Saturday, 14 March 2009

Competition Motivation

The Carlson Gracie guys are organising a UK Masters & Seniors Tournament which I think is a great idea and one that I would like to support if I remain relatively injury free, healthy and more importantly whether I can get motivated.

My problem now seems to be with my motivation, why is it so hard to get motivated to compete these days. Various factors make up the competitive experience so I’ve analysed each one to see where the problem may lie.

Dieting for a tourney can be tough if you are unrealistic in your weight goal, I am naturally around 73kg so I could compete comfortably in the lightweight without any weight management and is only a small step down to featherweight so that is not a problem. An occasional diet is pretty cool anyway for shedding those pounds that creep on.

Extra cardio or conditioning for the tournament? No, the best training for a competitive match is to have as many competitive matches that you can in your gym in my opinion. Extra training means extra Judo and extra Jiu Jitsu which is a pleasure (usually) not a chore.

What about resources, time and money? Well I am working full time again now but with a little effort and some scheduling I can get 3 or 4 X Jiu Jitsu and 1 X weight training session per week which is sufficient for me, gone are the days when I could train every day.

Is cost a factor? A lot of people cite cost as being one of the reasons why they don’t compete and in some cases it’s true but in other cases I feel it is just another excuse. Especially the guys that complain that £30 is a lot of money to enter a tourney but would spend at least double this on a night out! It’s all about priorities.

Is it nerves? I doubt it, if I get to feel nervous at all which I don’t usually do then I remind myself that I am here by choice, that this is my hobby and is no different to having a game of squash or football and the result has no real world consequences, it’s not like I will lose then die!

Maybe the fear of losing? Losing holds no fear for me at all and I really can’t understand how people can be afraid of losing unless you define yourself as a person by how many matches you have won or what belt you are or some other such nonsense. You have to accept that in a sporting contest there is a 50/50 chance you will lose but they are the same odds of you winning too. When you accept this there is no pressure.

Add into the mix that there are some really good brown belts my weight in the UK, guys that have competed and won all over, losing to one of those would be no disgrace anyway.

Haueter always says that when you are preparing for a competition or a match, train as if it is the most important thing ever and then on the day detach yourself from the result. Train your ass off, do your best and move on. If you win, cool but if not, no big deal.

My friend Leo Kirby, 2 X Pan Ams champ, NAGA gi & no gi champ, books a restaurant for the night of the tourney and whether he wins or loses (although he hasn’t lost for years) he follows the same ritual, go out and celebrate. You have done the hard part now reward yourself.

There is also the argument “if you are doing what you truly love to do, have you ever lost?”

Have I lost the competitive drive? This could be a part of it but I still love to go to new places and competitively roll with new faces, it keeps everything fresh. I have another trip booked that will take me into a completely new environment where I haven’t trained before and really relish the challenge of taking on all the new sparring partners.

So could it be the competition environment itself? This could also be a reason; the long days sure are a pain in the ass. If you have waited a long time to compete can sap your enthusiasm a little especially if you have other guys to coach and sort out too but I guess this is all part of the process and needs to be experienced.

So what the hell is it? Writing this I have thought of all the competitions I have been to and what the problem of my lack of motivation may be and I may have the answer. Maybe it is my longevity in competitive combat sports, I have trained for a little over 20 years and began competing within 6 months of starting my first style.

I started fairly late (22 years old) in the martial arts world and am not naturally a fighter so have had to push myself to compete every step of the way. I set myself a goal of having 50 matches in a variety of styles that gave me the necessary experience to pass on to my students and to provide a little inspiration showing that if I can do, they can do it.

For me, competing was always about beating myself. If I can deal with the voice inside my head telling me that I am going to lose or be embarrassed in front of everyone and still get onto the mats then I have won. I remember John Machado saying that “he doesn’t mind losing to someone else but he would never lose to himself”

Well, the target of 50 came and went so I slowed down with the competitions (injuries helped too) and in retrospect, which was probably the beginning of the end. I guess 20 years of preparing for and competing would test anyone’s motivation.

Saying this, I still hope to see you at the UK Masters And Seniors.

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