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Building Aggression

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#1
Layal

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Hi guys.

Quick question on a long standing problem of mine.

When I fight I lack aggression. In some fights I am very aggressive, but in all the fights I've lost, its been for the same reason, lack of activity and lack of aggression. What's wrong with me? Why can't I channel aggression on command, when I need it? I'm very new, 9-5, been training only four years. But I don't see why some of my peers that started at the same time and have even fewer fights than me seem to have more control over this aspect of their fight game. 

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Layal


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#2
NewThai

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I'm in the same boat somewhat, 3.5 years of training, and I've been too "nice" in some of my fights.

I'll hit often, and hit hard, but I'll catch myself pausing to give her a chance to recover from a stun or fix her headgear (yay USA). It's not a great way to win fights - so far I've been lucky to be active enough and do damage enough to win despite the niceness. I'm trying to work on this now.

For survey's sake I am a female nak muay. I look forward to hearing from others.
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#3
Flora

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I'd love to read some advices on this too!!

I've talked with coach recently about changing the way he trained me, and we discussed the 'agressivity' topic for quite a while. 
Basically when I started MT, I was really agressive in sparing. But because I was inexperienced (and also, light weight girl compare to more experienced heavier guys) sparing partners wouldn't go hard on me, or would just be a "moving and living punchingbag". With time I would get a few more shot, more bruises or cuts, but everything was bearable, or at least I showed this... so much that it escalated and I actually took some really heavy punches/kicks (one in particular, that resulted in a 4 days in bed not being able to stand on my leg).
Since then, it seems that I lost my 'agressivity', now I spare in a 'smart' way (which isn't actually smart because I'm thinking way to much before 'attacking').
I'll let you know if the change in training will change anything (instead of pressure + heavy shot from him -> pressure + let me use him as a "living moving bag"). 
Have you ever lost agressivity or you never add it?
I'm curious to read you! :) 

oh and also, I talked a few month ago with a women who gives self-defence class about the way we look in the street. And she told me that to develop agressivity, I should look at something chin "up" (normal posture) and look at that same thing chin "down" (like when you are boxing) and repeat this. I don't know if I'm more agressive, but it is true that when doing it I feel a difference in my brain/feeling/emotion (I don't know how to explain this) 


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#4
bbf3

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Yes would love to hear others' thoughts on this too..I was actually thinking of putting up a post about hesitation.

I'm not super aggressive but I do like to apply pressure and move forward in sparring. Can't seem to apply this, as well as my strength, in fights yet and instead find myself holding back and not following up or just standing around waiting for my opponent to do something. I've been training for around 1.5 years and have had 2 fights, so I've just assumed it's lack of ring experience. 


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#5
WaffleNinja

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You could try watching tape on highly aggressive fighters like Mike Tyson and Pornsanae and try to emulate their style.


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#6
Sylvie

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Hi guys.

Quick question on a long standing problem of mine.

When I fight I lack aggression. In some fights I am very aggressive, but in all the fights I've lost, its been for the same reason, lack of activity and lack of aggression. What's wrong with me? Why can't I channel aggression on command, when I need it? I'm very new, 9-5, been training only four years. But I don't see why some of my peers that started at the same time and have even fewer fights than me seem to have more control over this aspect of their fight game. 

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Layal

I identify with this problem as well. My good friend Robyn taught me a really long time ago that aggression has to be trained, just like any other skill. That doesn't make it easy and I'm still figuring this out, despite being told and kind of understanding it so long ago. But the larger problem that you mention in your question isn't the aggression issue - don't compare yourself to other people. I used to go nuts over these guys who would come to the camp and train totally half-assed but were super gifted and seemed to be way more fluid, trying more things than I do, fighting in a more advanced way than I was despite having way more experience than they do. I finally figured out that the difference was confidence. Men have a natural gift for confidence, like actual cockiness is a true gift. That's what makes them seem more free. But some of them are made out of paper; building confidence out of not-natural cockiness is like carving stone. It takes a fucking long time and it's frustrating, but it's solid and you keep what you work for.

So, step 1: stop comparing. It doesn't help you and it feels shitty. People have different learning arcs, different paths, different drives, different strengths and weaknesses. If you see something working for someone else, figure out why it works and try to steal it for yourself. But don't think, "why them and not me?" It's a worthless line of thought. Believe me.

