How to toughen up?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Faith, Dec 20, 2019.

  1. Faith

    Faith White Belt

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    I've recently taken up taekwondo again. I've going from ITF to WT and I could keep my red belt from ITF in the classes.
    But I have noticed myself that I am not that tough that I wish I should be with that grade. I flinch, I avoid getting hit and I feel that I perform very sloppy techniques than what is required to my grade.
    By "tough", I don't mean like a badass like we see in the action movies or series, but like that I could take a hit or a kick, then go in for another one without withdrawing from the opponent.

    This really start to make be a bit demotivated to continue. I really love martial art, but I feel I maybe expect to much by myself?
    Do someone of you have some tips how I can improve myself?
     
  2. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Since from art to art (and sometimes within arts), belts can mean different things..I have two questions before responding. 1) What kyu is red belt for you/how long have you been training? 2) Do you spar at your school/do these issues arise during sparring, "technique"/drills, or both?
     
  3. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Do tough things.
     
  4. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    Avoiding getting hit is a good plan whatever your grade/rank.

    Ideally, you want to avoid getting hit without curling up in a corner though...

    The only way to get used to it is to do it.
     
  5. Gweilo

    Gweilo 2nd Black Belt

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    To stop flinching will involve you confronting your fears, dont take this the wrong way, dont take the meaning of fear meaning you are weak, the flinch reaction is natural for 99% of martial artists and fighters, it is an instinct of virtually all animals.
    To overcome the flinch is twofold, firstly lots of sparring, for fun or play sparring is not enough on its own, you need to pressure test or contact sparring regularly, along with this you need to master your breathing, breathing properly help to relax the mind, which in turn controls your emotions, at your stage of training you will have the inbuilt hes bigger than me, or faster than me, hes won his last 25 fights/competitions thoughts, or those am I good enough thoughts zooming around in your head, this creates tension in you, which results in a slightly different stance, then the technique is slightly wrong, which puts more doubt and more thoughts then more tension. So with proper sparring, breathing and time, the flinch response will stop all together. So try not to worry about it at the moment.
     
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  6. Rat

    Rat Master Black Belt

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    Unless the flinching and avoiding getting hit is detrimental to sparring, you don't need to do anything. If it is, i believe its a experience thing, you eventually get used to it and stop flinching etc especially if make a conscious effort to stop doing it. I cant give tips, but unless something is detrimental its not a problem.
     
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  7. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Senior Master

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    Welcome to MT mate :). Awesome to hear you've started up in TKD again, good on ya!

    Ah I feel you're expecting a bit much from yourself straight off the bat ;)

    It will simply take time and exposure. The more you learn to relax while sparring and learn to be aware of how much anxiousness you hold, the more you can actively work with it, and let it inform you why you're flinching so much. But like it was said earlier, flinching is a built in response in humans, it's natural! But the more comfortable you get in sparring again and within your own movement, style and techniques, you'll find yourself relax and truly enjoy it more, and not be so reactive in a flinchy sorta way.

    I remember when I took time off training and sparring altogether, and decided to enter some tournaments out of interest, I was flinching all over the shop! At first I wasn't thrilled with how much I did that, as I'd had years and years of sparring experience, but that time off did resensitise me a bit. Just had to get more sparring practice again.

    Please don't let this demotivate you, everyone faces this sort of thing from time to time. In terms of technique for your grade, it may be worth chatting with your instructor, and if you'd feel more comfortable you can always start back at a lower grade that you feel comfortable with, and build yourself back up again slowly? No shame in that whatsoever.

    And in terms of avoiding attacks etc, it doesn't mean you're weak or that you'll be no good ever (catastrophising), just an element in training to work on. Highly recommend bringing it up specifically with your instructor, they may design some drills to work on with you! A bit of conditioning work (getting hit) does a WORLD of wonders, being hit enough and it really just becomes a passing breeze, no big deal.

    Let us know how you go :)
     
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  8. Faith

    Faith White Belt

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    1) It's 1. kyu and I've been training for 10 years, but have some breaks on the "journey".
    2) We got some sparring and got class just for combat/sparring, but we do free-sparring very rare.

    Thanks for alot of tips! I am trying to get my girlfriend which also train taekwondo to sparr with me and to hit me slow and lightly, then increase the speed.
     
  9. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    A lot of it is exposure. The flinch response is because you're overwhelmed. Either your brain is not sure how to react to the stimuli coming in so it freezes, or your fear of getting hit takes over. Exposure can help with both. Experience can help you see and process things faster, and when you're more confident in your responses your brain won't freeze as often. Also, you learn which hits you can take, and that makes them less scary. Over time, you learn what kind of hits won't even hurt, what kind of hits will cause pain and discomfort, but no injury, and what types of hits cause injury. This will make it easier to take some of the lighter hits (because you know they won't hurt), and will make you more confident to push through the pain when you're not worried about being broken.

    The two biggest things that can help with exposure are drills and light sparring. You shouldn't be going full-out every class, that's a recipe for disaster. And if people are going too hard in class, then talk to your Master and say "I think they're going too hard, can you ask them to lighten up?" Drills and light sparring will get you used to seeing the punches and kicks come at you, and give your brain a chance to make those connections so it can respond faster and faster.

