It was 6 years ago and I can still remember my first fight fear leading up through to my first Muay Thai fight. For weeks up until the fight, it was the only thing I could think about.
‘How would I fare inside of that ring? Was I going to get embarrassed in front of all the people I invited to watch? What the hell am I supposed to be doing right now? I feel like I need to be training…but I just trained for 2 hours? Should I go watch some training videos?’
Constant dialogue in my head about the fight – if there was anyone as obsessive and neurotic because of their first fight, I was that guy. Right before the fight, I could remember my limbs going cold, totally inside of my head, heart racing, and I could remember doing everything in my power to try to calm my nerves down so I could perform.
We lined up and right before the fight, it just felt like something took over me….it was truly my first outer body experience…as if everything was moving on auto-pilot and my nervous brain was just freaking out…
The fight started, and it ended almost as fast as it started. I had won by TKO in the middle of the second round.
The Counter-intuitive Approach To Your First Fight That Most People Fail To Think About
I want to share with you the very best information I have from my experience of my first fight and what worked for me. Out of all of my bouts, none of them brought on the same stimulation and anxiety as my first fight. Unlike my fights after, for this first one, I had no idea what the hell I was getting into. The fear of truly not knowing.
Speaking from my own experience, the first fight was more like the first time sky-diving rather than a fight. I really didn’t know what the hell to expect and the sparring I did leading up to it couldn’t recreate that ritualistic feeling of being sacrificed to the pit.
So, know this going in, that it’s going to be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced so try to let go of the outcome beforehand and try to enjoy the ride. That first fight will expose a lot of character traits about yourself you may have never realized.
The more you resist the fact that you aren’t in complete control of this fight situation because you don’t have any experience with it, the more it will stress you out. And more stress means less energy to focus on what’s effective – your training.
How To Train Your Brain to Relax Leading Up to the Fight
For me, leading up to my fight, I can remember reading a lot of Eastern Philosophy (I’ve never really been tied to a particular religion) and that helped me to let go of the outcome and relax. Particularly, Alan Watts ‘The Wisdom of Insecurity’ and Eckhart Tolle ‘The Power of Now’ helped me to frame the scattered thoughts in my brain, running my life leading up to the fight.
Some people say to meditate and visualize. For me, latching onto someone else’s thoughts who is thinking more clearly than me (the author’s of these books) was a sort of meditation that allowed me to find that calm in the eye of the storm.
Left to my own mental vices, I probably would have been more anxious trying to meditate.
Set some time aside to look at your thoughts objectively and step outside of your mind, instead of always reacting to them. This will help you to learn to focus your mind, going into your Muay Thai bout.
How to Develop Laser Focus for When Your Inside the Ring
Developing a strategy of focus weeks out in advance will let you train your mind to focus on the only thing that matters inside the ring – execution.
What are your strengths? Are you a powerful kicker or puncher? Is your opponent a newbie also and probably just throw haymakers at you all day?
Develop a real strategy and stick to training just that. Yes, you’ll develop skill in executing it. But more importantly, it will calm your mind knowing exactly what you’re going to do once you get in there.
Not having a plan is a huge source of anxiety, especially if you’re going into a Muay Thai fight to take a trained fighter out and you have no idea what you’re going to do.
Train your Cardio to go twice the distance
Your nerves are going to be registering voltages off the charts and you’re going to be burning through energy a lot faster than in training. So train to go extra rounds, longer rounds so that the actually requirements of the fight (ie. – three 2 minute rounds) should seem like a walk in the park.
When you’re going into the fight, and your muscles are tight from all the stress, you’ll thank yourself that you did.
Also, knowing you have this area completely handled, you’ll have added confidence that you can get in there and focus only on the fight itself, not conserving energy. Another variable taken out of the equation.
Again, your first Muay Thai fight is something you need to go through if you’re going to progress in Muay Thai. No one can experience it for you or give you a magic pill to make the anxiety go away. Simply put – if I can summarize this into one sentence – Just prepare and strategize as much as you can…then learn to let go of the outcome. Good luck.