Friday, February 17, 2012

Mental Toughness or Feeble-Minded

I am going to be reprinting some old classic entries from my previous blog called The Angry Grappler. It will chronicle the evolution in my understanding of martial arts.
04 February 2009 @ 03:30 pm

It's something not a lot of people work on. It's something not a lot of people even believe in.

Hey we are human. We every year get fatter and more out of shape than the previous years. My friend and I call this being feeble. It's human to be stupid, irrational, weak, slow, mentally/emotionally underdeveloped. My friend Kevin calls this being feeble-minded.

What is being feeble minded? It's when a competition or even a big life event comes, and you get nervous, you get irrational, emotional, feeble, and you cannot perform to your best abilities, and for some at all.

Mental toughness is the ability to stay calm, reasonable, and perform as you normally would or even better than you normally would under pressure. 99.99% of people can't do this but they all have opinions about how everyone else should do it. A miserable guy who can't even manage his own life will never fail to give you his take/observation/advice about life because he saw it somewhere, read it somewhere, or learned it from his own misery. Who knows.

So it's something sports psychologists, coaches, generals, and even samurais have written a lot about. It's something I study all the time and try to teach to my clients in personal training. It's something I myself have worked hard on. For me it's that first fight that's always the hardest. Most people will agree because no one wants to lose in the first round. And you aren't warm, you've been waiting, you have no idea what this guy can do cuz you haven't watched him yet, and maybe you are like me, a slow starter. It takes my body a long time to warm up. This is bad news if I go against a quick starter. So I have to make not only my body ready for that shock, but my mind as well. It's hard.

I think its a big factor in why some guys can do well in the academy but not well at competitions. First important thing is breathing. If you can physically queue something, it can get a mental response. Slow down your breathing and make it steady. I think another important step is visualization. Visualizing outcomes. Another important thing is facing those fears and reasoning them out. How likely are real are some of these fears. Setting expectations. And remembering that this is supposed to be fun. But yes, winning is more fun. For me what also works is compartmentalizing things. A huge concern and worry comes from not knowing. But if you know every step you will take and blocked it all out in your mind, this takes a lot of the guess work out and you can perform a lot better. Breathing, visualizing, creating a plan and sticking to it. That is mental toughness. It's easy to train the body, the mind is the hardest. Not everyone will change, most people won't. But I think mental toughness isn't so much about changing, its more like keeping intact what you already have, just temporarily. Some will naturally be tougher than others, its part of their way. But we all can be tougher, better, well prepared.
About the Author:

Sam Y. is a Master Personal Trainer, Certified Nutritionist, Coach, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Corrective Enhancement Specialist, Yoga and Pilates instructor, and holds multiple certifications. He is also an avid Martial Artist, training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA. He is also the author of the popular fitness blog All Out Effort as well as the popular martial arts blog Inner BJJ. You can find him in the Los Angeles area personal training his clients, or at home annoying his wife, or on Facebook at his personal fitness page.

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