Regardless of what type of demeanor you adopt to physically express your “will to win,” it’s through your training experiences that you can consciously focus on instilling a more resolute combat mindset. If you develop this properly, you eventually will reach a stage where an attack-minded, target-focused, knockout-driven mentality and physicality will assert itself unconsciously.
The will-to-win feeling you’ve ingrained through training will become apparent when you engage an adversary who has bad intentions. So the more physical experiences you have to test your resolve, the more ingrained it will be. You’ll develop a never-give-up, never-give-in mindset. You’ll become unconsciously competent at combat, just like you probably are at driving a car.
Listed here are two ways to cultivate a potent combat mindset. The first is to barrage a heavy bag as hard and fast as you can for one minute. You want to blitz the bag like a machine gun — with real, substantive punches. Try to emotionally feel that determination, that will-to-destroy mentality that fuels your physical fury, especially toward the end when the lactic acid builds and starts slowing you down. This is the most opportune time to push yourself beyond your previous limits.
This drill will test and develop your mettle like no other. Set a timer for one minute and don a pair of bag gloves. If you’re using palm strikes, you can go barehanded. Stand at arm’s length from a heavy bag. When the timer sounds, commence with a full-speed, full-power, two-handed punching barrage. I recommend augmenting this with audible exhalations like “ish” or “oss” to further fire up your fighting spirit and ensure that you’re not holding your breath.
By the 40- or 50-second mark, fatigue will start to set in, and your execution will slow. This is when you can push yourself beyond your previous limits by mentally and emotionally continuing through the lactic-acid burn to the best of your ability. Bite down and keep blasting. When the timer rings, stop and walk around with a tall posture — don’t slouch or sit. Keep that will-to-win emotion in your head as you walk in an assertive manner.
Now, if you want to steel yourself further, rest eight to 15 minutes and repeat this sequence. Remember that the drill is primarily for the development of your will-to-win capacity. While it does offer an adjunct conditioning benefit, it’s not specifically used for that. Depending on your age and conditioning, you can do one to three reps as a stand-alone regimen (after a two- to three-minute warm-up) that’s separate from your other training. Do it once a week if you’re younger and in good condition. As you age, consider reducing it to once or twice a month. If you’re 40 or older, do one rep every two weeks and taper to once every three weeks and then once a month. These recommendations stem from the fact that this exercise is lactic anaerobic in nature and can be hard on the central nervous system. As such, doing more is not better.
The second drill is called “milling,” a term coined by the military, from which this exercise comes. One version of it amounts to a boxing match performed in rock-’em-sock-’em-robots style to test the combatants’ will-to-win and violence-of-action mentality and physicality. However, to minimize the adverse effects this can have on the brain as we age, I recommend performing the milling drill using wrestling and/or Brazilian jiu-jitsu instead of boxing.
The objective is to grapple as fast and furiously as you can, scrambling for dominant positions (no submissions) for one minute. You want to exert yourself as much as possible with no pacing and no deliberate strategy; using either can defeat the purpose of honing your combat mindset and violence of action.
Start by setting your timer. You and your partner then insert your mouthpieces and sit on the mat back-to-back. When the timer sounds, immediately turn to face each other and commence grappling for one minute. Again, this drill is to test and improve your fighting spirit.
Depending on your age, joint health, conditioning and skill, I recommend doing one to three bouts (with the same warm-up and rest periods noted above) once or twice a week if you’re younger and in good condition. As you age, reduce the number of bouts and the frequency accordingly. If you’re older than 40 and in good condition with good joints, do one bout a week. As the years pass, do it once every two weeks, then once every three weeks and so on. This reduction will help prevent long-term training from having an adverse effect on joint health.
The bottom line with this trifecta of purpose, fear (control) and combat mindset is the fact that mental preparation is the most important factor in developing genuine self-defense prowess. Yes, awareness, assessment and proactive action are important — and, in fact, they form the strategic and tactical foundations of self-defense — but without proper mental and emotional preparation, the development of those skills will be incomplete, thus increasing the likelihood that they can fail.
To order Lito Angeles’ best-selling book Fight Night! The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Mixed Martial Arts, visit shop.blackbeltmag.com.
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