Monday, March 23, 2015


By Phillip Starr

Remember way back when you were about to break your very first board? Do you recall your teacher's instructions? I imagine he said like, “Aim for the center and try to hit something BEHIND THE BOARD!” Essentially, he told you to put your mind on something behind the board...and your fist passed through it without much difficulty, right? This was probably one of the most valuable lessons you ever learned but so many of us miss it altogether...

What your mind believes to be true, becomes true (for you).

This applies not only to breaking boards, but to virtually every aspect of your life. In your martial arts training it is absolutely crucial that you understand this simple principle. It is one of the most important reasons we practice freestyle sparring! It's also a good reason to engage in competition. After all, martial arts is primarily about training the mind; training the body is secondary to training the mind.

In sparring practice or competition, a fear of losing will certainly result in a quick defeat. Actual combat is slightly different; in competition the object is to win but in a real life and death skirmish, the object is to NOT LOSE! Either way, you must remove the fear of losing from your mind altogether.

Whatever your mind is focused on is what will occur. Thus, if you focus on losing, you're guaranteed to fail. If your mind is concerned about losing, it will interfere with your ability to see clearly what is happening. You will miss opportunities and perhaps misinterpret movements that your foe makes, causing you to react inappropriately. Your qi (energy) is withdrawn and your spirit waivers, preventing you from acting boldly at the moment of truth. If your enemy possesses any real skill he'll see and “smell” your fear and take full advantage of it.

We are humans and as mortal creatures we experience fear from time to time. The key is not giving in to your fear (of losing). You must learn to control it, to put it in the back seat while you continue to press forward. This is the real meaning of bravery. The legendary actor, John Wayne, put it very succinctly when he said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”

You must focus your mind on succeeding, on achieving your goals, and you must see yourself as being victorious. Success in anything is not the result of luck; it is almost always due to a courageous spirit, the willingness to do whatever must be done to achieve it, and the firm belief that losing is simply not a possibility.