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  1. One of the most difficult things when trying to train pretty much anything is that the human organism, in fact all organisms operate with a profound sense of homeostasis. When the system finds its equilibrium it sets its internal thermostat to stay there. The human body regulates its temperature to fall within a certain zone, ideal for its chemical interactions. The alcoholic (just to pick something) stays within the circularity of habits that maintain a symbiotic relationship to the substance alcohol. Each is a system composed of a network or networks that circles back on itself, stabilizing the relations. One may be at the bio-chemical level, the other may involve friends, conversations, work habits, advertisement consumption, diet and many other things (also perhaps reduce-able to bio-chemical chains). How does one change a homeostatically driven system? The first thing to appreciate is that if you have any "bad habits" they are likely part of a homeostatic system. They are part of a sameness, a stability. They aren't just "bad", they are "good" in a set of relations. If you keep dropping your hands in sparring or on the pads, this isn't just an error. It's also something that your body is reading as right or helpful in maintaining itself. If you don't figure out how to replace the "good" that is being done with another, more operative good, it's very hard to convince the system to make the change. In fact, it's pretty much impossible. An example from Sylvie is that we've figured out that she lowers her hands at times in her movement. In particular we were thinking about how she starbursts them when kicking, for instance, instead of being more in guard. They aren't just dropping out of laziness. In fact they are forming part of a balancing mechanism, probably brought on by leanbacks in her kick, when her head moves off of the centerline. Her hands are part of a system of stability. IF you want to stop lowering your hands then you probably need to stop leaning back. You have to teach the whole system a different kind of balance. You can keep yelling at yourself to keep your hands up, but what you are telling the system is: "Don't save yourself." It isn't going to happen. There is a reason they are down. There are probably several reasons, in fact. A single thing like lowering the hands can play a role in several stabilizing systems, physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. But the point is: look to the system. Look to what stability is being accomplished. This is a long way of saying, if you are trying to change one thing you probably need to change the whole thing. Sometimes you can change the whole thing by really pushing hard on the one thing. For instance, you can tie your hands in place, and make it so you can never drop them, and the whole system of balance would be forced to learn another way. That's a brute force approach. It's usually better to globally try and shape the whole system, that way all the connective tissue between parts gets touched. This is one of the reasons play in training is a powerful tool, it pulls more and more into the system, and guides it all to evolve without critical judgment. So, onto the Critical Brain. Some ruminations on the possible nature of the brain and how that might help us see mental (and physical) training under new models. With new models come new expectations and methods. The best article to read on this is the recent Ars Technica Rat brains provide even more evidence our brains operate near tipping point but the quotations in this article are from the Quanta article Brains May Teeter Near Their Tipping Point, Quanta Magazine. Both are summarizing the consequences of a new paper presented on how brains may be structured around criticality. In taking up the idea of training away and through criticality we can see homeostasis in a new way. This theory of the brain suggests that it fluctuates just below criticality, which is in very crude terms like a sandpile. How the Brain is Like a Sandpile The stability of the sandpile system comes from it's inherent instability. What is interesting is how they are very broadly analogizing sandpile avalanches to biological processes, and brain activity like cascading neurons firing to some effect. For instance, waking up. How is it that a sleeping brain moves to becoming awake? What is the process? What is it like? This theory suggests that it's very much like a sandpile. It gets dripped on by grains and slowly moves toward its big avalanche, the cascade of neurons that in unison moves it into a waking state. You can read the articles and see how this may only be a rough analogy, but it's helpful. It's talking about how the organism moves between stabilizing and destabilizing states, and positions itself between. How the Brain is Like an Atomic Bomb The above positions the human brain between thresholds of Noise and dumbness, ever balancing itself in a Goldilocks zone which allows a helpful rate of cascading. I