Friday, 1 December 2017

Reflecting on my final amateur bout

My final amateur bout went by very quickly. It wasn't the biggest show I'd performed on and, cards on the table, the guy I fought didn't match my experience level, this made me slightly cautious about my next fight which was already lined up a couple month after, it would hardly seem impressive to finish your amateur career with a loss to a lesser opponent on a small show.

However I pushed all thoughts of my pro debut to the back of my mind and focused on the task at hand. I grafted hard again for this one and it's that hard work that allows you to feel confident; or at least look it. I'm finding as well that with experience comes familiarity. You expect the sluggish feeling, the niggling whispers of doubt that you must quash in a whack-a-mole fashion. While you must not neglect appreciating your opponent and the dangers/threats they bring to the table, you must also be careful to try to not entertain too many thoughts of defeat.

Some philosophies in the Samurai vein of living teach us to rehearse the worst case scenario in our minds before battle. To imagine in great detail the crushing pain of defeat (physical and mental) and the disappointment that comes with it. To try and feel the emotions and picture the events unfolding. Supposedly, having already experienced the defeat, you no longer have anything to fear. You have addressed the tumult that would come hand in hand with a loss and have accepted it as a possibility and know you are capable of dealing with the consequences...
This in turn will loosen you up and allow for smoother access to flow state. Because your mind is not preoccupied with the possibility of failure, it's free to fully focus on the task. Rather than being stiff and tight, on edge; your demeanour is light, loose and aware. Flood light rather than spot light focus.

I feel I understand this mode of thought. However I have an intrinsic feeling of repulsion upon entertaining thoughts of failure. As if thinking about something- some event or circumstance- silently beckons it into existence.

This sounds absurd even as I form this thought on the page. But I have for a long time been torn between inoculation to the worst case scenario and only entertaining positive thoughts. The latter proves difficult because any man when faced with a stressful situation can not help but consider the possibility of failure. Thoughts of what he must tell his friends, his family. What must he post on social media? (A 21st century problem indeed!) What about sponsors and financial supporters? What will happen to his relationships if he fails to meet expectations? All of these questions rear their ugly heads when the time to perform approaches. And I feel that if I answered them, I am accepting failure as a possibility and thus opening the door for it to walk into reality.

Instead I slam the door shut on these questions. I won't need to apologize to anyone. I'll only be writing a summary of success on social media. I wonder what doors this will open for me down the line with sponsors etc. I feel like not allowing the seeds of doubt to germinate in my mind garden keeps the physical reality of performance weed-free. Yes that metaphor was a stretch.

But you understand the point I'm making about the two different schools of thought approaching a stressful performance.

It's strange all the conversations I have to various friends and colleagues before a fight when they're asking all the usual questions... Are you going to win? What if you loose? I bet he thinks he's going to win just the same as you! I put on this air of invincibility. I wear a cloak of brash confidence and calmly dispell any illusions of the possibility of failure.

And this is more for my benefit than theirs. I care little what anyone else has to say about me on a personal level. My feelings are hard to hurt, and years of fighting make you a fairly calm person who is difficult to annoy. As when you step in a ring infront of hundreds of people in your undies and stop another man from trying to separate you from your consciousness, on camera...the rest of the world seems muffled, safe, as if it just matters less.

So if I'm not rising to childish games of belittlement when a torrent of over confident clich├ęs about my inevitable greatness splits from my mouth, I feel it must be to convince myself that it's true. On some level I'm talking to myself when I'm addressing others. Always observing my emotional and verbal response to praise, criticism, high expectations, mocking, doubts, blatant rudeness... I watch the cogs turning in my head as I form a response.

Controling this response to always sway towards some version of "whatever you say dude, I'm the fucking best, I work hard and I'm doing this shit" Is always how I deal with people playing these games.

When a man I work with or a supposed friend questions whether I can make it as a fighter or if it's even worth trying. I steam roller through everything they say with "I'm very good at this, I will make it happen'

What's interesting is that I have the same questions of myself. When a civilian asks "so you think you can actually make a living from fighting then?" I spit my stock answer from above but I am also thinking "I guess we'll find out".

'Become so good they can't ignore you'

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