Published by: Machete
Posted: March 21, 2009, 11:22 pm
We've all been there. Most of us anyway. You can't hump like you usually do. You overestimate a partner's prowess that you go limp altogether. This usually happens shortly before the actual event. Fear of disappointing. Lack of confidence in your abilities. And it is usually this fear that prevents us form performing in the first place. The more hyped-up your partner is, the more performance anxiety seems to set in. It is more common in obsessive individuals who fuss over each and every detail, and what could happen.
Martial Arts. One of the current fastest-growing trends, particularly because of the recent popularity boom of so-called mixed martial arts. Like every other trend, people participate on different levels. As fans, as practitioners, as competitors, and as professionals. Yes, there are many hardcore fans who seem to know a lot about martial arts, ranging from the names of different submission holds, to fighter statistics. But only a competitor actually knows what goes on inside (and outside) that arena. Ask any fighter about competition, particularly in events with striking involved. Almost every single one will tell you that the fight itself is nothing. It's the long wait before that kills you.
Ideally, a competitor is given 2-8 weeks to prepare for a bout. One trains oneself according to the conditions in which the bout is going to take place. The scheduled opponent is usually revealed. An opponent's reputation alone may trigger performance anxiety. Some use this to their advantage though, and train harder than usual. A professional once told me that no one sleeps well before a fight. Thinking about tomorrow keeps you tossing and turning. But you know that you need to sleep, but thinking about that just keeps you awake.
Fighters are called in around two hours before the scheduled event in order to get settled. So comes the time when many a fighter goes through psychological hell. Different folk deal with this kind of stress differently. Some take a piss about 12 times. Others get lost in shadowboxing. Some just listen to music. Some even sleep it off. The main idea is to calm your nerves, and to prevent yourself from getting too worked up, wasting energy you should be using on your opponent. Here lies the logic behind the staredown. Trying to agitate the anxiety in your opponent. The first time Georges St.-Pierre faced Matt Hughes (who happened to be one of his idols), he could not look Hughes in the eyes during the staredown. He moved differently during the fight, and lacked the usual intensity and explosiveness that earned him the nickname "Rush." He was also quick to tap out, practically jumping at the first opportunity to end the bout. Note that he went on to beat him twice later.
Performance anxiety. Fear of disappointing. Disappointing your coach, your fans, your teammates, even your opponent. You know that once you step in there, there is nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide. No one has your back. You can't go running to mommy, or daddy, or your frat brothers to back you up. You can't pass the ball and relinquish responsibility to one of your teammates. You can't call a timeout. Once you're in there, you're all alone. And you're caged in with someone who most probably wants to destroy you. You better forget every single one of your problems, because your only problem is standing right in front of you. When you step into that stage, bad things do happen. You risk your safety and well being. You risk getting smashed in front of your team, and your family and friends. You risk getting hurt. You risk embarrassment. Do you know how pathetic someone who is knocked-the-fuck-out looks? Not nearly as pathetic as how he feels.
Once the bell rings however, you don't have time to be anxious. When you're in an enclosed space with another person trying to knock your head off, you don't have time to think. You don't even have time to feel pain. Your body just does what it's trained to do. That is why we should train how we fight. Because we fight how we train.
Now performance anxiety gradually disappears as you build self-confidence. This is usually a result of training, or actual experience. You believe you trained harder than the next guy, or the feeling is so familiar to you that you just go in there to take care of business. Or you just know that you are simply better than the other guy. Fedor Emelianenko (the rated number one MMA fighter in the galaxy) was once seen playing cards just before his bout, calm as a Hindu cow.
Everyone goes through this at some point. Not everyone however, knows how to deal with it. Look at it objectively. Why are you standing around, worrying about someone you have absolutely no control over? No matter what you do, you opponent is still going to be your opponent. The only factor that you control is yourself. Take advantage of that fact to increase your chances of winning. Have faith in you coach. He's been there (ideally). He's trained you to win. You should be in condition for that bout. Trust in yourself. You've trained hard for this (ideally). Win or lose, you gave it everything you've got. You know in yourself that whatever the result, nothing more could have been done on your part. No regrets. Most of all, have faith in your god. So that whatever happens, you know you're in good hands. You are competing to show him/her that putting your soul in that body was not a waste of time. That you are doing the best that you can with this piece of meat currently leased to you, and that you are making the best of the time you were given here. His/Her creation, making something out of himself. Make him/her proud.
That's what I think.
"Pain makes us make bad decisions. Fear of pain is almost as big a motivator." - House M.D.
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