completely different player today than I am when I was winning Olympic medals. And so I guess when you're looking at like my journey and the trade off is I never sacrificed anything. The people around me sacrificed for me. And I never had a downturn after the Olympics because I never identified as an Olympian. You know, a lot of Olympians suffer from depression because they identify as it. Now they don't have who they are. Where was your personal moment of greatness?

The Birth Of An Olympic Medalist - Travis Narrates The Last Judo Match (02:45:46)

Like, or do you not experience life that way where you were truly proud to be yourself? Like every day I wake up. You wake up and you're not proud of who you are then you've really got to seek out some like help. So that's first of all, okay, I'll do that because I definitely am not proud of who I am. I just wonder if you didn't identify with the Olympics, was there times maybe in the training room, maybe in Japan, like where you're you just kind of felt like I get more of an emotional, I guess, trigger, right? Where like I feel proud of what I've done. When I've set to a task and I've done it. So almost saying you task and the more challenging the task, the more reward you fought up a lot of amazing battles in 2016 Olympics. So you got, you beat the let's see the world number four in the quarterfinals. It's like a replay every single Olympics. You're all the people that I got terrible draw. Same. Terrible draws. And then you're facing this is where I was like watching this. I'm like, yeah, he screwed. You face the world number one, the Georgian. And by the way, for people who don't know, he beat me five times to my beating him once. And the one time I beat him was in London. And all other times he beat me, he beat me by a poem. And not by like a little throw, like he threw me on my head. At one point, we were in Georgia. I'm fighting him in the final. I go to my teammate and I go, guess what? Make sure you watch this fight. Somebody's getting thrown free pawn. This matching and this same match going distance. And about a minute in, I tried to take his head off with a big Koshi Gromo, which was like a head and arm. He caught me and then threw me on my head and ended the match. So first of all, we're watching the video of you again, standing next to the guy leading up to your semi final match. So here if you win this, you're guaranteed a medal. But the chances of you winning from my fan perspective, I was like, God damn it. You're in the rest of the world, except for me, except for you. What are you saying? You're talking to yourself here. What are you saying? My name is Travis Stevens. I'm a Olympic champion. I will not be denied. The Georgia is probably like, what the hell is this guy saying? What is he talking to himself? So he was probably ultra confident. Yeah, had to be. The difference is, is I understood the last five times he beat me. I was purposely trying to throw him, not beat him. I wanted to find out if I could. Turns out I can't. But I don't need to throw him to beat him. I need to know how to not lose. But you were still going for stuff here. But all of my attacks drag him to the ground. They're never standing on my feet. Which is a complete, which is a distinction that we talked about at the very beginning, right? You have throws where you're standing and throws where you're dropping. Every time I try to throw him standing, he throws me for Epone. He picks me up and he throws me on my head, literally. So what I did is I just needed to get to that last one minute mark, which is what he does mentally in his own judo, where he changes into a panic and just tries to do things that are uncharacteristic. So you knew he's going to start panicking here as he draws to close. And you both have a passito. And actually, did we pass the point where I went for broke and I broke my rule? Which one? I went for a crazy foot sweep. Like Epone switch thing. I can't even remember what it's called. He says, not use that often. And he actually landed on top of me and some people wanted it to be called Epone. But he had actually let go of the ghee and was looking for the mat. So he didn't have any control. So they didn't know what I'm a point. Yeah. And here we go. Now we're getting down into the next, like he's getting frustrated. Great. Yeah, I love it. Perfect. Second penalty. No big deal. We just got to get to the one minute mark. It's all we got to do. So there's no panic here for you. You're no, this is right where I need to be and look it. Now, if you go back into this match, I would love for somebody to go back and see how many times he did a drop. Right. Epone say, no, he probably never. Yeah. So why is he doing it now? Because he panics and he changes his judo at that one minute mark. So look how much I kept that grip. Yeah, you kept, you have that grip this whole time. Yeah. Have your left hand, walking him down, walking him down. That he, he, you keep the grip as he's throwing. Yeah, which, do we, you're thinking choke as he drops or no? It's just kind of natural instinct. Yeah. We drilled it. I spent two years drilling this transition. And then very, so for people don't do judo, jujitsu, it's like really nice. You keep, everything is nicely controlled to where you keep in that ghee under his chin. Like it's really tight control. Like it's very, like your cognitive, I guess it's drilling, but you're cognizant of the position of your wrist the whole time. And you can tell based on like, just years of doing it, whether it's under or it's not, right? You can just feel the difference. And it's probably, even if you wanted to stop that, it's very difficult because your whole time, it's like once it's under, it's almost impossible to stop. For people who practice jujitsu, don't practice judo. One of the very annoying things about judo is in order to do ghee jokes, they have to be under the chin. Yes. Even though the kind of intense jokes you do work just fine over the chin. But, and the kicker here and why we practice this choke was because when you go back and watch all of the other matches, he always does this tripod when I try to do arm locks, which is typically what I would do. And when I do that, he ends up sliding out and I end up falling off. So you step up here with the choke, he does a tripod, he sticks his button to the air, and you do, what's the name of this choke? About Arrow. No, but okay. I mean, when you do from like from that, is there a way this entry into the bow and arrow, I guess? Because you're doing- We refer to a judo as a British triangle. British. When they're in that turtle position and you do that rolling chain. And here, when you go into that, you can fall off of them, like you said, if you go in front of an arm bar, but here, literally, because you have it under the chin really well, there's just a nice control. And I've already planned on it being on his chin. That's why I've hooked the arm. Right? It's already starting to go straight. Probably this choke in the early stages, like a few frames before, feels like it, like you're safe. It's fine. Like the head will slip out or something like that. Yeah. And that's why my left knee is up by his shoulder to keep that pressure down so that he can't posture it up. When did you know you have this? Oh, it works right here. I actually panicked right about here. Was maybe his head could come out? My hand, I tore the muscle in my palm, because I was pulling so hard that I'm like, he may not that. Yeah. Like, is my hand just going to give out beforehand? And we're right on this edge, right? So, like, if we roll a little bit outside and I still don't have it, like that ref could stop it. And then I felt him tapping. Oh, that he's, he's hard broken. I felt surprised. There it is.

