I had a conversation with my friend Sam about why I chose to participate in a recent kickboxing demonstration at my gym, Total Martial Arts Center. I was setting down my gear bag in the locker room where I confided that I was extremely nervous about stepping in the ring again, so he simply asked me:
“So why do you do it?”
I had tried to answer that question myself, but when you ask yourself questions, you can often procrastinate giving an honest answer or distract yourself by checking your phone. It was a difficult question to answer because 1. I didn’t know. 2. Sam put me on the spot, and 3. My phone was in my bag.
It’s an incredibly valid question that can really set your mind off in Runaway Train Mode. We all know it: The mode that tends to kick in when you go to bed and keep you up all night with thoughts about thoughts. People do martial arts for a variety of reasons. It’s simply a great way to get in shape. Others do it because they want to compete in an individual sport rather than a team sport. Many choose not to compete as it is not their objective for joining in the first place.
“It’s fun”. I replied. It was a half truth. Kickboxing is fun, but there is nothing fun about the wait before competing, at least not for me. I was called out on my response immediately, “Nah you’re lying to yourself. Why do you do it?” There was some more banter after that which I can’t recall. Sam was conducting Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), something that I was familiar with due to my previous employment. Other than developing other ways of thinking, CBT exercises are useful to get an underlying emotion that drives someone’s actions. For example, some people do things because they don’t want to feel stupid in front of others. Others do things because they have a deep-seated fear of failure (one of mine). One other statement came to mind.
“Because I’m scared to.”
The moment was an epiphany of sorts. When my coach asks me if I want to compete, it’s usually a yes when plans and finances allow it but I always feel nervous prior to competition. I dwelt on this idea further and concluded that competition for me is not about defeating someone, but proving to myself that I can face my fears and give it my all regardless of the outcome.
Because watching someone else do it while I sit on the sidelines is my biggest fear of all.
“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” – Jim Rohn
Let me know about your experiences in competition! Do you get nervous? Any methods to get rid of the pre-match jitters?