Step 2: practice aggression the same way you practice any skill. You have to break it down, find why it's difficult for you: are you too polite? Are you afraid? What does aggression actually look like? Moving forward, blocking, not backing up, striking more... if you know what it means to you then you can break down the elements and work on bringing them into your training in small pieces. For me, aggression is not be affected by mistakes. So I make a point to laugh if I flinch so I can correct that. Or staying closer to my opponent. You can practice this stuff outside of the ring, too. For me, I'm super shy and feel like I'm bothering people or imposing myself to ask anything - like, very normal stuff: asking directions, asking someone to show me something, ordering a coffee... I'm very unwilling to interact. But I push myself to do those things, because that's part of assertive, confident, and aggressive tendencies as well. I'm not a jerk about it and in the ring you shouldn't feel like you're being a dick just by being aggressive in training. You're helping your training partners by being aggressive, by "acting like" an opponent who does want to hurt them, even if you, personally, don't want to make your training partners and friends uncomfortable. But we've talked a lot on this forum about what a disservice it is when our training partners go too light on us or don't challenge us. Think of it as that you're helping the team, but also know that it's not easy. It feels weird. But do all those small things that, to you, feel and look like aggression: staying close, hitting more often, not backing up, blocking strong instead of kind of as a flinch...

Again, I'm still working on this on a daily basis. It's not easy. But it's also not impossible.


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#7
Flora

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THIS! OOOHH THANKKKSS <3 

You can practice this stuff outside of the ring, too. For me, I'm super shy and feel like I'm bothering people or imposing myself to ask anything - like, very normal stuff: asking directions, asking someone to show me something, ordering a coffee... I'm very unwilling to interact. But I push myself to do those things, because that's part of assertive, confident, and aggressive tendencies as well. 


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#8
WaffleNinja

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You can practice this stuff outside of the ring, too. For me, I'm super shy and feel like I'm bothering people or imposing myself to ask anything - like, very normal stuff: asking directions, asking someone to show me something, ordering a coffee... I'm very unwilling to interact. But I push myself to do those things, because that's part of assertive, confident, and aggressive tendencies as well. I'm not a jerk about it and in the ring you shouldn't feel like you're being a dick just by being aggressive in training. You're helping your training partners by being aggressive, by "acting like" an opponent who does want to hurt them, even if you, personally, don't want to make your training partners and friends uncomfortable. But we've talked a lot on this forum about what a disservice it is when our training partners go too light on us or don't challenge us. Think of it as that you're helping the team, but also know that it's not easy. It feels weird. But do all those small things that, to you, feel and look like aggression: staying close, hitting more often, not backing up, blocking strong instead of kind of as a flinch...

Again, I'm still working on this on a daily basis. It's not easy. But it's also not impossible.

Do you feel like the whole, become a badass world class fighter aspect of your life has transformed you as a person? Has it changed your outlook on life? If you met yourself from 10 years ago what would you tell yourself? Also did you happen to see the Lomanee vs Tessa Kakkonen fight?


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#9
Sylvie

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Do you feel like the whole, become a badass world class fighter aspect of your life has transformed you as a person? Has it changed your outlook on life? If you met yourself from 10 years ago what would you tell yourself? Also did you happen to see the Lomanee vs Tessa Kakkonen fight?

Everything in my path of Muay Thai has transformed me as a person, sometimes in very small ways and sometimes in really big ways. I don't think I've become anything that I wasn't already, but rather it has highlighted and strengthened aspects of who I am that were very hidden before, while at the same time quieting down some of the other aspects that used to be more prominent - like not standing up for myself, for example.

10 years ago I'd never even heard of Muay Thai, so what I'd tell myself would be something along the lines of the Terminator 2 mantra: "There is no fate but what you make." I don't think there's any sage advice that I could bestow on my younger self that would be meaningful to the context of my life at that time. I know things now that are important now, but I wouldn't change the path that led me here. I needed to be the person I was in order to be the person I am, including all the bad parts, all the struggles, all the difficulty with being myself. That's not "over," and I don't believe it ever will be, it just changes. But if my future self from 10 years from now showed up and had some kind of advice for me I'd likely tell her to get bent because there's no shortcut to those kinds of realizations in life; you get them when you're ready for them and they only make sense and have meaning when you're in a place to understand and embrace them. Or maybe I've just watched too much Scifi to trust that going back in time is never a good idea :)

I did see Tessa vs Lommanee. It was shot by the Thai National Team from up in the stands, so it was pretty far away.


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#10
Layal

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THAT was an awesome answer!

And wow, so many people having the EXACT same issue as me. I hesitate and think WAY too much, too busy thinking to actually do something most of the time, or too busy letting her off the ropes and recover, to win.

And it's been on my mind for a while that I haven't been training aggressively enough - been hitting pads hard, training hard shots but not training hard mind. Very well put.

I guess that's where I have to start building, aside from stopping the comparisons, I'll have to start building up on the pads like a foundation for my aggression house.


