When a fighter steps into the ring or cage, he enters knowing that the battle before him could very well be his last. No matter how hard he has trained or how well he has performed in the past, there is always a distinct possibility that his opponent may have his number on this particular night. So it takes a lot of courage, a lot of guts to walk into the arena willing to lay it all on the line. That’s why fighters prepare for the inevitable adversity that lies ahead with training methods that push their minds and bodies to the brink of collapse. They understand the risk of being employed as a warrior, and they’re prepared to handle the potential consequences of their profession.
I find the resiliency of a fighter’s mind to be one of the most intriguing things that I’ve ever encountered. I grew up in southeastern PA in the 1980’s. And although I was just three years old when the movie hit theaters, Rocky IV became one of the most memorable flicks of my childhood. How could you not love the Italian Stallion? He was the definition of everything that is American…a simple, working class Philadelphian who was tough as nails. Rocky was never the most graceful or physically gifted fighter in the ring but he was always the most determined and resilient. It was not his talent, but rather his heart and will that carried him to every single triumph. And ol’ Rocko could take a punch, that’s for sure. You could not knock out the Stallion. To do so, you’d have to kill him.
One of the most powerful shots utilized in the ring or cage is the body blow. It can turn the entire direction of the fight around. Many fighters can manage the punches delivered to their head because the pain from the blows absorbed arrives instantly and then passes. A potent delivery to the body however creates a delayed, menacing agony that only grows deeper as the fight progresses. Even the most determined fighters have a hard time recovering from a devastating body blow. Although the initial connecting hit to the midsection is rarely enough to drop the opponent to the mat, what the strike to the body does is encourage the opponent to drop his hands. And this leaves his head open, clearing a path for the knockout delivery.
Very few fighters have the mental toughness and stamina to keep their hands up when their body has been beaten like scrambled eggs. The mind will naturally direct your body to drop your hands to your knees. And if you don’t hit the override button in your brain, you’ll only leave your frame open to further damage. Your head will be left vulnerable and your midsection will be kept in harm’s way if you aren’t able to keep your fists near your face and your elbows tucked against your sides. If you don’t react to the pain accordingly, you’ll open the door to far more devastating consequences. And your opponent WILL knock you out.
Life’s a lot like this. We can focus our will in preparation for the battles that lie ahead of us. We can train day and night, developing our minds and bodies to sustain us whenever we encounter the inevitable obstacles that will arrive on the road to victory. We can gain intimate knowledge of our opponent and we can work to perfect our skills in the ring. But the one thing that we cannot do is avoid every strike that’s delivered in battle. And from time to time, we will encounter the body blow that will threaten to turn the course of fight in the opposite direction.
Let me coach you from your corner… This is not a time to let down your guard. You need to absorb the pain and carry on with the fight. I know that it hurts, but you’ve still got your feet beneath you. There is still a willing desire in your heart that is anxious to carry you even now when your mind is begging you to quit. So tuck your chin and set your fists tight near your face…align your elbows against your ribs…widen your stance…focus your eyes on your opponent…gather your composure…and KEEP FIGHTING!
Your mission in life does not change because you encounter pain. You need to retain the mindset of a professional fighter. If reaching for greatness is a part of your job description, than you need to be willing to roll with the punches. You’re going to get hit. And every once and awhile you’re going to encounter a blow that threatens to change the direction of your journey, but stay the course! Resiliency is everything on the journey to success. Take it from Rocky, you don’t need to be the most skilled fighter in the ring to excel, you simply need to be willing to take the hits and keep moving forward. If you can gather yourself after a devastating body blow, you can avoid the knockout punch and regain the momentum necessary to direct the fight back in your favor.
You know my favorite part of every Rocky movie is that turning point in the fight when you hear the bell toll and Rocky begins doing the unthinkable…fighting back relentlessly when he is visibly broken, bruised, and left for dead by every critic in the arena.
I think I hear my bell tolling now… I guess it’s time to finish the fight.
May God Bless!