Being An Olympic Medalist

Becoming An Olympic Medalist (02:54:10)

The relief Olympic Olympic final. And he knew he knew he lost an Olympic medal right there, because he already knew that the Japanese guy was going to be his bronze that he never beats. See the but also he probably in his head was confident that he would be in the final, correct. And so, like this, he almost is surprised. Yeah. It's not supposed to happen this way. And it's the second time it's happened. And that's how you became an Olympic medalist. Man, that must be a great feeling. That must be a great feeling right here. Just like all the years of injuries, all of it. As fans that watched this too, it's like, holy shit, he actually did it. It's a packed stadium too. Not one empty seat. Oh, man. So, what were you thinking here? I'll just focus on the next match. Yeah. It took me maybe like a minute or so to like decompress and then like get back to like my normal state for the final. So, the final is against the, the Russian here. What can you say about your mindset?

The Final Match Pete vs Lasha Shavdatuashvili (02:55:36)

What's you saying the exact same thing? Trans students Olympic champion. I will not be denied. Because I had felt like in London and throughout the years, I felt like I kept getting robbed. So, I made sure in my mantra to add that little bit at the end to reassure myself that like, they are not going to control the outcome of today. I'm going to control the outcome. What did you know about the Russian? Everything. And I honestly, I thought I had won the Olympics right now. And I still do think that today. Just like mentally when you think about it that I've won like, yeah, he threw me. But it was like a one in a million chance that that worked for him. Come on. So, it's not like you feel lucky to be in the final. It's like, you remember, I'm anticipating the goal. Like I'm past that. I think there's a confidence in the way you're moving in the way you're. Yeah. Like, I have his sleeve. He's not breaking it. Like still walking him down, still going forward. Like, I knew exactly how I was going to beat him. And I developed the plan because when I was getting ready for Rio, we brought in a lot of the top Japanese players that weren't invited to the camp for the national team to Boston. So I had four people, three of them were on the national team. One of them had won the universities in Japan, all at 81 kilos. I only got thrown once during camp for a month. Oh, like I was, I was ready. I just, I fucking slipped. What does it happen? Right when he threw me. So if you let this play out really quick, there's a point right here where I'm going to come around his back and I'm kind of going to just Yoko Souteme, which means like a lateral drop. And I'm just going to bring him down to the floor, which isn't a throw right here. Yeah. It's more of like a take down, right? I'm trying to get him to the ground because I want to burn him. He doesn't do any wasa. Yeah. So I'm just going to keep burning him and you can see that like I get really close here. He just went a little too far to his side during this exchange. And like he's running. Oh my God. He's very wiry for an 81 kg player. Yeah. There's not much like muscle on him, but he uses his length and his leverage very well. And you can see like I'm really burning the clock here. Like I'm owning these exchanges more than I'm owning the Tachi Wazawa ones, the ones in her feet. So you weren't trying to necessarily like submit him here or like really hard or like pin him. You were trying to break him a bit. I'm doing both. I'm being overly physical. And to a lot of the BJJ people who are watching this, like they're like, oh, well, I would have done this. I would have done that. You've got to think like if that referee who's rapping the judo side of it looks at it for a couple seconds and it's like, ah, he's not really moving. Yeah, they'll stop it. Yeah. So you're like you understand judo. Yeah. With called naywaza groundwork. Like what you because you're really showing it to the ref. Yes. You have to show movement and progression. I'd hurt the forehead. Like see, I threw that hand in there kind of hard, ripping it across his face just because the I gotta, I gotta tell you, there's a calm. Well, no, he does look a little, a little broken. But the Russians have like this calmness. They're pretty good at, well, don't forget they've competed like this for a long time. Yeah, it's all he knows. And this is where I lose it. See how my knee hit the ground? Yeah. My knee wasn't supposed to touch the ground. Yeah. I was supposed to sit to my hip to bring him down. Something happened where my knee touched. Yeah. And it didn't happen in the first one. It just happened there. So like that, we never should have been in that predicament. Yeah. And that's, that's one of the things where when you're looking at sports for anybody who's trying to improve, you have to, when you're, when you're trying to improve, you've really got to ignore the ends of the spectrum, right? The, the oopsies and the, they got lucky. And you only focus on the middle. Like the technique I was doing was perfectly sound. The, it just happened that the one oopsie happened on the stage it shouldn't have happened on. And there's no, there's no amount of drilling that will ever like prevent that from happening. And that's just the, the, that sports, that sports, especially the Olympics, especially Gito when it's like one, one more, one more, oopsie can just be your, that's it. That's it. You know, it really requires, and you have to wrap your head around the idea of like, if you want the ability to beat these people and throw these people, like you got to be willing to get thrown yourself. Yeah. Like this is in boxing. There's no like, I'm going to stand in a place where he can't hit me and I can hit him because we have the key and because they can grab it, they have just as much ability to throw you as you them. So how did you feel here? How long was the duration of you feeling upset that you didn't get the gold versus never felt it? Never felt it. Just because he didn't beat me. Right. Right. It's an important distinction because when I'm training and when I'm competing, like I understand that I take risk and I accept those consequences. That's why I take them. That's a consequence. That's not him being the better Gito player that dominated a match and I didn't have an answer and then he threw me. Then I would be a little upset. Like when you're tired and somebody's coming at you and like, you can't do anything about it, that's a shitty feeling. Yeah. You know, and that wasn't this.

