Tips for overcoming nerves?

Discussion in 'The Competitive Edge' started by Druid11, Jan 15, 2017.

  1. Druid11

    Druid11 Yellow Belt

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    I've recently discovered I get a bad case of nerves when I'm performing kata to be judged. It's strange because before every class someone higher ranking watches me do kata and offers constructive criticism and I'm fine, but make me walk into a ring and expect me to perform it and get a score at the end and I get nervous and unfocused and make mistakes I didn't ten minutes earlier. Even if the person judging me is the same person who watched me do the same kata ten minutes prior.

    I've only discovered this because the organization my dojo belongs to is having their annual tournament (it will be five other schools) and everyone has been encouraged to compete and we've been practicing specifically in class for the tournament over the last few weeks. I was planning to compete and I would really love to avoid making a complete fool of myself. I have no aspirations of winning or anything I just want to actually do my best instead of screwing up due to nerves. I wondered if anyone else had similar problems and if they had any tips/tricks/techniques for overcoming the case of nerves?

    I feel really silly about it honestly. I'm an adult and I'm competing just for fun, nothing life changing really hinges on my kata, so I'm not sure why I get so nervous. I also don't really get the same nerves before point sparring (at least not from the practice for it class).
     
  2. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    You're dealing with the same issue most people have with public speaking. I've helped folks get past this with public speaking. Here are some generic thoughts for you to chew on. If you want some specific recommendations for you, PM me.
    • Your fear of looking foolish is the key to this. You are likely imagining what that will feel/look like, and your brain takes that as an indicator that it's a probable outcome. That adds stress and distraction, which makes the outcome more likely.
    • Positive visualization (used by a lot of top athletes, and effective for folks working to overcome the fear of speaking) can be effective.
    • When you practice, try to make it as much like the evaluation/competition scenario as possible. This includes imagining the scenario in your mind, as well as trying to set up the environment as much as possible. Our brains use a lot of environmental cues to identify stressful situations.
    • When you are being evaluated, try to treat it as much like your practice as possible. This is mostly about your state of mind and what you're thinking.
    • It can also help to have a routine you use before performing the kata. Use the routine before practicing, and use it before competition/evaluation.
    Mostly, know that this is normal. As you get more accustomed to it, it gets less, and you get better. As you get better, those successes reduce the stress reaction, assuming you don't continue to introduce internal images of failure (where some professionals get the "yips", for instance).
     
  3. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    What helped me was to take into consideration of what I was actually doing. When I'm in front of people, I'm just showing what a specific form looks like. Think of it as if 4 people have just asked you to show what a form looks like. Then you show it. Don't get into the midset of "Did I mess up?" "or trying to get each move perfect"

    True story. I was performing a form for new years, and I had the nerves, I spent so much time trying to calm myself down that I forgot my form. Yep. totally forgot it. Why? because my mind was focused on not being nervous instead of me focusing on doing the form. On a good note, once you are focused on doing the form, you'll tend to black out everything else. It's like everyone else in the room disappears and you actually forget that they are there.
     
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  4. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    Just treat the audience as cabbage and think those cabbage are so lucky today to have the opportunity to see your art.

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    That's a much better idea than the "picture them naked" concept. Picturing some people naked will be distracting. Picturing others will be disturbing. Which ones fall into which group depends entirely upon your own mind, and doesn't even necessarily have anything to do with attractiveness.
     
  6. yak sao

    yak sao Master of Arts

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    I read something many years ago that might help. This person happened to be backstage at the play The King and I.
    The star of the play, Yul Brenner, was over in a corner pushing against the wall with all his might, as if trying to push it over. When asked what he was doing, Mr Brenner, a seasoned actor who had performed countless times, said he was getting rid of his nervousness.

    Another that might help, Bruce Lee once said that if he didn't feel butterflies before a fight then he knew he wasn't ready.

    It sounds to me like you are in good company.
    So, prepare to the best of your ability. Then, before you go out to perform, do some pushups or something similar to get rid of excess adrenaline, then go out and do your best, taking heart that those butterflies you're feeling is your body preparing you for action.
     
