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How MMA Champs Fight Anxiety With ACT & Behavior Analysis

How MMA Champs Fight Anxiety With ACT & Behavior Analysis


there’s some confusion for some people
when you hear the word psychological and we’re we’re in the behavior field like
why are we even talking about that well I just like to demystify and just think
about it like behaviors right we really want to be good observers of our
behaviors behaviors that lead you towards the things and the people that
you value behaviors that lead you away from the things and people that you have
value and then there’s these internal behaviors right these private events
that only we can observe and those behaviors these internal behaviors these
private events have an impact on your external behaviors and things that other
people can see so when you feel away from feeling anxiety having you know
some sort of state of arousal or are you using it to motivate you towards behave
in ways that are going to help you be successful for example in the fight game
are using it to drive you to the gym are using it to make sure you eat the
cleanest food are using it to do your roadwork and work on your defenses and
grappling or striking hi I’m Michelle Zube I’m a Board Certified Behavior
Analyst with Brett DiNovi and Associates anxiety is something that plagues
millions of Americans each and every day we often don’t think about our heroes as
people who suffer from anxiety but that’s definitely not the case so in the
MMA world George st. Pierre is revered as a hero one of the greatest of all
time but he’s also somebody who has been really open about his anxiety and how
his anxiety and OCD took him out of the sport for four years Peraza hobby who is George st. Pierre is
coach and he’s also known as one of the best MMA coaches in the sport he talks
about the importance of talking to his fighters and how that really helps to
bring down their anxiety and help them to work through the struggles that they
may have the talking part is very important it’s very important the way
you see things is very important and I think before a fight it’s normal you
don’t think about it GSP everybody expects them to win and not just win
dominate completed if the fight is closed it’s a conscious people can’t
believe it he’s human like everybody else he has bad days like everybody else
so imagine how much stress you know so what I try to tell them is that no
matter what happens tomorrow we’re gonna move on with our life we’re gonna go on
and it’s gonna we’re gonna we’re gonna we’re gonna go on or we’re gonna be
successful in one way or another and we’re gonna be happy and we’re gonna
move forward we’re gonna survive he tells them that it’s not fighting that
they’re scared of but it’s the judgment that they’re afraid of he’s always told
my fighters you’re not scared of fighting that’s not true we fight all
the time what your skin owes the camera and the lights and the people watching
tender judgments that’s what you’re scared
so Javy talks about going back and being objective and just focusing on what you
need to focus on for that day he says you know I’m just sparring today or I’m
just lifting weights today he says to focus on the process you know one of the
problems in going into this on this movie is that you have people telling
you or you telling yourself how great you are and that can be also detrimental
when you don’t realize how susceptible you are as a human being to to failure
or to defeat the imagination is a very powerful thing
it’s a very powerful thing all men behave because the way they do because
of what’s going on in their mind okay so your thoughts lead to your actions your
actions lead to habits your habits or what you are who you are don’t go into
your own movie what does that mean it’s like let’s say I’m fighting you for
instance okay and I see your highlight videos and I see you choking people or I
see you punching people and I start thinking of all these things you might
do to me and I started creating this movie in my mind you know and it’s like
for me I had a fear of flying once upon a time and I’ll be in the plane and I
would hear a noise and I’m like my mine we’ll talk about this the wing is
breaking off and low engine just like dude you’re creating that in your mind
you look look around nothing everything is normal I recently had the opportunity
to sit down with David branch who is in the top 10 in his division in the UFC
Dave talks about what gives him anxiety in his training camp and how he
envisions the worst-case scenarios so then I drew all these things you know so
there’s no more than I missed one of the things that Dave preaches to his
students is that he wants us to learn to be comfortable in an uncomfortable
situation and that’s a skill that you can use on the mat but it also
translates to life when I talk to Dave about whether or not he’s ever been in a
situation in a fight where he’s become uncomfortable in an uncomfortable
situation he referenced his Luke Rockhold fight which was a devastating
loss for him just coming back to the UFC I knew that I had a straight game plan
to win as far as to stand up on two feet the heads like that was Ellis for this
one point offense went all into Luke’s strengths some of his strengths
I see people depends how big he is how long how low he’s in position to prepare
for these things I’m not thinking that would be in the position to you can have
to deal with these things in the Rockhold fight Dave talks about how he
was unable to stay present and just focus on what he needed to do and he
essentially lost his whole game plan the way those kicks of beautiful combination by branch in the
pressure is just which is not where he’s comfortable when I talk to Dave about
his mental preparation for his upcoming fight he said that he needs to stop
being so hard on himself and at the Rockhold’s fight really changed him it
made him realize that he’s susceptible as a fighter and as a human being after
a six-year winning streak yeah goes on and off and his a fighter 50 of his thoughts on the ax matrix and
he said that he finds us to be a utility for fighters in their training camp Harvey the finish line no I think I’m a
huge fan of the karate kid there’s a ton of life lessons in it and a ton of great
quotes well my favorite quotes has to do with fear it’s by mr. Miyagi and he says
it’s okay lose to opponent must not lose the fear that’s important because fear
could be very debilitating we talked about that in some of my other videos
but there’s this term an act called verbal Aikido it’s very appropriate
because Aikido has to do with redirecting some of these energy right
not absorbing it and verbal Aikido is very similar rather than getting hooked
on thinking about I’m afraid I’m depressed what the other poem is gonna
do to me we’re lucky dough suggests that you
recognize that something showed up a rather than label it just accept that
it’s there and then focus on behaving in ways that lead you towards being
successful towards who and what you value towards performing well in the
fight towards getting that knockout or getting that submission towards making
your fans happy towards making your mom know that you’re gonna be safe in there
it’s when that feeling shows up in you don’t get hooked on it don’t try to
repress it’s like like dr. Polk says it’s like holding a balloon underwater
and you’re focusing on not having fear and if you focus on not having fear
you’re actually focusing on that fear and it requires your effort and
mental energies so don’t worry about eventually that balloons gonna pop up
and you know it’s gonna explode your face just know something showed up
accept it and complete your behaviors towards moving you towards the things
that you value and in this case the fight game it’s probably performing well

