MMAs MENTAL ASPECT
by Michael Bunyamanop
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MMAs mental aspect is one of the keys to success in the sport.
How many times have you picked up your gym bag before leaving the door after work and have that thought pop into your head. You know which one I’m taking about, it goes something like this “Jeez, should I go today? Maybe I should take a day off, get some Ben and Jerry’s, one day’s not gonna hurt”. Depending on your level of dedication, one might decide to go ahead and indulge in the pleasures of sugar and fat. Or one may honor the commitment to excellence that most MMA athletes in constant competition adhere to and that’s to train no matter what your mood or how you feel-a professional attitude. Whatever the case, your body WILL do what you want it to do within reason. Remember that your mind is the control center for all that your body does and you really can push yourself farther than you think. It all boils down to one thing-the Mind-Body connection.
Lack of dedication or laziness, if you will, definitely isn’t something new. Since the times of ancient warriors the connection of Mind and Body has been understood to be the most vital tools in competing at an elite level. Ancient warriors such as Musashi Miyamoto and modern day gladiators such as BJ Penn (who was emphatic about mind and body connection in his interview before demolishing Sean Sherk) have all understood that there is a vital connection between what you think and how you’re going to perform. Without a doubt, the ancients also stressed the importance of a deep dedication to one’s art, whatever it may be, in order to attain a sort of enlightenment when the “spirit of the thing” reveals itself by using your body as an instrument. I’m not trying to get Shaolin here, but think of all those great fighters out there-Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida-don’t they make fighting look “beautiful”? First of all they’ve seemed to have discovered that the secret to fighting at an elite level is to constantly learn and perfect the art-something that will never be attainable. Musashi Miyamoto, the greatest Japanese swordsmen of all time has stated the following: "A master achieves the Way by being devoted to the art, while the art itself reveals it’s true identity to a warrior only when the “spirit of the thing itself” feels comfortable with the warrior as a vehilcle for its own expression."
Doing sufficient research (on your art) means that you must
devote yourself as much as possible to the study of these
ideas-to the degree with which you feel that you will have
accomplished that which you wanted to accomplish. The level
of commitment that you give to it will indicate to it what to
reveal of itself to you.
Now ponder of that for a second guys. All this may sound like something Master Po might say to Kwai Chang Cain (for all of you out there that remember the “Kung Fu” series). But it does make perfect sense. When your level of dedication to an art is so high that you actually live as an MMA athlete all the time, you can deal with anything. Pre-fight jitters turn into the calm before the storm because with training comes confidence, burnout can be adjusted because you know if you take a day off, it’s not going to turn into a week off and dieting will turn into a way to fuel your body to perform, instead of eating stuff that “tastes good”.
For those of us that do constantly compete-how many times have you gone into competition already losing the fight? You fought with your girlfriend or wife the night before, a family member has passed away, you have financial trouble. All these external forces when allowed to permeate your pre-competition mindset will undoubtedly have an effect on the way you perform-undoubtedly. The bottom line is you get back what you put in. Simple mathematical equation here. To erase any doubt you have of what you’re doing, who you’re fighting (within reason of course), why you’re fighting, if you should have become an accountant, there needs to be a deep, penetrating, never-ending quest to constantly improve what you do in everyway.
So the next time you feel like grabbing that Klondike bar and having a seat on the couch to watch re-runs of Married with Children think about what you’re losing, think about how short this life is and how training brings you one step closer to being an awesome competitor. Think about all the great fighters out there who work and train and are in a perpetual motion to perfect themselves as martial artists. We can all strive to be the next Randy Couture if we have the right mindset.
Michael Bunyamanop is a current MMA contender and amateur Muay Thai fighter with 17 yrs of training in Muay Thai beginning in Thailand. Michael came back to the U.S. at fifteen to spend the bulk of his training at the famed Muay Thai Academy in North Hollywood CA., where he worked with the likes of Malaipet Sitpraprom, former Radjadamnern Stadium Champion . He amassed a record of 4-1-1 while receiving a B.A. in English from Cal State Northridge. Michael then started his grappling with Gokor Chivichyan and also trained at Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet school while fighting three MMA wars in which he lost on the ground due to lack of grappling experience. He is currently refining his jiu-jitsu game in the Los Angeles Area while completing a Master’s Thesis in English, and looking forward to avenging his losses with a complete jiu-jitsu game.
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