present it here just for digestion. I'm going to veer off on my own tangent. It's my intuition - and I did not read this hypothesis in the literature, and I have no particular reason to think it true - that the way that a cascading, avalanche prone brain dampens its sensitivity (super criticality) is likely that the overall critical system is nested. Which is to say that when a rice grain falls on subsystem x, this grain is released by another, more localized sandpile, if you will. You have hour glasses linked to hour glasses. And at times they cascade all together. At times, in fact many times, the cascade is well below the threshold of consciousness or action. Nested criticality is a very interesting model of development. If we are perusing a physical change, say perhaps snapping back on the jab, or maybe more interestingly developing a quality, let's say being light on your feet, it may be productive to think of this element as a nested subsystem of criticality. Which is to say, we are building sandpiles. Many times we are working on something and it just seems like nothing is happening at all. We are just wasting our time. And, we very well may be. On the other hand, we may be also dropping rice grains with the aim creating a sand pile, which will then critically balance itself with cascades of the desired effect. What is kind of interesting about this is that we tend to look at states in very idealized ways. A good fighter is always calm. A good fighter is always on balance. This fighting style is quick and accurate. But in nested criticality there is no absolute quality. This particular sandpile tends to avalanche, to cascade with this effect, over time. At any one particular moment, a single fall of a rice grain, the system might express that quality, or it may not. If it does not, it isn't failing. It's only a tendency of that subsystem, a tendency to cascade. When we watch someone like Mike Tyson we are struck with significant essentialism. He is just so powerful. He is powerful in all things he does. But it isn't really that way. Many shots aren't powerful. Many shots miss or are miss timed. But then that huge shot lands, accurate, fast, explosive. That's a sandpile avalanching. Lots of grains fell in that fight in which there were only tiny avalanches, and lots fell when there was nothing. Instead of imagining that those were misfires, or failed, perhaps we imagine them as a system near criticality. His training, the state he had developed, was one when power tended to manifest itself. The whole fighter would cascade with a certain effect. The same thing with maybe someone like Samart who is so slick, so on balance. The illusion he creates, often by virtue of great moments in fights when everything avalanches, is that he is ALWAYS this way. He isn't, he's off balance all time, he mistimes things, but he catches himself, the system is tending toward slickness, towards timing. The reason why this is important, or productive, is that it's a way into seeing into the nature of "error" or even unresponsiveness. The failure of a system to produce the desired effect is quickly read in very critical terms. It is broken. It needs fixing. The first thing is to understand that the system, any system, is already not broken. It is operating under a homeostasis already. If the theory of the criticality of the brain is anywhere close to being true, at minimum any particular state a person is in, any habit they have, is part of a pretty delicate and miraculous balancing act of hovering near a tipping point of maximum efficacy. As we try and train that system to have different qualities, we are just moving its tipping points. We do that by addressing nested subsystems and their criticality. The other aspect of criticality and error is that just because the sandpile isn't cascading with the desired effect doesn't mean that it is broken. It just may be that not enough grains of sand have fallen for it to reach criticality. It's just a fairly insensitive pile as yet. Yeah, you flinch still in sparring. Not enough grains have tumbled down. Your eyes and other senses haven't seen enough yet. Yes, you can train bad habits, create sandpiles that cascade in an undesired way, but if you understand that you are building sandpiles in the first place, the role of error or unresponsiveness can be seen in a different way. You are not trying to create a perfect response, as in mechanical views of the world where you push a button, and gears turn, and then the gumball drops out. The same way every time. That is the model we often think of in training. Instead, you are creating sandpiles which tend toward certain effects, certain qualities. And, once you have a pretty good sandpile you are fine tuning its sensitivity to inputs, making it more and more prone towards sensitivity and flow. But, there is no "perfect" state of the sandpile. Even the most revered fighters existed in states where if a single grain fell, nothing would happen. Its only if when enough grains fall, beauty happens.