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3 thoughts on “How MMA Champs Fight Anxiety With ACT & Behavior Analysis

  1. This video is incredible! I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and I have a lot of anxiety that is triggered by sparring (aka "rolling") and competing. Last year, with one of my training partners acting as the expert on BJJ and myself acting as the expert on behavior, we started to target our anxiety systematically. I wish I had known more at the time about ACT and it's applications, because I'm sure it would have added a different component. Some of the ways that we used behavior analysis to target our anxiety were the following:
    – identify anxious thoughts and behavior (ie. I would find excuses to miss the first roll of the night, like needing to grab something from the locker room, use the bathroom, etc)
    – determine a replacement behavior (ie. Ask someone when I first stepped into class to roll at the end so that I had someone who would hold me accountable for staying)
    – create alternative mantras to replace the anxious thoughts (ie. at the start of every roll you slap hands. I started saying, "let's play" each time to remind myself that it's fun and the stakes aren't as high as I think they are)
    – set specific goals (ie. I started saying I'd have 4 rolls a night. That wasn't effective for me. What I found was that identifying a set number of rolls for the week was more effective, because it gave me the flexibility to roll different numbers of times each night, but still meet my goal)
    – program for generalization by making my rolls in the gym mimic the rolls I would have in competition (ie. start from standing, hold positions for points, have a peer coach me from the sidelines, etc.)

    This long comment is just to say that ABA is not just for Autism. Behavior is behavior. I'm looking forward to learning more about ACT and applying it to my practice, professionally and personally.

  2. This video has taught me a lot Anxiety is crippling. Your internal behaviors can be overwhelming playing over and over keeping you stuck, even if you want to move forward. Watching these MMA fighters using ACT to be successful is inspiring. Learning to Accept it and focus on moving forward towards people who can motivate you and make you the better person you strive to be is very hopeful.

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