This is the fourth of a series of articles originally published by the now defunct online magazine MMA Unlimited. Its part of a series of articles, and while my knowledge has now moved on, it hopefully makes interesting reading.
How AWARE are you?
Have you ever wondered how some fighters seem to know what their opponent is doing no matter how quick or sneaky their opponents are? How they always know precisely where they are in their chosen arena, whether the ring, cage or mat? Imagine being able to read your opponent so well that you can see inside their mind, and know what they are going to do, before they do, ready to exploit them. If you want to know all this, then this article is for you.
I’m going to give you the skills you need to achieve all of the above and far more. If you haven’t read the first three articles in this series then perhaps you should. These articles are designed as a series and whilst each can stand alone giving really effective advice and techniques that you can employ, right now, they work best in an inductive learning series. Their true power is in the combination of skills. For example, if you don’t understand how the body works under stress, you won’t be able to control your nerves. And if you can’t control your nerves you won’t be able to get into the right state. And if you aren’t in the right state you will have no chance of recognising what your opponent is going to do!
In the next article I’ll show you how to bring all these skills together to influence exactly what your opponent does and when. How you can hit without fear of being hit, and to set up a ‘loop’ in your opponent so you can just hit him at will, however you like, and whenever you like. And of course learn the antidote to stop this ever happening again. If you think this is far-fetched you’d better talk to my sparring partners on whom I’ve been practising. A couple of days ago I got a professional fighter to drop to one knee in resignation while sparring, because he was caught in one of these loops I had set up, and there was no way to for him to break the loop. And I did all this with nothing more than tapping him lightly on the head with my jab hand.
So what’s the next step on this journey to winning your fights more easily than ever before? It’s how you can use your senses to know much more than you do now during the fights. It’s about using your vision, your hearing, your sense of feeling and even your senses of taste and smell to feed you with information. It’s all about AWARENESS.
At seminars, in conversation with other fighters and as my clients’ progress into sparring I often get asked the same question. “During a fight, where do I look?” Some people watch the face, some the chest, some the hands or feet. Some people focus in even tighter and look at the eyes. I think they are all wrong. You see, vision is of utmost importance during fighting. Most of us have vision as our primary representational system in our brain. But if you focus on something you exclude everything else. And the more you focus the more blinkered you are and the more you miss.
You have two basic fields of vision. You have your central vision through which you focus and your peripheral vision with which you see the panoramic. As you focus in on an object you utilise your central vision more and more at the expense of losing the peripheral. So in very simple terms if you are focusing on something, like your opponent’s eyes, you are cutting out your peripheral vision. And in doing so missing all the important information you need to see.
It’s like these articles. If you just read this one, you’ll see something good. But if you read the other articles as well you’ll see the whole picture. And of course you know that the whole picture is always better than seeing just a part.
And as you’ve read my previous article on handling nerves and anxiety you know a very simple exercise which can reduce any anxiety before a fight by at least half, in all cases. There are many more simple techniques I use to help to solve anxiety issues, and actually remove them altogether. This week I managed to help solve someone’s lifelong anxiety of flying in just two minutes flat. But there is a very important reason why I chose the technique for the article, and its all about forming overall awareness.
During a fight you need to see literally everything at once. You need to see the complete environment at all times. You need to know where you are in relation to everything, and everyone. How can you see this if you are focused on just one spot?
And during a fight you need to see every part of your opponent, from the tip of his head to the tips of his hands and feet. Again, how can you see this if you are focused just on one spot?
You should have guessed by now that you need to see as wide as possible in order to take in all this information. To do this you need to be in peripheral vision rather than being stuck with the focused central vision. In my anxiety-busting technique from my previous article you are engaging both hemispheres of the brain by tossing the little ball or object between your hands – and this is very important – across your body. You throw the ball from the far left to the far right and back again. As you get more skilled, keep your hands further and further apart. And now look straight ahead as you throw the ball. As you do note how your vision widens and your focus becomes more ‘fuzzy’, as you pick up more and more in the periphery. Very soon, and with deliberate practice, you will open up your peripheral vision to the extremes; you’ll be able to see your full field of vision.
