Horizontal vs Vertical, Part V

     Many people ask me about my years as a striker and how that translates to grappling.  As I’ve stated in previous installments of Horizontal vs Vertical, it’s complicated.  Today I want to talk about mental training.  Mental training is vital in almost everything I do.  The mental training that I received in striking has made me a better grappler and competitor.  There are many aspects of mental training.

     Mental toughness is the first aspect of mental training that comes to mind.  Mental toughness allows one to prevent self-defeating internal dialogue.  Your mind can track one of two ways.  Self-defeating internal dialogue, is that voice in your head that tries to stop you from doing your best.  It tells you that you can’t do this or,  you don’t have to do this.  The other way the mind can track, is the internal dialogue of mental toughness.  It says things like, you can do this.  You don’t feel pain.  Just one more.  I’m not going to quit.  Finnish this.  Years of stand up martial arts have left me with an enhanced mental toughness.  I say enhanced, because I’ve always been hard-headed.  Martial arts just helped me to focus that stubborn streak.  This enhance mental toughness kept me from throwing in the towel when I started grappling.  It was hard for me to transition to grappling.  It was even harder because I was the only girl.  But, because I’m mentally tough, I was able to endure.

     Hyper focus is another part of mental training that people don’t think about.  I call this my fight switch.  When I turn on my fight switch, I become more aware.  My senses are heightened, while at the same time, I’m able to block out distractions.  Time seems to stretch out and everybody goes into slow motion.  I guess you could call this “The Matrix Mode”.  I’ve had to tweak it for grappling, because grappling requires that you use your senses in a different way.  Years of striking, made me aware of this ability, and taught me how to adjust it for different situations.  This knowledge was helpful in grappling, after the initial adjustment period.

     The competition zone, is still another part of mental training.  When preparing for competition, one must find that balance of stimulation and detachment.  Through years of competition, one learns to control the level of stimulation to the brain. If a competitor is overstimulated, that can’t focus.  If a competitor is understimulated, they can’t react.  Mental detachment is a similar double-edged sword.  An experienced competitor learns to tune out distractions before competition.  Prior to competing they will detach themselves from negative or distressing environments or people.  However, if they detach too much, they lose their focus and their motivation for winning. 

     I’ve never been a competition junkie, but I did come to grappling with experience competing in a combat sport.  I knew how to balance my mental condition prior to a fight.  When I come to the mat, it’s with a clear focused mind.  During a competition, I have the ability to turn on my fight switch and hyper focus.  This means I can mentally function and problem solve during the fight.  Then there’s that mental toughness.  I won’t mentally stall out.  I won’t let my body physically stall out.  I just plain won’t stop until I’ve choked my competitor into submitting.

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3 Responses to Horizontal vs Vertical, Part V

  1. I think my stand-up experience prepared me for grappling. A lot of my flexibility and reflexes carried over.

  2. Jen says:

    Great series. Wish I had more experience with stand up. The mental focus is key. I’m always amazed at how all of the background noise disappears once your on the tournament mat. It feels like it’s just me, my opponent and my coach.

    • Jen, You’re right about mental focus being key. It’s amazing how the brain filters out information it doesn’t need in certain situations.
      I’m working on another series called “Disjointed”. It’s just basic information about joint dislocations. I already have shoulder dislocations up and I’m working on elbow dislocaions. It should be up soon.

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