With Halloween all around us, it seems appropriate to talk a little bit about “faking it till you make it,” or the act of putting on a facade (the word comes from the same root as “face,” by the way).
Typically we apply a negative meaning to “putting on a facade,” as if the act of doing so is deceptive in a nefarious way or something.
But as a fighter, we often have to put on a facade — whether it’s to show no weakness to our buddies when we take a good body shot in practice, or whether it’s something more absolute like transforming from our day to day persona into an athlete completely focused on the task at hand.
We call it the “Game Face.”
Compartmentalizing ourselves and cultivating a warrior persona is a necessary part of success in combat sports. We have to be ready to walk into the fire, deal and take damage, and do so with a cool head and strategic mind.
This, like anything, takes practice. Early on, we are literally “faking it till we make it,” as our efforts will over- or undershoot the goal.
In time, with experience, we can calibrate properly and start to will that deep, primal part of ourselves to the surface in times of need.
Developing this mindset takes clear focus and discipline — we have to willfully put ourselves in that state in training, and carry it with us into the deep waters when we are tired and pushed to our limits.
It may feel a little silly at first. In fact, it probably will. But the person that shows up to practice will be the person that shows up to the fight. There is no magical transformation at the threshold of the arena.
Allocating time, energy, and focus to your game face is just as important is the time and energy you give to your physical and strategic preparation as well.
You probably felt silly the first time you tried a round kick or a double leg takedown. And you will feel silly the first time you put on your game face in practice.
But, with time, focus, and energy, all things can be conquered. And what feels like a silly mask at first will eventually become that face that looks back at you in the mirror.