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Losing Streak - Why Am I Fighting? Struggling With Self-Esteem


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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).
 

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Wow, I was just about to write a reply to this, but I think Sylvie nailed it! I'll just add a little from my personal experience.

I definitely know how you feel. As my record currently stands, I've lost more fights than I've won and I've been through some losing streaks, during one of which someone told me to give up fighting altogether, but I've never told myself that. That's only been an external thing. Even at times when the thought has briefly crossed my mind, it couldn't be further away when I'm training. Everything I do in there is in preparation to fight, that's what I'm working for. It would be an awful shame to take that away. All that passion and hard work needn't go down the drain because of a lack of self confidence. You have to work on your confidence the same way you work on your physical training. 

I can also relate to what you said about being a slow starter and coming out of fights feeling like you haven't done enough. In every single one of my losses (also all by decision, as you said), I've felt that way. People have told me that most of the people I've lost to had no business beating me and it was only that I wasn't confident enough in my mental game, that I hesitated and let them fight their fight. I've been trying to combat that with mental training, which has really helped me in the past. I wrote a blog post about that here: Letting Go but Staying in Control: How Mental Training Enhanced my Confidence

 You can lose without being defeated, you know what I mean?

^ I could quote a ton of things from what Sylvie just said, but this is fucking perfect ^

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You guys nailed it.

 

For me. I had an extremely good first year. 14 fights, 12 wins.

 

This year I decided to take on more and bigger fights. 2 fights back to back against bigger opponents and one against a Swedish champion. I have only won 1 fight this year out of 4. And it hurts. But Sylvie and Emma have nailed it. If you love it, use your losses to motivate you and push forward.

 

Try to always think of something you are happy with in every fight too.

 

Losses can help you grow :)

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Have you ever heard the three feet from gold story? Here's an image that explains it:

 

Three-feet-from-gold.jpg

You might be at the point where you break through. Who knows? You could go on a 10 fight winning streak. I say if you really love it, give it another shot.

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Thank you for all the responses.

Its been frustating and discouraging at times (battling demons in/out of the gym), because I don't have a single win despite my hardest efforts.

Realistically, will I be able to get any more fights in the long run?

Sometimes it just feels like I'm going through the motions...

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I don't see why you wouldn't be able to get more fights in the long run. As an amateur, your record isn't going to be putting you in positions or keeping you from positions in a strong way.

I highly recommend you start getting some mental training program going for yourself. You can download podcasts, mp3's, and find online resources for free. There are inexpensive books on Amazon and Kindle, and if you can afford it going to actually meet with a Sports Psychologist would be grand.

I did an interview with Sports Psychologist, Dr. John Gassaway here, he recommends some resources which might be a jumping off point for you.

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I highly recommend you start getting some mental training program going for yourself. You can download podcasts, mp3's, and find online resources for free. There are inexpensive books on Amazon and Kindle, and if you can afford it going to actually meet with a Sports Psychologist would be grand.

I second the mental training recommendation, it really helped me when I was having a lot of the same thoughts you've spoken about. It's not that I don't have those thoughts at all anymore, but they appear much less often. When I do have them, I'm now quicker to catch them and switch them for positive self talk before they start to bring me down. If you do try any mental training, do let us know how you get on with it! 

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Thank you I will look into it.

I think that was one of my problems in my last fight, I saw the openings but could not react to them (fell back to old habits of just staying in the pocket and freezing up or being too relaxed - lack of agression). I also don't remember why I let go when I had my opponent in the clinch (the nerves maybe).

I had a good performance in the previous fight (and it was the one and only fight where it was same day weigh-in) and my coaches/teammates said they didn't know why I just wasn't sharp when it came to fight this time around.

Preparation, padwork, and sparring was good leading up to the fight, but I couldn't carry that momentum over...

I'm also constantly told I need to be more agressive..

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Thank you I will look into it.

I think that was one of my problems in my last fight, I saw the openings but could not react to them (fell back to old habits of just staying in the pocket and freezing up or being too relaxed - lack of agression). I also don't remember why I let go when I had my opponent in the clinch (the nerves maybe).

I had a good performance in the previous fight (and it was the one and only fight where it was same day weigh-in) and my coaches/teammates said they didn't know why I just wasn't sharp when it came to fight this time around.

Preparation, padwork, and sparring was good leading up to the fight, but I couldn't carry that momentum over...

I'm also constantly told I need to be more agressive..

I need to be more aggressive, too.

