It starts with seeing yourself winning, and those thoughts need to include all kinds of ways to be victorious. 
When we take on difficult tasks, before we begin, our minds sometimes float back and forth between visions of succeeding and failing. The fear of failure is very real, and I promise that anyone who has stepped on a mat, in a cage, or in a ring, has felt it many times.
However, some people take it a step further and begin self-handicapping. This means that they purposely create an obstacle or an excuse to avoid any negative consequences. Have you ever heard someone say, “Sure, I’d get in there and fight, but my forearm is really sore” (or something similar), and you know full well they are not being honest. That is exactly what self-handicapping is. If you don’t do it, you can’t fail at it.
But let’s be real with ourselves. If you do something long enough to become an expert at it, chances are you failed a few times along the way. Otherwise, how do you learn to do the right things? Yes, I earned my black belt, but I didn’t get there without listening to my coaches and learning from my mistakes. No one does.

This week’s topic involves visualizing victory. Having the ability to turn self-handicapping into a positive self-fulfilling prophecy is something anyone can do. There are a million ways this applies in life, whether it’s your job, school, or just getting back into shape. However, today, I’m focusing on visualizing victory in combat.
Visualization in combat is not new by any means.
Let me give you a quick history lesson. The samurai of the 12th century and beyond were taught to consistently envision battle as well as their own death so that they could overcome the fear of it. If you ever get a chance to read The Hagakure, I highly recommend it. Anyone in martial arts can gain something from that book.
Visualizing victory in combat sports is similar in its intense focus, but instead focuses on a positive outcome without overconfidence
When you sign up for a tournament, or agree to take a fight, it’s usually well in advance. No matter your discipline, you need time to build up your cardio, work on your technique, and learn about your opponent. Your mind is already going to be running wild, so this is the best time to start visualizing yourself doing everything correctly, and that includes winning.
Positive visualization isn’t difficult, it just takes a lot of repetition.
I get that this is all easier said than done, but think about a boxer getting ready for a fight who has a 90-day training camp. How many jabs do you think they’ll throw between sparring and hitting the bags? Probably several thousand, but maybe more. That is how many times you should be visualizing victory. With every single jab you throw, you visualize it breaking through your opponent’s defense and tagging them right on the chin.
“I visualize everything. I visualize my walkout, I visualize the fight, I visualize the finish…I visualize the interviews after. I visualize everything.”
It's this kind of thinking that took Max Holloway from a prospect to a future UFC hall of famer. In his own words: “I visualize everything. I visualize my walkout, I visualize the fight, I visualize the finish…I visualize the interviews after. I visualize everything.” Then there is this one: “I’m a big believer in visualization. I’m a big believer in speaking things into existence. And I’m a big believer in being positive.”
Despite losing 7 fights in his career, Max didn’t let that stop him from being one of the greatest featherweights of all time and the only fighter to TKO Jose Aldo twice. Another thing to note is that Max has also never been KO’d or submitted. Simply put, his visualizations get him in the right frame of mind when he is training.
That’s the equation I’m talking about. It starts with seeing yourself winning, and those thoughts need to include all kinds of ways to be victorious. With those visions of victory, you now know what you need to work on in the gym and you can train with the intense focus you need to create those mind-muscle connections. Max didn’t just sit around and think about winning, he used those winning thoughts to drive the intensity of his training so that when fight night came, he knew he would be the superior fighter. 

Georges St-Pierre
“I visualize myself winning every night before a fight. I visualize different scenarios and how I would react to them. I visualize success and being happy."
After spending a lot of time at the TriStar gym, I was able to learn how GSP did the same thing. He has been quoted in the past as saying, “The key to effective visualization is to create the most detailed, clear, and vivid a picture to focus on as possible. The more vivid the visualization, the more likely, and quickly, you are to begin attracting the things that help you achieve what you want to get done.” 
He would literally spend time visualizing his fights every day during training camps. The proof is there. Just look up his resume.

The medical field has also done their fair share of studying the effects of positive mental imagery on the human brain. They came to the same conclusion. They’ve done studies for people with generalized anxiety (you know, like if you have a fight coming up) and found that the practice of “thought replacement” reduces the physical effects of worrying and stress. They even studied it as part of a training regimen, and found that positive internal imagery increased cognitive abilities, positive emotions, and even happiness. Even if you aren’t competing anytime soon, this is just a great overall skill to learn.
The key to all of this is mindful awareness. 
You, me, and everyone else has it. It’s the internal voice that interrupts your negative thoughts. Consider when we have a lack of awareness, our minds tend to drift to the negative, don’t they? Ever send someone a text but then you don’t hear back for a day or two? Your mind may think all kinds of terrible things during that time. But then we also have that voice that tells us to stop it, and that we’re probably overreacting. That is the voice that helps us visualize victory! 
That little voice inside helps us create images in our mind, and when those are positive, we get the physical benefits that go along with it. The goal is to then take those good physical feelings and take them directly to the gym where you put the work in to make those visions a reality!
I'll see you in the next one,
-Steven Williams

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