WOW! I was not expecting to be floored this morning by such a stellar post over at Ross Training. Every morning I make it through my blog roll checking out the latest news as I shake the cobwebs from my sleepy head, and this one nailed me. Something rarely addressed but constantly in our presence... fear, doubt, and their affects on confidence.
Confidence and the mental game are something I know a lot about as they have been the achilles heal in my martial journey, especially in BJJ. Technically and physically I think I am right where I should be with 5 years under my belt, but I need to constantly work my mental game. Most people think that fighters are unshakeable in their mental and physical fortitude, but the reality of the beast is that we are perhaps some of the most fragile out there as we put our bodies, minds, and reputation on the line constantly in an effort to weed out weakness' and flaw's in our skill sets.
Most of us would never expect to see this clip of Mike Tyson in a moment of doubt and fear, just prior to fighting! Coach Teddy Atlas consoles and builds Mike up in the most gentle and loving of ways, giving the fighter exactly what he needs! Then to take the time and offer the encouraging words to the loser... class act Teddy! An amazing clip both on the fighter and the coach.
I have gone through various stages of doubt and fear as I have competed over the last few years. Your first couple of fights you are just nervous because of ignorance, not knowing what to expect! Interestingly enough this initial fear, this initial unknown keeps 90% of the practitioners from ever even stepping onto the mat! To get up the gumption to train your ass off for months. Make weight. Throw on a gi. Wait around all fucking day, to go and fight for just a handful of minutes. The simple fact that you stepped onto the mat tells me you have won, regardless of the outcome!
The guts it takes to face those initial fears cannot be written about, but must be experienced. After those first few fights the butterflies do not go away, but you can handle them better and are more relaxed because you have the general idea of how things go down and you have experienced the adrenal dump that comes with fighting.
The fears you experience later (or least I have experienced) come from wanting to perform at my best. I do not want to disappoint my coach, nor my training partners. I personally do not mind losing as long as I know I was bested, not that I did something foolish and made a mistake. For instance this years America Cup in San Jose... I lost the my first match on points, but I felt okay about it because I busted my ass and attacked. In the midst of my attack my opponent passed my guard and mounted. He won, and rightfully so. I was bummed, don't get me wrong, but I was down 2 nothing with a couple of minutes left and had to do something. He had shut down my sweep attempts all day long. In the end he taught me I need to work on finishing my triangles!
It is because of the doubt, fear, and relentless work that I yearn to compete. Money has been non-existent lately so I have not been able to do half the tournaments I set out to do at the beginning of the year. I have been itching to fight. Bad! So I have been analyzing why I have such a strong desire, a calling if you will!?
I long to face my fears. As I get older I want to push the envelope of my being as far as I can, and watch it bend. I have little desire to conquer others as that is ultimately meaningless and empty, but I cannot shake this desire to fight myself and become better. Be stronger. Be more focused (SQUIRREL!!!!). Be a better person both on and off the mat. It is through the testing of skill and will on the mat that enables me to feel free. We often times feel trapped in life, but the mat is undeniable truth and freedom where we are totally in the moment. Something that is rare in day to day life for most of us.
Click here to read the full article by Ross.
I leave you with a quote from Shakespeare: "Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."
Thanks Ross for one of the best posts!