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lathomas64

over-thinking

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I'm in Taekwondo and its great fun and helping me exercise and all but sometimes during our forms I am over-thinking and can't get my mind quiet enough to actually do the moves for the form. Noticing it just seems to send me into this feedback loop where I try to calm my mind and get frustrated for not being able to and just can't do anything useful as far as forms for the rest of the practice.

Any of you ever have problems like this? What do you do to deal with it?

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i have a similar problem with yoga - at parts where we're supposed to be "in the moment," my mind's all over the place and the more i realize that, the harder it is to come back.

so what i do is either count while i exhale, and then count when i inhale, to make my mind focus on what i'm doing, or i think over and over "inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale" to kind of create a meditative state while still being aware of what i'm doing. focusing on the breath is key, i think, in any practice where your mind needs to be completely clear.

and sometimes (though this is mostly when i can't sleep) if i need to just shut my mind up, i'll think of anything that can be the color red, like red hair, red shoes, red nails, red car... etc. it dumbs the brain down in a way to stop it from wandering. all of these work for me, so hopefully one of them will help you too!

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I spent 10 days earlier in the year atop a mountain in Japan, living with buddhist monks. Every morning I participated in their morning prayer rituals, and though I don't follow the faith behind it, it was actually a great start to every day.

When I complained that I was having trouble silencing my mind during meditation, one of the monks suggested to me that I count up to 20. Only to 20, he said, because if you just count upwards then it becomes a game of seeing how high you can go. Count up to 20 with each breath, then start over at 1 again. 1 to 20. 1 to 20. 1 to 20.

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It's also a matter of practice. I know my forms in kung fu are far from perfect, but they get incrementally better each time I practice them, especially if the instructor corrects me and I re-do a move over and over until it's closer to perfect. It takes years to master these techniques, so don't beat yourself up if you can't get them right away =)

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I get that with yoga. Sometimes you just need to focus on your breathing and let everything else melt away.

With my bjj, it happens when someone is overpowering me. I want to use all my strength to push them off but that won't help any. Just need to close my eyes, breathe and get myself out of a bad situation.

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I have the very same problem, every time my instructor is explaining a new technique or movement, my mind difts away and not long enough I'm lost and I didn't reeeeally see the technique. What I do is to learn the technique or forms one more time, paying full attention to it and then I just repeat what to do in my mind over and over in my mind until I got it, then I concentrate in another area (like my position, or my feet, or how much strenght I'm using or not, etc). Hope it helps.

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When I did aikido and shotokan, I would concentrate on the sound of my breathing when I was actually doing the forms or katas. When I was learning, I used to make a game out of being overly astute. Try and notice the way their feet are positioned, the deliberation they take when moving through from one movement to the next, detecting the fluidity. Imagine each movement is the perfect motion for an imaginary attacker with an imaginary attack.

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In IKM (Israeli Krav Maga) we're often given a long chain of things to do, especially when there are multiple attackers. I have problems remembering all the things to do when going from one person to the next, and I've tried getting it straight by in my head shortening the names of the moves and making an acronym-thing. But recently I've found it better to stop thinking. By trying to remember I end up forgetting and I don't have enough CPU to do it right. So I now am experimenting with the no-mind training, which is scary because one thinks they can't remember if they don't try to keep it in their conscious mind. Now the actions of the opponent tend to dictate my actions more than remembering what I'm supposed to do, even though it generally follows the instructions. So it's more reality-based when you use no-mind.

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After years of kung fu and other martial arts I trained in the west i switched to muay thai. When i was doing wing chun i found repetition was the thing that stopped my brain from freaking out when in a stressful situation ,your body just starts to react by itself so no thought necessary if you have done the movement a billion times before. But i found that my techniques where sloppy and i was lacking serious power and speed when under stress when my mind starts running all over the place.

First day I started training muay thai here in thailand i was taught two things that was more valuable to me than any of the techniques i have learned. Sabaai sabaai(chill chill) and Sanook( fun/enjoy). The trainer said i am too tense and i do not look like i am enjoying it. I knew i loved what i was doing but i wasn't smiling( just forcing yourself to smile when you are sparring or training has a interesting psychological effect on a person,try it.) in other words I have learned to push myself and try my best to hit as hard and fast as I can and to move as best i can an not give up which is great but you end up trying too hard. Now i train like i don't care how hard i hit. I don't think i just do it as best i can while still staying calm and relaxed. If I feel my body tense or I grit my teeth at any point I stop , breath, dance a little :) and start again not caring if its my best or worse kick , instead i just kick or punch. I am now hitting way harder and my mind doesn't fuddle nearly as much because there is no over thinking.I don't clench my mind anymore in order to go harder. I am relaxed , smiling and enjoying every minute of training. Many guys from the west have this problem with tension that come and train here. chilling out is kinda built into Thai culture. You only tense the muscles you need and not your whole body and the muscle that needs to be the most Sabaai of all....your mind. Like they say in kung fu the more tension you have in your body during a technique the less force has transferred to your opponent. Bruce lee says that you fight exactly the same way as you train so train as if every punch and kick is real and not just a sparring partner. True but that's why i have started training my techniques with the same mindset that I make a cup of coffee in the morning or walk to work. No thoughts. Just do it. If you need to adjust and improve it do so and then again just do it relaxed with no thoughts and smiling. Then if push comes to shove your body and mind will respond the same way you spar and train.Relaxed and fluid as opposed to kicking in your fight or flight response , tunnel vision and then all the martial arts gos out the window.I find in the west we get way too serious which causes our minds to tense even when we meditate and breath.We start to seriously meditate.:) Hope all of this is useful and makes sense. It helped me alot to just go with it a little more and have fun even if i am training really really hard. This is a fight between too top level fighters here. Notice unlike western fighters they arent wailing into each other with everything they have straight out. They are relaxed and waiting for a gap and you only see the tension for a split second the moment they take a gap.

