Alex “Little Rock” Silva just reached the pinnacle of his martial arts career.
The 35-year-old Brazilian recently captured the ONE Strawweight World Championship in a thrilling showdown with previously unbeaten titleholder Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito this past December.
It was the culmination of a lifelong dream for Silva, and it was all made possible because he remained true to his values and principles. He remained disciplined, put in the hard work, and powered through every single one of his obstacles. In fact, he has been striving to succeed since he was born, having entered the world two months premature.
Silva is a true inspiration, and someone others can look up to. Here are some lessons from the newly-crowned world champion that could help you achieve your own personal success.
Never Back Down
Silva’s ability to stand strong and never back down has become vital to his martial arts career, but it is a quality he possessed dating back to his childhood.
As a young boy growing up in Ubatuba, Brazil, Silva was picked on by his larger schoolmates. He was one of the smaller kids in his class, and that made him an easy target for bullies. But unlike some victims, “Little Rock” never backed down, and he turned that strength of character into success.
Though he endured some unfortunate experiences, it is ultimately what got him started on his martial arts journey. His parents enrolled him in various disciplines, including kung fu and capoeira. It was Brazilian jiu-jitsu, however, that grabbed his heart, and led him to glory.
Always Seek To Improve
“Little Rock” was never fully satisfied in his accomplishments or his techniques. He always wanted more.
At the age of 13, when Silva first saw Royce Gracie demolish larger opposition with Brazilian jiu-jitsu, he aspired to be just like his fellow countryman. He left behind all other disciplines, focused strictly on the “gentle art,” and excelled in a major way.
Silva won a plethora of regional tournaments and a Brazilian National Championship, before finally capturing the coveted Copa Do Mundo trophy. Even though he was a BJJ world champion, he wanted to go further.
Yet, he was still hungry for more. With over 250 BJJ matches under his belt, he sought the next challenge. That is when he turned his attention to the all-encompassing world of martial arts, and the cage. He added impressive Muay Thai striking skills to his world-class grappling base, and now stands as the ONE Strawweight World Champion.
Hard Work Pays Off
It is difficult to become a world champion in one sport, let alone two. But through hard work and determination, it is possible. Silva has clearly proven that.
The Singapore-based Brazilian stumbled in his promotional debut against Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio back in February 2012, and despite most of his wins coming by way of submission, he knew he could not rely solely on his jiu-jitsu mastery to win ONE gold.
Silva had to evolve, and that is what he did. At Evolve MMA, he developed the necessary stand-up skills under the gym’s many Muay Thai world champions to compete with the game’s elite. And while he adds striking to his overall skill set, he is sure not to neglect other disciplines.
“I train everything every day anyway. Every day grappling, every day striking, every day wrestling. That is how we train here at Evolve.”
Like the old saying goes, practice makes perfect, and Silva has put in thousands of hours on the mats into being as perfect as possible.
Stay Humble And Respectful
Throughout his life, Silva has always expressed humility. In fact, it is central to his being.
When he started developing his BJJ techniques, he was a novice just like any other white belt on the mat. He tested out his skills by rolling with other competitors, and he often got tapped out, including by girls who were smaller than him.
“I was so impressed! I thought, ‘How can these small girls tap me out?’” said the World Champion. “That is why I was so fascinated by the sport. You can be stronger and you can be faster, but if you do not have the technique and the skill in BJJ, you can tap out to anyone. I remember that well.”
“Little Rock” remembers that lesson in humility so well, he wants to inspire people with it. Although he is the reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion, he hopes people can look beyond the gold around his waist, and see a martial artist who carries honorable and noble traits.
“It is most important that before you are even a champion, that you have a good personality, and a good character. You need to be humble,” he explains.
“I do not want people to just see that I am a champion, but not have the right character. That is very important to me. I think that is what has brought me to where I am today — being humble and having a good character, whether you are a champion or not.”