To be the best– and to be the best at something consistently are two different things. In Daigo’s own words: “99%の人間は勝ち続けられない” which translates to, “99% of people can’t continue winning.”
For those who don’t know, Daigo Umehara is ranked in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Most winningest Street Fight Player ever.” He has a 10+ year history of consistent winning, something rare and hard to attain for anyone, no matter what field your in.
- Daigo Umehara wrote the book: The Will to Keep Winning (Amazon). A smash hit in Japan (As of today has 228 ratings on Amazon.co.jp). In his book, Daigo explains the difference between winning and consistently winning, a feat that 99% of most people can’t do.
Strategy #1 Don’t focus on winning.
Daigo has some unique insights on how he became the worlds best. One of the key’s to Daigo’s success is that he doesn’t focus on winning at all.
In his book, The Will to Keep Winning (Amazon), Daigo says that:
In the end, the best thing is to win on your own ability and place self-improvement as top priority. My commitment to this is one of the secrets to why I’ve stayed on top for so long.
Fighting games are as much a mental battle as anything, and players who are too hung up on winning are easy to read and tend to shy away at the last minute. They tend to be more cautious and overly rely on theory. Theory is a good foundation but not enough to win. Playing that way makes you look like you’re riding with training wheels.
Sidenote: Just today I was watching a bit of the Rio Olympics and one of the female athletes said, “I’m always focused on winning.” In fact, a number of athletes talk about winning being their focus. But ask yourself, “Are these people consistent 10+ year winners?”
Strategy #2: Daily self-improvement as your focus
When you focus on self-improvement you gain skills that will serve you well in the long run. You chose the hard road rather than the easy road. The hard road gives you a chance to grow and the easy road gives you a chance at the easy win.
If you aim for big changes and improvements and somehow miss your mark, your motivation will nosedive. I don’t strive for any kind of dramatic growth, and I don’t look to develop tricks or special moves. I’m fine not making any sudden jumps in my ability; Climbing the stairs one at a time is enough.
Having growth mindset is also supported by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, who wrote the book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Amazon) and Mike Cernovich, author of the book Gorilla Mindset (Amazon).
The growth mindset is what allows you to keep on improving.
Strategy #3: Don’t rely on fads, underhanded tactics, or strategies
Everyday we are all tempted to buy the next gadget, diet, or protein powder that will “jumpstart” muscle growth or some other gimmicky shortcut. In the end, the skills you learn as a nobody are always the foundation of continued growth.
At the end of the day, all of the efficient approaches and winning strategies have their limits. For example, say there’s this great move in some fighting game that only a certain character can use. Everyone knows that using it makes you stronger, so everyone starts using it. Pretty soon, everyone’s playing the same way. The move is so influential that everyone depends on it. I would never use that move in such a situation,
It wouldn’t be easy, or course but it is never impossible to win without using a certain move. There’s always another way for those willing to search hard enough. Over the course of a year, the gap between me and those who continue relying on the convenient move would widen.
I have worked hard to understand the true essence of the game without relying on easy moves. This gives me a steadier, more dependable power level.
Strategy #4: View tournaments as a way of self-improvement.
If your goal is self-improvement during a tournament you’re more likely to try and face an opponent against his strength rather than his weakness.
Tournaments are a playground for people who practice for growth. It’s where they show off their achievements. Once I made that realization, I finally started making continued growth my goal, rather than winning. Games enrich my life by allowing me to grow as an individual, and that’s what motivates me to keep going.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with winning a tournament or achieving a certain result as an objective. Objectives can be a good short-term motivation that draws out your potential. Get overly obsessed with that objective and let it become your goal, however, and you’ll stop producing and lose the will to continue.
Strategy #5: To be the best means you can’t be imitated.
If your focus is for self-improvement and to be the best at something– eventually you reach the point where you can’t be imitated.
Daigo explains what it’s like:
Skill exceeding 10 can’t be taught, and it can’t be imitated. It’s on a whole other plane. Those around you will sense that you’re strong, for sure, but they won’t be able to pinpoint exactly what’s different of wherein your strength lies. The majority of people can’t even tell the difference. If you can reach that point, you won’t lose at that game.
Daigo uses a scale of 1-10 to explain skill gaps. 1 being the easiest to beat and 10 being the hardest to beat.
Strategy #6: Instinct + experience is a deadly combo
It’s strange but I’ve heard many people who experience this “boomerang” effect when it comes to sports, games, and anything that requires practice.
First you know nothing. Then you read all the books, forums, websites, and imitate other’s tactics. You borrow moves, steal this person style, and make attempts at forming your own playstyle. Then eventually you have enough experience, you cook the books, stop reading websites, stop imitating because you’ve learned nearly everything about the subject. You try to get back to what made you pick it up in the first place.
I now try to play like I did when I was younger, trusting my intuition. As long as nothing exceptionally disastrous, I immediately apply what I’ve learned to my play. I’ve stopped worrying about outcomes and instead find joy in my own daily advances, and doing so makes me feel like I did back in the day. I look for tactics that only I can pull off, and I try to act in what I think is the right way.
There’s much wisdom in his book The Will to Keep Winning (Amazon). A smash hit in Japan but highly underrated in America.