Even before Mike Tyson stepped into the ring to achieve the 50th win of his career against Clifford Etienne, he was nervous. He kept his eyes on his opponent from the moment he entered the ring, but up until that point he had been nervous.
When a young white belt wakes up on the day of his first competitive martial arts tournament, he feels more anxiety than ever. Fear of the impending pressure, the crowd that will watch him as he fights and the worry of losing will build up on him.
No matter how experienced you become as a fighter, or even after you've received your black belt, competing in martial arts can be scary. No matter the competition, style or rule set it will be a worrying time for any martial artist.
Many people want to try their skills against another opponent but some are put off by the anxiety that surrounds the whole ordeal. We have all been there.
One way to combat the worry you will feel in the days before a competition is by training. Not training to excess the final days before a fight, but training hard enough to make you sure of your own ability.
Your friends and training partners can also help to make it easier. If they are competing at the same event or have competed before, they will know what you're going through.
The more you train, the more you'll realise that in a competition you'll be doing exactly what you've always been doing since you started.
I'd advise you to check out you're favourite fighters online and see how they win. It might help to know that they felt similar nerves before they competed too. Try out some of their signature moves and set ups. It helps a lot. It really does.
Listen to music during your ride to the competition, during training and even in the few minutes before you step into the ring, put your favourite music on. Something to get your mind pumped for what you're about to do. I find that something with a great guitar solo or a fast beat really gets me going.
One last thing, and it's the last thing you can really do, smile.
When you get into the ring, you smile. Make it look like you're laughing. Acting happy will make you feel happy (and because martial arts is fun!).
Remember you are doing it because it makes you feel happy, so show it.
There is an added bonus to this. Not only will smiling combat your own fear, imagine what it will do to your opponent?
Whatever you were feeling your opponent was likely feeling exactly the same, possibly worse. They have been imagining what you will be like up until this moment, and now you've turned up with a beaming smile right before you fight them. They'll never have guessed how nervous you were before!
The fear doesn't go away, but it does get easier.