One of the biggest challenges in being a fighter is the fact that i have anxiety throughout everyday life. It really affects me a lot in all areas of life from going shopping, driving in a car, big crowds of people and sometime for reasons im not even sure of. The most simple tasks can become really difficult like even just going to sleep. This is one of the reasons i put my self in situations that make me feel uncomfy and give me anxiety as i don’t want it to beat me and stop me from doing the things in life i want to do. I think that having this also makes my fight nerves a lot stronger and harder to deal with. Over the years i have had many fights where my nerves have gotten the better of me and i have lost the fight before i even jumped in the ring. You can train your butt off and be physically ready to take on anyone but once those nerves take over it can all just go to crap. I always found i wasnt to bad leading up to the fight i would always try to push it from my thoughts and not focus on the fight at all. I wouldn’t get much sleep the night before and i would be constantly going to the toilet all fight day but i think that’s pretty normal. It was when i would get the venue and start to get my hands wrapped that it would all hit me, i would start to panic. The sweats start i get hot flushes and my heart races. My hands would shake more and more as i try to sit still to get them wrapped. I would get short of breath and dizzy. I would try to hit pads but feel weak, heavy and uncoordinated. Everything would feel like a huge mistake, what was i doing here, i was thinking of anyway to get out of it but at the same time i was there because it’s where i wanted to be. For however long it takes for my fight to be called up it could be 30min it could be 3hr, i fight with myself in my head the entire time. Its like i have 2 little people on each shoulder one telling me to run away and one telling me to stay and fight, they just argue about it for hours. It would stress me out so much that about 1min before im about to walk out to fight i would start crying and freaking out. I would make myself walk out and jump in that ring trying to tell my self it will all be over soon. Sometimes the nerves would calm as soon as the first bell went but sometimes they would carry on through the fight and i would be freaking out in the corner between rounds aswell. There were times my trainer said ” do you want me to throw the towel in?” because i was freaking out so much, i always fought on not letting my nerves control me. Sometimes i won sometimes i lost but at least when i lost i still won in my head because i could have just quit and i didn’t. This went on for a long time, i kept thinking it would get better the more fights i had but it didn’t it got worse for a while. It was hard to explain to people, they didn’t understand, my trainer kept telling me i do my own head in and that’s why i lose. It wasnt as simple as they all thought, i couldn’t just switch it off as much as i tried to but i just couldn’t. I think a lot of things contribute to getting so nervous, aswell as the normal nerves that everyone gets i think that things people say to you along the way you may not really take much notice of but they can affect you. One of my biggest ones was pressure from everyone my trainer, other fighters, the crowd, general fans of the sport, internet forums. Walking out to music and big stages with lights and such a big fuss. I was to worried about what everyone else was going to say to me after the fight, not being good enough. I have never been fussed about wining or losing myself, i just wanna fight and i love learning but i always felt so much pressure to win from everyone else. I was always worried about what people were going to say about me on the forums, facebook ect, if my trainer was going to get mad at me after the fight. That pressure made it not fun and when it’s no longer fun then whats the point in doing it? with all the other emotional roller coaster rides you have as a fighter you don’t need to add anymore stress to it.
When i moved to Thailand the first time i didn’t feel that pressure from everyone anymore, i was in a different place and no one knew me. I didn’t have to worry about what people were going to say about me and what they were going to write about me on the internet. I didn’t have to worry about my trainer getting mad at me for no wining. There were no expectations of me i was just there to fight. There was no fuss out the back no hype up for the fight, it was just so relaxed. I just chilled out before the fight i didn’t do any pad work only a bit of shadow, i really think helped me to stay calm when the nerves kicked in. There was no walk out music and big entry’s to the ring it was just straight to the point no mucking around. It was my frist fight in Thailand and i always expected it to be so crazy nerve racking but it wasnt, it was prob the least nervous i had been for a fight up untill then. I never thought i would be able to get rid of the nerves but this now gave me hope.
I met a girl from Canada who introduced me to E.F.T (emotional freedom Tapping) i researched a lot about it on the net and i tried to used it as much as i could to help. It definitely helped me sometimes more than other times for my next few fights. Searching for more things like this over the net i stumbled upon a lady called Lisa Brown. Lisa was a champion hockey player who had written an ebook called the courage to win. I started to follow a lot of the things she said aswell as mixing in some things from other techniques i had learnt on the net. I think the fact that i was in Thailand where i felt a lot more comfortable, remembering why i wanted to fight in the first place. It wasnt for anyone but myself! i fight because i love it, it makes me happy win or lose. I started to not care what other people said or wrote about me. I started learning to accept the nerves instead of trying to suppress them like i had been for so long. Excepting that being nervous is a natural instinct, that when your body feels that way its trying to tell you something. The best way to put it is like a screaming child, if you tell them to be quite they will scream louder, if you stop and acknowledge whats wrong then the child will stop screaming . It’s the same with nerves it’s just your body telling you it’s about to do something scary if you ignore the signs it will get worse, if you accept that your nervous and recognise why, it will fade. Before my fights now i tell my self “its ok to be nervous its normal im about to have a fight, i have trained hard and im going to be ok” I say this over and over to my self anytime i feel nerves coming on, i have found that it has really helped me a lot. I like stay really laid back about my fights and not make any fuss or big deal over them like i used to. Now to me it’s just another fight. I don’t make a fuss over what i wear anymore or how i have my hair, i think the more i dull it down the better it is for me and the less pressure i feel. Who would have thought that what i wear would have anything to do with that but it did for me. I always had bright outfits i made my self and my hair done in a cool design. Now i couldn’t care if i fought in my old ripped training shorts and my hair gets done all messy in whatever way i can just keep it out of my eyes. This way i feel like im just there to fight and that’s all i want, im not there to look good or draw any attention, im just fighting in my own little world which prob sounds weird to some people its hard to explain. One of the other things i found that really helped me was not having a set routine when it came to fight day and getting ready. Not having a routine made it less stressful when things didn’t run smooth as to having one and then everything getting mucked up when something didn’t go the way you planed. Knowing that if i lose the fight but still do ok that my Thai trainers will tell me “its ok you lost but you still had a good fight, no problem you fight again in 2 weeks”. I could go on for ages about the benefits of fighting in Thailand to help with nerves the list is so long, i guess that’s the main reason why i prefer to fight in Thailand to Australia now. Im so much happier about the way i handle my nerves now, i havent cried before a fight since my last fight in Australia in 2010. I still get nervous for some fights when things havent gone good in training. At the end of the day it’s just another fight for me and ive done it so many times now with some of the best girls in the world that i know im going to come out of it either a winner or a loser but ill be glad i did it. I don’t care what anyone says about me, i fight because i love it and i love the lifestyle, i don’t have to win as long as i learn, wining is just a bonus. When your having fun and doing it for you everything feels right and the nerves fade away. Im sure now that i have gotten over that part of my fight career (fingers crossed) and i think that from now on my fight nerves will only fade more each time i fight. The less fuss and hype of the fight and the less i care about what everyone else thinks the better 🙂
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