Kru Mark Dellagrotte said something very interesting during a talk with the fighters and trainers at Sityodtong last night.
The fight game, he pointed out, is one of the careers where luck rarely plays a factor. In business, for example, you can land a job through the good fortune of knowing the right people, or being born into the right family. Even if you don't really know how to do the job when you start, you might still get in by virtue of luck and connections, and nothing more.
In fighting, while who you know can certainly help, at the end of the day, the fight is the fight. If you can't hang with the big boys, no amount of connection will get you into the ring or cage with them--and even if it did, you'd lose. "Fake it 'til you make it" is not a viable combat strategy.
This is a truth that applies even to those who have no desire to be competitive fighters. You can know the best and brightest in the martial arts world, have photographs and signatures from every world champion, and have paid for a thirteenth-degree black belt from your local karate school--and none of it means you can actually perform. Coach Blauer said something once to the effect of "on judgement day, you will be tested not on what (or who) you know, but on what you've done." (My apologies if I'm mangling the quote).
The only path to success in the martial arts is through hard work.
Here's the thing: this should be GOOD news. This should be INSPIRING, not discouraging. This is an endeavor where the only thing holding you back is YOU. If you put in the time, the energy, and the effort, you can develop the skill. Some sacrifice might be necessary, but that's the price of success in anything.
Can it help to know good coaches, or to have more money to spend on training, or whatever? Sure, it can. But many successful fighters and martial artists have made due with less. I'm grateful to have been part of one of the last generation of martial artists that didn't have youtube. It meant I had to just go outside and practice stuff, instead of watching videos and imagining that I knew how to do something.
If you want to be great, get after it.