Sunday, April 7, 2013

Fighting and the unconscious dream state

You're in a room. A giant koala says hello. You greet him. You turn your head and notice you're actually on a mountain top. A yeti charges you; you freeze. Your thoughts, the events, colors and characters blend, and when you wake from your dream, it is usually half remembered. Why didn't you just run from the yeti, instead of being captured and eaten?

The way that i remember dreams is how I remember my kickboxing and MMA bouts. It is the closest analogy I can make. In both states, my mind is unfocused and can't self reflect.

From my fights, there are moments caught in time, brief flashes, but it's hard to place them. Snippets of sound that could have been the first round, or the last. All I know is that something happened. What I remember of my fights is close to how I remember some dreams. Intense, but confusing. When I am in a dream, I don't question what is happening. I can't think clearly. I am operating with a diminished consciousness.

So it is when I'm fighting. Many times, when looking back on certain parts of a fight, I wonder why I didn't do something obvious to improve my position. It seems so clear now, a day later, reliving the fight. The answer, that I find, is that I was on a different level of consciousness, closer to the dream state than the waking state. When I dreamed of the yeti, why didn't I run? Because it didn't occur to me. I was operating on momentum.

There is a learned discipline called lucid dreaming. There are several ways of achieving a lucid dream, but the one I would like to focus on is the method wherein you prepare yourself for your dreams. During your day, you ask yourself, "Am I dreaming?" You constantly test and question your reality. Before you sleep, you visualize the kind of dream you would like to have. You keep journals of your dreams, so that you can recognize reoccurring dreams for what they are. Eventually you begin to become lucid inside your dreams, with your full cognitive ability. Not only will you be able to run from the yeti, but, with much work, you may be able to morph your arm into a plasma blaster and reduce the monster to a pile of ash.

So, what is the equivalent for fighting? How can a fighter become lucid while in a fight, instead of running on muscle memory and momentum? I believe the first step is recognition of the problem. I recognize that I am not myself when I step into the ring. Combinations I have practiced thousands of times and used in sparring, melt away. I fall back to punching once, twice, maybe kicking one side or the other. If I was able to objectively see what I was doing, I would be able to correct it easily. Throw more punches, watch out for that right hand, stop lowering your head. My lucidity during fights is improving every time I step into the ring and I believe preparing yourself through drills and sparring is important, but it isn't the whole story. I will be playing with ways of physiologically preparing myself. More to come.

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