    Drills can be as simple as someone kicking you and you kicking back at the same time, or they kick and you slide back and counter. It can be a punch that you block. Start off slow, and as you build up your timing, go faster and faster.

    I am going to go out on a limb and say you are the first person in history to give the advice that flinching is okay. This is quite possibly the worst advice I have ever seen. A martial artist needs to be aware of their surroundings and paying attention to the fight. If you flinch during a fight, you open yourself up to every possible attack, because you can't block or avoid what you don't know is coming. Eliminating the flinch is something we try to do as early as possible in someone's training, so they don't fall into this habit.
     
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  10. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    If it's tkd then it's not a kyu at all - kyu is a Japanese term which technically has no place in a Korean art...

    Most ITF use solid red for 2nd kup, and red with black stripe for 1st (followed by black 1st dan), but maybe yours was one of the different ones.

    Not much you can really do about that, except make sure you attend every sparring session you can.

    Snipped for fun...

    Forget her birthday - that should work ;)
     
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  11. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    - Find a huge rock (100 lb - 200 lb).
    - Move that rock from one place to another place 20 times daily.
    - Repeat this for 3 months.

    After 3 months, you will feel "tough".
     
  12. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    Not really going to do much about flinching when someone tries to hit you though...
     
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  13. yak sao

    yak sao Master of Arts

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    I've been at martial arts for quite a while . When people come back to training who have been away from it for a while I recommend that they do not try to pick up where they left off.
    It's too much too soon and will most likely just end up causing you to become frustrated and quit or worse cause an injury.

    I recommend that they start out slow going back through the material from the beginning , not as a punishment but as a way to get the body readjusted to the training .
    Second learning is much easier and usually doesn't take very long at all to put you right back up to where you were.
     
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  14. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    That's generally considered a good thing.
    Flinching is an instinctive reaction which only repeated practice will get rid of. Take your time about getting back into the flow of training andhat to your instructor, always best to do that before asking strangers really, there is some good advice on here but also some not so good 'advice'.
     
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  15. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Flinching and getting hit makes getting hit worse because you are not in a good structure.
     
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  16. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    In your case just sit in the pocket and trade for a bit until you don't feel overwhelmed there.

    Adopt a policy that if they hit you you answer with a strike in return.

    Once you are comfortable doing that. Then you can start being evasive again. And hopefully your evasive game will be a bit better.

     
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  17. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    If someone knocked you down and killed you, at least you have to remember who did it to you so your soul can haunt him day and night for the rest of his life.
     
  18. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    I will mention some MMA advice that applies here. Strikers going in to MMA may think that they need to focus on their takedown defense and keep the fight standing.

    Where they really need to absorb all of the elements of grappling to take advantage of where the fight goes. And then if they choose to dictate the fight at a certain range they can.

    So same sort of deal. If you are flinchy you will have more initial success hanging back and being a counter fighter but you will develop these holes people can exploit.

    If you push yourself to engage in meat grinder style fights you can still have that hang back counter style but you will also not get overwhelmed when the fight gets a bit pacey.
     
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  19. KenpoMaster805

    KenpoMaster805 Brown Belt

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    Bro all you need is to be motivated and practice practice makes perfect you can practice your technique over and over again do the technique and see what your Mistake is and do it over again and in sparring dont flinch show them wzupp and your not weak don't tell your self that only weak are the one who quit me I've been a 3rd brown for 3 year almost 4 year but i never quit by june of next year ill take my 2nd degree brown test and my 1st on December of next year so tell to your self i can do this im not weak and i can pass and make it to red with black then black belt
     
  20. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    Welcome to the forum faith. Here, you will get a lot of great advise and answers from all over the world. Some may or may not make a lot of sense, partly because of communication differences. Others because they simply do not make a lot of sense.
    I believe your self reflection is right on track and healthy. You have worked out for some time and then took a break. You have a self image of 'you' at your peak performance. Now, you have started back and are wondering why your body is not doing what is used to do. That is a good thing and a great source of motivation.
    For a seasoned practitioner, I fully believe mirrors are one of the best partners for working technique. Hopefully your Dojang has plenty of them. You know what 'right' looks like. Study yourself in the mirror until you find that level of skill again.
    As for the flinching; you have heard enough to know it is a natural body response. You have to condition the mind just like you have to condition the body. The eyes and corresponding part of the brain has to get accustomed to seeing objects coming toward you with speed and power. The neurotransmitters and chemicals that trigger the emotion of fear can be better controlled by repeated exposure to whatever is causing the reaction. In others words; you need to spar or have controlled physical contact. A lot. There is no clear cut answer, but this is a bigger challenge for some people. And a beautiful thing about practicing a martial art. It avails a person to be able to have this exposure without being in real danger. Even when it feels like it.
    Talk to your instructor and the senior belts you confide in. Let them know this is a challenge for you. You should be put in the correct situations to help alleviate the 'fear' response.
    Martial Arts is very much about repetition. The steeper the time curve a person puts on improvement the longer it will seem to take.
    As a suggestion; would it be reasonable to think that it will take as long to get back to where you were as the break in practice was? Time is our ally.123
     
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