Calm is Vital


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)

  • Acknowledge

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.

  • Simplify

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.

  • Focus

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?


About Author

I started My Muay Thai back in 2006... I was tired of reading about MMA, and wanted somewhere I could watch real muay thai fights, be inspired and connect with others who love muay thai as much as I do... I currently live in London... when I'm not geeking out over muay thai you can find me bombing around London on my scrambler, ferreting out the latest street food gems.


  1. When under uncomfortable pressure, I go back to basics and concentrate on things that I’m good at, stick to simplest techniques that leaves me least vulnerable to get hit or hurt.

    In clinching, when with someone who physically overpowers and out-techniques you, I make a decision not to play the power game, and I make a decition that is is more important to preserve energy by staying as relaxed as possible; because I realize that if I expend all my energy and don’t get the controlling position, I’m going to get gassed and dominated. So, relax and and wait for the opponent to take control, while looking for mistakes to take advantage of without using all my explosive strength.

  2. scienceof8limbs on

    I agree with the first post, under uncomfortable pressure or “panic mode” I revert back to basics and things that I’m good at and that I know I can land. At this point of panic I focus less on trying to outwork my opponent and more on trying to draw them in with their own momentum to capitalize on their mistakes to turn the fight around while at the same time regaining my composure and getting out of “panic mode”. Also the tips on meditation above really help alot!

  3. Like it’s already been said, the basics are key to get through panic. I focus on my guard, my distance, my pace…If I start to focus on what my opponent is doing and how it’s affecting me, I know I’m following my panic. Great tips on meditation.

  4. Awesome post Nop, Its all been said, and I really love the tips on meditation!!! Oh yeah Nop off the Subject, I am attending a Seminar with Kru Po AKA Phosawat Saensawang this weekend, do you know anything about him?? He heads the Rajabhat Maharakham University in Thailand!! Is he a former Fighter or what??

  5. It sucks how your mind can be your biggest enemy in the gym or in the fight. I deal with my demons before i train or fight. Usually when i’m stretching. I take a lot of deep breaths and calm myself. My friend i’ve cornered for 2 fights now he panics in the fight. He panics before the fight. Its hard to calm him down. I noticed after the first round he was panicking cause he wasnt sticking to the game plan whatsoever and was backpedaling the whole round. On the defensive. He is a great counter fighter but he didn’t even counter. So i knew something was wrong. So i simply told him that everything is going to be fine. I kept eye contact and told him that everything was going to be fine. Made him breath a lot. Then told him we didn’t come all this way to get our asses kicked. It seemed to work cause he really dominated after that.

  6. Great post. When I start to get flustered, I try to slow down my breathing by taking deep breaths and I usually go back to jabbing. Sharp crisp jabs, afterwards, everything seems to fall in place. We also got a saying at our gym “when in doubt, jab”.

  7. Good post m8, meditation is a great life tool… I think we should teach it in schools to get kids to chill out more!

    One thing to add, meditation is an accumulative activity (just like training) the more you practice the better you become. Once you’ve practiced enough, your able to ‘switch on’ the meditative state whenever you need, which is great for stressful situations. When I was young I would panic when I got into stressful situations (which was why I got bullied in school – well, that and the ginger affro!) and loose the plot… mediation helped me with this (the panic, not the affro).

    Get into the habit of meditating when u have free time, one the bus, at home, waiting in line at the chippy. After a short time, you’ll look for opportunities to do it.

    Healthy body and healthy mind… find a balance :)

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