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February 4, 2011

" 'Know Thyself' - Wisdom for MMA? "

Have you ever had a friend who thought they were far better at something than they actually were? Maybe it was a video game, a sport, or driving a stick shift. It cannot be denied that some people will always be deliriously over-estimating of their abilities.
On the other side of the coin, we’ve all seen the situation flipped. Someone who really does have skills or abilities, or really is in good shape, or really does have great potential – but they downplay any advantage they might have.

Human thought is like a monstrous pendulum; it keeps swinging from one extreme to the other. -Eugine Field (American poet / journalist)
Extremes of thought and assumptions are common, and unless there is some kind of simple, objective measurement for a thing (IE: height in meters, weight in kilograms, etc…), it is very hard for us to grasp it in its entirety.
The topics of “skill” and “performance” are vague enough to be mostly outside of our grasp. If you ask the average fighter, grappler, or athlete their strengths and weaknesses in the mental, technical / tactical, and physical areas of their game, they probably have some pretty good ideas – but they’ve also probably got some big inaccuracies.
Through our own eyes and our own opinions we only have a single view on what it is that we do, what works, what doesn’t, and what needs working on. We have our own biases, our own ideas about what’s best, and our own limited scope of observation on ourselves.
Since the starting point of any improvement is knowing where you are now and where you want to be, its important that you have other methods of determining your strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a list of a few you can put to use now:
  • Watch film of your sparring and especially your competitions. By watching film you can find trends for what works and what doesn’t in the real heat of battle. At the same time, you can realize technical errors, notice weaknesses in strength or conditioning, and pick up instances where your mental game was on or off. You can also gain some objective data about your game by “crunching the numbers” of your competition footage (IE: “4 heel hooks attempted, 3 finished, that’s a good ratio…” / “6 take downs attempted, only 1 success, that might imply some future technical work…” / “60% of competition sweeps came from half guard, that’s interesting, seems higher than the ratio when I’m in class…”
  • Have others reflect on your game after sparring. Roll with someone or have them watch you roll and have THEM tell you what seems to be the best and worst elements of your game. Roll with people better than you, worse than you, and at your own skill level and see if you can notice some trends. I’ve done this and realized that almost all of my successful sweeps came from a position I didn’t even realize I was using – can’t tell you how helpful that was. You might find, for example, that over 50% of the people you spar with believe that you should be working on your half guard passing… that might be a hint you didn’t find just through your own reflection.
  • Keep “real time” tabs on yourself. Often when we think about our strengths and weaknesses we do just that… “think.” Instead of thinking, try “doing,” and making mental notes while you roll – especially with challenging opponents. Is there a specific pass they keep hitting you with? Are you having a hard time finishing from back mount when they do a specific defense? These are things to make note of and work on diligently on your own time.
Take these Feedback Methods and run with them – at the very least you should be filming your competitive matches and asking others for detailed thoughts on your game as a whole. Setting up your goals for combat sport, and developing skills you most need implies knowing “where you’re at.”
Otherwise how are you ever going to know that you’re working on what’s actually important in your game?…
The above article was written By Daniel Faggella. Learn more about Dan in an upcoming bio-article, coming soon!!!
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