This weekend a dear friend of mine — warrior, UFC fighter James Krause — will be throwing down in Lincoln, Nebraska. I have come to know James well, not only as a professional athlete, but through the MMA gym he owns and often coaches at. James is also a visionary when it comes to business and his budding real estate investing empire.
For two years I have been training with my personal coach Trey, James, and the many other amateurs and professional fighters in the gym. I’ve come to learn some real ground and striking skills. I’ve met amazing, talented athletes to train with. And realized there is quite the different between watching it on TV and thinking you understand and being in the midst of a sparring session.
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Training is Not For the Light-Hearted, or Easily Deterred
There are very real, immediate, and potentially severe consequences from training. I’ve broken toes from kicking someone’s knee at full speed. There were times I had massive bruises and difficulty walking for multiple days from being repeatedly kicked in the thigh and the side — hard. I dislocated my jaw when I was choked across my chin.
After all, the point of training is to get good at kicking, punching, kneeing, and choking another human being.
I believe the factors and effort it takes to become great at martial arts shares principals that directly relate to real estate. Let’s explore connecting mixed martial arts, professional fighters, the mastery of something, and how it intersects with real estate.
Principal 1. Understand the Game
Ever been to a sporting event and you didn’t know the rules of the game? For me, watching rugby is like watching a bunch of men in funny suits who don’t know how to play football throwing a misshaped football. I DON’T KNOW THE RULES! (Sorry, rugby fans!)
In MMA, there are a specific set of basics on how to throw a punch, how to throw, how to defend yourself from kicks, or get out of a particular submission. Ways to put together combinations in striking, or setup take downs. There are also specific rules you must follow as a fighter both standing, in transition, and on the ground. These rules have to be followed or you can lose points or even be disqualified in a fight.
Just like in real estate, when pressure is applied to a live situation, you will go to your default. To what you have trained or done the most of. The fighter must train in real time, with real pressure. Without repeated effort and focus, in a live situation, with adrenaline and a real opponent in front of you, your default will be panic instead of a sound defense or counter.
In real estate, if you want to accomplish buying rentals or flipping a property, you have to understand the game. What are the legal rules of putting this contract together? How does it work buying from a wholesaler or an auction at the court house steps? There are real, serious, consequences to not understanding the game. Talking about a punch in the gut … I can tell you, it hurts (both physically and mentally).
Not knowing the game in real estate can cost you money, headaches, a lawsuit. It can financially ruin someone who hasn’t understood the rules and hasn’t done their home work.
Principal 2. Show up and Put In the Work
From what I understand the average black belt in jui-jitsu has been working steadily at the craft for 10, 12, 15+ years. Sure, there are people who have a high aptitude or have worked extraordinarily hard to accomplish this sooner. But it still take many years.
If you have never trained, it may be hard to understand. But let me try to paint the picture for you: As a white belt (which I am), most of my time in class is spent learning skills and then defending myself, trying not to get arm locked or choked out.
This takes patience. And a willingness to be uncomfortable. At first, with someone smothering you with their weight, or an elbow in your midsection, you FREAK. You can’t breathe. It’s hard to understand what is happening without understanding the basic concepts of offensive and defensive positions.
Over time, you start to develop some skills. More defense. Higher stamina. You can control your breathing. You start to use techniques instead of trying to muscle out of a problem (which doesn’t usually work).
These skills are practiced, honed, worked, thousands and thousands of times until they can be executed without conscience effort. As you gain these skills, it becomes second nature to understand the situation and take action armed with the necessary tools, talents, and techniques.
The professionals in our gym are there every day — often multiple times a day.
Their skills and abilities aren’t luck. They are the product of their time, effort and practice, of their craft.
Real estate is no different. You have to put the work in, learn how construction works and the details within it. You need to know how to put a rental deal together and understand a secondary note. Buying SFR’s versus apartments. As you learn skills, more skills and details appear that you didn’t know existed. Not less. These skills become the backbone of your real estate game. Just like your martial arts game. It’s the pieces that put together the whole.
Principal 3. Know and Work on Your Strengths, and Understand and Defend Your Weaknesses
As an MMA fan, I have seen incredible fights over the years in the UFC and beyond. To a new viewer, it may seem that there are two people trying to beat the crap out of each other. Although this does happen, there are SO many aspects to the game beyond just being in a boxing type brawl, two people just trying to hurt each other.
One opponent might be a great wrestler —even a college, world, or olympic champion. Some are incredible jiu-jitsu players with tricky submissions and ground game. Others are tactical strikers, kick boxers, Muay Thai champions, and some are just freak athletes, cardio and stamina with an engine to outlast a storm and keep fighting. There is also a real mental game both internally and outwardly toward your opponent.
