Today I considered a familiar statement, I hear often from students:

“I don’t feel mentally prepared for this competition. So, I won’t do this one, because I want to win, I will do the next one.”

I wondered “Can you be mentally prepared, if you are not regularly exposing yourself to the very thing you wish to be mentally prepared for?”

It led me to consider how you overcome phobias and anxiety (I have experienced both). I learnt (with professional help) in order to overcome a fear, you need to face it.  CBT therapy (cognitive behaviour therapy) is used to help with this, by challenging thoughts and encouraging gradual exposure to whatever it is you are afraid of. The exposure to your feared thing will hopefully reprogramme your brain, to disassociate fear with the thing you are afraid of, and it can work. 

To summarise, if you just hope and wait for your mental state to change (to feel ready), it won’t. That is like expecting to win a marathon, just by thinking about running.

Every kickboxing tournament you attend, contributes to your mental competitive state, win or lose. The more you participate, the stronger that state becomes. Exactly like your physical state – the more you train, the fitter you get.   

You may notice, the people who enjoy success at tournaments, are always the people who are regularly participating in them. Funny that.

So, my conclusion: To be mentally ready for competing – compete. 

Or as Yoda said, “Do or do not, there is no try”.

Sensei Jo

PS. If you suffer from any anxiety/phobias, that you want some help with, chat to your GP or look into self-referring (if available) via your local mental health service, good luck!;)