Not too long after the tournament I was asked an interesting question.
Monta I know you have pure intentions. However when I see you at the tournaments you are an emotional bipolar wreck. What goes through your mind before stepping out on the mat ?
I thought this was a great question because every competitor goes through this. Always open to share my experiences I've decided to answer the question of " what goes on in my mind before I compete". There are some things I have to leave out due to the "dark nature" but I will do my best to give you a glimpse of the battle it takes for me to even compete.
It's 10 pm the night before the tournament which is by far the worst stage for me. Four bottles of cold water sit aside my dresser to calm my heart rate in the event of an anxiety attack similar to the Chicago incident.I find myself like "GERALD" in a dark four corner room trying to get sleep obviously distracted by thoughts of competing the next day. My thoughts reflect on the past while also thinking of the future as I attempt to recognize the fears that sit inside of me.
What fears are you talking about Monta ?
The Fear of Losing ?- Answer: NO
The Fear that you don't believe in yourself ? Answer: HA Hell No
Well what is the problem ?
From a minor standpoint one fear is not performing to my expectations win or lose. I don't consider myself a top athlete or even a rising BJJ star I can do without the man-fans. Deep in my heart my role out there is to be the best I can at trying to win because if I go out with the intention to lose then Im not doing my best . However this issue is something that is manageable w/ simple drilling, training hard, and having PMA.
This minor fear leads to the core of the conflict.
My primary disturbance centers on the upcoming battle of two people with purpose whom have no personal issues (beef) with each other. Whether it be on the streets, your job, or even a friendship gone bad it's apparent why a fight would take place. The thought of two strangers signing up for a tournament to fight always seemed weird to me . It puts me at a state of fright/paranoia of the unknown which is something even the great Mike Tyson said he mentally struggled with when he started boxing.
Although I never look at an opponent as my enemy. I also realize he is not my friend. Like myself he is a competitor driven with a purpose. Sadly I'm in his way which creates a problem. References are always used by competitors to separate themselves from the competition. While you sleep I'm training. I don't get tired. Photos after a grueling training session. Videos of past opponents getting destroyed .It is a form of mental warfare to let the rest know they better be ready.
So I find myself constantly thinking about this man . I picture all the horrible things he plans on and can do to me. I think back to past tournaments where my opponents were not been kind and wouldn't mind injuring me in route to his goal.
What this does to me ? I will simply say I know I'm in for a fight and I better be ready.
Sunrise the next day and I'm off to the tournament. Aside from listening the "awesome mix" on my Zune music player I try to visualize how I want to be at the tournament. In Improv we are taught to hold on to an emotion and not let it go for anything. So I picture myself as a determined competitor with a stern look on myself ready to face my fears on the mat. It may be perceived as intimidating but that is not my intention. In fact it is my way of letting everyone know I want to be here. This helps decrease the doubt of not performing well on the mats because I have already designed my mind to as Chief Keith would say stay in character.
However the mind always plays slight tricks on me as negativity does has a way of sneaking in. Revisiting thoughts of me going to battle with an opponent still linger. Here is more layers as to why
By nature I'm an "Introvert". I like stay to myself, help people when I can, and overall live a simple life with less drama. I don't like any conflict which involves making another person feel small because I know how it feels to be in that position both as a competitor and in my personal life. So a slight bit of compassion and hesitation comes in as I ask myself am I doing something wrong. Then again my opponent isn't thinking of that shit so why should I. So I try my best to block that negative thought out .I think of the good that is going to come out of the experience and pray in my head to GOD for two things..............................
1. Protection for me and my opponent as we go out there and do what he love
2. A positive learning experience while doing it.
and maybe being friends afterwards
Arriving at the venue my anxiety goes through the roof. Congested fight venue, lots of noise, and seeing competitors struggle in battle competing. It's enough to make you get Goosebumps and run for cover. Yet as I look at the competitors expressions during their fights as scary as it may looks anxiousness, curiosity, and a little excitement sits inside me. That is when I realize there is no turning back and I can't wait to see what happens when I'm out there going through my own struggle.
The rest of the day is spent warming-up and resting until my division is called. During that time there is never a dull moment of running into people you know.I am always greeted by friends and acquaintances as I walk around the venue. Some offer kind gestures of encouragement which puts me at state of ease. Examples...........................
-Try to have fun out there brother
- Wish you nothing but the best
- You're going to do great
Some on the other hand (although they have good intentions) say the most dumbest stuff that has nothing to do with my purpose for competing. Examples.
- Kick all there asses Monta.
- Get that Gold Medal nothing less
- (i remember one person telling me) if you don't win its ok you can be the greatest loser who had a great match
-Why are you so nervous it just a tournament
When comments like this are brought up I wish I could tell them to shut the fuck up because unless they know what goes on in my head they would never know why I compete. However when encountering this problem I simply try make my conversation short as possible as I retreat to an area where I have less people to interact with.
Time grows short and my division is finally called. At this point my mind is on auto-pilot as I make my way to the mat. Standing at the edge of the mat never taking my eyes off it I begin to have a quick conversation with myself.
- Follow the game plan.
- You're Gonna Do Great.
- You want to be here and are about to do something to better yourself
This helps turn my anxiety rage/anger into positive energy because at the end of the day I just want to get better.Oh crap the referee just called me to the mat. I bow before entering (judo style). Walk out with confidence. I shake the referee's hand. Look at my opponent dead in his eyes shake his hand showing him respect. Sometimes I'll even give him a hug if I know him well ( yeah I'm a softy -haha-).
Those small seconds afterwards seem like an eternity. I back to my side of the competition mat. My opponent does the same. Referee signals for the clock to start. Waves his hand following with the words COMBATE !! Here goes nothing time to compete.
and if anyone who has seen me afterwards or read my "post-fight" comments you should know I'm always in a positive mood.
Oh and you are probably asking yourself one other question after reading this blog.
Why do you put yourself through this mental abuse ?
Answer: Because my pride is always forcing me to prove to myself yes I CAN instead of my old way of thinking of "I Can't" to making a stronger person and competitor. And finally I just love the competition shirts I get for my efforts afterwards :-)
Thanks for taking the time out to read everyone. If you have any questions,comments, or advice feel free to drop em.
1 % better
monta ( pronounced like Monday with a "T" replacing the "D")