Previously I identified that the problem of getting worked up and overly emotional in competition. Not allowing yourself to think under pressure can be highly problematic (via Scott Pilgrim!). Since posting it I have competed in a brace of inter club bouts and sparring sessions with advanced level Thai boxers, and I have good news!
Well ‘whaddayaknow’, taking your own advice can really do some good. In Muay Thai, you have to finely balance reactions and instinct whilst being calculated, and still finding time to think.
It’s not something anybody will achieve overnight; in fact it’s quite evident when you see young athletes in many sports. How many times have you heard commentators cover a mistake by proclaiming “that just comes with experience”?
Over the past fortnight I’ve had a simple goal:
“Implement a level head in sparring; remain calm, find shots and not be fazed when I get hit.”
Getting hit can cause a heavy mental block. It can make you think you are losing or that you aren’t as good as you think. Even single shots can have you asking questions.
You can imagine my delight then when for 2 weeks in a row I managed to have a host of spirited give and takes in class with people 10 to 15kg heavier. To top it off, a recent interclub hosted by The Den in Windsford had me facing 2 similarly sized opponents but who were lesser experienced. I used my knowledge, remained calm and like to think I threw many point scoring techniques while giving them a chance to come back at me.
Part 1 of this blog had a Scott Pilgrim reference, so perhaps it is fitting to include one for the second half. In ‘Scott Pilgrim Vs The World’ a less remembered villain is “NegaScott”. This alternate version of the hero is an embodiment of Scott’s dark side. We all have a little of that in us. Given that nobody is perfect (yes, shocking right?) it is likely there’s always something you’d want to work on for yourself.
When NegaScott appears, Scott’s friends stand by his side to help in the fight; but he realises it is something he needs to resolve for himself. The battle is not seen on camera but seems to be resolved through discussion. We can all take something from this. As much as you work hard and grit your teeth, self reflection can be such a powerful tool for personal improvement.
When it comes to partaking in any sport or challenging activity, a large portion of performing to your maximum ability is your mind. If weighed down by expectation and doubt, you can struggle. Confronting the dark side of your mind (those weaknesses) can help build a very stable platform for progression.
Ask questions and create an internal dialogue about you. What can you change or work on? Continuous goals are an excellent thing!
The ideal outcome from this exercise is to turn self doubt into goals. In part 1 I identified I competed without much rational thought and taking one or two shots had me believe I was “losing”.
Three positive sparring sessions and two interclub bouts later, and there are signs of improvement. It isn’t the complete article, but the weight of doubt has drastically diminished.
With more sparring sessions weekly and more interclubs over the coming months, there is potential to create the building blocks for future success. It isn’t easy to complete goals, it takes time (sometimes a very long time), but it is achievable.
If you have one thing to take away from Scott’s journey perhaps it is that fighting seven evil exes can be a scary prospect, but fighting yourself, that’s a whole different story.