Unleashing Your Beast Means Answering “Why?”
The dominant, unshakable athlete. The one that shines brighter than the spotlight itself. Not afraid to let it all hang out and take risks in the arena.
For us, the admiring amateurs, the greenhorns green with envy, we find it utterly, brilliantly inspiring. We all want that level of success.
How do we get there? How do we look largely flawless in the face of adversity? How do we become a dominant, unshakable champion?
Before we get to specifics, before we make it to a fight/competition, before we start conditioning, dieting, punching, kicking and grappling… We need to take a step back to ask an important question.
–Why Am I Doing Any Of This, Anyway?-
Obviously we are training to perform in the ring or cage, but why is that our goal? Do we have a clear picture of why we are doing this?
We all have different reasons for starting our journey. Many of us had no idea it would come to a fight when we started. Physical fitness, self-defense, former high school or college athlete looking to stay active– these are the typical reasons why people come to my gym. What separates us greatly is the reasons we fight.
–My Journey In Combat-
I started traditional martial arts in the late 80s. My father took me to a friend’s gym to learn to protect myself and build confidence. After years of training, the UFC popped on the scene and I was hooked. I had to learn how to grapple! I transitioned from Tae Kwon Do and kickboxing to wrestling, Judo and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. I was completely addicted on combat sports.
In the early days of MMA, then called NHB (No Holds Barred), fights were not easy to find. In my home state of Tennessee, NHB was actually illegal.
The landscape of the sport looked dramatically different from what it looks like today. Today we see people learning MMA as its own art. Instead of going numerous places to learn various arts, most gyms are a one-stop shop. In the earlier days of fighting, it was common to have lifelong wrestlers, nak muay, karateka, judoka, etc. seeking to find a path to learn what they were deficient in. Because of the new trend, competing as an outlet to blend the arts might not be a common reason, like I once had.
-Your “Why” Must Be Paramount-
The first and most important step in unleashing the beast within is asking ourselves why we are doing what we are doing! This isn’t a question to take lightly. Looking deep within ourselves and finding true meaning in what we are doing will be the driving force behind any hurdles that will definitely appear.
Is it money you’re after? Fame? The spotlight? Do you seek to be the next Conor McGregor?
I’m sure many aspiring young fighters will lean this direction when looking for their reasons. I urge you to look deeper within yourself to answer this important question. Our true “why” needs to be something we can fall back on in hard times and something we can truly find passion in.
Towards the last few years of my competitive journey, my reasons for fighting changed drastically. I went from testing the skills I had acquired through years of training, to battling the demon called competitive anxiety. I was trying to find the path to competing at the highest level I was capable of reaching. I had to step in the fire and see if the methods I had studied worked for me. My last five fights weren’t about the guy standing across from me, but really all about myself. I had a solid “why” to push me.
-Finding The Core Of Your Purpose–
Very deep, specific terminology is the key at this point in our journey of competitive success (and life). Do you want to make fighting a career? Do you want to fight at a high enough level for large contracts and endorsement deals? Or do you only seek to further prove to yourself you’re an all-around badass?
An example of the type of terminology that can help us sustain a high level through a practice, a fight camp, and even a career could read:
“I’m fighting and working to build a career to sustain a suitable lifestyle to take care of myself, and my family, as well as set up a secure future after my competitive days are finished.”
Whatever you reason, make it meaningful and very specific. You may have multiple reasons for competing. Mine, for example, was not only to compete at a suitable level by using the steps and procedures I’ve studied, but to put them to the test. I needed to know they worked to pass on to my students and now you.
We now have our own, personal reason why we have chosen the path we have. Like I’ve said before, these reasons will be our driving force. It’ll get us to the gym when we’re sore, tired. It’ll make us push harder through practice, step out of our comfort zones, and keep us focused on our journey.
-Laying The Foundation Takes Time–
It may seem like we are a long way off from discussing “pre-fight jitters” or maybe the inability to pull the trigger in a match, and in some respects we are. I want you to remember that this isn’t a quick fix. This is a process and an overall formula for success that can be career- and life-changing.
Think of it like this: on your first day of training did you learn a multi-part striking combination or a long detailed submission chain? I’m guessing no; definitely not in my gym. You probably learned basic stance and structure. You started with a strong foundation. That’s what we are doing now. We are pouring the concrete on what will be the foundation for all of our future success in fighting or in life.