If you do this exercise for a period of several minutes not only will your anxiety be at least halved, you will also open up your peripheral vision. Your eyes will stay like this for many minutes. And with practice you’ll find you can enter this state of peripheral vision at will, and of course if necessary you can anchor this reaction to a touch, word, or thought.
So now your eyes are able to see everything. You can take in your environment and your opponent completely. But that’s still not the complete picture; you have another four senses to go. Actually, I teach that there are seven senses in total. I teach the first five standard senses, and then describe the sixth sense as being the experience that interprets what the other senses are telling you, combined with that intuition that you just can’t put your finger on. And the seventh sense? Well that was added by a client. He added the seventh one, saying that it was my primary sense. The seventh sense is non-sense, which is developed through my terrible jokes apparently. I’m pleased to report that this client is expected to make a full recovery following my reaction to him telling me this.
So what about the other senses? Your sense of touch is probably the next most important in this context. You can feel so much as to what your opponent is doing. Grapplers can build an entire game purely around the sense of touch. Ever grappled with a blind person? They know where you are better than you do. You can use every part of your body to sense your opponent, from the air from his breath, the vibrations of his movement picked up by his feet, and in a clinch or grappling the sense of touch comes right to the fore.
The sense of hearing is a strong one. You can pick up the sounds from him, from your corner, and from his corner. The sounds from the audience can be used to create energy within you. It is actually possible to learn to focus your hearing, so that you could focus on hearing just the sounds of your opponent’s breathing, filtering out everything else, no matter how loud they may be.
Taste and smell are the senses that give us the least information in this context. You can still smell and taste your opponent, and as an example you can use this to help sense proximity to him. This is actually heightened, or at least made easier, during fights where it is possible to use Thai oil with its pungent smell.
So now you know how to use your five senses to give you information. By using all five senses you can complete as accurate as is possible internal representation of what is happening during the fight. But what information would you be looking for? I’ll now give some examples for to try. My suggestion is to take each one in turn, and sense it in sparring, so you know how to recognise everything on this list. In fact, if you can’t recognise what’s listed for your opponent, you won’t be able to achieve the easy wins that can be had through my next article!
You fighting will take place in some kind of fighting arena, whether a cage, a ring or a mat. You need to know this environment inside out. Its dimensions, its give and take in respect to the cage and ring construction and the floor, any loose areas, any drops or areas subject to slipping, as well as where you are in location to it. You need to know your ‘home’ inside out, so much so that you can move around it with your eyes closed if necessary, working from your internal ‘mind map’ and your other senses. Have you developed your sensory skills to this level?
You need to know everything about your opponent. Starting with posture you need to recognise the angle of his spine, his head position, where his arms and legs are, the weight distribution, the flow of movement through his body. Focusing in you need to really be aware of his breathing, sensing every breath in and every breath out, and recognise how this is exhibited in his body. This is of primary importance. Can you list every signal of breathing in a fighter? And taking it further still, you need to be able to see the tension or relaxation in every muscle, down to which muscle fibres are twitching, even further knowing the rate of his pulse.
Just from this very simple list, which is far from exhaustive, you will be able to learn so much about your environment in which you are fighting, and the opponent that you are fighting. You need to use your senses fully to take in every piece of information from a global perspective through to one of the tiniest details. And it is possible, it’s all about practice. Deliberate practice. As a side-note I want you to remember that practice does not make perfect. It makes permanent.
These four articles now give you the base information which we will use in the next and final article in this series, where we put everything together into complete domination of our opponents. I’ve boasted several times during this little journey as to the incredible results I’ve attained through the development and application of these techniques. Now you have the base information to achieve all this for yourself. So take the time, right now, and imagine knowing exactly what your opponent is going to do, when and how you can induce him to do exactly what you want, and completely dominate him in a fight. That would feel good, right? So get practising, you’ll need to practice all that I’ve told you so far to achieve this. And when you think you have practised enough, the next article will give you what you want.
The fifth article was never published as the magazine folded – I’ve know taken my ‘Limbic Loop’ system still further and it may wait for a forthcoming book or DVD to pull it all together. I can’t give too much away for free on my blog, can I?