  7. Kickboxer101

    Kickboxer101 Master Black Belt

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    The thing I always thought of in tests is these judges have seen thousands of people perform over the years they've seen good and bad there's nothing you can do that they won't have seen that's how I always see it
     
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  8. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    The aspect of impending competition brings with it the onset of a fear-based reaction, but rather than it being a fear of being hurt/injured/killed dead, it's a fear of being embarrassed in front of your peers. Fear arises out of the unknown factors of not really knowing what is going to happen. It Does go away, mostly. In the end, it is a good thing. When I did tournaments, I'd try to trick myself into thinking that I was me getting amped up to "go get 'em!" Which seems silly, but telling yourself things like that does work sometimes.
     
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  9. Transk53

    Transk53 The Dark Often Prevails

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    Picturing them naked, where did you get that from? A cabbage to me in this context, is just absorbing the avarege, not necessarily whats fits the person. Just my take.
     
  10. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I worked a security detail in Boston (early eighties), worked the stage door to The King and I with Yule Brynner. Was bringing my supervisor into see the stage manager an hour before the show, and there was Yule Brynner, pushing against a wall. Never gave it much thought, but if I had would have probably thought he was pumping up his arms. Now, it makes such total sense.

    Oh, and it was at the Wang Theatre on Tremont Street. :)


    Druid - don't know what kind of access you have to anything, but if you could set up five folding chairs in your dojo and recreate a Kata ring, complete with people holding scoring cards, it would probably help a lot after a dozen go rounds.
     
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  11. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    Hopefully you (general you) won't show them something so awful they haven't seen before :)
     
  12. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    The only at I see it, there's only two scenarios where you're not nervous...

    You genuinely don't care
    You know for a fact that the competition is horrendous

    Experience will help keep nerves under control. Key words being under control.

    I was preparing for our organization's annual tournament last summer. This was a big one with people from every continent except Antarctica (it was our organization's 40th anniversary). I hadn't competed in almost 20 years.

    During practice, we'd set up a row of seats like judges, and give scores on cards, just like in the actual tournament. You'd think that because I've been training with these people for almost 2 years that I wouldn't be nervous at all. I was amazed at how nervous I got every time, especially the first few times. There's people who've been training together there for over 20 years. Guess what? They got almost as nervous.

    Nerves are good. Learn to control them and use them to your advantage. I've done a lot of what's been said here. What works best for me is I don't look anyone directly in the eye, and I don't focus my vision on any one thing. I kind of blur it and try to go into auto pilot. Same thing works when I speak publicly.

    Everyone's got their way. Try several ways until you find a few that work better for you. Nothing's going to be a cure for nervousness. But if you're not nervous, something's wrong.
     
  13. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    It's an old, oft-given piece of advice. One I don't like, but some apparently found it useful.
     
  14. Transk53

    Transk53 The Dark Often Prevails

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    Ah yes. Spoke to a friend this morning who has heard that before. I probably have at some point, but being a perv probably not a good idea for me lol.
     
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  15. KenpoMaster805

    KenpoMaster805 Blue Belt

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    I love competiting its fun I do mostlly kata and self defense its awesome im only nervous when i go to the doctor or hights
     
  16. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    My advice is to embrace the nervousness. It has been my experience that the nervousness of performing in front of judges causes a large adrenaline dump. How you perform during this episode tells you a lot about what you have internalized, and what you need work on since it is difficult to think properly during a large adrenaline dump. Always be sure what you are planning on performing before getting in the ring, and always have a fellow student or instructor watching so they can critique your performance so you know what to focus on back at the dojo.
     
  17. DanT

    DanT Black Belt

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    Honestly the nerves go away with experience. I've performed in front of 3 people and been nervous, and I've preformed in front of 1000 and been okay.
     
  18. KangTsai

    KangTsai 2nd Black Belt

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    I've had to dance on stage a few times, and it's basically the same thing as this. There's no trick really, just try to be as accepting of what you're about to perform as possible and relax.
     
  19. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    One thing to keep in mind is, and this doesn't help witht he initial onset of nerves (i.e. the adrenalin dump) but it does help with handling them,... is that you need to put in your own mind the thought that everyone is there to watch and they want to see you do what you do.

    Then, you tell yourself that you have done a good job preparing, you know what you are doing, then smile and go out and do it.

    Nerves are good for you. If you didn't have nerves, you'd be no good, because you'd be dead.
     

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