“Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth.”
Since my time in the Golden Gloves, I figured I’d write a little something about fighting and the intense challenge it is, physically and mentally. Fighting has become an art form in many disciplines. From karate to boxing to mixed martial arts, fighting has evolved tremendously over the years. No matter how much we try to separate fighting and the real, practical world, the relevance to each is present. Bruce Lee once mentioned that to know one’s self is to observe our actions with other people.
Fighting may seem barbaric and stupid to some who don’t take the time to understand it, but to us fighters, it’s a wonderful art. Fighting is a lot more technical than it looks and more mental than physical. Of course I’m not talking about street fighting where two drunken guys start whaling at each other; I’m talking about training in certain (or multiple) disciplines of combat and competing. Bruce Lee described fighting by saying it’s free-forming, ever changing and adapting, no rules or routines set in stone. If you are not able to adapt in a fight, you will lose.
The philosophies of fighting are just like those in real life. Bruce Lee also said that fighting is when someone expresses themselves honestly. Now let me explain that. In fighting, emotions and quick reactions are crucial. There is no thought process. If you have to stop and think about something, there’s a problem. Fighters train to get the “feel” of fighting and to react to what’s happening. If you are an asshole in reality, it will show in your fighting. If you are a coward, it will show in your fighting. Fighting brings about habitual reflexes that we’ve trained to use. For example, if an untrained person were to put on gloves and try to box, their basic instincts are not to get hit, so they will naturally, almost instinctively lean away from a punch. This is bad because people can move faster going forward than going backwards. Flinching and backing away are really hard to get over because they are natural reactions. Fighters need to stay close and attack to win, so backing away or turning around are completely unhelpful. No matter how many times you tell yourself you won’t do it, your brain doesn’t listen. You need to train it until YOU feel comfortable and develop that habit. This is just like learning how to do a back flip. Your body doesn’t respond well to flipping over its own center of gravity, so if you try to back flip, assuming you’ve never done it before, it will naturally cause you to hold back on the motion. You will hesitate and botch the motion the first few times until you destroy that old fear and replace it with a new habit, something you developed by “feel”.
There’s no way I or anyone else can tell someone how to conquer the fear of flipping or the fear of getting hit by coaching them, encouraging them, etc. The fighter has to be consciously aware of his problem and try to fight those urges. That’s why I say fighting is relative to real life situations. People should consider ways to recognize bad habits and consciously deal with them, work on them patiently until they are suppressed and new, positive habits are formed. This blog is mainly about taking action, and fighting is the ultimate form of action over talking. Talk is cheap! When someone enters the ring without experience, even if they BELIEVE they will do well, all of the little variables will change what’s going on in their mind. Not necessarily how he thinks, but the FEELINGS that he gets.
Feelings are reactive, we can’t really conquer them instantly. They’re subconscious so that takes time to fix, just like any habit. No matter how simple something looks, unless we experience it, we can’t truly know how we will react or how we will feel. In order to truly know ourselves, we need to put ourselves out there and see what our reactions and feelings are. This is why according to Bruce Lee, fighting mean to “honestly express one’s self.”