Does the Accomplishment Feel Like a Lifetime Ago? (03:02:07)

Like I accept losing when it's when it's my fault. Well, that was a hell of a story, man. So from 2008, 2012, just the sheer number of injuries, the weight cuts, all of that, the ones you could quit, the doubts, I'm sure you did not get like the fans probably started disappearing somewhere between the second and the third Olympics, like the support from it did. Judo within the United States and just everybody, you know, just like you. So C tried to cut all my funding in 2015 and say, no, you're too old. Yeah. So through all of that to win the medal, I mean, that's what the Olympics is about. Is there some like when you look back, does that seem like another person? Is this like another lifetime ago or like that's a hell of an accomplishment? How do you feel about the whole thing? It's an interesting kind of predicament because there's like those cookie cutter answers about how proud you are and how grateful you are. But at the end of the day, it's not who you are. So that that skill set and that mentality that, you know, it took to accomplish that, that's who you are. And so this was just a stepping stone in who I am. So it's in the past to me. Like there's no shrine in my house that has like an Olympic medal in it. I can't remember last time I looked at it. So you're saying like the all the stories, the skills along the way, that's like you right now sitting here's the shrine. Yeah. The who you become along the journey is really what the prize is. Right? Like when you think about any of them, most of the people that, you know, go through that depression after the games, it's because that is their shrine. Like that is who they've identified as that is who they've told the world, the community, their friends, their family. That's how they've identified. I've identified as a person who perseveres, overcomes and accepts challenges. So like I, all those things are just like, you know, putting a suitcase off to the side and I'm on to the next great chapter thing that I'm trying to do. And it's, it's both sad and cool that very few people in the world get to, to experience what it's like to be you.

No Glory from Cutting Weight (03:04:46)

