I’ve been boxing quite a bit these past few months. I’m a huge advocate for mixing it up, it helps to stave off burnout. The gym I’m boxing is at is called All Starts Boxing gym. It’s a proper london boxing
One of the things that the club has are little mantra’s or sayings all around the gym. When you’re jumping rope or watching your footwork, they’re always there in plain sight. This one is my particular favourite.
Calm is vital, Calm saves lives.
The other day I was at my MT camp, and I was asked to help out with a fighter who had an upcoming fight. She had been out of commission for some time and was getting back into the swing of things. We were essentially doing Tabata drills (20 sec. on 10 sec. off) my job was to hold and clinch with her.
David wasn’t letting on to how many rounds she was going to be doing. Towards the end she was running on fumes. As we pressed her she reached a breaking point and I could see it in her eyes she was beginning to panic.
I’ve written a bunch of post in the past on meditation and it’s applications in training. I was thinking about this the last time I was training. I’m by no means an expert on this so take what works for you and toss the rest.
When you’re sitting in meditation, one of the things you are taught is to observe. Let me explain, when you first start meditating you’ll notice that your mind likes to chat incessantly, it doesn’t like to sit still. As you become accustomed to the feeling of sitting you can observe thoughts and feelings as they arise… here comes thoughts about the emails I need to write… “here comes my to do list today” etc. You just observe, you don’t form an opinion, you don’t make judgments. Your thoughts that arise are just thoughts… they aren’t good thoughts, they aren’t bad, they aren’t anything. You are just observing them without attaching any sort of meaning to them.
You could just observe them like you were sitting back watching them on TV or you could follow them. These mental formations are natural and in the Buddhist vernacular are referred to as mind objects. They will arise, hang about for a while then go away. When you follow them, you do exactly that, you allow them to continue to play on. “Oh here comes thoughts on what I need to do today… don’t forget to swing by the dry cleaners… get back to Jason about where we should eat tonight… we should try that new Mexican… I want to try the new…” you get my point.
Panic is just another mental formation, another mind object. We notice them because like anger, or happiness the feelings a very coarse, unrefined and easily identifiable. Panic and anger are powerful mind objects because they originate in the mind, and very clearly illicit a physiological response, you get excited, your heart rate picks up.
This is where your mind can betray you. If you follow the panic and you assign meaning to it you can allow it sap you of your confidence, energy and focus. The act of letting your panic or anger take control is exactly like following your mind objects, it just happens much more quickly and subtly. In fact it often happens all under the radar, you may not even be aware that you’re angry or feeling frazzled you may just be reacting to it.
For me, when I feel panic coming on (in and out of the ring) I acknowledge it. It’s very difficult to not follow it (don’t do that you’ll get hurt, careful he’s going to knock you out etc)
I take a couple of deep breathes and forget everything, I clear everything out. “I am in the ring, I am starting to feel agitated”. It sounds stupid, but by acknowledging where you are how you feel, you stop the process of following the anger or the panic and you begin to observe.
I try to just focus on simple strikes Left, right, kick etc. I’m not worried about looking bad, looking good, winning, losing, getting hurt anything. I’m interested in what’s in front of me right now.
I try to focus on taking some of the power off and falling back on technique, make sure my kicks are landing consistently. My punches are crisp (not flailing) Taking deep breaths while under attack, reloading. Just shut everything else out and finish.
It could be a matter of seconds, minutes or not at all but the feeling of panic, anger or whatever would have subsided. When I was helping out with the fighter the other night I said that I could see she was beginning to panic.
She was at her wits end and David was covering her mouth while clinching with her. He was screaming in her ear while I was holding for her, It was a stressful situation. I told her to focus on me and to focus on hitting and kicking the pads in the same location. “Clean Kicks” I kept repeating… it seemed to work and her work rate and technique appeared to pick back up.
What do you guys do to remain calm, how do you stave off panic?