It’s easy to overlook everything that goes into becoming a mixed martial arts athlete. The hard work, dedication, discipline and direction all must align in one night while you stand across the cage looking directly into the eyes of your competition. Most of the time you’re preparing for a maximum of 15 minutes, but in reality it could be far less. Last fall, I had the opportunity to train and watch as local MMA athletes gave everything they had for three months in preparation for an upcoming fight.
It’s clear that nothing comes easy in the world of mixed martial arts. That’s why repetition is the bread and butter of training. While some may forgo the opportunity to train a particular technique over and over again, it’s the professional that takes time to perfect the art. A lesson I learned early in training — it’s not about speed or quickness, in reality it’s about technique. It’s only when you’ve perfected the art that all other elements come into play — including a clear mind.
The separation between a focused and distracted mind comes down to the variable stated above. It was evident that fighters who’ve mastered techniques had an ability to focus on their opponent rather than the particular technique being utilized. It was the hours upon hours of painstaking repetition that prepared these fighters to apply their craft without much forethought. It’s the reason they continue to train now, but the discipline it takes to arrive at that point is incredible.
If you know anything about martial arts, one of the main tenants across the board is discipline. Whether it’s karate, judo or Brazilian jiujitsu, they all teach the value of a disciplined lifestyle. During my time as a participant it was clear that training in mixed martial arts required a very stringent and disciplined life. Training for three hours a night while participating in sparring sessions, jiujitsu roll time and general fitness will tire anyone out. Now imagine that rigorous schedule for three months prior to your event. It’s a world unlike any other and requires a discipline unlike any other. It also requires a desire as well.
One of the hardest things to teach in any sport is desire. Many athletes have talent but it’s those who have the desire to go beyond what they think they’re capable of that revolutionize the sport — especially where they’re at. The desire of these athletes went beyond just the physical aspect of this sport. It went beyond the personal application as well. Their desire was to see a revolution of this sport locally and statewide as well. These athletes pushed themselves daily to create a better way of life for themselves, their teammates and ultimately their community.
It was an incredible experience to be surrounded by those who push themselves daily toward personal and community goals. Whether or not we agree with the sport of mixed martial arts as a whole, I think we can all appreciate the continuous practice, focus and discipline it takes to compete in a sport — you might want to ask those who stand across the cage from them.
Scott Levesque writes a weekly column for the Clarion on mixed martial arts. He will cover MMA at the local, state and national levels. His handle on Twitter is @scottlevesque.