I mean, this level of having gone through that journey. Everyone has the opportunity to. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I've done a few difficult things in my life, but I got to tell you, weight cuts and sauna. And I would tell people right now who are listening, like, don't go through that. And I think a lot of wrestlers, a lot of young judo players, a lot of long young, like just combat sports people where weight classes are a thing. They almost take a sense of pride. Like when I hear them talking about like, all how much weight do you have to cut? If you have to cut a pound more, it's like you've accomplished more like you're tougher. Yeah. Like you're not. Like there's no, there's no trophies for that. You, whatever the reason had a job to do and you got it done. And that, that is truly inspiring, no matter how hard that there's a big, deep lesson to learn from that. Then you start getting to the specifics of whether you should weight cut or not. But if we don't, then most of the great things we have in this world, we wouldn't have the reason we have many of the great things is because people did that way cut, the equivalent of the way cut for whatever the discipline and there's a difference between having to do it, because you have to, and you get through it, then setting yourself up to do that because you think it's the cool thing or the thing you're supposed to be doing in order to be successful. There are plenty of like two time Olympic medalist. I probably could have been a two time Olympic medalist had I not cut that much weight. I probably would have multiple world medals had I not cut that much weight because my body wouldn't have been that broken. Yeah. There's always the other side of it. So just when you're looking at it, I just hear it in young kids, even some of my own, when you hear them talk about where their weight's at, they almost take a sense of pride on how much they have to lose because they hear stories like this. And it's like, that's not the takeaway. I did it because I had to. I was put in a situation where I may not have gone to this game that I moved up to 90 kilos because I wouldn't have had time to grow into the division. And then you get the job done. And then you get the job done. You're right. There's a, it's a very important difference. And that's also asleep. That's what people talk to me about. There should not be any glorification of not sleeping. Yes. There should not be a glorification of cutting weight. But if that's on the way to your, whatever is that fire inside you that you know needs to get done, like the job at hand, if you need to sacrifice in some of those ways, you get the job done. Yes. Yeah. And the, the Wakeout is an interesting one because it's different. I mean, you, you could speak to this. There's different sports in which the weight is more important than others. And there's different levels to this game. I think at the level you operated in, that was probably essential. Yeah. Like there's huge games change completely from 81 kg to 90 kg. The huge weight jump, it's, it's first off the weight, but then the strategy, it's like so much changes the height and all those kinds of things. The physical, like people don't understand it, but the physical size of a 90 kilo judo player versus the physical size of an 81 kilo judo player, it's like putting a human in a human. Like there's enough space. It's not like, you know, you could stand next to your friend who's 180 pounds and you could be 160 and you guys could look identical. Yeah. It is different when both the 90 kilo, 100 kilo and 81 kilo both have 6% body fat and they're cutting into the class. And it always feels like there's more variety at 90 kilo because some of them are link in tall. Yeah. Some are short and stocky. Stocky. It's like 81 is more uniform, which I, but then the, you know, the flip side of that is the, this is why I like in Jiu Jitsu again, amateur competing against bigger guys. Like I love that more. I like, I like cutting weight just so I'm slim. Like that's why I feel the best with the same thing that you mentioned, but like I love going as 220 that because in Jiu Jitsu, the weight doesn't get amplified in the sport. Like the weight is just the weight, right? If you can, if you can leg press 220 and you can bench 220, then yeah, you can train with a guy who's 220. That's easy. They're not going to hurt you. And I mean, there's, there is a truth that, you know, light weights and middle weights in Jiu Jitsu and the same is true for judo. It's just like a lot more of them. That means if you want to be, is it, you're just competing at a higher level. So like, there's much more variety of games. The level is much higher. So you're taking on a bigger challenge, even if you're like, have a weight advantage. So those are all decisions you have to kind of make and certainly in Jiu Jitsu people that are weight cutting or silly. I mean, that's, that's the natural beginner thing to do is to feel the way the nervousness about competition expresses itself is through the desire to be as light as possible, which is the totally wrong desire to have. Right. Like when you, when you look at me now, I'm probably like 230, right? But I probably have the strength of a 70 kilo judo player. Yeah. Right. The weight doesn't really do much. I mean, you have the same thing with wrestling. Yeah. Skinny, the skinny guys, the skinny you that we're looking at there, just the amount of power in that person. Yeah. It's fascinating. It doesn't look like you have some muscle, but it doesn't look, but I felt the power of some of those people. Yeah. It's scary. Yeah. It's different. That's the best way I can describe it is like scary. It's like, Oh, shit. Again, it's the food chain. You're not at the top of the food chain. Yeah. That's the best natural feeling when you go with some judo people. What's your sense about this recent Olympics? What stands out to you as so like Teddy Rene who wasn't a big run for a long time, many considering to be one of the greatest judo players of all time.

France? (03:10:56)

Two time Olympic gold medalist and two time Olympic bronze medalist, the four Olympic not counting like team stuff, just doing individual and then like, yeah, I'm not sure time world champ. Yeah. I'm not sure they're going to catalog that team event. Like, are they all technically Olympic champions or is France an Olympic champion? No, they're all technically Olympic champions, but I'm going to ignore that. Is that how they're going to classify it? No, according. Oh, sorry. According to Wikipedia, like according to the internet, I don't know what according to IJF or whatever, because you know, some of those players never, you know, want to match. They just filled a spot. Oh, that's even a starker example. Oh, that's sad. You know, they lost in the individual and then they also lost in the team. And so, well, it's interesting because in the case of Teddy, he was, you know, important to the win against Japan in this Olympic. So like in the team event, so like if you, I feel like you should put that in the equation and say who won gold, right? It does feel like he won gold in the team because he carried the team. Well, you have like Nomura at 60 kilos from Japan, three time Olympic gold medalist, no team event. Yeah. Yeah. Are you going to weigh Teddy's team event? No, no, we're not arguing this. Of course. No, I'm just wondering how like the IJF, like, when you look at a player stat, is it going to be like team gold medal for the Olympics versus like their own personal gold medal? Yeah, I think in sport, we have to be brutally honest. And I think hopefully this doesn't piss off people.