I don't know you, but I'll tell you that 99% of the time the reason you "let go" or stop or don't keep on the attack in a fight is because you practice that in training. In clinch training you get dominant position, throw a couple knees and then let go, because you're just training and there's no need to KO someone. But you have to train not letting go, not jumping back out, etc. I do this. I land a knee and jump out for no f****ing reason at all, other than that I do it to "reset" in training. So now I stay on someone in training - not hurting them, but I have to learn how to be aggressive, keep going, smell the blood, etc. You don't KO your training partners, you keep it light, but you keep the energy high.

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There are a few exercises whcih helped me a lot getting this aggression out, the bite you need. Im not natural in this.

This is what my old coach did and still does, no atter whether beginning fighter or world champion.

 

The first exersice  is the bat cave.

A bunch of people get in the ring or form a  big circle, ideally everyone is around the same size.

the fighter in question is in the middle and will now get attacked by every person standing on the outside, one of the other. Each attack from the outside lasts about 10-30 seconds and its important to not have a break in between the changes, the guys outside attack straight away, no hand shaking, nodding or waiting, just straight attacking, whatever angle they are on.

Since Im a girl and all the boys are usually above my size and weight I was always allowed to attack and the the others werent allowed to attack back, they just had to defend. It is important (since it is such short rounds) that you keep going, literally no break whatsoever. You continue this until you reached the goal time (lets say 3 min) than its a minute break and afterwards it starts all over.

 

The next exercise is a mix of padwork and sparring. There is your padholder and next to him a sparring partner about your size (ideally) now the pads start, all full on, not single strikes, but long combos, lots of kicking, full force, at a signal it is a direct change to sparring and your sparring partner attacks, whether you are ready or not, you have to keep going, keep attacking, no stopping, at the next signal it is straight away to padwork. How long each pads and sparring lasts is due to the one giving the signal, maybe 10 seconds, maybe 30 or 40 seconds. Again make it a round of 3 mins, than break and than all over again.

This really badly teaches you to keep going forward. However this is obviously not daily routine since you still need to focus on light sparring etc, but its one thing to think about keep going and the other thing about actually having to do it. Always do those exercises under supervision so it doesnt get out of hand or is too aggressive.

 

Another exercise is body punches only. Pretty simple. you are allowed to punch only, and only to the head. If you want to learn to stay grounded you and your partner leave the front feet right in front each other, like touching toes and you dont move those feet away anymore. Now punch, create openings, but dont wait, as soon as you wait your opponnend will attack. so its your turn to attack.

I know most coaches dislike this exercise since it easily teaches you to drop your hands and have them in front of your body. This one can be done with your feet standing in a circle or even with moving around.

This last exercise made me continue to punch without being afraid to actually getting hit to the head.

 

the next thing we did in sparring is sparring at 10, 30, 50, 70...% First you go light, look for openings etc. aslowly (through the course of an hour) it builds up to intense sparring in which there are seconds as called out by the coach when you are not allowed to stop and wait, but to keep attacking.

 

Another coach of mine would drill us combinations which are really really long. Like attack, counter attack, counter to counter, again counter etc, until you hardly recall the whole combination, but you just keep going and counter and counter and counter always with 3-5 hands and kicks.

 

I can only speak for my own experience here, this is what helped me getting this aggression going, and not stopping too much, waiting etc

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My differing perspectives:

When I was an amateur fighter, I maintained a winning record and was a champion.  I was once paired up with a fighter who had only about 1/2 the fights I had and a losing record.  (My record is 6-2, his was 1-4).  However, when you looked at the list of his opponents, you saw a list of the who's who of amateur champions.  That fight wound up being the toughest fight of my career and a loss.  While I was disappointed in losing that fight, I didn't feel that bad because my opponent and I had waged a literal war from the opening bell and I knew I had given my all in the ring.  I lost a total of 4 times.  I was only disappointed in the loss I just mentioned, I was FURIOUS at 1 other loss because it was as shitty decision, and I was really down on myself for the other 2 losses because I knew that I had allowed myself to become psyched out, which led to me seriously underperforming in the ring.

As a promoter and matchmaker, the first thing I look at in regards to someone's record is the total number of fights they have... the overall experience.  Then I look at the actual record and, when possible, try to consider who this fighter has faced in the ring.  It's hard to properly assess at the amateur level here in the US, of course, but you start to pick out certain patterns....  So a losing fighter from one gym might still be a good match for a winning fighter from a different gym.  Ultimately, it still boils down to the indivicual, but there are certain trends.

As a coach, I personally don't care about a fighters amateur record.  What's important is PERFORMANCE.  Did my fighter do what we had trained to do?  Did my fighter respond to commands I was giving?  How did my fighter respond when they had the advantage?  How did my fighter respond when they wer at a disadvantage?  Remember, your goal as an amateur really should be to prepare yourself to fight professionally.  Sure, there are many, many people whose goals do not extend beyond the amateur ranks, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't approach amateur fighting as a vehicle towards professional fighting.

