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Part three: 2. Stop the internal dialogue:

This is the third part of my series of articles on the 7 secrets of the champion knockdown: Stop the internal dialogue.


3. Filter out external noise (concentration). Obtained by the "auditory and visual tunnel".

4. Be in external awareness (this allows you to focus your attention on the other person and avoid any sensation of pain on yourself, useful in full-contact combat, as our attention is "dissociated" from ourselves).

5. Recognise the anomalies and weak points of your opponent. In a non-conscious way.

6. Distorting time to see the other in slow motion and increasing speed.

7. Being physically relaxed, but alert (zanshin) and the mind focused on the opponent, but without attachment (mushin). In this way, the movements are more explosive and the timing impeccable.




Why do you have to stop internal dialogue to be present and creative in combat


You are fighting and trying to focus on your opponent. However, you are also focusing on what you are saying to yourself in your head. This can lead to poor performance and mistakes.


In a fight, you have to be focused on your opponent. You cannot allow yourself to be distracted by anything else, including what you say to yourself in your head. If you are distracted, you will get hit or even knocked out.


In a fight, you must be focused and alert. Internal dialogue can lead to doubt, distraction, loss of focus and emotional instability. All of these can lead to poor performance and mistakes. Stay focused during a fight by eliminating your internal dialogue and focusing on what you see (visual) and feel (kinesthetic), which I call the VK strategy.


Bruce Lee and the importance of not thinking, but feeling


In Bruce Lee's film Operation Dragon, a student is asked to kick him. Unsatisfied, he asks him to do it again, but to put more "emotion" into it. Unsatisfied with his kick, he asks him to do it again, but not to think, only to "feel".


Personally, I think Bruce Lee made a mistake by confusing emotion with a feeling. They are two different things. A feeling is a primary "sensation" that comes from our kinesthetic system. Emotion is the result of a response to thought and is a secondary process. An internal dialogue will often create negative emotions, and we will come back to this point later.


In sparring, we need to be close to our sensations which are instantaneous, whereas our emotions will slow us down and prevent us from being in the moment. When Bruce Lee tells his student to "feel" and not "think", he is telling him to be in his kinesthetic system, which is part of the "somatic" mind. Not to be in his "internal dialogue". This is what Bruce Lee says to his student when he tells him: "don't think, feel".


When you are not focused on your thoughts or emotions, you can feel with your whole body. You are more open to using your intuition and creativity during the fight. When you stop focusing on your internal dialogue, you really "see" and "feel" what is happening in the field, the territory. There is no longer a "you" acting on "another" in the "territory", but only the action itself. This is when all your actions are right.


Why internal dialogue can be dangerous during combat


There are many ways in which internal dialogue can affect your performance in Knockdown karate and other combat sports. In Knockdown karate, if you start thinking about what you are doing, you will get hit. You have to be completely in the moment. A split second mistake can mean the difference between winning and losing.


In this article, we will discuss the three main ways that internal dialogue can hold you back and give you some ideas on how to solve this problem in a creative and generative way.


1. It can lead to hesitation and loss of concentration.


Firstly, internal dialogue can lead to doubt and hesitation. It can lead to hesitation in your movements and to making wrong decisions. Internal dialogue can lead to distraction and loss of concentration. This can lead to you being hit or even knocked out in a fight.


2. During a fight, you must be completely focused on the present time, instead of wandering between the past and the future.


If you are not focused on the present moment, you are more likely to lose the fight. It can be difficult to focus entirely on the present, especially when you think about past or future events. For example, when you tell yourself that you missed an opportunity to use your favorite technique in response to his kick (past event) and you tell yourself that you will recover when he does it again (future event). A study published in sports psychology found that the more people think about the past or the future, the less able they are to focus on the task at hand. When you are fully aware of the present time, no internal dialogue can arise. Mindfulness exercises are the key to making internal dialogue fade away. I will come back to this in another article.


When you are fully aware of the present time, there is no room for internal dialogue. Your cognitive mind is focused on your opponent's every move, he is in "visual mode" and not in "internal auditory mode".


Bruce Lee, in the same scene in the film Operation Dragon, explains to his student why you should not think by telling him a metaphor. He tells him: "It's like a finger pointing at the moon in the distance. Don't focus on the finger or you'll miss all the heavenly glory! Bruce is teaching his student the importance of being fully present at the moment.


Bruce Lee says in this quote that if we feel what is happening at the moment, instead of analyzing it, and stay present, then we can really feel the whole experience. Then we really feel the whole experience rather than fragmenting the parts of the experience that we intend to analyze. We are no longer separate from what is happening around us because we exist completely in the experience. We are not locked in our heads even briefly but are absorbed in the relational field and every action of our opponent. Our responses are creative and "generative" and we instantly find solutions to defeat our opponent.


3. Internal dialogue can also lead to fear, doubt and emotional instability.


Internal dialogue can lead to emotional instability. It can cause you to feel overwhelmed or frustrated in a fight, which can lead to poor performance and mistakes. The problem with internal dialogue is that it can be inaccurate, distracting you from what is going on around you and causing negative emotions like fear or anxiety. You may think you are losing to your opponent and that it is too late to recover when in reality you can knock out your opponent with less than five seconds to go. Your inner dialogue if controlled by your inner critic can easily make you give up the fight especially if it is tinged with "perfectionism".


Internal dialogue brings out its ally, the internal critic


I once coached a knockdown athlete who had a very pronounced 'perfectionist' inner critic. Although he had excellent technique, was very strong, trained five times a week and was excellent in sparring, when he had opposition in sparring his inner dialogue would fight against him. He was fighting two opponents at the same time, which affected his performance. I mentally coached him for a few sessions and he finally put his inner critic and dialogue back in its place. That is, during the post-analysis of the fight, not during the fight. Inner dialogue has its place after a fight to analyze strengths and weaknesses in order to improve. Criticism and inner dialogue are essential to becoming a champion, it just needs to be placed in the right place. After two sessions of sports trance, the opposition made him even more "alive" and more "Kinesthetic" instead of triggering his inner critic and inner dialogue.


Some people criticize me when I say that you should not think in combat, that you should "analyze" your opponent. I agree with their arguments, what I say is that we must think "visually" and not audibly. We have to see what is happening on the ground and not go inside our heads to comment on what is happening. Therefore, the best solution to reduce internal dialogue in combat is found in the first secret of this series of articles, which is to be in "peripheral vision". Peripheral vision and mindfulness are part of the solution to becoming a formidable fighter in knockdown competition, as well as the VK (Visual-Kinesthetic) strategy which I will discuss in this series of articles on the 7 secrets of the knockdown champion.


Gaëtan Sauvé








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