With our club’s first grading coming up, I just wanted to share a quick view of something I physically cannot teach you but is just as, if not more, important than learning how to fight from me.

Everyone knows the importance of learning how to punch and kick, block, do the throws, and being physically fit when learning martial arts. And I can teach all of this stuff to whoever wants to dedicate their time to learn it. What I can’t teach though is the mental side of martial arts. It is entirely a mindset thing and how you approach any task at hand.

What do I mean by this though? There is a scene in Hero (great film, check it out if you haven’t yet) I always think of when I talk about this. It is basically a stand off between Jet Li and Donnie Yen. They are just about to fight and during the stare down, they both close their eyes and see the fight in their heads. Jet Li wins this fight in their heads, and so when they actually fight, Jet Li wins. He held the mental edge from already winning the fight before they actually fought, all because he knew he would win.

Translate that into gradings. Gradings are about as close as we can get to really push you mentally and physically with realism short of running our Fight Nights. It is absolutely exhausting, there are no breaks, you’ll have nerves and adrenaline going, your brain will forget even the most basic stuff. Good news is that everyone taking part in gradings in theory knows their stuff. You wouldn’t be grading if you didn’t. The bad news is that if you are not on your game mentally, it really shows and we will pick up on that.

The trick is to grit your teeth, get yourself into a determined mindset, and not give up. I guarantee you that you will make errors. So what? Just finish what you’re doing, don’t let it show, don’t react to it, style it out and go again. I guarantee you, it’ll hurt. Again, grit your teeth, you can make it through. Concentrate hard and stay alerted all the way through and try your best and you will be fine. I personally pretend that my partner is my opponent and I have to beat them, it gets me in the right mindset for the day. It doesn’t mean I lose control and try and batter them, and it doesn’t mean I deliberately try my hardest to make them look crap, we are partners after all! But it does mean that by doing that, I push them hard, and in return they push me hard back. That way we both hit the high levels we should be aiming for.

Weirdly enough, this mindset should be the same in class as well, just that the setting is more relaxed. Doesn’t mean you can slack off though! Remember why you are in the class, work hard towards it.