As a coach, there are certain benchmarks/goals you want your fighters to achieve before turning pro...  development and demonstration of good training habits, minimum # of fights, does your fighter beat who they're supposed to beat, how does your fighter respond to adversity, etc, etc....

Anyway, my overall point is that there are many ways to view a fighters record, all depending on what angle you're viewing it from.  Hope all of that makes sense!

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My differing perspectives:

When I was an amateur fighter, I maintained a winning record and was a champion.  I was once paired up with a fighter who had only about 1/2 the fights I had and a losing record.  (My record is 6-2, his was 1-4).  However, when you looked at the list of his opponents, you saw a list of the who's who of amateur champions.  That fight wound up being the toughest fight of my career and a loss.  While I was disappointed in losing that fight, I didn't feel that bad because my opponent and I had waged a literal war from the opening bell and I knew I had given my all in the ring.  I lost a total of 4 times.  I was only disappointed in the loss I just mentioned, I was FURIOUS at 1 other loss because it was as shitty decision, and I was really down on myself for the other 2 losses because I knew that I had allowed myself to become psyched out, which led to me seriously underperforming in the ring.

As a promoter and matchmaker, the first thing I look at in regards to someone's record is the total number of fights they have... the overall experience.  Then I look at the actual record and, when possible, try to consider who this fighter has faced in the ring.  It's hard to properly assess at the amateur level here in the US, of course, but you start to pick out certain patterns....  So a losing fighter from one gym might still be a good match for a winning fighter from a different gym.  Ultimately, it still boils down to the indivicual, but there are certain trends.

As a coach, I personally don't care about a fighters amateur record.  What's important is PERFORMANCE.  Did my fighter do what we had trained to do?  Did my fighter respond to commands I was giving?  How did my fighter respond when they had the advantage?  How did my fighter respond when they wer at a disadvantage? 

Thanks SO MUCH for weighing in on this Brooks. Your perspective as a fighter, coach, promoter, lover of the sport and guy to whom I personally go for insight is so valuable for this topic. And being "coachable".... man, do I ever see the precious gift of that every damn day out here.

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Everything Sylvie said!!!!! There can be so much pressure that you put on yourself in fights especially in the west! A losing streak can definately be disheartening, I've had 4 in a row myself but I've also won fights and been extremely disappointed in my performance aswell.

 

I'm guessing you work and this is your 'hobbie' although I think it's more a job itself or a lifestyle :) it's supposed to fun and enjoyable

I really agree with what people are saying about performance if you perform well and are improving with each fight that's what Is important!

 

I've always said it's as much a mental game as physical and I think working on that will really help you. Just remember to relax and enjoy every minute of it fighting with a massive heart is what it's all about if you ask me!

 

Getting in the ring is amazing in itself and as fighters we forget that as generally we are surrounded by each other!

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  • 2 weeks later...

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/mtg-081-therapy-session-mind/id636798781?i=343072987&mt=2   -Joe Schilling's mind coach

I think it's pretty motivating that you already have 5 fights and have been training a good chunk at such a young age.  From a self defense aspect, you're a different animal than most walking around.  Props to you.  You don't even have your adult muscles yet...

You being a competitor, most people that train can't relate because the truth is, we'll probably never fight- while you have put it all on the line 5X.  Respek.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I can also relate to your experiences with losing streaks, and I agree with all of the advice given. It is important to look at the past experiences of people you might look up to (Buakaw and Dekkers, for example) and see that they too have been through what you've been through. Losing fights doesn't mean that you're "not cut out for" your sport, it's just a stage in your progress, and probably one that you'll revisit in the future. I agree also with the importance of mental training. I've personally found the material from Wrestling Mindset to be really useful (I know you're not a wrestler, but listen to some of their free podcasts and I'm sure you'll find many of the concepts can be applied to Muay Thai or any other combat sport.)

One other factor in all of this might be your environment. I'm not sure what it's like in the US (I'm in Australia) but sometimes Muay Thai/MMA fights can get so hyped up by promoters selling tickets that it's hard to simply view wins, losses, good/bad performances as markers of progress. (This is unfortunately only amplified by social media, which brings all of this into our homes and every waking moment if you don't use social media wisely.) In many other combat sports (boxing, BJJ, wrestling, Judo, Muay Thai in Thailand etc) most athletes get the chance to have an extensive amateur or low-profile career before being put in the position where there is a lot of attention and "pressure" around their fights. Losses are a lot easier to deal with if you're fighting or competing every fortnight at small tournaments than when you feel like you're under lights and it's a big "occasion." Fight fans at more professional-style events in the West can be really awful too in the way they jeer at fighters and call for blood and this can make a loss more difficult to deal with. If this is an issue then mental training strategies and reframing can be useful too.

