People often ask what’s the best advice I can give them to help them improve at the gym. As “crazy” as it sounds the best advice is normally for them to relax. I understand that it sounds crazy given the context, how the hell are you supposed to be calm when someone is trying to punch/choke/stretch/knee/elbow you? Well, it’s really a lot of different factors that come in to play.
The first thing you need to have is confidence. Not confidence as in, “I can beat this guy”, but more like being confident in your own skill. You have to feel that no matter what happens, you have enough skill to combat whatever is coming back at you. If somebody punches me straight in the face, I know I can still come back at them. Really you should expect, the accept that that’s probably going to happen. I don’t know where people got this idea that you’re not supposed to get hit in a fight. A LOT of people flinch even from just being grazed, forget about getting hit full force. Same thing with grappling, even if I end up in a bad situation I have confidence in my skill to at least not be submitted. That confidence helps me remain calm regardless of the situation.
I think another big thing is to understand that nobody is trying to get hurt in practice. People worry too much about “winning” in practice, but nobody does that. I’ve even wrote another blog about this lol. The biggest take away is that understanding it’s not competitive will help take a lot of the edge off. Don’t get me wrong, everybody wants to do well in practice, but that doesn’t mean going all out to make sure you feel good about yourself at the end of the day. Everybody needs to look after everybody in practice, otherwise nobody will be training because they’ll all be injured! That’s always my biggest concern against somebody who’s being too competitive in practice, getting hurt, but I also understand that won’t happen if everybody can stay composed and relaxed.
In my opinion, the biggest thing is learning how to control yourself, both physically and mentally. The thing that people don’t realize is how those two are connected. A lot of people end up picking up the intensity without realizing they’re doing that. It’s one of the side effects of letting the adrenaline take over. Too many people fall in to that trap, in general. The best thing about this is that it’s also bled over in to my personal life. It’s helped me understand how I’m truly in control of how I feel about everything. I’m not one of those people that will blame someone else for my mood/attitude at this point. Even if someone does something bad to me, I’m not going to let that ruin my day. It can be hard, for sure, but I’ll always choose to focus on the positives over the negatives. Lashing out against people doesn’t make you strong, letting shit roll off your back and keeping it moving does. The more you don’t let other people effect your mood, the more power you realize you have within yourself, the easier it is to control yourself during sparring/fighting.