Can Teddy Riner Be the Best in 2024? (03:12:52)

I hope it does. But judo is an individual sport. It's honestly just that one athlete, maybe the athlete and coach, right? If you look at the big, big picture, but there's no, there's no team in judo. That's the beauty of combat sports. That's the honesty of it. That's the brutality of losing to another human being in a combat sport. That's why it's so damn embarrassing when you get slammed. It's because it's like you, there's no team to like carry some of that responsibility. It's all on you and you suck. That's what you lost. There's that weight. And that's why it's like magical. It's not, it's not like soccer. It's not, it's not like basketball. Yeah, I couldn't play team sports because if one of my teammates wasn't doing their job correctly, I would go play their position. That I'm going to do it better than you. Yeah, but that, you know, some of the greatest leaders of teams also do that. Michael Jordan is like that, right? I mean, it's like, with your actions, you raised the level for everybody. Like excellence is expected and therefore everybody needs to step up. So some of the greatest, I would say, team leaders are individualist at heart. But it's okay. So Teddy, I think 10 time world champion, non-team regular. It's a big number, but I think he has some like open weight categories in there. Open weight, right, right. I mean, you can count those, right? I mean, that's interesting. It's the same division twice. It's the same division twice. That's right. One day after another. Yeah, that's right. I don't know if I want to count that. Yeah. Well, I mean, that's one of the reasons people don't usually put heavy weights in Judo as like the greatest of all time because the level of competition is lower. Yes. But anyway, he did lose in this match to a young Russian. Yeah. Tamara Limbarshev. Match also not on the internet. Thank you, Olympics. I am definitely going to go on some rats on the internet. I love it. As a fan of Olympics, I feel like this definitely needs to change moving forward. Like every single major Olympic event. I also like random sports, like weightlifting, even though I don't do Olympic weightlifting. It's fun just to watch. It's fun to watch such high level of excellence and the fact that we can't just freaking watch the full like each nicely categorized event is really heartbreaking in Judo, in Olympic weightlifting, in track, in gymnastics, all of that. Anyway, so Teddy lost. I mean, does that stand out to you? If you were to like recap the things that you remember from this Olympics, I picked him losing already, like in my predictions, which were that match or just in general somewhere in the final. In the final, you thought? Yeah. Final, was it semi? When I looked at his draw because he decided not to compete throughout the wad and do like the bare minimum to go, because of his age, I didn't think he would have enough energy to battle his way through. The draw that he had. And sure enough, he didn't. He felt earlier than I thought, but he's not the young athletic person he used to be. And when they changed the rules to Judo, they allowed people to take people into really, really deep waters, which you saw at this Olympics, which, you know, it did it wrong in the sport or did it not? Like, I'm not sure, but it was definitely difficult to watch. Would you put him at the greatest of all time or asked another way? Like, who do you think is the greatest Judo player of all time? He's definitely not the greatest Judo player, but he's definitely the best competitor.

Greatest Judo Players And Techniques

Is Teddy Riner the GoAT of Judo? (03:16:41)

What's the difference in Judo player and competitor? There's an ability to like do the act of Judo of like throwing, pinning, arm locking versus can you win a Judo match? Right? Like when you look at somebody like Nomura who like threw everyone he fought through three Olympics, multiple world championships, multiple things, like that's a pure Judo player. In the essence of Judo, he can throw, pin or arm watch just about anybody he steps on the mat with during his time. Teddy tended to, when you look at his Judo, because of his size, again, it's just because he's in the heavyweight category, he was so much bigger, so much stronger. People just couldn't handle it and you would see really good Judo players just break. Yeah, like they could hang in there for a little bit, but eventually his size, like you can't control that weight. Weight moves weight and when you have to use all your strength to keep him upright and off of you, your muscles just give out because you don't have somebody of that stature and that skill to train with to train those muscles. So what you're thinking more like those 73, 81, 90K GP people, they're just standing in the pocket and just give everything. Like what comes to my mind is like a Koga, Koga, you know, a Nomura who's a 60 kilo guy, but again, like his dynamics and how long he was dominant for, like it just. Do you put value to like epic throws, like singular moments of greatness? If it's against a noteworthy player in a noteworthy position, there are a lot of highlights of people that are good Judo players, but they're highlights are of you know, scrubs on the IJF circuit, but it's like great. The Japanese guy threw the guy from you know, Senegal free poem. Great. We kind of expected that you took the world number one against the 330th person in the world. What do you think was going to happen? Like when I see those highlights like thrown around like social media, I'm like, that's not a highlight. They might as well have just been at the dojo like practice and throws.

The Best Judo Players of All Time (03:19:06)

