Life Lessons learned through Martial Arts!
Geoff Agnew was a competitor in W2W Chippendale Series 3 in Sydney Australia. On the one year anniversary of stepping inside the octagon, he published this article on LinkedIn reflecting on what he learned about himself during the 20-week training program. It’s a worthwhile read and describes the exact outcomes W2W Founder, Richie Cranny, strives for all competitors to achieve when they complete the program.
As I approach the 1-year anniversary of my fight, I thought I’d look back and reflect on the process and what I learnt about myself.
Wimp 2 What now?
Wondering what Wimp 2 Warrior is all about? Basically, they take people with little-to-no MMA experience and get them cage-ready. Taken from Wimp2Warrior.com:
“Wimp 2 Warrior is a 20-week mixed martial arts training program for beginners. In 100 early morning sessions, you build the physical skills and mental resilience to step inside the octagon for the ultimate bucket-list experience: your first MMA bout.”
I decided to give it a go-to get in really good shape and also for the mental strengthening side of things. Here are some of the lessons I learnt along the way:
If you aren’t having bad days, you aren’t moving forward.
This is easily one of the most important (and maybe the hardest) lessons I learnt. Even though there were some days that I felt things clicked into place and I was on the right track, there were certainly days I felt I knew nothing and was failing at every corner. Looking back, the days that ended badly resulted in the most growth.
Getting my butt kicked in the shark tank (as bad as it sounds) and getting repeatedly guillotined (not as bad as it sounds) forced me to focus on what went wrong and assess how to best move forward in the future. Discovering these holes in my game during training was much better than discovering them on fight night.
This is 100% true for other areas of my life. There have been points when I have been totally outside of my comfort zone and struggling to get a grasp on things. Looking back, these were always crucial periods of growth.
Sunday evenings can be pretty horrible even at the best of times. It’s 8pm and you have a pile of laundry to do, the fridge is empty and the apartment resembles a bomb shelter. Try adding having to get out of bed at 4.30 am all week and you’re starting to hit Freddy Krueger horror levels.
Completing the Wimp 2 Warrior program was a tremendous challenge and something I’m hugely proud of. The actual fight night is an incredible experience that money can’t buy.
That’s why when you have a big week coming up it is essential to plan out your entire week. My best training weeks happened when I had work and gym clothes ready and all meal prep is done for the week before I went to bed on a Sunday. This meant that no matter how busy my week was I was able to come home and get enough rest.
It isn’t just handy, it reduces stress.
The same goes for success in work – planning your week, spending some time in the morning to plan out your day and reviewing what you learnt at the end of the day are all critical for success and reducing stress. So, remember – Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance (7P’s).
Team work makes the dream work
For the first set of training sessions, everyone seemed a bit hesitant and stand-offish. Maybe it was being in an unfamiliar setting with a new group of people (or maybe it was having to get up at stupid o’clock..). As the weeks went by, we got to know each other and realise we all had the same mix of fears, doubts and anxieties about what we were doing. As friendships grew, it became so much easier to come to training knowing you were in an environment of mutual respect.
This is the same for work – it is so much easier to turn up and work with people who you care about and connect with (although I advise against a rear-naked choke on work colleagues).
You can’t do it alone…(or I suck at asking for help).
One of my biggest problems is how I approach asking for help. It makes me feel stupid, not good enough, inadequate and I always feel like I’m wasting the other person’s time. This is a common problem that stems from having a fixed mindset.
“…this is a story of the fixed mindset. Natural talent should not need effort. Effort is for the others, the less endowed. Natural talent does not ask for help. It is an admission of weakness. In short, the natural does not analyze his deficiencies and coach or practise them away. The very idea of deficiencies is terrifying. ”
I would often catastrophize about asking people for help by thinking this was something I should already know and worry about their reaction. Although in reality, nearly every time I ask people is usually supportive and glad to help. Also, reading and listening to the success stories of others makes me realise that reaching out for help is always essential to being successful.
Callous your mind and body.
When training in MMA, you have to do things that suck – getting punched, taken down, getting choked and hurt twice as hard when you’re completely gassed out. One element of training is getting used to being in terrible positions and not giving up. The more you put yourself in difficult situations where you feel like giving up, the more you get used to the suffering and increase your ability to keep going.
I can look back at previous aspects of my life and realise that I probably quit too soon because the going got tough. There is no simple path or shortcut round this, sometimes you just have to embrace the suffering.
Other things I learnt:
Make goals big – I’ve been wanting to get in great shape for over a decade. The goal of “get fitter” never really worked for me as it was too small and vague. The goal of getting in a cage was bigger and much more motivating.
My biggest motivator…fear – weirdly, I always seem to be strongly motivated by fear and things I’m scared of. Getting in a cage and fighting in front of hundreds of people is about as scary as they come. Knowing this is what I was training for and knowing how much regret I might have if I was unprepared gave me tremendous amounts of motivation to attend training and try to do as much extra work as possible.