by Zachary Phillips
Every serious martial arts gym has at least one ‘hard class’. That night of the week where your coach decides conditioning for competition (or conflict) is in order.
It’s reputation precedes itself. It is talked about in hushed tones and whispered about in the locker room after class. Some are curious, most fearful.
You probably have heard the horror stories. Participants vomiting with exertion, 100’s of push ups and endless rounds of hard sparing. It seems like hell.
So you rationalize to yourself that you are not ready, that you are not fit enough or skilled enough. You come up with whatever excuse in the book as to why you should avoid it and that is exactly what you are doing.
These feelings are normal. It is understandable that there is some fear or apprehension around the unknown. Nobody wants to be hurt or feel embarrassed, particularly in front of their friends. This class presents a real risk that you may fail, and that is scary.
However, if you do turn up and attempt the class, you are victorious. Regardless of your performance on the night, you can claim a victory over your fear. You have attempted something that most people won’t and you survived. You are stronger for it.
In these classes, you will be pushed harder then you have ever been before. You will feel like breaking down and giving up. But if you trust your coach, and they are competent, they will push you beyond your own limits and take you to the edge of your ability.
In battling your body, you are also taming your mind. It will be screaming to stop, pleading with you to tap out and quit. But these classes will teach you something vital. That that voice is a liar. You can and have gone beyond your perceived limits. You have continued despite your inner protests. You will learn that you are stronger then you think you are.
This level of pressure is exactly what you need if you are ever planning on competing. You will find that the ‘hard class’ is actually harder than the competition. Your sparring sessions in the gym are more challenging and forceful than they are on the competition floor. You will realize that becoming acclimated to stress and pressure has tremendous benefits to your performance.
Finally, if you are training your martial art for self-defense, this class is a must. A violent altercation is one of the most confronting, stress inducing and emotionally confusing events that most people will ever face. Compared to a real fight, the ‘hard class’ is just child’s play. You would be doing yourself a disservice to believe that you are emotionally ready to defend yourself on the street, if you are not emotionally ready to participate in the ‘hard class’.
(Zachary Phillips, photo by John Donehue)
To see more of Zachary’s blogs check out his academy page by clicking here.
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