Which is best for you?
I have been studying how human beings behave for a long time. In my office, I help people get over phobias, compulsive behaviours, anger issues and I also help athletes become better athletes – mentally. When it comes to competing in combat sports, your mental attitude going into the fight plays a massive role and still nobody has yet been able to come up with a standard, easy way of setting an advantageous mind-set.
The question “Is better to be aggressive/hyped up or calm?” still echoes in all gyms and, whilst many people tent to answer according to their specific experiences, nobody is yet to find the magic formula. The reason why this happens is very simple: everybody is different and you don’t know which one works best for you until you try both. Too often though, people are not able to change their mental state and try the difference.
You don’t need to understand it
The mind is the most complex part of our system but you don’t need to be an expert or a psychologist in order to use it. You may not understand how electricity works but you still use it every day; you may not know how a car engine works and again, people use cars easily. Your mind is exactly the same, you can use it to produce amazing outcomes even without understanding how it works in details. All you need to do is to follow simple steps.
In order to find out whether you work better in an aggressing/explosive state of mind of the kind of BJ Pen and Rob Olivier (what Olivier’s highlight HERE to see what I mean) or whether perhaps a calmer more “relaxed” Jon Jones/Machida type of attitude suits your personality better, you must try both on. You may ask “How do I try these on? Do I try one during one fight and another during another fight?”. This is one way but it’s a difficult one and a very dangerous one too.
Feeling without experiencing
One of the most amazing gifts that our brain has for us is the ability to feel without the real source of feeling. That’s right, you can feel emotions, sensations and physiology changes even without experiencing events or situations which would normally cause these. Let me explain: when you dream, you are in your bed with your eyes shut and still your body goes through the sensations of whatever you are dreaming of. You may sweat, tense up, laugh, scream, feel scared or amused according to your dream. You are not really doing these things and still you are feeling them. When you wake up, you know whether a dream felt good or not and then you know whether whatever happened in the dream would feel good or not if it was to happen for real.
The same goes for the mental attitude you need to try on. If you could dream of the fight, you could dream of going into the fight feeling aggressing and explosive first and then, in another dream, you could try the calm approach. Whatever feels better in your dream, would feel good in the real fight.
Okay, your next question may be “How can I decide my dream?”. My answer is that you do not have to dream to try on your mental attitude. It’s much easier than that.
Follow these simple steps:
- Sit down
- Decide what state you want to try on – aggressive/explosive or calm and chilled
- Put in your heard headphones playing your walk-out song
- Close your eyes
- Imagine that you are waiting in the dressing rooms – about to “go up”
- In your mind, see everything that you would see if you were really there
- Imagine hearing everything as if you were there for real
- Now imagine changing into the version of you (aggressive/explosive or calm and chilled) that you have chosen to try in step 2
- In your mind, see how your face, your eyes, your body language would change
- Imagine literally changing personality into your chosen version
- Imagine that your turn has arrived now and you are walking out with that new attitude
- Imagine walking up to the cage with that attitude
- Imagine facing your opponent with that new attitude
- Imagine waiting for the ref’s “let’s get it on” signal
- Imagine starting the fight
Then take a break, stand up, get some water and then do the exercise again trying the other version of you. If you do this well, really daydreaming, imagining that you see the details, hear the detailed sounds and feel the feelings, this will give you a great indication of what is the best mind set for you.
Try it in the gym
Once you have got it, try it when you do rounds. Obviously with control, try walking into rounds with one or the other mental attitude and see which one allows you to do better rounds. This is not going to turn bad fighters into good fighters, none of what I do is; in fact, nothing apart from hard years of training can do that. This, as most of what I teach, can turn good fighters into better fighters and minimize the risk of letting your mind lose you fights.