One of the clearest memories I have from the Phoenix 50 is this punch from Sempai John Kidd; it was... uncomfortable to say the least. By the time I fought in that round, it was getting late into the event and my body was pretty banged up. My mental game was going strong here, but it wouldn't last much longer. So how'd I do it? How'd I finish all fifty fights successfully? Simple...I embraced the suck.
Simple, but not easy. The Phoenix 50 for me in a real way was my swan song to competitive fighting. It was the culmination of over a decade of tournaments and other fighting events. I'd spent years training a "firm and unshakable spirit". However, I spent the year long prep to train spiritually...but what the heck does that mean?
Let me be clear, and honest. When I say "spirit", I'm not talking about the religious idea of the soul; even though that is something that I strongly believe in. By fighting spirit, I mean the willingness to compete and do things that are difficult...in the case of the Phoenix 50, the most difficult thing I've ever done.
So, how did I train a fighting spirit? Here you go:
1. I set very high expectations for myself. In the physical preparations, I would weekly set up a challenge that was meant to be darn near impossible to complete. I remember setting up my timer to run 100 rounds that I'd complete with a 40 lb weighted vest. I didn't finish...and I was fine with that because I was alright not meeting the mark every once in a while, only because I knew that I was demanding so much.
2. One more. Always one more. One more round. One more rep. One more combination. "One more Bob" was constantly going through my head. It was a grind for sure. I remember reading about a principle that the Navy SEALS use called the 40% rule. This guy explains it beautifully:
3. Never quit. Honestly, once the baby was born, this made things easy. Sure, the sleep thing went out the window, but since that boy came into our lives, the never quit mentality has never been so deeply etched into who I am as a person. There were two times after he was born that folks asked if I still wanted to attempt the Phoenix 50. The thought of NOT doing it never crossed my mind. For this, my wife is my hero. Man...through fear, uncertainty, discomfort, and physical pain and recovery, she always fought through it. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, she's tougher than I am.
So can YOU develop a strong fighting spirit? Sure! Set high expectations for yourself, always look to do one more, and don't stop. Never quit. Never ever give up.