  2. I'm only an hour and 20 minutes into the Muay Thai Bones #8 podcast but I already had thoughts to share. I plan to come back and add more reflections as I watch. Feel free to share your own thoughts. 1. Square-1-ism - Goggins, Shame & Discomfort (4:18-44:51) I struggle with intermittent bouts of depression. I'm climbing out of a valley right now. One of my symptoms is that everything feels difficult and overwhelming. The hardest part of my day is just getting out of bed. I feel a lot of shame about my depression. Like Sylvie's metaphor of the Iron Maiden/inner critic, I turn that shame inward and berate myself. I wonder why simple things are so difficult, why am I still struggling, why aren't I better that this, I don't have any reason to be depressed etc. The image of Goggins struggling to put on his shoes before running everyday really struck a chord with me. I decided to use that imagery when getting out of bed this morning. For me, getting out of bed is hard, so my goal when I woke up this morning was to acknowledge without judgement that it is hard, not wish that it was easier, and then get out of bed. Like everything it's a work in progress. Video on Western Philosophy of Mind and the Inner Critic. Why Do I Hate My Self? | Philosophy Tube I practice mindfulness meditation and one of the themes is grasping and aversion. During the my meditation, I focus on my breath but my mind inevitably wanders. My goal is to simply acknowledge that my mind has wandered and return to the breath. I don't want to follow my thoughts (grasping) or get frustrated that my mind wandered (aversion). I've been inspired to combine that with Goggins' square-1-ism. When I wake up in the morning and getting out of bed is hard, just let it be hard. Don't try to try to push away the feeling of difficulty but also don't grasp onto the difficulty and wallow in it. Sit with the discomfort, without judgement, and then embrace the task of getting out of bed. As part of my treatment for depression I am tracking my moods. It's amazing how quickly and often my mood fluctuates throughout the day. It reminded me of this post from Sylvie: Hills and Valleys – How 10 Minutes Can Make or Break Your Training Day
  3. This post grows out of a really excellent thread started by James Poidog on training fighter aggression, especially for those uncomfortable with aggression themselves (that thread is linked at the bottom here). I started answering James and then just realized that this probably deserves a thread of it's own. This was the beginning of my answer: I hope she hops on here to discuss, but I'm just giving my view. I've seen female fighters go this way. Roxy Richardson advocated for it in some blog posts, Michelle Waterson talks this way. For Sylvie the creation of an alter never was super effective. She wasn't at peace with the values in that alter, and Muay Thai is so much of her soul I think it all was a little jarring, and in a way "not believable" to her, so it didn't quite stick. You definitely see this in male fighters too. The whole "persona" which works well with marketing, etc. But what Sylvie seems to have discovered for herself is the mantra: "The way you do one thing is the way you do all things." which means that if you want to fight differently, you have to bring those values and habits into your life, the way you do other things. An interesting example for instance is that as a Muay Khao fighter you need to constantly be taking up space. More and more space. Sylvie's physically small, often shy or reclusive person. She has been moving out of the way of people for a very long time, sometimes just out of the reality of what happens on sidewalks. So...when you are moving through supermarket aisles, who is the one who moves out of the way first? You don't have to be an asshole about it, but always one person makes the gesture to move first. Who is that person? If you really want to naturally be a certain way in the ring. for instance somehow who takes up space, yes, you can make up the "Space Eating Monster" alter who just gobbles space, or...you can become someone who increasingly takes up space more often, in all things, in all ways. What I find really interesting about this is that the reason why people are drawn to certain personas, or let's say certain fighting styles, like literally drawn like a moth, is that they speak to something deep inside, something that they might not be reconciled with. Training toward something in technique, or in style, or even persona, in the gym, is a way of working toward that expression, that thing. Alters are way of approaching that, but it seems much cooler, much more rich and transformative to literally take that thing, that desire onto yourself, and start to shape your life with it. I think that's much closer to the arc that fighters are spiritually aiming for in the first place. There is also always a suspicion for me that when people put on alters that those masks can break, if you push on them hard enough, that the fighter, or even the person in life, doesn't really, really, really believe that that is who they are. And that there can be a kind of fragility to that path. Yes, you can put on masks to grow into them, to give permissions, that's a tool, but what is is stronger, like a slowly growing oak tree, to really become what you dream. The original thread conversation spin off:
