Watched the fight on the weekend. You know which one. Most likely you watched it too. I’ve been asked what I think by a couple of folks (because I coach boxing at the local PCYC). I think a bunch of things (and I’m looking forward to reviewing the tape again, but without the atmosphere of the local club) – mostly though? I think Manny showed up for a fight, while Mayweather showed up for a boxing match. That aside, I’ve been thinking about who I don’t want to fight – or more accurately, the kind of person I don’t want to fight. Or be on the other side of a deal against.
He Trains In the Gym
Sounds obvious. But it isn’t . . . I’m thinking of one guy in particular here. He keeps to himself in the gym, while he trains. He warms up without breaks. He takes two more rounds at the end of the session with anyone and everyone. And then he warms down, longer than anyone else. It all seems pretty mundane, until you look at everyone else. Everyone else is maybe taking a while to wrap hands while they catch up. Not this guy. Everyone else takes a while to warm up, thinking about this or that. Not this guy. And everyone else finishes a bag session the second the end of round bell goes. Not this guy. See the pattern? he is there to train, and nothing else. That kind of focus gives you edges everywhere.
He Trains in His Head
He practices in his head. He visualises the movements, then practices them – with all the diligence above. Visualising successful techniques makes for a faster fighter, a better executed technique, better response times, reduced hesitancy. If you carry a clearly defined picture in your head of your goal and how to get there, you will be that much more effective.
He’s Training When You’re Not
You take the night off. He doesn’t. You’re finished. He’s not. Every single second of training he does more than me, I’m jealous of. Every time he can’t make it the gym, but I can – I cherish. But then again I know – I know – if he’s not in the gym, then he’s lying on the floor at home doing extra crunches, or practicing guards and counters while watching GoT. Or maybe he’s a Masterchef guy? but you get the idea.
He Repeats Himself
Repetition is the mother of skill. I have no idea who said that. Bruce Lee said “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick, 10,000 times.” and this is spot on. When you drill a punch – or a question, or an answer – again and again, the delivery becomes perfect. You can win a boxing match with just a jab – ask Mayweather – but it better be a damn good one. How do you make it good enough to win? Practice. Again and again and again.
He Trains Without Even Knowing It
Every fighter I’ve ever spoken to has done this at some point. They are walking down a hallway at home, or out on the street. And then they’re not walking. They are turning a foot just so, or rotating a shoulder, or absently mentally parrying a punch, countering, and then they’ll stop dead. And practice the movement a couple of times, just small hand movements, but perfecting it – and move on. All without really noticing that it’s just happened.
On some level they know it happened, of course – but the brain and the body aren’t at home or on the street, they’re in the gym for 5 or 10 seconds – body and soul. And I’ll tell you a secret – this is easy because it’s not training. It’s a fascination, and a desire to do the best you can.
I’ve been thinking of one guy in particular while I write this. He’s not the youngest fighter in our gym. Or the fastest. Or the hardest hitter. But every fighter I’ve spoken to that’s been in the ring with him says more or less the same thing: You can’t switch off with this guy. It’s like fighting six guys.
I think that’s something to aim for, professionally and personally. To be the kind of person that the other guy can’t afford to switch off on. To be the kind of parent your kids will engage with. To be the kind of communicator that is engaging. And to be the kind of sparring partner you can’t switch off on.
It’s not easy, and it takes time – but if you work at it every day – then you’ll be that guy – the one no one wants to fight.
And keep your hands up!