Hope some of these ideas help. I personally have really benefited from stepping away from higher-profile MMA fights for the time being and using the amateur wrestling/BJJ circuits to practise performing under pressure in a "lower consequence" environment.

Wish you all the best!

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  • 1 month later...

I know that Penake Sitnumnoi, lumpinee champion, ch7 champion, fighter of the year, lost his first 7 fights when he was a child and now he teachs at Evolve MMA in Singapore... I'm sure that when you'll win your first fight will be an huge satisfaction and a wave of confidence.. what if you do 100 or more fights... do you REALLY think you will lose ALL of them? Personally, I don't really like sport psychology, mental training strategies although they have scientific foundations. I'm sure that Muhammad Ali never studied how to be more confident. He just was Confident... He CHOSE to be confident... that's the beauty of sport, that's what make a champion... I think psychology ruins this kind of magic...

if you stop fighting for a couple of losses then you have to live with yourself and your regrets forever... I guarantee that...

Maybe you can think that you have lost the first 5 rounds of a longer, endless fight (your fighting career) and the positive thing is that you can decide how many rounds to do :)

"You can lose without being defeated" is the best way to deal with a loss, but isn't a good way to head a fight... personally, in my last fights I was the underdog, I started the fight with that sentence in mind... as a result I kept walking forward, get punched and kicked, get knocked down, get up, keep walking forward, get kneed and elbowed etc.... I didn't really believe in my strikes... you have to want that win, not just not being defeated..

maybe you have to change your fighting style... at first I was a technical, strategichal fighter and won often, then I just wanted to show my heart and courage, but I had not muscle and strenght and lost often... you have to chose your style... if you want to be a technichal fighter then you have to be "cold" and really concentrated, if you want to be an aggressive fighter I think you have to be a bit sadistic too... " I try to catch them right on the tip of his nose, because I try to punch the bone into brain" said mike tyson.. you have to want him down and hit him as hard as you can, not just walking forward to show your heart!

Good luck my friend! :)

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    • Just very briefly I want to take up one of the most interesting aspects of the fighting art of Thailand's traditional Muay Thai, an aspect that really cues for me how I watch fights and weigh the skills of fighters. Managing distance. Many people watch "strikes" and look for "points", but there is an under-fabric to strikes, a kind of landscape of them, no less than how a topography will influence how a battle is fought between armies. Even the most practiced strikes rise and fall to opportunity, and in Muay Thai a significant determination of opportunity is distance. Above is a quick edit of Sylvie's last fight up in Buriram, bringing out all the significant moments of engagement, telling the story in about a minute. (The full fight should be up in a few weeks with Sylvie's commentary, as usual.) I'm going to start with Entertainment Muay Thai as presenting an negative can often be the best way to bring out a positive. 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    • I see that this thread is from three years ago, and I hope your journey with Muay Thai and mental health has evolved positively during this time. It's fascinating to revisit these discussions and reflect on how our understanding of such topics can grow. The connection between training and mental health is intricate, as you've pointed out. Finding the right balance between pushing yourself and self-care is a continuous learning process. If you've been exploring various avenues for managing mood-related issues over these years, you might want to revisit the topic of mental health resources. One such resource is The UK Medical Cannabis Card, which can provide insights into alternative treatments.
    • Phetjeeja fought Anissa Meksen for a ONE FC interim atomweight kickboxing title 12/22/2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu92S6-V5y0&ab_channel=ONEChampionship Fight starts at 45:08 Phetjeeja won on points. Not being able to clinch really handicapped her. I was afraid the ref was going to start deducting points for clinch fouls.   
    • Earlier this year I wrote a couple of sociology essays that dealt directly with Muay Thai, drawing on Sylvie's journalism and discussions on the podcast to do so. I thought I'd put them up here in case they were of any interest, rather than locking them away with the intention to perfectly rewrite them 'some day'. There's not really many novel insights of my own, rather it's more just pulling together existing literature with some of the von Duuglus-Ittu's work, which I think is criminally underutilised in academic discussions of MT. The first, 'Some meanings of muay' was written for an ideology/sosciology of knowledge paper, and is an overly long, somewhat grindy attempt to give a combined historical, institutional, and situated study of major cultural meanings of Muay Thai as a form of strength. The second paper, 'the fighter's heart' was written for a qualitative analysis course, and makes extensive use of interviews and podcast discussions to talk about some ways in which the gendered/sexed body is described/deployed within Muay Thai. There's plenty of issues with both, and they're not what I'd write today, and I'm learning to realise that's fine! some meanings of muay.docx The fighter's heart.docx
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