If you look at the like top 10 list for Judo, Kanolo always comes up, you know, as, but he's not somebody that I don't think his results are there, but you don't really know how he got there. So it's hard for me to like, I can't see his Judo. Yeah. So I'm not sure. Kanolo by the way is the founder of Judo for people who don't or consider to be the founder of Judo. Yeah. The sport evolves. The players that are like, if you took champions from the past and you fought them against the players of today, they're it's not happening. And that goes with anything, right? So every time you think of like who's the best of all time, it's probably somebody within a generation or two of today. If I'm going to pick my my top three, top three, and I would go generationally speaking, I would pick Ono for today. Probably Iliad is for like my timeframe, like the from a developmental standpoint, and then I'd probably go Koga. And then before Koga, I'd probably go no more. No more. As like the person of that generation that people like as a whole in Judo respected. Yeah. Well, in the case of, I wonder if people feared Koga. Yeah. Yeah. Like here that little guy's getting get under you and go for a ride. You know, he was 78 kilos when he took second at the all Japan's, which is an open weight class. You know, like he he could throw down with anybody anyway class and still went. He was one of the early people that planted the seed of Judo, love of Judo on you. Like yeah. And when I looked at him, like that was how like I wanted my Judo to be portrayed that style. Yeah. And then Iliad, as you just like, I mean, you have a similar attitude as him. So you just like the way he cares. That's why we get along. You guys hang out. I mean, I'd love to see that conversation. I remember when we were talking about like his coaching, I was like, why didn't you take this team or like, why did you pick this team? And he's like, I can't work with those people. Like those people are weak for children. Like they don't know how to train hard. I love that guy. What about Ono? Because he was competing in this Olympics.

Super Effective Judo Techniques (03:21:29)

He got he got gold in this Olympics, right? Yeah. Yeah. He lost in the team tournament, though. I think he just didn't care. Yeah. He just really wanted to throw that guy. He like throws everybody. Yeah. So he's he represents the thing you're mentioning. I sent him to the judo fanatics best of Ono. Is there something that stands out to you about him that's especially you find beautiful, like or powerful about a technique? Um, his adaptability to the situations and understanding of like what needs to happen in order to throw these people.

Ono Fight Breakdown (03:22:05)

I specifically watched a match with his and I was going to do a breakdown video on it because is there a match? Do you remember what it is? It's him versus Garvey of Hungary. Is he good at gripping? So we're watching the match against Hungary. So at the one minute comes up right here coming out. I've heard he's freakishly strong. I've never had the ability to to train with him. So I'm not obviously looks super skinny. But when you see him with that is Gee jacket on like he's a jack dude. Which is uncharacteristic of a Japanese player from back in the day. In a way changed all that. He was like we're going to get physical to compete with the Europeans. That's another one of the grades, right? Yeah. He doesn't get mentioned enough. And he's a righty here. Yeah. Okay. And this is where he starts setting it up. It's like you can see he was standing in like a left handed stance and then he changes. So he grips almost like a double sleeve, not a double sleeve of the tricep. The tricep and the front sleeve standing like a lefty and no body grip. Just tries up and sleeve. And it was like the biggest whip and twist of a new Shimada. Yeah. He doesn't actually lift him off the floor. Yeah. And if you look at it in like slow motion almost. Yeah. There we go. The Hungarian player was like 100% defense and he still did this. Right. So right here like press boss. This is like and identify if you're trying to like learn you don't figure out how to set it up. Because knowing how to get to the point right before you pull the trigger is probably the most important. So when we watch this play out what Ono is going to do is he's going to pivot off his right leg right here. He's going to back step with his left and it's going to pull on Garvey's front leg all the way forward into what we would call like a neutral square stance. So he plants hard and look at this. This is an interesting pull with the tr-- oh no, it's not tricep. He almost like, he starts with the tricep and he like collects the gear or something like that. But it's still above the elbow because you can see the bend right. And right here see how he never put back it up a little bit. This is kind of like one of those things. Yeah, pause it right there. So when he puts his right foot down he's pulling so hard with his back that when Ono goes to put his left foot down it never touches the mat. But by putting his left foot back it actually pulls and Garvey's foot forward. And so he's able to speed up his throw by just continuing that motion back. Which what was supposed to have been a step turned out to just in the middle of the action he makes a split second decision before putting the foot down to just continue. Because he recognizes that feeling his hands. Yeah. And so it's like it never it's a swing like he never touches the guard. But it never it never started as like a big swing to a back step. He changed his mind part way through. So right there to be a back step. And then he goes nope he's bringing that foot forward I'm just going to go for it. And wait is he full like full air. Look at that boom boom. And look at if you go a few more steps forward right there his hip is the same height as Ono Garvey's shoulder. Yeah. Because he's leaning so far into the throw with his body weight. And he's allowing that tricep grip to rotate. That's going to draw on Garvey forward. And now when you pause it right here you think about the sheer physics to like get your body into this position. Jimmy and I were so like when we saw this for the first time we tried to just stand like that and we couldn't do it. His left foot is pointing straight ahead. His chest is perpendicular to that foot or parallel with it right. And his head is by his foot. Yeah. Is that only possible in the midst of a throw do you think he works on making like. I think he's done this particular throw not this style of it but Uchimada so much. Yeah. That his body has adapted to be able to do this. So when people are trying to learn and like break down videos. Yeah. They don't understand like the power he has and what we call end range motion. Yeah look at that. So like look at the full range of motion he takes right. Yeah. That left foot swings all the way around and the torso starts like at three o'clock and it goes all the way around like almost back to the three o'clock. Yeah. Like like look at like that what and he never lifts his leg above his hip. And the crazy part is he never fell over during any of it. Yeah look at that. Stayed on his feet. What's he doing? Is that is that a matter of pride or just I think that's just habit. The way the forces work like he can just stay up. I that's one of the most beautiful throws I've ever seen. There's so much wrong with it but it worked. It worked because when you think about member what we talked about the very beginning like he's got to get his center gravity under his. Well here's one of the top players in the world throwing another top player in the world with his hip at that guy's shoulder height and it's still working. It's okay. So he this generation he could be the great. Yeah. And like he switched a lot of those details of the throw in the middle. In the middle. And that that only's that means he's probably what like a hundred thousand times that throws happen.

