Leave your ego at the door
This may sound as a cliche, but this advice is one of the most important you will ever get. When you first arrive at MMA gym you may feel a little weird as you do not know what to expect. Every beginning is hard, but as the time passes you start to feel more comfortable on the mats. After some period, people that used to get the best of you in training, are having hard time dealing with you. When you have been training for a few years and you are already one of the most consistent persons in your gym you may get the feeling that you know things “ better than anyone”. Some people have tough time learning new skills when they reach a certain level and for them it was much easier to learn new things when they were beginners. Unfortunately many fighters learn that they are not that knowledgeable when they lose in competition. To avoid learning from your own mistakes and thinking inside the box, start listening to people who are more experienced than you. First step towards progress would be recognising that you have a problem. You have to realise that you can learn from everyone in the gym, even from beginners. Do not hesitate to ask a lot of questions. Try to learn from everybody in the gym. Don’t be afraid to get submitted or controlled in sparring, it is all part of the process. Sometimes if you are training with a person that is on a lower level than you, give him the dominant position and try to find the best way to get out of that position. This way of training and thinking can be beneficial for both, your teammates and you. They will develop their attacking skills while you will develop your defensive skill which can be very important in the fight.
Train with people better than you
When you are already a developed fighter and you have a lot of experience it is important to find a way to train with people who are better than you in all segments of fighting. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t train with people who are on your level or lower, it just means that you need somebody that can help you expose the holes in your game. It is so much easier to fix your mistakes when you have a person in training that will use your flaws. With people like this you learn the most. After each sparring session you should ask your partner how to fix those mistakes and to think what you can do in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over again. If you do not have a training partner that can exploit your mistakes try finding one. You can do that by traveling to another city or a country for training. Lack of skilled training partners can give you a false sense of security which can be very dangerous for your career.
Take care of your health
This one I cannot stress enough. Take care of your health! Most of the fighters that I met are very tough people, and they sometimes forget that they are human beings just like everyone. Fighters tend to forget these things and they take their health for granted. Being too tough for your own good can seriously harm the quality of your life. I have trained with guys that were destroying their body even though they didn’t have any scheduled competitions. Lifting heavy weights, running too much, never taking a moment to relax can be damaging to your body. This behaviour can also be caused by unfit coaches that are only thinking about their interest. I have made some mistakes that could have cost me a lot, even damaging my health permanently. During that time I learned some valuable lessons. Some coaches even push their fighters to fight when they are sick or injured. Training and competing when you are sick or injured is never a good idea. Firstly, it will definitely affect your performance, and destroying your health is never an option. When we speak about health it is important not to forget your mental health. Mental health is also very important for a good and lasting career. If you are unhappy and you don’t feel appreciated by your peers try changing your environment. Try addressing your mental health by considering a psychologist. In the end if you feel people around you are not acting healthy try changing your environment. Healthy diet can also be very beneficial for your health and overall performance. Many top athletes track what they put in their body and what amount of nutrients and calories they consume during the day. Taking care of all of these aspects can make you overall healthier and more productive.
Be ready to start from zero
Sometimes we need to realize that many times in our career we will need to start from zero. If I had been told this in the beginning of my career I would feel very discouraged by this fact. I was always thinking that success is a linear thing that you can track and that you can just go up the ladder, I never thought that you could go down and that you have to climb that ladder of success again. Sometimes, certain things can happen in your life that can change your position in a second, don’t be afraid to start all over again because that gives you a chance to fix your previous mistakes with the experience you gained earlier.
Record your training sessions
If you are a professional fighter on average you will have 3 fights per year. That is only 3 videos that you can use to watch yourself perform.. Recording your training sessions will give you more benefit than you ever thought by enabling you to see your own mistakes as an observer. Recording your sparring sessions and drilling sessions can show you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. It can be crucial for your advancement. You can study yourself from an objective point of view and try to understand what tactics you should use, what skills you should develop and when you start to fatigue. Recording your sessions can also be good if you want to share it with a good coach so he can give you tips on what you can implement in your fights and what things you should avoid.
These are five tips that can help you develop as a fighter. Don’t forget that we constantly learn, never be satisfied and always try to grow as a fighter.