Competition Mindset

Discussion in 'Competitors Corner' started by Jaydub, Feb 12, 2020.

  1. Jaydub

    Jaydub Valued Member

    I compete in full-contact knock-down Karate tournaments from time to time. If you have ever seen my (sadly neglected) training log, you will notice that I wasn’t as successful as I would have liked during my last competition. I believe that a strong factor in this was my mindset.

    Among other things, I really would like to focus on my mindset before competing this year. I can turn it on when I need to at work, but I’m not an aggressive person by nature. However, I would like to become much more aggressive in my fighting style. I would like to keep it controlled to the point where I don’t foul someone, or I can still effectively process a solid offence and defence strategy without swinging mindlessly.

    There are a lot of high-level fighters here. How do you guys get yourself into a proper mindset to defeat your opponent? Are high level fighters always naturally aggressive, or is that something you train like anything else?
  2. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    It's like anything man, you need to train on that specifically to get good at it. Spar more aggressively. It doesn't mean you have to go any harder than you normally do but you do have to increase your output as well as continue moving forward. When you're about to get swept try your hardest to keep your balance. What I found was big for me was when I gother swept in competition (bjj but still valid) is that I'd sort of just go with it as if I was sparring with a white belt who needed help. The truth is I probably could have survived and continued as the aggressor.
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  3. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Most high level fighters are aggressive by nature it's something you can improve but it needs to be there first, sparring is not competing the only way you can replicate it is through shark tanks and pressure in training , get yourself to the point of exhaustion with fresh opponents and you will see if you have the aggression to continue or fade. It's why shark tanks are used it's the nearest you can come to replicating the conditions of s fight.

    You will have to practise the right set which means in normal sparring going after your opponent not looking after them trying to dominate and hurt them, it's not s nice thing to do and won't make you friends so it's normally done with other fighters who are also fight preping under the eye of a good coach.
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  4. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    I've never competed formally but have come pretty close. For me training for full contact requires athleticism and technique but most of all, settling your nerves. A match is a nerve-wracking thing for most people. Not only is your butt in harm's way, everyone is watching. So you need to do whatever you can to wipe that nervous fear out. Better sparring should lead you to naturally diminish the nerve factor, but you never know. You get injured, cut, etc your fear might come back and ruin an otherwise good run.

    The mind is your best weapon and worst enemy, if you let it run wild, and pain and discomfort will do everything to make you lose control. Learn to relax, to control breathing. It might sound cliche but find your happy place, and if that's an aggressive place, you will probably do your best if you control your baser urges.

    And always be satisfied with whatever your best is. Most people are never going to be elite fighter no matter how much they train. The ones that might I think are the ones who don't sweat fear.
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  5. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    My problem I guess, is that Im not focused enough. Its weird, I'll train and train and train.
    And then when I step on the mat, Im not bothered. Yeh I want to win and when I lose Im bummed out. But weirdly enough, I just feel the same as I do as sparring... rolling with an element of extra danger.
    The other guy will be psyching themselves up, throw out a salute or prayer, look up and point to the sky... and Im standing there scratching myself thinking do I so a single leg on the right or left leg....and then figure it out from there.
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  6. Jaydub

    Jaydub Valued Member

    I find that my strategy in sparring is fairly aggressive. I like to get in close with leg kicks and body shots. I'm comfortable fighting on the inside.

    We do use a "shark tank" type approach in our training, especially before a tournament. We significantly raise the intensity and switch out fresh opponents every two minutes in order to prepare the fighters. I have no problem keeping up the intensity, but I'm stuck in the sparring mentality as opposed to the mentality of destroying my opponent.

    I think that this sums up my mental state fairly well. I train very hard in order to prepare myself, but I don't get psyched-out about competing. It's just a very intense sparring match with higher stakes. My opponents will to destroy me is greater than my will to destroy him.

    Maybe I'll try drinking raw eggs for breakfast, along with hitting raw slabs of meat and chasing chickens. :D

    All jokes aside, I did speak to my instructor about it, and it is something that we're going to work on.
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  7. hewho

    hewho Valued Member

    A group I train on and off with do simulated comps in the run up to people competing. Matches get set up, 'spectators' are given someone to cheer on, adds the noise element, and unlike regular training all eyes are on you.
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  8. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    I'm one of those who finds it easy to tap into that aggressive mindset, I've had to take the reverse approach as i can get more hurt (and more likely to hurt the other).
    It's got me into a fair amount of fights unfortunately until into my 20s.

    I haven't competed in a long time (16 years!) So it's hard to say if I'd still be able to control it in competition, and i don't have much desire these days to compete due to my asthma.

    in kickboxing, boxing and mma the hard sparring helped to focus it and make it more of a controlled outlet, i think the same goes from the other end of the aggressive spectrum; if you train to be comfortable with yourself with that aggression then you will be more confident applying it in competition.
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  9. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    Watched this interview with GSP recently. There are some interesting take aways for the competing mind set.

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  10. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    My organisation runs regular Squad training. The National Squad regularly attend these as training for International competition, but others are welcome to attend too. It's generally full on, massively tests fitness as well as technique, and the Squad aren't taking any prisoners because they want to remain on the Squad. Training there makes you compete :)

    Those people are already training all the time though. 3, 4, or 5 times a week.

    I think that constantly testing yourself gets you there. You need to be seriously focussed, then that focus will make you serious.

    But there's something in what Icefield says too; many fighters are born fighters.
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  11. Jaydub

    Jaydub Valued Member

    Interesting video.