Judo to Chess (03:28:09)

Yeah. I saw you were into chess recently. So you're like me a bit of a beginner in chess. You're part of launching the website effective chess. So I got to ask maybe it's a personal question but do you have advice to yourself and to other beginners in exploring chess? If I had to one have fun to start getting good. It's nice to see like Olympic caliber athlete take on a difficult task with a beginner's mind. So like what's that process like? I'm a huge fan of just learning new things in general. Right. Like when I left Judo like I took a job as you know marketing for foodie sports. And I was getting frustrated with designers. So I learned Photoshop. I also got angry with a photographer. So now I take all the photos to just because I don't mind learning. You know I've spent my entire Judo career learning all the time like adding new techniques, finding new ways, practicing, developing. And so when it comes to chess I treat it just like I do anything else. I just stick to one plan and I learn all the ins and outs of that one plan. And then I develop another plan. Right. Like all my practice like a London opening for example and just I don't even care if I win or lose. I just want to figure out how I'm going to lose and then figure out how I'm going to win. And once I know that position is now done then I start with another position. And then once I've figured out how I'm going to lose and how I'm going to win. The next thing I do is I don't go to a third. I figure out the bridge between the two. Like at what point during my openings can I transition back into this opening? Right. So like you have like some basic openings and you want to see how they go wrong, how they go right all the different ways. And then that starts to solidify a higher level concept of that particular opening and you start to stitch together the concepts together. Because being able to go from one to another and then back and forth is part of the reasons why like I was successful at Judo is just because everything I do at some point it touches that spider web of like being able to get from one area to another. We refer to it as like a toolbox right? You need more tools in your toolbox. But if you're always grabbing the wrong tool for the right for that job then you're just not going to have success.

Vladimir Putin (03:30:38)

I actually forgot to ask you mentioned a few greatest chess players of all time and I noticed he didn't mention Vladimir Putin. I was going to ask you about his Judo. Do you much chance know much about his Judo? What do you think about you know a president of a major nation being a Judo black belt? And I think from what I've seen pretty good at it. I think it shows you know if he actually got it. Like let's go with that premise of like he earned it. Right? That just shows like a level of like physical persistence and mental fortitude to be able to like you know take those beatings and just keep showing up until you've overcome and can now give those beatings. As you know in Japan and Russia you get it by just like when you're young. It's easier to get a black belt when you're like just go through a bunch of beatings for like 10 years in your teenage years. But there's also from it springs like a camaraderie. There's definitely a brotherhood and sisterhood in terms of Judo to where you're connected forever because of that. For many people it's their childhood connection. You sort of leave Judo you know in your 20s and your 30s but that's always there and the same is true with wrestling. So it's interesting to see him pay respect to that. Like by going with the Russian national Judo team and I think you did obviously they have to get thrown right. But just you can tell and you probably could tell even better. But you can tell when a person moves in a way where you're like okay you've had like 10 years of beatings and you can tell. Yeah the way they pull the way they move. But I also like in contrast to the US national team or I don't even think there's a national team for US right? It's the Pedro Judo Center right. That there is some it's really cool when there's a camaraderie like that amongst the highest level Olympic caliber athletes in Russia. I suppose Japan might have similar kind of thing and then you have the you can have the system of people together and then you can have a strong coaching staff. Not just like a coach but a coaching staff and then you can have the nation backing that staff. I mean yeah and then the result is like you have some incredible level of Judo emerge. Is there something you could say we didn't talk much about Jimmy.

Influences On Travis'S Career

Impact of Jimmy on Travis (03:33:16)

