Monday, November 12, 2007

Finding the Eye of the Storm

In my last post, I discussed the importance of teaching women to harness their anger in self-defense classes. The other night, I had the privilege of seeing a woman reaching a level of development in her training in which she accomplished the complete opposite. She found what I call the 'eye of the storm.'

I went to an amateur boxing match on Saturday night to watch a girl named Gina fight. She's an amateur boxer who trains with my MMA trainer and has aspirations of going pro. In all her previous fights, she had used anger to summon up the fight in her, which she would unleash on her opponents. This had worked very well for her in the past. But Saturday's fight was different. Leading up to the fight, she commented to me that she was worried because she felt calm... too calm.

Gina was worried that she wasn't going to be able to summon up the anger she needed to fight in the ring. Mark, our coach, insisted that it was good thing, that her confidence had overridden her need for anger. But fighters are a superstitious lot. When a routine is working for them, any change in it, whether or not it's for the better, tends to make them nervous.

Mark proved correct in his assessment of Gina's state of mind. When she went into the ring, she fought in the eye of the storm. While punches flew at her and from her, she stayed calm and relied more on technique to best her opponent. And best her she did. Gina did so well, that they stopped the fight after the second round because she was 20 points ahead and there was no chance the other girl could bridge the gap in the 3rd round.

As I said in my last post, anger is a great way of teaching untrained individuals to summon up the courage and energy to defend themselves against an attack. But as students progress in their training, they should learn to rely more on their skill and technique to get the job done. Anger, when unleashed, consumes more energy and usually trashes your technical performance. Plus, it can prevent you from being more strategic in your attack and/ or defense. Applying anger to your martial arts is like lighting a powder keg. It will go off and has the potential to do a lot of damage, but not necessarily when and where you need it.

When you have learned to perform in the eye of the storm, it is a sign that your training has settled into your mind and your body and you'll be able to achieve greater things than you have ever done prior to reaching that level.

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