The key to becoming a champion

This is what training martial arts and meeting with champions in and outside of Sweden has taught me

We all know it’s important to face your fears in order to grow. Sometimes figuratively speaking, sometimes literally.

As a martial artist, however, facing your fears is usually applied quite literally.

I have personally never entered the ring to fight in a real fight before, but I have been in multiple fistfights as a kid. It was all fun and games to us, but every once in a while things would get a bit heated. I remember the sick-ish feeling I got when standing face to face with my opponent. I didn’t understand it back then, but I now know it’s because of the adrenaline that kicks in, preparing you either to fight or to flee.

I imagine that the same exact thing would happen when you enter the ring. Your heart rate jumps to the roof, the sweatdrops form a headpiece around your temples and it feels like every movement you make leaves you completely out of breath. Maybe it’s because the adrenaline is pumping through your veins, maybe it’s because you’re out of shape. Who knows. However, at this point, fleeing is not really an option anymore. It is when it comes to the schoolyard fistfights, because I now know that there are other ways to reason with someone, but when you’ve entered a real match there’s no turning back. You signed up for this. You literally signed up for this. What you need to do now is to take a deep breath, not take a step back. Most importantly, however, you need to believe in yourself.

Photo taken at Lanta gym in Koh Lanta, Thailand

At my training center, we have a motto that says: ”respect all, fear none”. Why? Well, the moment you start to fear someone, you automatically give them the upper hand. If you lose your confidence, you lose your ability to fight and win. Letting fear paralyze you will get you knocked out in a fight. That’s why ”believe in yourself” is the most common tip I get when I’m sparring, no matter where I am. Even when I was training with instructors and alongside champions in Thailand, I was told to believe in myself more. That is the most important, and probably one of the most overlooked, pieces of advice in martial arts.

To have even the slightest chance of winning you first have to believe that you can. That is the key to becoming a champion, and it can be applied to almost every aspect of your life. You see: the greater the cause, the sharper the claws. Whether you’re fighting for your life, a job, a certain grade, your loved ones or your passions it all starts with yourself. Not having your priorities straight will ruin your goals. Not having the confidence to defend yourself in a fight will make you lose. Believe in yourself because that is the key to martial arts, and the key to becoming the champion of your own life.

And remember: ”respect all, fear none”.

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