Using Your Brain For a Change - The Inner Game of Martial
Mental preparation is as important as physical training
in order to do your best, whether you're at an amateur or
professional level in your martial art. This involves trusting
yourself; relaxed concentration; visualization; and bodily
sensations. I have used the following techniques with Tae
Kwon Do colleagues to get rid of nerves, do great patterns,
and kick butt in the ring. Ready? Let's go:
1) PREPARE: Sit in a comfortable position in a place
free from distractions.
2) RELAX: Close your eyes, clear your mind, and focus
on your breathing. Let yourself go loose, limp, and heavy
3) VISUALIZATION: Imagine being in a special place,
where you can be as you want to be.
4) ANCHORING: Rub the fingertips of your thumb and
forefinger together on one hand, while saying a word or phrase
to yourself that describes how you feel when in your special
place, such as "focused" and "in control."
5) SELF-SUGGESTIONS: Tell yourself that from now on,
whenever you rub your fingers together and say these words,
it will bring back the feelings associated with being in your
6) REHEARSAL: Remember doing something really well
in your martial art. See this in your mind and experience
the feelings in your body. Tell yourself that you're storing
this memory deep in your mind and that it will flow when you
need it to. Rub the same fingertips together again and think
of a word or two that describes the experience of performing
your martial art well. Tell yourself that whenever you rub
your fingertips together and say these words, the feelings
and memory will be available to you without effort. Repeat
this procedure for whatever aspect of your martial art that
you want to excel at.
7) SELF-AFFIRMATIONS: Tell yourself that you're learning
a powerful technique to enhance your performance.
8) Return to focus on your breathing for a while.
9) Open your eyes and reorient to where you are.
Say the trigger word(s) from #4 and rub your fingers together
if you want to calm down before an event. Rub your fingers
together and use the trigger word(s) in #6 to bring back the
mental and physical memory of that aspect of your martial
art that you want to do well. This gets you into the "flow"
or "the zone" to do your best.
Keep emotion out of it, don't ever berate yourself, and simply
allow the changes to happen on their own. The mind has an
uncanny ability of taking you where you repeatedly tell yourself
you want to be. Practice your event BOTH physically and mentally.
Either on its own isn't enough. Both together will help you
to achieve your hidden potential in your martial art.
Barry B. Hart, Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist ( http://www.barrybhart.com
), is a 1st dan in Tae Kwon Do, clinician, author, and speaker.
He combines the techniques in this article with hypnosis in
order to help enhance the performance of athletes in any sport.
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