    I train very hard in anticipation of a tournament, but I don’t feel afraid or intimidated. It’s hard to explain, but I just don’t have that competitive fire.

    Maybe that’s what I need to do; put on a mask and act like an unbeatable human wrecking ball.
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  12. Andy Defuson

    Andy Defuson Banned Banned

    Yes fighting is not just done by body. Mind has a great impact when facing competitor. Aggressiveness works well, but there comes a point where mind decides when to switch from calmness to aggressiveness. I think training mind in that way works.
    Grond likes this.
  13. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    I know what you mean. It is a sort of paradox, trying to stay calm and focused and at the same time, attack. My personal style for what it's worth is to play defense and just watch for openings. "The best offense is a good defense" etc. You end up taking a few hits that hopefully you can absorb, block, parry, whatever, and then rather than having to "get aggressive", it's more like winding up a spring and then letting it go at the right moment. Trying to force yourself get offensive just to advance, strike, etc might have the opposite effect, you get into your head too much and its counterproductive. Then you'll be the one making mistakes then your opponent, if they're good, will notice this and patiently wait until you give them an opening, and then pow.
  14. Unreal Combat

    Unreal Combat Valued Member

    Being competitively aggresive & having an aggresive personality are not the same thing. Some people may see them that way but to me I don't think it is.

    Being competitively aggresive is about knowing when to push forward to finish a match, knowing when to apply pressure to your opponent to achieve victory. This is something you can train in the gym.

    Having an aggresive personality is a personality trait and can also be a flaw. It can leave you flailing, wild, open and exposed at the wrong time. It really is something that should be avoided and controlled.
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  15. liero

    liero Valued Member

    You might want to think about setting process goals for the next competition rather than an ambiguous outcome goal (be more aggressive).
    Identify the specific behaviours you want to demonstrate an improvement in for the next time you compete and develop a plan about how to get that. For example.

    Outcome Goals (Based on OP): Be "more aggressive in my fighting style...don’t foul anyone...implement a solid offence and defence strategy...use targeted strikes (aka not swinging mindlessly".

    Break each of these down into tangible things you can work on in training (a process goal) and increase over time.

    Below are a few ways I would set Process Goals. You would not set this many for one 'cycle' maybe work through each over a period of a few months and integrate into your game.

    Aggressive Fighting Style
    In training: Increase Striking Padwork Intensity (more strikes thrown on pads in less time), rate RPE at the end of each session and try to increase, develop a small number of effective combos and drill these in sparring and technical training, increase use of multiple strike combinations in sparring, increase number of or intensity of conditioning sessions to mitigate fatigue from increased work rate in matches.

    In competition:
    Increase number of strikes thrown per round/match from last competitions, develop more aggressive game plan with coach, integrate a few cue words which they can say to you to prompt attacking tactics in the match.

    Not Foul Anyone:
    In training: Learn the rules fully. Review last few matches, what were you fouled for and try to explain why. If it's because technique becomes sloppy under fatigue then you should improve this, if it's for some other reason develop a plan to amend this in training. Use specific process goals (e.g. throw punches only in the permitted scoring area, use footwork when fatigued to recover energy before re-engaging).

    In competition: In most comps you can be fouled for being too passive (e.g. avoiding) or being too red-hot (groin kicking your opponent in rage). An effective game plan should mitigate most of this. Assuming you know the rules and follow them, the other type of foul is unintentional/accidental fouls. When these happen you need to brush it off mentally and re-focus on fighting and your next job/task. This is how we stick to the process goals in a match. Use the post-comp review to determine how or why any fouls happened and then build some training sessions around mitigating this for next time.

    Offensive Technique:
    Similar to Aggressive Fighting Style.

    Defensive Technique:
    Training: Video your sparring sessions and past comps, work out where your defensive errors lie and develop a few technical plans to layer in your new defensive skills. Even if it's a general sparring session you can develop some goals to increase defence. For example: focus attention on blocking strikes from incoming attacks rather than attacking opponent, focus attention on evasive footwork. This can be particularly useful to freshen up your sparring strategy against someone you spar with often.
    Competition: Like aggressive fighting style, develop some process oriented cues for yourself and your coaches to use to quickly reorient your defensive behaviours (E.g. "Guard, "Footwork", "Distance", and these trigger you to behave in a certain way).

    Targeted Strikes:
    Depends on the underlying reason for this happening.
    If fitness/intensity related you could have a process goal of maintaining stance/good technique in response to increasingly more demanding activities. E.g. work a combo with someone holding pads in front of you when you decide to punch, then have them put the pads up and you react, then add more combos they call out, add another pad holder so you have to quickly shift your body to respond to either person, then close your eyes and they move around and call out for you from different areas and distances to increase the demand.
    Otherwise: Is it a matter of improving your technique overall, a physical capacity thing (need more strength/fitness improvement) etc.

    Regarding competition performance and aggression in general.
    I would recommend some basic reading into "Individual optimal zones of functioning"
    Some people perform better when they are really pumped up. Others require calmness. I think with MA comps you are already going to be more physiologically and psychologically aroused than in training so require less pump up stimulus.
    In these settings it's just about having a series of process goals that get your body ready to fight (like the same warm up you use for every match) and then a number of processes which you are focussing on for that match (but not so many you don't fight well). It's a trial and error process to work out what helps get you in the 'zone' to perform at your best.
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  16. Monkey_Magic

    Monkey_Magic Well-Known Member

    liero, I think that’s awesome advice. What a great post!

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