“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle.
Elite athletes have a number of exceptional habits; they obsessively work hard, they’re practical and well organized, they visualize structured routines, and have strong willpower to stick to well planned diets and disciplines. Easier said than done, but if you dissect the structure of habits you’ll learn it’s all about the cue, routine and reward that motivates you.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of the WORST teams in the History of American football! It’s November 17, 1996 and the Buccaneers are up against the Chargers on a late Sunday afternoon, the Buccs are losing 17-16. They’ve been losing all game… and all season… and for the past decade… as a matter of fact, they haven’t won a game on the West coast for 16 years. So how on earth did the Buccaneers go from being “America’s orange doormat”, to one of the most successful teams in American football, eventually winning the Superbowl?
The answer is they had Tony Dungy as their head coach. Tony Dungys will be the only coach in NFL history to make the play-offs 10 consecutive times, become the first African American Coach to win the Superbowl and one of the most respected figures in athletics. All because of a unique and courageous attention to remaking habits, an approach that not only significantly altered sports science but helped re-shape the lives of many; ranging from addicts to huge companies such as Fabreze or Starbucks!
Dungy knew habits are a three step loop consisting of a cue, routine, and reward. All Dungy did was attack the second step, the routine, turning a complicated training program into accessible actions! Ring a bell? It’s a routine that parallels your pair techniques, breaking down a highly complicated art (sparring) and altering it into an accessible routine/habit for anyone to learn!
Even if we take a look at the most decorated Olympian of all time Michael Phelps.
Michael has been swimming since he was 7 years old, but what would set him apart from other competitors is a core habit and routine that would target his mind, calming his mentality to give him exceptional vision!
The routine: ever since being a teenager Michael constantly visualized victory to great detail, morning and night, to a point where his insight was so strong he was able to train body and mind to instinctively overcome obstacles. It just so happened on the morning of August 13, 2008 Phelps broke the 200m butterfly world record by swimming blind! (On his final length, Phelps actually had water logged goggles!) Despite the impediment, his mind had already won from the moment he shot off the block!
The TMAP structure is there to help you hone your skills as a martial artist. If you’ve sparred, you’ll know you have milliseconds to react which is a very challenging experience! Core habits, therefore, become essential to your training! There’s great deal to learn in martial arts: vision and insight through form fighting, improving footwork, technique, balance or understanding distance. However pair-techniques and basics become a powerful ally in remaking habits and routines!
It’s fundamental to consistently practice your pair-techniques, basics and form fight as often as you can. Turn it into your habit, your routine!