The more well rounded you are as an athlete in each of these areas, the better your overall MMA game will be and the more easily you’ll be able to transition between skills and observe and understand the opponent in front of you. You can more easily recognize both problems and opportunities within the fight.
When other fighters and coaches break down a future opponent, they look for patterns. For weakness, like emotional strain after getting hit or taken down. Where are the holes in their game? What is the best way to get after this opponent?
For some, it may be a lack of skill in wrestling, so you would practice setting up take downs with striking. Or maybe someone always likes to counter with a certain punch, so you practice over and over feinting a certain strike to set the conditions you can get your opponent to react to, and you use that opportunity to your advantage.
In a real estate negotiation, do you unknowingly show your cards? Or choke in a negotiation when you were about to get the numbers you wanted but you didn’t read the other parties cues? Have you practiced over and over how to pitch a sale or a purchase? Reviewed your personality and worked on the areas of your business that aren’t strong? If you are great at building rapport in person, stop trying to close the sale on the phone. Get to the house or meet up with the other party.
If you aren’t very familiar with a particular type of deal, don’t try to negotiate it immediately without all the information. Call a friend or mentor who KNOWS and does those types of deals. Work through how to do it. Sometimes it’s better to pass on an opportunity if you can’t understand it rather than say YES and then get into a deal or property you don’t understand.
Principal 4. There is No Replacement For the Real Thing
When I first started training, my coach Trey and I worked on throwing a few basic punches and kicks. He would call out the numbers, and then I would be expected to throw or kick that punch. At first, we would do single punches or small combinations of just one or two together. We worked constantly on refining the way I threw a punch. The way my body or head moved as I threw a right hand, or a left. I distinctly remember him saying, “Soon I’ll throw out five or 10 different things together and you will just do it.”
At the time, more than a few combinations would literally break me mentally, and I’d have to slow down or have him repeat these many times over. It was exhausting.
But over time, it became second nature to throw or punch. Trey could help me refine a punch while working on multiple other things at the same time. There is NO replacement for putting in the work, for doing the reps.
At this point, I am reasonably effective sparring against some of the amateurs in our gym. It’s a constant process of refinement, practice, and DOING the work. You can’t replicate the speed and timing of sparring in a live situation. That’s why we practice reps, scenarios, and combinations, over and over.
In my business, I’ve completed hundreds of real estate transactions over more than a decade and negotiated tens of million of dollars of real estate deals. I’m well compensated coaching other real estate investors who want to grow as leaders and operators in the single-family space.
BUT, to this day I still study, grow, learn new tactics, timing, realizations, breakthroughs, and opportunities —in every transaction.
The learning is constant and comes with time and experience. AND, with continuous work on your craft. You have to operate at real speed. In real deals. With real money and opportunity at stake.
Principal 5. Have a Killer Team in Your Corner
This weekend, James will have an incredible group of people around him. They are there not only to get him safely through his weight cut, but to make sure he is hydrated and his nutrition is on point. They’ll help him keep his head in the game and not go stir crazy. They will train with him and keep him sharp without getting him injured prior to the fight.
When it comes time for the fight, the corner will call out things they see in real time. Like what the opponent is doing, what combinations to throw, how to get out of a nasty spot against the cage, and opportunities he may not see in the moment.
You’re corner literally has your back in the midst of a fist fight.
Having this level of trust and confidence in your corner isn’t just a given. It’s learned and earned. It comes over time. And with experience and practice.
Does what they tell you makes sense? Do you understand it? And can you can effectively do it in the moment? It has to work together seamlessly.
This has so many direct similarities to real estate.
Not sure on the value of that project? You call a realtor you trust. Or if the title is clean, you go to your title company to do the research. In my business, my partner is so much better at the tracking of money and figuring out follow up systems. If I’m not sure what to do in a situation, or how to implement an idea, I go to him.
My team in our construction, sales, and acquisitions. My business partner. Close mentors and friends in the real estate world I’ve built relationships with over time. Our title companies, contractors, attorneys, inspectors, and appraisers, that we’ve worked with time after time.
This is MY real estate CORNER.
First, Get some, James! Let’s go!
You inspire me on the level of training, dedication, mastery, skill, and success in your sport. I’m in your corner, and I’ll be screaming and yelling for your success this weekend.
Second, if you’ve made it this far, dear ready—WHO do you have in YOUR corner? Where are the gaps? What are you missing in your life, your business, your MMA game? Do y0u need more or different people in your corner? Are you cutting corners in your success? Or are you putting in the work? And do you have the team around you helping you get better, who has your back, but who also can call out what they see … even if it’s about YOU?
It’s time to take action with the warrior spirit. Apply that level of effort, level of tactics, emotion, and repetitions, and get after it.
What tips do you have for getting after your goals?
Share them in the comments below!