Sunday, April 21, 2013

Managing pre-fight anxiety

I have a fight in one week. No matter what I do, I know there will be a certain amount of stress involved with getting into the cage. Stress and anxiety. One way I manage them is through training. I firmly believe that fights are won in the gym. That is a metaphor. It's not strictly true, but on another level, yes it is. This last week I had anxiety, once I got my sparring rounds in it melted away. I knew where I was, and what I was worth as a fighter. The day of my last MMA bout, I was a bundle of nerves until I got in the gym and worked my takedowns. After that, I knew what I needed to do.

The other way I manage it is by being selfish. Leading up to my fights, I won't go out on the town to make a friend happy. I won't help someone move. I won't go get coffee with someone unless I want to. I take care of my responsibilities, but I do the bare minimum. Right now I don't have a job. I'm a student. The bare minimum for me is still an A, but you won't see me in the classroom doing any more work than I need to.

Lastly, I try to see the world, the universe, as genuinely as I possibly can. This has an element of spirituality to it, though I don't focus on it. The reality of the situation is, I'm on a ball of rock and water, that is chasing a gigantic fireball through the inky blackness of space. The fireball itself is hurtling through the cosmos at 134 miles per second. That is actually happening. Unless it's not. I have no idea what I am, or if what I am is anything but chemical reactions. Maybe the thing that thinks and worries and loves behind my eyes, is the exact same thing that thinks and worries and loves behind my opponent's eyes. I don't know. I have no special knowledge in this regard. But the fact that I am such a small thing, and this moment so small, helps to remove the fear of my ego being damaged by a loss in the ring. Having these thoughts while listening to Sigur Ros helps. Watching Carl Sagan and Alan Watts video compilations on youtube helps.

So, to sum it up, to remove stress before a fight: train hard, be selfish if you can afford it (i.e. you're a bachelor without kids), get existential on your problems.

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