Martial Arts Science & History articles

How to Win a Fight With Smarts - Not Just Skill

fighter-focus

The vast majority of martial arts are self-defense oriented and, by nature, competitive. In addition to being able to protect oneself, people take up martial arts for the cutthroat competition that comes with improving at your sport and besting others in a spar or in the ring. Everyone knows that winning a serious fight takes equally serious skill, but is that really all you need to be a champion? To put it bluntly: absolutely not. Equally important to mastery of the physicality of the sport is the mental game of martial arts. Learning to leverage the power of your mind to gain an advantage over your opponent will go a long way towards emerging a winner rather than a loser. This article focuses on how to win a fight with smarts - not just skill.

Use Your "Brain Power" To Overpower Your Opponents

 A fight is as much about smarts as it is about skills. There are multiple ways in which you can use your mental advantage to overcome a lesser-prepared opponent.

Use the knowledge you've gained over the course of your training to stay one step ahead of your opponent. Constantly assess the situation, and make a mental note of how the fight is going. What is your opponent likely to do next? How can you counter that next move? Keeping your cool and moving your focus towards anticipatory rather than reactionary actions will put you miles ahead of an opponent who doesn't take the time to think.

A martial arts match can be a mind game. In addition to anticipating your opponent's reactions, take steps to make yourself more difficult to read. "Fake out" your foe so that it's difficult for them to tell your next move. "Getting in their head" so to speak can catch an unway opponent off guard, and deliver a victory into your hands.

Playing smarter, not harder, is the recipe for success.

Give Yourself Permission To Win

This may seem like an odd tip. After all, who goes into a fight wanting to lose? There's more to this statement than meets the eye, however, and it's the basis behind a lot of modern sports psychology and martial arts competition.

You have to truly believe in yourself and give yourself every opportunity to win. Through a combination of mental and physical training, you've honed your skills and you're ready for this moment.

If you aren't a winner in your own mind, you won't be a winner in the ring. The mindset of a winner is absolutely necessary to emerge victorious, so believe in yourself no matter the odds.

Accept The Possibility of Losing

This aspect of fighting with smarts is more of a long-term benefit than an immediate boost - though it definitely has applications in the ring! As a fighter, you're going to need to accept the possibility of losing a match.

Odds are that as you're mastering your sport you're going to lose many, many times. Even as a master, you'll be matched with other masters who meet or surpass your skill. Learning to lose gracefully and not take it too hard is really important.

If a loss hangs over you for too long, you're going to struggle to put in your best effort in subsequent training and matches. Also, if the "shame" of losing is constantly hanging over you in the ring, you're not going to be at your best. Focus is of the utmost importance.

Live In The Moment

While you're in the ring, you need to learn to let all outside worries subside. With a clear mind you'll have a clear path towards victory. Clutter that path with outside stress and it's only natural that you'd trip!

A big part of learning how to fight - and how to live in general - is learning how to live in the moment. During your fight, it's just you and your opponent. Focus on the here and now. You'll see it pay off in droves.


Develop Tunnel Vision

The title of this section may be a little misleading, but it gets at the heart of an important part of winning a fight. You don't want to completely avoid taking in your surroundings - after all, situational awareness is a big part of anticipating and reacting to your opponent. However, it's important to tunnel in on your objective and focus 100% on getting that win.

This tip ties in with the idea of mindfulness that we discussed above, but expands on that thought. You need to pull your attention inwards. "Living in the moment" could mean a lot of different things. There are all sorts of sights and sounds that surround us all day, but you'll need to find what's important and tune everything else out.

Ignore a cheering or rowdy crowd and focus on what's in front of you: an opponent and the only obstacle holding you back from victory.


Find the Calm in the Storm

A fight can be hectic and disorienting. Matches are often fast-paced and very physical, and it's easy to get wired up as you focus on victory. Too much energy or aggression can lead to slip ups that will cost you a match.

Take this energy and make it work for you rather than against you. Use this adrenaline to fuel your moves and draw it away from your mind. Anything clouding your thoughts can distract and impede your progress towards a win. Remember how we talked about "tunnel vision" above? That sort of focus is impossible if you fill your mind with anxiety and overwhelming energy.

The key to winning a match is an active body and a calm mind. Find the calm in the storm, and you can remain alert and focused as you triumph over your opponent

A martial arts career is going to be filled with ups and downs, and you're going to face a lot of joy as well as sorrow. Having the mental fortitude to weather the storm is a key part of what separates a winner from a loser.

We talked about the importance of accepting loss above, but this tip extends beyond the ring. After all, your time in the ring is just a few minutes. There's hours and hours of practice leading up to that moment, and it takes a lot of discipline to get to that point.

Notice how we said "discipline" rather than "motivation". Motivation implies the feeling of being willing to do something. Discipline is working towards your goal no matter how you feel.

The mental demands of training are more like a marathon rather than a race. As any athlete, and especially as a martial artist, you need to possess the mental stability for both an incredibly demanding burst of activity as well as the long trudge leading up to that moment.

It's said that practice makes perfect, and while you'll never reach perfection in martial arts, you'll continue to improve through training and fights. Fight smarter, not harder, and make sure you set yourself up for success with rigorous training of the mind in addition to the body.

Commit To Martial Arts, And Set Yourself Up For Success

A martial arts career is going to be filled with ups and downs, and you're going to face a lot of joy as well as sorrow. Having the mental fortitude to weather the storm is a key part of what separates a winner from a loser.

We talked about the importance of accepting loss above, but this tip extends beyond the ring. After all, your time in the ring is just a few minutes. There's hours and hours of practice leading up to that moment, and it takes a lot of discipline to get to that point.

Notice how we said "discipline" rather than "motivation". Motivation implies the feeling of being willing to do something. Discipline is working towards your goal no matter how you feel.

The mental demands of training are more like a marathon rather than a race. As any athlete, and especially as a martial artist, you need to possess the mental stability for both an incredibly demanding burst of activity as well as the long trudge leading up to that moment.

It's said that practice makes perfect, and while you'll never reach perfection in martial arts, you'll continue to improve through training and fights. Fight smarter, not harder, and make sure you set yourself up for success with rigorous training of the mind in addition to the body.

 

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