View Full Version : Sport Psychology in Martial Arts Competition

7/22/2009 6:41pm,
I wasn't sure where this topic fit in, so I decided to post it in newbie-town.

I'm a graduate student in clinical psychology, with an additional interest in sport psychology. Sport psychologists are part of the training process for many major professional athletic teams now, and help athletes to recover from injury, practice more effectively, and improve their in-game performance through the use of a variety of psychological techniques. However, I have never read/seen/heard about the use of sport psychologists in training for MMA or other martial arts competitions. I imagine that olympic teams such as TKD and Judo employ sport psychologists, but I am not sure.

Does anyone know anything about the use of psychology in martial arts training?

I am also wondering what people's opinions are about the role of psychology in martial arts training. Has anyone used psych. techniques to help improve their game (i.e. meditation, hypnosis, visual imagery/rehearsal, relaxation training)?

7/22/2009 7:40pm,
Try http://combatsportpsychology.blogspot.com/

I've used visualization and breathing techniques in competition and sparring. I like brief periods of meditation--mokuso or just a pause between rounds--as well as positive self-reinforcement.

This can be used by instructors and higher ranks as well. "HE WILL NOT PASS YOUR GUARD!"

7/23/2009 12:26am,
GSP employs one.

Basically GSP is Ivan Drago, except he crushed Rocky's tiny Italian ribs in the sequel.

7/23/2009 10:48am,
GSP is an amazing athelete. Are you aware of what sort of stuff his psychologist does with him? or the name of his psychologist so that I can look up any publications he might have?

Even if we don't know who the psychologist is/what he does, speculations are welcome.

7/23/2009 11:00am,

Georges St-Pierre continues, "After my first fight with Matt Serra, I was training with one thing in mind: get my revenge. It was the only thing I had in mind. I was not focusing on the guy I was going to fight; I was focusing on getting my revenge against Matt Serra. I was working with a sports psychologist (http://www.askmen.com/money/career_150/151_career.html) and he said, 'You haven’t released your brick.' That’s what he told me. And it was true. I didn’t accept the fact that I had lost. I just wanted to jump in the ring and get my revenge, when in reality I had two fights to go before getting to Matt Serra.

"So, [the psychologist] says to me, 'You haven’t released your brick.' He made me grab a brick and he said, 'Carry a brick for one day and it’s not so bad. At first it’s not heavy. But if you carry it on your back every day, every single minute of your life, it’s going to get heavy. So you better get rid of it and look for what’s important to you.'

"He made me get a brick and I wrote 'Matt Serra' on it, and he said, 'When you are ready to release that brick and look to the future, you’re going to take this brick and throw it into the river.' It sounds stupid but that’s what I did. I think it helped me to release a lot of the negative energy that I had. Instead of focusing, I kept my eyes off of the goal. So now I’m focused again on the goal. I think this helped me a lot."

Found this article online. So it looks like one thing his psychologist helped him to do was get over losing to Matt Serra. I've never heard of anyone using a technique like this before, but I suppose its just a ritual to help the athlete clear their head and get back in the zone.

7/23/2009 11:05am,
Physicalizing internal issues is fun. It's fun to do on the heavy bag, it's fun to do it running, it's fun to do it by yelling, and it's fun to do it by creating meaning in an external object.

My undergrad philosophy thesis touched on this. Our brains are wired to interact with the outside world; this is how we interpret information. Keeping something in our heads--whether feelings, a theory, whatever--is fundamentally flawed. Putting the idea on paper, or in words, or in a brick helps our brain comprehend it with a broader set of neurons.

7/23/2009 11:39am,
That's interesting. By that logic, martial arts in general could be a very therapeutic endeavor. Aside from the positive aspects of exercise and competition, it also allows you to externalize any conflicts that you are having mentally. I wonder why the psychologist thought that the analogy of using a brick was more appropriate than just projecting those feelings onto the heavy bag, or on a sparring partner, etc. I suppose "letting go" of something is different from "beating the crap out of" something.