“When you practice something ‘wrong’ you get really really good at the ‘wrong’ thing. The longer you practice failure, the harder it becomes to recognize success.”
– BTS Maxim
As a coach and motivator of fighters & warriors, I’m often asked about fear and intimidation during training and competition. I tell these people to forget about wining & losing and to just go for the Intellectual Capital, the ‘wealth of experience’. Train and compete to build self net-worth – value the journey more than the destination.
Forget About Winning?
Yes. Especially during training. Don’t focus on the outcome for now. Even the elite world-class competitors, like a George St. Pierre or a Roger Gracie where their careers depend on winning and most of their objectives have been met still maintain focus on the pursuit of perfection one technique at a time. Focusing on “winning” typically leads to failure – or at least sub-optimal performance.
How Does All This Apply To The amateur or professional martial artist?
As a consultant for combat athletes over the 20 years I’ve watched people very, very closely and what I noticed most often during a poor performance was that that person simply got in the way of ‘themselves’! In such cases, it was ‘performance anxiety’ which took control and directly affected their ability to think strategically and technically, to self-coaching, and to manage fear (or anxiety).
Knowing how to coach yourself through your unique obstacles will make you better, stronger, faster, meaner, sooner!
To accomplish this, there are two fundamental components or ingredients that are available to all of us:
1. The ability to establish a goal
2. The ability to develop a plan to achieve that goal.
Inside those two simple concepts, is an infrastructure so simple its complex. The problem is that the process is so easy it becomes complicated. How simple is Nike’s ‘JUST DO IT’ slogan? Sounds simple, right? But yet, how many talk and how many have the next t-shirt that reads JUST DID IT!
Fear of fear is a trap. Management of fear is a choice. The good news is that each of us can choose to develop through this process. We can change and grow, but it requires awareness and then, yes, irony of irony: commitment. And that’s the reason most do not move past managing fear: they can’t commit to commitment.
An analogy I have often used is that of a cooking metaphor: Though ingredients are available to all, and recipes are available to all … some people still can’t cook. They choose not to learn how to cook, or even if they choose to learn, they choose not to do the cooking required to prepare the meal.
And that’s the problem. How many people who want to be the best they can be (they talk about it) but yet they do not do what they already know is necessary for success? Quitting smoking is an excellent example in this case. They won’t use that little extra ‘seasoning’ like doing specialized training, sprints, grappling outside their comfort zone, spend time learning about performance nutrition, recovery and so on.
Why not? What’s really stopping them? The reality, in my opinion is people don’t push themselves because of fear and it matters little if its fear of competition, fear of losing, fear of getting bruised, whatever – its all fear.
Whether it is conscious or unconscious, all success comes down to appreciating, understanding and accepting a fundamental component: the management of fear.
Respectfully speaking, there’s been too much made of the physiological afflictions of fear (loss of energy and fatigue for instance) and not enough into the psychological management (brain lock), where it counts. When you feel fear, what will you do? In training or in the street the neat thing about fear management is that it’s a habit, not a skill, for we are always confronted with some sort of fear, so as my play on words goes; its not about NO FEAR, but about KNOWING FEAR: how to spot, it, analyze it, address it, own it, use it and move through and beyond it.
Good luck, and train hard!
Tony Blauer is CEO of BLAUER TACTICAL SYSTEMS (BTS) which is one of the world’s leading consulting firms specializing in research & development of combative training & equipment for the military, law enforcement and self-defense communities. BTS has taught key performance enhancement, fear management, and combatives based on S.P.E.A.R. System research to military, law enforcement and civilian personnel since 1988.