I mean he was a critical part of your perseverance through all the yet to go through. What did you learn from Jimmy? What are some impacts that he had on your life both on the mat and off the mat? You know if we had to like put it down to like a very simple thing he taught me how to win. Right it wasn't necessarily like the technical side of Judo like we went over gripping we went over this we adapted that but the real strength to Jimmy was like he knows how to win and most people think well if I get really good at this technique I'll be able to throw people with it not win. That is not how the world of sports works. Right like I remember in one of my YouTube videos I was doing a breakdown of a match from the Cuba Grand Prix where I was fighting a Mongolian guy. He's kicking the shit at me. Not gonna lie. Four minutes in like he would just throwing me like left and right he was so fast I felt like I just couldn't get to him. In the last 30 seconds he changed. He started protecting his lead instead of continuing the fight the way the entire match was going in his favor. He made a mental shift and when he made that mental shift I beat him. Yeah because he didn't know how to win the fight. He can win exchanges but he can't win the fight. So the last thing you want to do is have to win every exchange in a match. You want to know how to kick it into six gear. Like when to step off the gas, when to focus on gripping, when to attack, how often to attack. All those things like and you've had those conversations with Jimmy like this is not like how to stop trying to win every exchange that kind of thing. Yeah and instead because I was a brawler before I was like I threw you once I'm throwing you again and sometimes you get caught. Why would I do that? I'm already winning. What about like the mental side of the game, the preparation, all those things. One of the biggest things Jimmy brought to the forefront when it came to like the mental side was the visualization right and when I started visualizing myself winning I started seeing more success but once I started seeing more success with the visualization also came self-doubt because as I'm starting to picture myself like I would picture myself before fighting churches Philly I'm going to throw them with Goshiguruma and I can see it and if I stand in the shoot for too long you start to like but what if he counters then you go well if he counters with this I'm going to counter with that but you already let that doubt in and then you start playing this like five-step scenario but you still come out on top but all that doubt has like seeped into your mind right and a lot of people don't understand that that's a bad thing you're still winning in your mind but you're also doubting yourself in your mind. Yeah once you let the like that loop out seep in it's a little destructive. Yeah and so I remember I was at the world championship so I can't remember what year it was but I was ready like I was healthy I was ready to go and we all thought like this is the year Travis wins the world's I go out there in the first round I'm in the shoot for like 45 minutes like the match went into golden score then the next match went into golden score then the fucking next match went into golden score then the referee came one told me you can't wear your ghee then big Jim goes why can't he wear his ghee any ghee that has his name on it we're not going to let him wear he has to wear a different ghee so then I go fuck you I'm leaving and I walked out there and I fought I lost in golden score because I did a coach and they called it a false attack and I went great I'm out of the fucking worlds but when I was in the shoot I struggled because I started allowing the like Hungarian guy that I was going to face to do things to me that I would have to play defense to and then counter it's like great but now I'm doubting my own ability so I went to a sports psychologist and the big game changer for me was I focused more on the emotional physical response that happens in matches rather than the actual you know quote unquote like Instagram picture that would have happened yeah so when I was getting ready for 2016 you think about like how do you feel like standing in the shoot like what is your body feel like is your heart racing how's your breath is your mouth dry and then you think about like okay the ref just started the match what happens like how what's the atmosphere like how do you emotionally respond to these things more so than me trying to beat a specific judo player right like all the ref just gave you a penalty at a minute 30 like how do you feel and then you start thinking about the physical responses and when you do that really well you can actually get the pins and needles and your body will start to sweat and your heart will start to race as if you're in it because it's not about the technique it's more about the physical like what does it feel like to have your fingers ripped out of a gi in the first exchange now my hands can feel that that's fascinating and then on a cellular level like I fought the Olympic game so many times to the point where like it is no longer a goal it's an anticipation right so down to the experience of the grip brake that just the sweat the the heart beating the yeah how does it feel to have your head smashed into a mat and driven across the mat with a mat burn yeah and then getting back up yeah and getting back up yeah I like with a bit of a burn all the kinds of the actual sensations in this game the actual sensation of what it takes to fight a judo match not a strategy like but the actual sensations the experience that's fascinating because then your body's gonna fight hundreds of matches without the physical damage and you can probably get really far with that and not also in just judo but basically anything you can simulate yeah if you learn how to simulate well you've lived a very uh a hell of a life is there a device you can give to young people sort of uh high school college you know thinking

Travis'S Life Philosophy

How I've lived my life (03:39:56)

about their career thinking about life how to live one they're proud of I think the the number one thing I can tell people is and how I've lived my life is you've really got to like forget everybody in your life right now your mother your father your grandparent your girlfriend your boyfriend whoever it is and really decide like what is gonna make you happy right at some point in my career the act of pushing my body to the limit made me happier than winning a grand slam medal pushing my body to the limit didn't make me happier than winning an Olympic medal right there was a there's a balance there and I think a lot of people struggle with living their life with their happy and they make other people happy or take in their their feelings into the considerations of what they need to do in their life and I think if they can cut those strings sooner it'll allow you to get over it quicker and get to a happier place sooner and then as long as you're focusing on what's making you happy the things you do that make you happy will attract other people who do those things that will in turn build stronger better relationships and then you will also realize the the best form of yourself and inspire many others like yeah you've inspired me to uh whatever the hell I've done uh at least to do a slightly better job than I otherwise would have by doing martial arts by taking that uh journey and I think becoming a better person because so Travis I have been I continue to be one of your biggest fans I love your whole career in the way you pursued happiness I love what you and Jimmy have done I love the sport of judo as represented by you so I deeply appreciate what you've done then and I'm honored that you would spend your time with me today thanks for talking man thank you thanks for listening to this conversation with Travis Stevens to support this podcast please check out our sponsors in the description and now let me leave you some words from Napoleon Bonaparte never interrupt your enemy when he's making a mistake thank you for listening and hope to see you next time you you

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