Competition. The other side of martial arts training.
Is it vital? Do we need to compete?
While it is not essential it does make a huge difference in the understanding the application of your techniques under pressure.
My big motivation to train hard is an event or fight night coming up on a particular date.
Every rep, round and technique has a purpose and an additional motivation.
Every time i get caught hard in sparring it shows me where my opening are and which gaps i need to close.
Getting in to competition is challenging, the nerves, the preparation, the self doubt, every single thing you have not worked on will weigh on your mind the closer you get to the event.
One thing to remember you will NEVER feel fully prepared for your first event. Win or lose your first one is all about starting to learn ho to manage your adrenaline and stress levels.
The only way to become a champion is to step in there, there is no easy route to the top.
The best way to start competing is to ask yourself, can i train three sessions per week?
If you want to become a national champion you will need four to five sessions a week and get your diet right.
Your mind set needs to be clear and level, aggression will only get you so far and being able to hit hardest does not ensure a win.
"Train smarter, not harder."
Getting into a war in the gym is stupid. There is nothing on the line aside from your health, if you are going to go hard, spar with people you trust, injury in hard sparring is a common reason for people pulling out of events.
"Up date your software without damaging your hardware"
If there is one thing i could go back and change it would be the gym wars, i would save them all for the ring/cage/mat. Each one was different but none of them were worth it in the end.
We are all motivated by different things, i am motivated by developing my own game, the subtle changes and personal expressions of my art that come out, the cerebral nature of learning how to deal with different styles. It takes true courage to step on the mats or into the ring to start with, let alone compete hard. Even if you step out there and lose you stepped in there, you did the prep and you stepped out there the growth you will receive from that will be huge and permanent.
Most people make so many excuses as to why they are not going to compete, and for the most part those very excuses may well be very real to them. But real strength never comes from comfort. It comes from pushing limits. While i do not agree with red lining your body, i do believe in making yourself uncomfortable every now and then and really taking in the way it feels. Competition is a little uncomfortable, it is a big step. It is also a huge opportunity to grow both physically and mentally. Once you have become comfortable with the process of competition, the growth is huge. Not every competitor is the same, your process is very personal to you the individual.
I broke down competition in to five sections
Preparing for a specific competition should start 6-10 weeks out. Mentally prepare, get focused on what you want to gain from the comp, ironing out any niggles or making the weight class where needed.
Get your diet right. You need a balanced diet to make sure your body can recover fully after training. You will also need to address eating on the day, many tournaments do not have good optons for feeding athletes!
- The week before
We all go through a different process. Mine is very simple, i train hard but spar and drill very light until about 72 hours before the event. 48 hours before the event i do not train at all unless i need to make weight. 24 hours before i tend to go a little quiet and i have to wrestle my own negative voice (its just the fight or flight process) This is where all the excuses start to come up. "your going to lose" "your going to get hurt" "you haven't done enough" All of this will enter your mind and it is very important that you manage these negative voices with positive counters.
- The day of the event
Keep hydrated and warm up slowly and throughly. Do not go crazy as you wont want to risk an injury. At some point your event will be called, your name will be called and then you will wait for your first fight. When you are called on the mat/ring/cage walk in with purpose keep in your mind why you are there and show respect to your opponent. No matter how you feel or they look, they are going through the exact same process.
- Enjoy it
This is so important, celebrate your small victories even if you lose 10-2 celebrate those two points you did score. After your event is over leave the analysis to the following week when you are recovered and calm. There are very few things that feel better then getting your hand raised in victory. Enjoy your wins, learn from your losses, evolve your game, enjoy the process.
SO, speak to your instructor, find a suitable competition, commit to three events and get started, you will surprise yourself that much i can promise you