We’ve all heard that expression, “so-and-so talks the talk, but does he walk the walk?”
I’m sure we can all relate to this on some level: we know a few people who talk a big game, but when it comes to delivering on their word (or threats) they are (un)surprisingly a bit lackluster.
In fight sports, we have a unique component to competition. It’s something not often discussed. It’s something you can’t mimic in practice.. It’s The Walk. Capital T, Capital W.
Fighters have to talk the talk, obviously. It’s part of self-promotion and self-hype. But they also have to walk The Walk.
A fighter, before his or her bout, makes The Walk to the ring. This is one of the most intense parts of competition–more so, arguably, than the fight itself. When we’re fighting, we are totally in the moment. Our bodies and minds harmonize and our universe mercifully shrinks to the size of the ring.
We flow through the movements, absorb the punishment, and are so wholly engrossed in the activity that we are almost observers to ourselves. Even taking a beating is usually only terrible in retrospect (and I confidently say this from experience).
During The Walk, though, we don’t have the same luxuries or protections. We are at our most vulnerable. And this is where the unprepared or the mentally weak crumble.
It’s as if an invisible hand is pushing you towards your destiny–and whether that destiny is to succeed, or perhaps to be carried out of the ring on a stretcher, you can’t be sure. With each step you take, piercing questions come at you from a place deep within yourself.. “Are you prepared?” “Was this a foolish decision?” “What pain or humiliation awaits you in there?”
The armor that can shield you from this sabotage is your confidence, your preparation. Your iron will to not only succeed, but to endure the trials of practice and training so that you can walk through this gauntlet unscathed by the flurry of doubt and anxiety that will inevitably swarm you.
The weak crumble during The Walk because they have not prepared. They skipped training sessions. They cheated on their diet. When times were tough in practice, they found a way out. They clad themselves in excuses instead of preparation.
When you are making that walk, though, there is no way out without first going in and facing the challenge head on.
We all make walks like this, every day. Sure, most of them are not nearly as intense. And sometimes, we aren’t even aware we are taking The Walk, because we have normalized the anxiety and uncertainty to such a great point that we believe it to be integral to the task at hand, rather than an exterior manifestation of our own insecurity.
But we can armor ourselves against the negativity by affirming and reaffirming our conviction every day in practice, in our professions, and in our personal lives. A little bit of faith in oneself doesn’t hurt, either.
We have a saying here at North Star–make every day of practice like your fight, and every fight will just be another day of practice.
With that approach, and a healthy work ethic to boot, these Walks will be nothing more than just a walk in the park.