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Dealing With Anger While Sparring

As martial artists we might fancy to think ourselves as cool-headed as the Shaolin monks, but in reality we’re all just human under that veneer of honor and civility. Egos can unfortunately creep into training, and that can be particularly destructive to the dynamic of the gym and the relationships we have with our fellow students. Randori, when we’re actively working against a resisting partner, is the time when emotions really need to be kept in check. Frustration is not uncommon, especially when one is not executing techniques against an opponent effectively as he would like. If you find yourself succumbing to your own pride while rolling, here are a few steps to go through so you can cool off:

1. Take short, rapid breathes. The often-advised “deep breathing” strategy is actually counter-productive.

2. Eschew technique. Muscle everything.

3. If your frustration continues to mount, go out of your way to deliberately injure your partner.

4. Leave the mat mid-roll and begin pacing around the back of the gym. Mean-mug anybody who approaches you, and ignore your coach while he implores you to calm down.

5. Rush out to your car and pull the undersized Little League bat out of your trunk. Go back inside and attempt to menace your teammates.

6. Break down in a fit of tears and whine unintelligibly for the next half-hour.

7. Optional: Be forcibly extricated from the gym and beaten by your teammates in the parking lot. They’ll do just enough damage to keep you out of the hospital, and will leave you handcuffed naked in the snow to give you time to think about what you did.

8. Find your outburst posted on Youtube a week later and start the process all over again.

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