  4. I'm getting more and more into mental training and coming across resources in a way that's probably best to keep sorted. I'll try to keep compiling a list with this blog post, but if you all have favorite books, podcasts, audio files, movies, articles, quotes or videos - whatever - please use this thread to share those so we can all have a mental training library, so to speak. (Go to the link of the original blog post in order to have clickable links to all these references) I read a lot of mental training books, pretty much anything I can find. Much of the time it’s on Kindle, though sometimes its an audio book. Maximum Climbing: Mental Training for Peak Performance and Optimal Experience by Eric J. Horst I’m currently reading this one, so I can’t write an overall assessment. But climbing mentality has similarities to fighting mentality, so translating to our sport is easy. What’s unique about this book is that Horst separates out “brain training” from “mind training,” which is actual synapse reactions versus how we think, and refining how to train each of those things is invaluable. Joy on Demand: The Art of Discovering the Happiness Within by Chade-Meng Tan This one sounds real hokey-pokey but it’s not. The author does an incredible job of expressing concepts of meditation and mindset both with eloquence and remarkable accessibility. I’ve read a lot about meditation and it’s often just left me feeling like I’m not ready, or I’ll have to have some intermediate step before I can really start it. But Meng makes it immediately practical – immediately – and explains in words and concepts that I found really inspiring. I love this book and highly recommend it, for athletes and non-athletes equally. This isn’t just about meditation. It’s about becoming aware of how the mind thinks, and setting the best direction for it. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson The author takes a lot from Buddhism. In fact, he paraphrases the story of Prince Siddhartha in such a way as one might rattle it off sitting on a bar stool. But, he’s speaking to an audience who might not know anything of that story or of Buddhist teachings, so giving a groundwork in short-form is reasonable enough. Most of what he argues in this book is taken from Buddhist meditation practices, but it’s written in an incredibly informal and personable voice. Like if you read “Sermon on the Mount” or the teachings of the Buddha in a Maxim article or something. In short, we can only give a certain number of fucks in life and Manson argues that we ought to value those fucks and spend them on the things which really matter. How to stop caring about the things that don’t matter, which don’t express our values, is the hard bit and he walks us through that as well. I wrote about my own realizations and responses to learning how to not give a fuck in this blog post, which didn’t come from reading this book but coincided with reading this book. 21 Yaks and a Speedo: How to Achieve Your Impossible by Lewis Pugh I consider Lewis Pugh a personal hero. I don’t swim – at all – and his missions are very different from my own, but his methods and mindset is both similar to mine and more refined. I feel like I can learn a lot from him, even if it’s just nodding my head along to his words and saying, “yes, yes, so much so.” I wrote a blog post abut his commitment to achieving the impossible and have cited him in several other posts as well. He’s just amazing. This book is great because it’s 21 very short chapters, each dealing with a seemingly impossible situation and what it took to get through it. The stories are great, the writing is great, and the inspiration is intense. Achieving the Impossible: A Fearless Leader. A Fragile Earth. by Lewis Pugh I loved this book less than I loved 21 Yaks, but it’s still great. You can also watch his TED talk on swimming the North Pole. Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek There aren’t a lot of books written about or by fighters. A boxer here and there, maybe a super new book on an MMA fighter, but there’s no great books – either biographies on or from the minds of – from fighters. So we have to borrow from other sports. I’ve found that ultrarunners have challenges and mindsets that really speak to what I experience in Muay Thai. Scott Jurek is one of the most famous ultrarunners in the world and, thank God, he’s also a good writer. So this book reads well and has recipes and tolerable explanations on why he eats a vegan diet. He’s not preachy or overly praising of himself, either as a vegan or as a runner. It’s a good read and the endless, mind-bending nights of running speak to the path of a fighter. As a high-volume fighter, approaching 200 fights, I consider myself something of an Ultrarunner of fighters, so this book spoke to me. The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumphs by Ryan Holiday This is basically an introduction and elaboration on how Stoicism can improve the lives of modern folks, as a meditation on Manliness (I believe that this does not belong solely to men, even though they’re in the name) and how to face adversity and challenge with calm, grace. Meeting challenges as the manner by which we shape and improve ourselves in an absolute must in strong mindsets. We can’t just endure everything, we also have to improve by those hardships. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell Not so much a Sport Psychology book but the concepts will get you pondering and it’s in line with what mental training is about. Plus, I really love reading Gladwell. The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self by Alex Lickerman I had completely forgotten about this book when first making this list, but some of the ideas presented by the author are still with me. A lot of Mental Toughness is about being keyed into your “animal instinct” and all this, but what’s lovely about this book is it presents the softer side of indestructibility. Think of a vase that breaks and when it’s glued back together it is on that seam, on the flaw, which is the strongest point. The mind is like this. The soul is like this. And as fighters, this is an invaluable lesson. Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson by Geoffrey C. Ward Biography of one of my favorite boxers/fighters, the first African-American Heavyweight Champion, Jack Johnson. Reading about men who have done incredible, seemingly impossible things, is a huge part of motivation and inspiration. Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim Grover (I listened to this as an audio book but I’m listing it here as a book because I hated how the guy read it aloud; just rubbed me the wrong way. So, maybe listen to a sample and make the call for yourself.) Grover is a coach, both a physical training coach and a mental training coach, to some of the biggest names in sports. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade to name the best. Michael Jordan though… could just leave it at that. I don’t love how this book is written, or at least how it was read-as-written, as the author is way into himself and has been eating his own ego for a long time. That’s kind of okay because there’s a lot of truth to what he’s saying and there are results to his methods, but there’s also a lot of talk about “darkness” in these top athletes that he kind of alludes to being animal instinct but also keeps really vague in a way that feels bullshitty rather than truly indescribable. But he covers a lot of the differences between the three categories he breaks high level athletes into: Coolers, Cleaners, and Closers. Those are good, better and best in order. He tries to tell you how to be a closer but also argues that you’re more or less born to it. Some great concepts, some really great thoughts. My Fight/Your Fight by Ronda Rousey I didn’t love this book but there are elements in there that give light to ways of thinking that probably aren’t common, especially for women. I don’t regard Rousey as a mentally tough athlete, but she presents herself as such and, deep down, she absolutely had mental fortitude to push herself to all that she has achieved. I do feel that this book also illustrates the holes in her mental training, which is also useful. The Fighter’s Heart: One Man’s Journey Through the World of Fighting by Sam Sheridan One of the first books I read and at the time I really loved it. I still think it’s a great book for those first starting out, because that’s where the author speaks from. It doesn’t hold up for me anymore, but I’m at a very different place than where I started and Sheridan simply never got to the places full-time fighters spend all our time, so it’s just not written for those folks. The Fighter’s Mind: Inside the Mental Game by Same Sheridan I read this right after The Fighter’s Heart and wasn’t as impressed by it, but it’s a good read and the author talks to some greats. The downside is that it’s a lot of “bar stool talk” from men who have lived in gyms, rather than giving practical exercises and ideas for how to actually approach your own mental training. