How Teppu Perfectly Displays The Importance Of Talent Vs Hard Work In MMA

How Teppu Perfectly Displays The Importance Of Talent Vs Hard Work In MMA

I'm certain that at some point, every single one of us has wondered, which one matters more. Talent or hardwork?

It can often be disheartening to see someone quickly pick up something that took you weeks, maybe even months to learn. And this is no different for combat sport athletes. It might even have you deciding if it is even worth the time. Worth the blood, sweat and tears that you poured into it.

The hard truth is that talent is undoubtably a huge factor in succeeding in the long run. But is it everything? Absolutely not and I think that the manga, Teppu, does an incredible job of portraying the value of hard work while keeping it grounded in reality.

Disclaimer: this post will contain spoilers so please consider reading the manga first if you have not done so.

The two most important characters

The two characters I want to talk about are Natsuo Ishido and Yuzuko Mawatari.

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I firstly want to focus on Natsuo, the main character of this story. She is a tall girl who has unbelievable athletic talent. She easily became the most proficient volleyball player in their school after joining and thrived at Karate despite not training very long. She is somewhat resented by her peers due to this, and her arrogant attitude. Natsuo's overwhelming talent has led to her becoming bored with most sports that she tries. That is until she encounters Yuzuko, a transfer student from Brazil. Yuzuko is trying to convince people to join her MMA club.

Intrigued by the energetic smaller girl, she decides to go and check it out. After Natsuo asks to spar her, just to kill some time, they put on their gear and get ready to fight. Natsuo is initially very confident. She has a massive reach advantage and prior Karate experience to boot. However, she soon discovers that Yuzuko is far more skilled than she had expected, even managing to land a hit on her. Their match is cut short when it is interrupted by the Karate club.

As Natsuo leaves, Yuzuko tells her that with a little bit of practice, she would be able to go far in MMA. Despite meaning well, this infuriates Natsuo. For the first time ever, Natsuo was not able to rely solely on her talent to win.

She later revisits the club to fight under real MMA rules. As someone who only ever practiced striking, she is utterly dominated when it comes to takedowns and grappling techniques.

Natsuo resolves to put 100% of her effort into learning MMA, something that she has never had to do for anything. Slowly, but surely, she wants to hone the talents that she was born with. Her philosophy being, if she used all of her talent and worked as hard as she could and still lost, she can cry without being ashamed. Which is kinda strange.

After joining an MMA gym, she realises how powerless she is at grappling and is constantly having to tap out.

One of the other gym members, Kirito Haruka, even taunts Natsuo, wondering why she still bothers training when she just gets beaten every session.

Although this would indicate that talent is not enough to succeed, there is a very important part later that demonstrates the painful truth. Talent can carry you a long way, even in one's first year of training.

The grappling tournament

This girl and Natsuo are invited to participate in an all-women grappling tournament. Moreso, due to their larger physiques, they are each others opponents for both the gi and no-gi matches. Kirito has both MMA experience and a history of Judo so naturally she should be better. Right?

Well in the first match, since Natsuo has no experience in the gi, she loses by unanimous decision. Her talent helped her put up a fight, but not enough to let her win.

This completely changes in the no-gi match. Since she had started training, everytime Natsuo made or watched someone else make a mistake, she had analysed and memorised how it was countered. She is able to fully dominate this match to the point of even toying with Kirito for fun.

This is a sad reality. People with years of experience are often overtaken by people that simply have a gift for the sport. And as tragic as it is, talent is incredibly important and pretty much a requirement at higher levels.

How far can hard work alone take you?

Now I want to talk about Yuzuko. From what the series shows, she is pretty much the strongest character, ignoring the pros. With that being said, she is still shown to beat multiple pro fighters.

Contrary to what we see of her, she actually has nowhere near as much talent as Natsuo. Further than that, she has much less talent than average. Starting her training at the age of 7, she is relentlessly beaten by Ringi. Ringi is a young girl of the same age as Yuzuko and is the daughter of one of the greatest pro fighters in the world. Even so, Yuzuko still turns up everyday to train.

Even though she is pretty useless at learning technques, she still keeps training with a smile on her face. But this chapter shows what allows people with less talent to win. To overcome their peers despite how disheartening the journey is.

Even though she was putting in so much extra work, she would still find herself being dominated by the naturals of the gym. Yuzuko does not let this phase her. Even more strangely, she holds no resentment to the people that are better than her. She simply admires them. The difference between Yuzuko and others, the thing that allows her to succeed, is that she is willing to do whatever it takes to get better.

The final match between Natsuo and Yuzuko

The clash that has been anticipated since the start of the manga.

On the one side we have Natsuo, who has achieved everything with pretty much pure talent. And only having trained MMA for 6 months.

And on the other side, we have someone that had to train 3 times harder than everyone to even try to keep up. Who do you think would win?


At the end of the day, no matter how talented you are, you need to put work into something if you want to thrive. We can think of talent as efficiency. Obviously this is just a simplification, but lets consider someone who is more talented than an average person. Maybe this person can learn a technique in half the time that others spend on it.

How can you beat a person like that? The answer is obvious, but not many people want to follow this. You have to put in more than twice the time and effort.

There is a weakness that comes with sheer talent, overconfidence. Perhaps an easier way of putting it is that, discipline and consistency are what matters the most when aiming for the top. No matter how much talent you have, putting in 4 hours of work a week will never allow you to keep up with anyone dedicating their body and mind to something.

It sounds unfair, but it's an important lesson. I can't say that hard work is all you need to be the best. But I can say that you can never even dream of getting near the top without it. And you will never know how far you can get if you don't give it your all 😸.

No pro fighter has a perfect record. Even the greatest have experienced a loss, but instead of deciding to call it quits, they learned from their mistakes and came back stronger. So as long as you are still alive and still able to fight, don't give up. Strive to comeback stronger.

Thank you for reading and I really hope you enjoyed!

Disclaimer: This post does not condone the use of martial arts as a way to harm others. Please use your skills responsibly 🐱