We live in a society where it’s “cool” to not perform at your best. To not put in the work to become the person that you really want to be. To sit back, relax and accept yourself for who you are. While there’s some truth to that (you should never hate yourself), it’s not wrong to strive to become a person that you’re proud to be.
Not everyone subscribes to the laid-back narrative. In fact, there’s a small minority of people that truly want to put in the work to become physically, mentally and emotionally stronger. At the root of this desire to grow is self-discipline.
self-dis·ci·pline | \ ˌself-ˈdi-sə-plən
The correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement
Self-discipline is a skill. We’ve been told since we were young that skills like self-discipline are character traits that some people are just born with.
“James has such amazing self-discipline, I wish I could be as strong as him.”
You can. Self-discipline is a skill honed through constantly striving to be better – to do things that you don’t want to do because you have to do them.
MMA and boxing are fantastic vehicles to master your mind and become self-disciplined. The intense physical training and mental fortitude that come with deciding to walk into a gym and get you’re a** kicked multiple times a week takes serious commitment.
In this article, we’re going to outline some of the ways that MMA and boxing improve self-discipline. From deciding to train, to getting thrown around by skilled athletes and knowing your capabilities outside of the gym, there are few methods to truly improve self-discipline that match combat sports.
MMA AND IMPROVING SELF-DISCIPLINE: DECIDING TO TRAIN
There’s a reason why boxing gyms, dojos and MMA academies see a spike in registrations during the first week of January. People decide that they want to finally make a change and sign up for the combat sport that they’ve always wanted to try out.
What happens in February? 90% of those people stop showing up. They stop showing up either because it’s too physically tough or because they “don’t have the time”.
Remember, you always have time for things that you consider a priority.
But if you’re one of those people that forces yourself to train even when you don’t feel like it, you’re improving your self discipline. Like we said before, it’s a skill you need to hone. The first few times you tell yourself “I’ll just go tomorrow, I’ll take a break today”, you need to force yourself to pack your bag, get dressed and head to the gym. The hardest part is deciding to go; once you start warming up, rolling or hitting the pads, it’s amazing.
To ignore that voice in your head and go train MMA teaches your mind that sometimes you have to do things when you don’t necessarily feel like it. And it can be hard sometimes – after a long day at work, it’s difficult to have the discipline to still go train. But after you do it a few times, it’ll become an instinct.
That’s the first way that MMA and boxing improve self-discipline. Like any other physical activity, it takes discipline to force yourself to go multiple times a week, even when you don’t want to. It becomes second nature after a while, and if you don’t already enjoy the training, you’ll start to.
If you're a seasoned pro, the self-discipline to push yourself with tools like sauna suits is a direct result of your commitment to training.
MMA AND IMPROVING SELF-DISCIPLINE: GETTING YOUR A** KICKED
The first point can apply to most forms of physical activity. But MMA and boxing are special when it comes to self discipline.
MMA and boxing are special in improving self discipline because you’re forcing yourself to get humbled and get your a** kicked.
Think about the first time you walked into a boxing or MMA gym. You’re surrounded by fighters that have been practicing the sport for years, yet you barely know how to throw a punch, land a kick, score a takedown or maneuver yourself out of a submission. It’s a humbling experience.
Even if you’re experienced, you’ll still get thrown around or lit up by somebody better than you.
And that’s the beauty of how MMA and boxing improve self-discipline.
Your body is hardwired to avoid physical pain and danger. When you knowingly step into a place where you know you might get lit up, you’re teaching your mind and body that regardless of the physical pain, this is still a task you have to get done.
Now of course, we’re not saying that you should go and put yourself through excruciating pain to develop self-discipline (most MMA/boxing gyms won’t even allow that). We're saying that some pain, soreness and discomfort is inevitable when you’re training MMA or boxing. That pain will weed out the people that aren't committed and leave behind the warriors.
MMA and boxing teach you to take a punch, kick or takedown and not get angry or scared. Few things are as psychologically devastating to an opponent than to take one of their strikes and look back at them with no change in expression. Simply put, getting hit and still coming back to train MMA or boxing immensely improves your self-discipline.
MMA AND IMPROVING SELF-DISCIPLINE: OUTSIDE OF THE GYM
There’s a certain confidence, restraint and self-discipline that comes with knowing that you’re trained to fight. Most bar fights break out between untrained people that have something to prove (although some MMA fighters have been involved in bar fights). But when you know that you’re able to properly defend yourself, you tend to have the self-discipline to avoid these situations all together.
The mental discipline of MMA and boxing allows you to diffuse unnecessary conflicts. Realistically, most conflicts are due to misunderstandings - someone's hot button is pressed, they get angry and want to fight. By maintaining your cool, should you be attacked physically or verbally, you can control the situation until all parties come to the same realization that "this is stupid”.
As a trained fighter, you’ve been punched in the face, kicked and choked out. It’s nothing new to you. Those experiences in the gym translate to the real world and teach you the self-discipline to control yourself in heated situations.
MMA AND IMPROVING SELF-DISCIPLINE: CONCLUSION
The physical benefits of training MMA and boxing are only part of the reason why it’s so important to train yourself to fight. Sure, you’ll probably get into the best shape of your life if you’re committed. Yes, you’ll be able to defend yourself if the need ever arises. But one of the most important benefits of fight training is vast improvement in self-discipline that comes as a result of deciding to constantly go to a gym (even when you don’t want to), get your a** kicked by people better than you and still show up day in and day out.
The self-discipline also extends outside of the gym. From controlling yourself during physical and mental confrontations to keeping strong during tough business / work situations, a powerful mind will carry you to greatness.
In MMA and boxing, the outcomes of pain, losing, and winning all become part of the process of moving forward. It creates a willpower that in a master's hand is indomitable. Even in a beginner’s hands, once they accept that there is no dishonor in loss, every conflict becomes a learning experience; pain becomes an indicator not a deterrent; and winning becomes magnanimous.