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a Wold That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain Emma recommended this book and, while it’s not about sports or mental training, it does offer a lot for those of us who are natural introverts. Especially in sports, the overarching rhetoric is that we’re supposed to be bold and outgoing, talking ourselves and our teammates up and loving to be seen. That’s not the case for many of us and hearing that this is okay, and a strength in many regards, makes a world of difference to those of us who are very consistently led to believe otherwise. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, Ph.D. This is more or less the book on mental training. It’s old and a lot of what we read now is derived from what Dweck wrote in this book, so this is kind of a primary source. There are books that are easier or more pleasurable to read that will offer much of the same ideas, but this is the O.G. source. The key point is the introduction of “growth mindset,” which is worth reading even if you don’t take in the whole book. Audio and Podcasts Because I run so often I listen to a lot of podcasts. It’s better than music for me. These are some of the mental training podcasts and audio that I’ve benefited from. Dr. Alan Goldberg “14 Steps to Mental Toughness” – I’ve gotten the most out of these audio chapters, partly because they were my first real step into practical mental training, but also because I re-listen to them so often. These are expensive, but for some reason they really clicked. I love his voice and his weird Jersey accent. Maybe not for everyone but definitely has been a great help to me. They are my go to when I get in a mental slump. Mental Training Expert Dr. Patrick Cohn – I listened to something of Dr. Cohn’s as an audio file, not sure if it was a book or one of his audio CDs I found, but he’s got a lot of experience and has worked with Miriam Nakamoto, which just means he has some degree of familiarity with fighters. A lot of what you find on Sport Psychology or Mental Training will have to do with specific sports like Tennis or Golf, with some carryover into business for CEO’s and suits climbing the corporate ladder. The ideas carry over just fine between sports and business, so they carry over between sports as well. You just have to do some legwork translating the sport-specific examples into fighting. Wrestling Mindset (Podcast) – Again, there’s not much of anything for fighters specifically. But wrestlers, man… they’re hardcore. My brother wrestled in high school and the mindset and fortitude required of wrestlers to get through their grueling training schedules is second to none. Even Joe Rogan, who loves to ask trainers about “overtraining,” always references wrestlers as being the most mentally tough dudes there are in the MMA game. This podcast isn’t high quality at all. It’s a guy on his computer, playing Eye of the Tiger through his shitty speakers to open every episode and there are long silences of dead-time when he’s inviting callers to ask questions. You just have to tolerate the informality of it. But the information and advice is solid, covering all range of topics from how to handle “off season”, training mentality versus competition mentality, how not to psych yourself out, how to handle the pressure of tournaments… there’s a lot here. The host also has a podcast on faith/spirituality for athletes (Christian), so if you’re into that you can check it out as well. Sports Motivation Podcast by I’m Not You (Niyi Sobo)- This is a really excellent podcast. Niyi Sobo was an NFL player who clearly benefited a lot and listened really well to his Sport Psychology training. He presents so much in each episode but, perhaps because he works with young athletes, the examples he gives are incredibly accessible. He has actual practical exercises as well as theoretical approaches. I recommend this podcast above all other resources on this list for immediate practicality, wealth of information, and direct approach to mental training. Episode #921 with Dominick Cruz by Joe Rogan Experience Joe Rogan is hit or miss but generally that depends on the guest. His podcasts are especially good for running because they’re crazy long (almost always more than 2 hours) and the conversations meander. So, if the guest is someone you don’t have interest in listening to, they suck; if it’s someone who is interesting, you wish they were 5 hours long. This episode with Dominick Cruz is the latter. I’ve always liked Cruz, but now I really like him. He talks a lot about his mental paths through his recent, really awful injuries in the last 3-4 years. Dealing with injury is something that most athletes will face at some point, hopefully not to the degree that Cruz did, but his notes on mentality are worthwhile for everybody. I really love this episode.
