First things first: The new website is up for the school. You can find the link above, in the top right corner, for Valkyrie WMA Classes. And if you head to that web page and click on “Taking Classes” you’ll find you can sing up and pay for your first months dues and membership online. Convenient, yes? And since we are in our last few days, and still shy of the amount we need, do feel free to click on the banner on the right and donate a few bucks if you are feeling so inclined.

I’ve got a lot of footage of fights. Tournaments, sparring sessions, all kinds of things. I spend a lot of time reviewing them for the technical and tactical lessons for students, but I also spend time studying them for deeper lessons to teach. Sport psychology is a useful field, and it’s produced some good works. I try to spend time with my students honing their mental approach as much as anything.

Good performance depends on creating the right chemical cocktail in the brain. Hormones are the chemicals that govern the performance of our body, and getting the right mix of hormones in your system before and during your bout is critical. Fortunately, the hormone mix can be influenced by visualization. Unfortunately, there are at least eleven different hormones that have a direct influence on your fight. Testosterone, adrenaline, noradrenaline, epinephrine, cortisol all have different cues for activation and intensity and different effects. Adrenaline is great for speed, but terrible for control. Pump too much adrenaline into your body, and your parries become huge, leaving you helpless against feints. It takes knowledge and experimentation to get your mind set right for a bout, and experience to make it habitual. Nature gives us no real help here…only reason can guide us.

The first quarter second of a bout is when you can see who has their brain in the right space. I can post some video’s to show this, but you can find them yourself. Check out any footage of people in WMA tournaments, and you can clearly see people who seem just a step behind the other person. Sometimes they make up for it, but the first quarter second, they lose. They have a pause before the motor starts up, and they often get tagged in that time. It takes a quarter second to cover a short bit of ground and attack, but human reflex time is a third of a second…most of us cannot afford to waste that first portion.

Think about your own fighting. Do you always start out feeling like you have to catch up to your opponent? Do you think everyone is somehow naturally faster and more aggressive than you? You might not be right…you might just be loading yourself up with the wrong hormones. Spend some time and try out thinking or feeling different ways about your fighting. Some people need to feel more mean, some more territorial, some more cocky, some more humorous. It’s different for everyone. A good coach can help you, but you can do a lot on your own.