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#11
Emma Thomas

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Hi Layal,

This is a really great topic, and I have exactly the same problem. No matter how well I perform in sparring, I can hardly ever bring aggression out in a fight. I have a tendency to wait, to fight backwards, and when I do land shots, to move back again afterwards and let my opponent recover instead of pushing forward. It's extremely irritating and I've lost so many fights that I didn't need to because of it. It's something I really need to work on and has got me down at times. The thing is, every time I do go forwards and fight the way I'm supposed to, it works and usually earns me a TKO. I can't seem to work out why I'm stuck in a way of fighting that has never shown to work for me. 

Sylvie's response is awesome and it's hard to add any more to what she said, but mentioned how it's really important not to compare yourself to other people and I've fallen into that trap before. So many times I've watched people with far less experience, or who I consistently beat with technique in sparring, win all the time on aggression alone while I go through losing streak because I just can't bring it out. It made me wonder why even though I knew I had the skills and experience to fight better, that I couldn't do it when the time came. I've been told all my life that I'm too nice and a bit of a doormat (which I resent, but whatever), and it definitely translates to the way I fight.  I'm very aware that it's holding me back, but I just have to train myself out of it, and for me, it's more to do with mental training than physical, and building confidence in myself. Have you tried any mental training before?


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#12
Sylvie

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I wrote a blog post on this subject, including both Layal's question and one I received in my inbox a few weeks ago.  It's kind of about the "natural" aggression and non-aggression being not natural at all, as well as why it's so important to address it as a general practice, rather than only working on it in the ring.


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#13
Matty

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THAT was an awesome answer!

And wow, so many people having the EXACT same issue as me. I hesitate and think WAY too much, too busy thinking to actually do something most of the time, or too busy letting her off the ropes and recover, to win.

And it's been on my mind for a while that I haven't been training aggressively enough - been hitting pads hard, training hard shots but not training hard mind. Very well put.

I guess that's where I have to start building, aside from stopping the comparisons, I'll have to start building up on the pads like a foundation for my aggression house.

 

I have the exact same issue as you and everyone else, too. In sparring, I often find myself hesitant and only striking when I find the perfect opportunity, so I end up not very active at all. Now I am trying to be busier with throwing strikes, even if I know that punch would get blocked, so that the next one would land. 

 

I think some of my lack of aggression is also due to the fact that I am a beginner, so my sparring partners have been "nice" about letting me recover after a long combination. So in return, I do the same- even though it's not necessary for either of us. There is one girl that I spar with quite often lately. We are quite compatible in size and experience. And because we spar together so often now, I actually feel like I owe it to her to become more aggressive, otherwise I am not offering much as her partner. It helped to think of why ​I need to become more aggressive, just knowing that I'm supposed to be isn't enough. 


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#14
Fighting Frog

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This is interesting. When I first reached the point in training where I was to start sparring I found it extraordinarily hard to actually hit someone. That reticence, caution and, dare I say it, embarrassment and nervousness lasted approximately five minutes.

To put it mildly, I do not have a problem with aggression in training (or in the one tournament I have had to date, which was in a different martial art). I am extremely aggressive! I like being aggressive. :woot:

I would say that in 'normal' life I am quite quiet, and not at all confrontational.


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#15
Flora

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Hey :) 

So I've said earlier "I'll let you know if the change in training will change anything (instead of pressure + heavy shot from him -> pressure + let me use him as a "living moving bag")". 

I've been using my coach more as a punching bag than anything else (well a bag that still kick your ass when u do something wrong).
I still have hard sparing with some people way better than I am but I try to balance between hard and technical sparing.
Also I've started sparing more and more with girls or people of my height + weight, and it's like my body is more willing to be agressive (because I know I can take those shot. Eh
ile with heavier people my body remembers previous injuries and is less willing to get in... so I'm just defensive).

It's pretty damn nice to feel again that I can "attack" and not just "defend". 

Voilà!! 


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#16
Spleefmeister

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Personally i believe in a controlled aggression. Being cerebral in a fight is always the best option for me at least, from there you have full access to your skill set and can counter accordingly or decide to push the pace yourself. When i let my real "Aggression" take control i just end up like a raging looney  chin sniping and that's not good for you, your mental state or the art of Muay Thai in general.


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#17
Sylvie

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Personally i believe in a controlled aggression. Being cerebral in a fight is always the best option for me at least, from there you have full access to your skill set and can counter accordingly or decide to push the pace yourself. When i let my real "Aggression" take control i just end up like a raging looney  chin sniping and that's not good for you, your mental state or the art of Muay Thai in general.

I hear you, there is such a thing as too much, or counterproductive aggression. But the issue here is about the lack of aggression and seeing how other people seem to have a knack for it, feeling, "what's wrong with me?" for a lack of it. Believing it's something you can learn - something that anyone and everyone who has any of it has learned, rather than an "inborn trait" - is an important thing for us to realize. Women are taught in most cultures to avoid aggression, and men are thought to have it automatically (and so might really question themselves if they don't), so we're all losing out if we think it's just a have it or don't have it issue.


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