  5. This was my answer to someone on Reddit who messaged me and asked what I do for mental training. I'm posting it here in case others have had success or experience, or if there are questions people have an would like to raise. This is what I said: Thanks for listening to the whole interview and I’m happy it resonated with you. I’m still working a lot of this out myself and there’s a LOT of trial and error, just like with physical training. It’s also so much easier to slack off of mental training than it is getting physical work in. So whatever routine you figure out for yourself, really set a schedule and stick to it. Break it up into a 5-20 minutes various times throughout the day. Hey, not selling this, it’s expensive. But it was an investment and it worked for me I used this program for myself and found it really helpful: 14 Steps to Mental Toughness. He walks you through some visualizations, using imaginary waves to match rhythms to your breathing for relaxation. Something my brother taught me, also, is that you can practice and teach yourself how to visualize using more mundane things than your training or fight. I found it SO HARD to visualize fighting in a concrete way. So John asked me to describe in strong detail just walking around my apartment. Picking things up, where everything is, how it smells, the lighting, etc. Stuff I see literally every day. That way I see how to visualize with all that detail and can slowly start applying it to being in the ring. A fight is an “event,” but what you’re visualizing isn’t. You’re kind of exploring a space and possibilities – like playing GTA in your brain. Something that really helped me from the tapes was writing down my thoughts before, during and after training, every day. So I’d get to the gym and immediately sit down and just write whatever I was feeling: “tired,” “sleepy,” “unmotivated but ready to work,” “strong,” “I”m going to kill my trainer on the pads,” etc. Then I’d check in and do some more mid-training, then again after everything but before going home. It showed me a few things: 1) My thoughts were really negative a lot of the time, for really no reason. I actually ended up naturally adjusting for this by writing the negative feeling but immediately countering it with “but…” and whatever good could come of it. I wasn’t forcing myself to be positive, I actually just started feeling like “I’m tired but I can focus on being relaxed in my movements” was better at driving me. 2) It showed me that my thoughts change over time in practice. I can come in feeling negative and end up feeling great at the end. Or I can come in rearing to go and then something that happens in training gets me down. Which leads to 3) I have control over how I respond to things. I just have to be aware of it – mindful of what I’m thinking and whether or not I want to keep thinking those things. More recently I’m working on connecting relaxing breaths to active movements. So instead of holding my breath when I’m being hit or blocking or striking, I pay attention to breathe out and in with a rhythm to my movements. The point is to get my heart rate down under pressure, but it’s conditioning myself to do it automatically through movements I’m going to be using without being able to think about breathing. If you breathe while trying to drink water you choke. But you don’t think about “don’t breathe” in order to drink water – you do it automatically. So I’m trying to get my body to do those automatic things to stay relaxed under pressure. As for a schedule, figure out where you need to focus your attention: how you talk to yourself, how you respond under pressure, visualizing, etc. and work out a plan to work on these things several times every day. I visualize when I lie down for a nap or sleep. I write when I’m at the gym. I breathe when I’m actually training.
  6. I have just lost again this past weekend making my amateur record 0-5. I know it sucks. Although, I could argue that a few were bad calls from the judges. Me being a bleeder (bloody nose from a single jab doesn't help either). However, I am particularly disappointed in this last fight. This past fight, I fought too tentatively in the first two rounds. I've always been a slow starter and fought with a traditional thai style. Sadly in America, the judges favor boxing over kicks/knees (my strengths). My opponent was a mma guy with a flashy outside-point style (spinning back fist/kicks, side kicks - but sloppy technique). It wasn't until the third round that I started to find my rhythm. I had him in the clinch, but was unable to capitalize (I let go). My coach and even the comissioner said if I had landed one more knee I could've ended the fight. I don't know though. Physically, I always felt stronger and I am usually always taller than my opponent(s). I'm 5'8" weight class 125-127lbs. However, this time I felt like I had no power (my gas was very good though). Overall its been frustating, especially with a 100% losing record I never felt confident going into my fights. I've been told I am more talented than what my records shows, but at the end of the day thats all there is to show. I disappointed that people supported and believed in me, but I let them down by not believing myself. I can probably contribute most of my loses due to the mental aspect of the game. I've never been dropped or really hurt in any of my fights (Lost all by decision). However, sometimes I question if fighting is really for me. All that hard work, training 6 days a week (barely any breaks) for the past 3.5 years for nothing .... Even though I'm only 22 (23 soon). Were the sacrifices really worth it? Thing is when I'm not at the gym (it doesn't feel right).
