12 weeks, 8 weeks. For some perhaps just 4. At first the day seems like a distant date, something you can mentally put off thinking about and carry on with training and daily life. Then suddenly you’re 1 week away.
First the uncertainty sets in. Did I do enough? Am I conditioned? Maybe I should’ve sparred more. 6 days out. Is there anything I can do in the last few days to give me an edge?
Light Training somehow feels draining, warming up seems to take a lot out of you.
You think about how you can’t lose, how you won’t lose. 3 days. What should I eat on the day of the fight or after my weigh in? Am I eating the right foods?
You start wondering if you should actually take the fight. Maybe I should feign sickness, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. The day before. You don’t want to socialise, you just want some quiet, to relax. You start thinking as long as I don’t lose badly its fine.
You wake up feeling as if you haven’t slept, if you even managed to get any sleep. The day passes in a haze. The next thing you know you’re getting your hands wrapped and gloves put on. You’re going through your warmup. Then nothing. You remember nothing about the fight. Perhaps just slivers of a punch or a kick. All you remember now is the outcome.
“Fear makes men forget, and skill that cannot fight is useless.” — Brasidas of Sparta
To any competitive martial artist these seem all too familiar and sometimes painful. Weeks on training spent for just a few minutes and leaving the ring feeling like you could’ve done more. The physical work put in is just as important as the mental. Fighting is a different beast. Combat sports, to me seems like an oxymoron. Calling it a combat sport where the goal is to cause bodily harm to your opponent is just another fancy way of saying it’s a fight. Legal and sanctioned, but nonetheless a fight.
I’ve seen some people perform at an elite level during training and sparring only to have them devolve into a flailing mess of arms and legs during fight day. Were they just not as good as I thought they were? Or was it their lack of mental preparation and fortitude. Often times it’s the latter. The hardest part of the fight isn’t the physical aspect, it’s being comfortable in an uncomfortable, potentially dangerous situation.
Dave Grossman, a psychology professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, former Army Ranger, and author of the book On Killing, uses a color-coded graph to categorize the effects of heart rate on performance.
These effects were the product of psychologically induced stress and not physical stress. The increased heartrate and physical reactions were not physically induced. You don’t forget how to drive after your last set of Tabatha’s now do you? What does this mean for fighters and how can they benefit from this?
Stay tuned for part 2!