I am going to keep this simple as the experience can be written into a novel trilogy. On Saturday I beat the 2014 World Champion to advance into the WKA National finals, and on Sunday I defeated the 2014 National Champion to take the 2015 WKA North American Title. The accomplishment and the journey I took to get there are a post on their own, however, I want to talk about the three lessons I learned from this experience. Hopefully you can learn these lessons by reading, versus having to get punched in the face.
Lesson One – Intrinsic Motivation Can Be Rooted From An External Source
Sounds like an oxymoron I know. We think of external motivation as a reward, a paycheck, a trophy, however, before getting in the ring for the second time this weekend I realized something. My internal motivation was the feeling I get from fighting, the accomplishment, the satisfaction of success, the meditative state I get into, but none of these things compare to the feeling I got from my coach, someone I can call a brother, a father. I got so lost in the whole trip, and staring at that shiny belt that I forgot why I wanted to win in the first place. During my first fight I had no fire and no heart, however, the second bout was a different story.
Before stepping into the ring I felt emotion for the first time in quite a while. After quietly whispering a few cues into my ear, my coach Ed Thornton just held me there for a few seconds. My heart rate went from 150 to resting, my lungs opened back up, my focus came back to the present moment. There is no way to describe what happened, but it made me realize my purpose. Why I was there, why I had to win, I couldn’t fail him, as I looked up, I knew I couldn’t fail my team. I felt my love for the sport.
It’s a simple concept, it comes down to accountability and love. Find something that matters to you, and share it with ones you love. There’s no stronger motivation. People often give up on themselves, but if they know they are also letting down those that they love, it often re-ignites a flame. Those people, those things that matter to you, are a deep part of who you are, they are an internal motivation, to keep going, to never quit.
Lesson Two: Meditation Should Be A Part Of Everyone’s Life
Meditation, also known as being fully present and in the moment. We all make decisions based on our past, and worry about the future, rarely remembering to stay present. Anything that forces you to be in the moment is a form of meditation. Fighting is my meditation. No feeling. Only focus. No pain. Just control. Nothing else matters, what happened a year ago, what happened a week ago, what happened 5 minutes ago.
Find whatever it is that helps you feel present because it is that same thing that makes you feel alive and at peace. Practicing traditional meditation regularly has also helped me to become creative and productive throughout my day. I end up getting better quality sleep and falling asleep much quicker, training with more focus, and letting go of yesterday’s stressors.
Lesson Three: Emotions Dictate Our Life
We buy based on emotion, we stay and leave relationships based on emotion, we react and act out all based on our emotion. I have never had a single thing control my thoughts and my emotions like martial arts and fitness has done for me. Thai boxing can be very emotional, the long hours of training, loneliness, isolating yourself socially, taxing your body physically, and of course the fight itself.
In the finals of the North American Nationals I faced off against a fighter I have fought twice in the past ending his undefeated streak with a knockout. I knew it would be an emotional fight and I used that against him, I knew he would swing for the fences and all I had to do is stay calm, focused, and ready to counter. I was able to read his kicks and lead hand from the beginning, I knew the only weapon he had was a hard right hand. I angled each time he tried to hit me, rib kicked every time he attempted to hit with his right, and shrugged off any hit that glanced me. It frustrated him, it got him emotional, and the second that happened I knew I won.
I believe we have to learn from not only our mistakes, but the mistakes of others throughout life. It is a heavy burden to constantly live with the repercussions of our mistakes. We can learn from those who are wiser then us, have more experience than us, and who are willing to help. I had to lose 13 lbs in 24 hours, fight against two knockout artists, diet, train hours on end, and isolate myself socially to learn these three things. I don’t believe you have to do the same to find your source of motivation, meditation, and control in life.
Today we begin forging our bodies and strengthening our minds.
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