Monday, 3 April 2017

Pre-fight nerves don't affect performance.

My most recent fight was the worst I have felt mentally going into it. I have never felt in a deeper rut psychologically than for this one. My mind was racing in the weeks coming up to it. Also this is the most scared I have been. Constant 'what if's and doubts creeping into my mind. I was physically shaking after seeing the size and shape of my opponent at the weigh in.

However I employed the following logic and reason to quell my nervous disposition...

I'm not trying to gain the approval of my friends or family.

I don't need to impress anyone despite feeling pressure not to disappoint.

The worst that could happen is a knock out and the world will go on.

I'm going to die and this moment will not matter one bit when I look back at my life.
We are on a rock flying through the cosmos.
My way of dealing with the pressure, it seems, is to zoom out. To observe the bigger picture and my tiny place within it. This helps not just with fighting but will all issues in life. Taking stock of one's own mortality and insignificance, I feel, is a valuable perspective to have...

As for the fight it's self. As usual many techniques that usually flow with ease and grace are stripped away by the occasion and the perceived need to make every shot devastatingly powerful.

But my skill and experience was still too much for him. As was my cardio.
I was still breathing hard of course and my throat burned. I should have a longer, more active warm up for my next one. My legs were jelly. But I still lasted longer than him. I scored a knock down in the first round. After he wilted from a body shot I poured on the pressure and landed clean. The second was fairly even then in the third round as I began to overwhelm him, the referee separated us for an 8-count but he shook his head to the referee indicating he was done.

I felt proud and elated of course as anyone would after a stoppage victory. However I was more baffled that yet again before the fight when warming up I had the same old feelings... nervous, sluggish limbs, lethargic, and a seemingly crippling anxiety.

We always laugh in the back because we now expect these negative feeling before battle. However I long to train my brain to feel happy and free in that warm up.

Some say that the nervous edge is the mark of a switched on mind and an alert fighter... Surely it must be more advantageous to feel relaxed. To feel no pressure. No anxiety. To feel no expectations weighing down on your shoulders.

I know some fighters thrive in this chilled out state. Regardless of subjective experience, it is must be a good idea (or at least worth experimenting with) to make the 'fight-night' as much akin to the 'sparring-night' mind as possible.

Because as Miyamoto Musashi says
'You can only fight the way you practice'.