A Fighter’s Mentality: Three Concepts to Carry into Competition


There’s no doubt competing in martial arts requires a disciplined mindset and mental toughness. Some might choose to frame this as courage. Others may simply call it crazy. One thing that all can agree on though is that a fighter’s mindset can be their greatest strength or their utmost weakness.

Like raw talent and physical prowess, confidence; humility; and mental toughness accompany success in hand-to-hand combat. The best fighters must condition their minds in tandem with their bodies to reach their peak. This entails preparing for some of the greatest challenges of their lives and, more importantly, bracing for the greatest setbacks.

Whether you’re gearing up for your first bout, or your one-hundredth, keeping these three mantras in mind will help quell nerves and doubts, and have you best positioned to dominate the competition.

You’re Only as Good as Your Work Ethic

Practice makes perfect and repetition forges results. This is certainly no different in the world of martial arts. Fighters spend countless hours perfecting their technique, conditioning their bodies, monitoring their intake and studying opponents. All ingredients in a recipe for optimal performance in competition. Every moment not spent preparing, know that someone, somewhere, is busting their ass to be better. It’s an intense notion, but keeping this in mind will encourage you to reach and break new thresholds during the next cardio workout or lift session. It might even compel you to spend that extra hour working on takedown offense or sweep reversals. An emphasis on work ethic will pay dividends when time to step onto the mat.

Create Your Own Luck

Rip the band-aid off by admitting to yourself that no matter how hard one works, hopes and dreams, life doesn’t always go to plan. In these moments, it’s important to stay focused on creating your own luck and opportunity. Lamenting a wrong call or a controversial decision is wasting time on the past. If this sport and its intensity teach us anything, it’s the importance of staying focused in the moment and continuing to battle back. Substitute what-ifs with forward-looking objectives, perfect your form, execute flawlessly, and outwork your opponent. As Murphy’s law states, if something can go wrong, it will.  Accept and move on in the pursuit of improvement.

Leave it All on the Mat

When fight day finally arrives, one must keep reminding themselves of the numerous training drills, sparring sessions and early nights invested in hope of walking away a victor. After months of preparation, it’s important that one takes the time to remind themselves that there is no more preparation.  So leave any sense of holding back, or looking past an opponent at the door. You must compete as if there is no next time. With no regrets to dwell on, a post-tournament competitor can fully focus on the lessons learned from their experience and carry these into the next iteration of your training regimen.