  7. Hi, Im struggling a lot over self-confidence and being emotional run down. For most parts of my life Im a really self-confident person. I travelled all over the world and never had anyone telling me what I can or can't do. I just went my own way and if things didn't add up any more I quit, moved somewhere else or tried to work it out. It was never in particular running away, but probably a little. When I took up training I did it for the sake of fun, never with the intention to start fighting. I have never been a sporty person in particulary, though I always did all sorts of outdoor sports, Im just too heavy to be athletic by nature. My will to fight changed when I started training in a professional gym n whcih I got pushed hard and I started believing in myself. My coaches would never praise me, but they would train you in a way that you trust yourself. Though I always went through daily emtional highs and lows, usually crying after training coz I felt so bad. However I always felt safe with my coach, if he would say run, I run, if he would say jump out that window I would have jumped, that much I trusted him. After I left that gym I put matters in my own hands, training in different places, training a lot for myself additionally. I felt good and quite self-confident, as long as my fitness was up and running. However lately I started doubting myself again heavily. Last summer I trained with a different coach (due to yet another move) and he is quite technical coming from a boxing background, I was never good enough for anything and it slowly got myself down again. Before entering the ring before a fight he would tell ne how slow I am and that I needed to twist this and that anymore, than I started thinking about it, because I want to please and make it right, thats when I lost. again again, but always in my mind first, because I wanted to get my technique right, he completely tried to changed my fight style. I did take a lot out of it, but it is not the way I fight. It all led to cancelling a fight 2 weeks ago because I didnt get all the training in I wanted, though deep down I know I could have easily stepped into the ring even without having worked on the bags or did any sparring. My fitness was ok and I could have done it. Only my head led me down. After my last loss in February I took up mental training, one Emma recommended in one of her blog posts, but this is a much deeper issue. I always needed someone in my back to trust in me, not to necessarily to tell me, but to cover up my back. I adore people who dont need that, who can just jump into a fight without the preperation Im used to. are there more people out there like this?
  8. Today I was having a private training session and something interesting happened. It's happened once or twice before but this is the first time I've really thought about it. During the last round of pad work today I was exhausted and my power and technique was dropping and flying out the window. My trainer kept yelling at me to go harder, and as I was pushing myself there was a point where I had a burst of emotion. It was a combination of frustration at myself for not being able to strike harder, anger at myself and also anger where my body was going "I'M KICKING HARD WHY IS THIS NOT HARD ENOUGH". I also felt myself get angry at my trainer at points in the last round where I think I was just transferring my frustrations. By that point for no reason I also thought I might start crying or something. Its odd because I started off the session feeling quite good and I finished it feeling relatively calm as well, it was just that point where I had this huge burst of emotion. I know being calm and controlled is important but this just came out of nowhere. I almost started punching the heavy bags afterwards just to vent but it disappeared really rapidly. Have any of you guys had something similar happen in training or fighting?
  9. So I fought tonight and I'm fighting 2 more times in the next 2 weeks. This is the first time for me that I've fights (scheduled) so close together! I won the fight, but typical me not happy at all. I won comfortably enough. When we got back to the gym after my manager said to people ooh she fight maybe 30% and win haha. I can see how he thought that as I dunno it wasnt a ya know toe to toe war!! But I actually really wanted to win by stoppage (it was my 4th fight v same opponent I've won every time). I hesitated a lot and I'm wondering if I was thinking subconsciously that I've 2 more fights I don't want to get hurt! Maybe that's an excuse in my head for my average performance but I wonder for people (especially say sylvie) who fight so often does that ever go through your mind! I could be chatting shit I can't sleep after fights and I over think too much but just wondering peoples thoughts
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