The martial arts are sports and activities that require great amounts of mental strength. There are so many occasions in the participation of these sports where it is a case of mind over matter for the competitor to succeed. This is particularly relevant with Karate. One of the main philosophies of Karate is that the participator must firstly do away with any selfish thoughts. People can only learn the art properly if they enter into it with a clear mind.
The participator must be outwardly gentle and be able to accept personal criticism. It is essential the person is humble and only uses the martial art as a last resort. The life threatening nature of the art means that to use it is a way of admitting defeat, bringing dishonor on themselves. This attitude of the mind is relevant when looking at the training. Karate participators are encouraged to attempt tasks of endurance and strength that is well beyond their capabilities. The ability to improve one’s-self is important and can only be achieved if the person has the ability to cope with failure. Karate is as much about the struggle as it is about what is achieved. Training for karate gives the person lessons that can be learned that will improve their overall lives.
Another martial art where huge mental strength is exhibited is Mua Thai boxing. The mental preparation of the contest involves the fighter producing a dance before the contest. This peaceful and almost trance like spectacle is contrasted at the start of the contest as the fighters come out in torrid battle. The life of a Muay Thai competitor is brutal. The fighters are heavily conditioned sparring intensively in preparation for their next bout. If they are free from injury they will fight every other week and the career of the average fighter is relatively short.
The mental aspect for any boxer is going to be important. Just to stand in a ring and watch punches being thrown at the head and the body without turning ones back is testament to the mental preparation that has gone into the training regime. The discipline required in the build up to fights is huge. The general fitness levels of boxers is extreme as the fighters throw an abundance of punches at a frantic pace. This pushes the anaerobic fitness levels of the fighters to the highest levels.
Boxers fight at tightly controlled weight limits. Boxers like to enter the ring at their optimal fitness weight which is usually the lightest they can get down to. Often there are huge disparities between their fighting weight and their normal living weight. In the build up to big contests fighters need great mental strength to eat the right foods in order to slim down so that they can make the weight. This can be a dangerous process as getting the balance wrong can lead to a fighter entering the ring dangerously dehydrated, which can cause exhaustion issues during the contest.
There is a lot of public opinion that questions the validity of allowing any type of martial art to be called a sport. Whether it should or should not is open to debate but what cannot be questioned is the fighter’s mental commitment to their contests.