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After years of kung fu and other martial arts I trained in the west i switched to muay thai. When i was doing wing chun i found repetition was the thing that stopped my brain from freaking out when in a stressful situation ,your body just starts to react by itself so no thought necessary if you have done the movement a billion times before. But i found that my techniques where sloppy and i was lacking serious power and speed when under stress when my mind starts running all over the place.

First day I started training muay thai here in thailand i was taught two things that was more valuable to me than any of the techniques i have learned. Sabaai sabaai(chill chill) and Sanook( fun/enjoy). The trainer said i am too tense and i do not look like i am enjoying it. I knew i loved what i was doing but i wasn't smiling( just forcing yourself to smile when you are sparring or training has a interesting psychological effect on a person,try it.)

in other words I have learned to push myself and try my best to hit as hard and fast as I can and to move as best i can an not give up which is great but you end up trying too hard. Now i train like i don't care how hard i hit. I don't think i just do it as best i can while still staying calm and relaxed. If I feel my body tense or I grit my teeth at any point I stop , breath, dance a little :) and start again not caring if its my best or worse kick , instead i just kick or punch. I am now hitting way harder and my mind doesn't fuddle nearly as much because there is no over thinking.I don't clench my mind anymore in order to go harder. I am relaxed , smiling and enjoying every minute of training.

Many guys from the west have this problem with tension that come and train here. chilling out is kinda built into Thai culture. You only tense the muscles you need and not your whole body and the muscle that needs to be the most Sabaai of all....your mind. Like they say in kung fu the more tension you have in your body during a technique the less force has transferred to your opponent. Bruce lee says that you fight exactly the same way as you train so train as if every punch and kick is real and not just a sparring partner. True but that's why i have started training my techniques with the same mindset that I make a cup of coffee in the morning or walk to work. No thoughts. Just do it.

If you need to adjust and improve it do so and then again just do it relaxed with no thoughts and smiling. Then if push comes to shove your body and mind will respond the same way you spar and train.Relaxed and fluid as opposed to kicking in your fight or flight response , tunnel vision and then all the martial arts gos out the window.I find in the west we get way too serious which causes our minds to tense even when we meditate and breath.We start to seriously meditate.:)

Hope all of this is useful and makes sense. It helped me alot to just go with it a little more and have fun even if i am training really really hard. This is a fight between too top level fighters here. Notice unlike western fighters they arent wailing into each other with everything they have straight out. They are relaxed and waiting for a gap and you only see the tension for a split second the moment they take a gap.

a) Please, please, please learn to break up posts into easier to read chunks.

B) Pretty much what you said is true, Thai's are very relaxed.

For my own muay thai in the frame of "over thinking" when I spar or bagwork or shadowbox and I feel that I'm slowing down and getting too-thinky-y then I just up the aggression. I get a little meaner, a little rougher. I become more fluid, hit harder/faster. AND it's waaaaaaay more fun throwing just a bit more "caution" and "thought" to the wind and just "going for it". Probably my favorite part so far in muay thai is the aggression. It's something that was lacking in JJJ and Karate and when I did Judo I was never able to combine with proper technique when it got down to it (aka I sucked a Judo).

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Meditation is helpful. Aside from counting breaths, you can also count 5 seconds in 7 seconds out (This is an arbitrary recommendation). When you realize that you are getting distracted by random thoughts, acknowledge the thought and gently bring your attention back to counting. I once read a demotivational poster that encompassed this type of meditation perfectly. It said ZEN:Fucking boring until it's not. So true.

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This is an interesting thread. I think about this a lot in sparring. Eastern thought focuses on quieting the mind. I've tried meditating in pursuit of the empty mind... but obviously I have not yet been enlightened into the threshold of the Buddha.

My take changes, but these days I like over-thinking. I don't want this to happen when I am trying to clinch the point I need to win a match, but in my view, this is my healthy mind trying to find a way to find an answer to a pressing question; how can I survive or win? This is an important reflex, and I don't want this process to be slow. It is a response to an urgent situation. The problem is that the answer that you come up with in this harried process may not be the right one. The objection therefore is not with the speed or the over-thinking, but with the quality of the response that results from this chaotic process.

Calmness may help you think more clearly, but will likely not help you win when you are being overwhelmed. The way I was taught to overcome this is to have a firm and decided go-to plan when all else fails. This is usually your best technique in your training arsenal. For me it's the jump-back hook with my lead hand while fading to the opponent's weakside.

There is a poster (can't recall who it was) who posted a quote by Archilocus that says something to the effect of: people will fight (or revert) to the level of their training. I think this is true especially in high-stress situations.

This can be applied to any setting. If you are in any situation where you are being overwhelmed and are unsure how to move fwd, just reach back to what you do best, and even if it's not a perfect answer to the question at hand, immediately apply your pre-determined best weapon as forcefully as possible. That's how I overcome over-thinking; I choose to cut it off and not to do it. I go to my plan B which is hit him with the best I got - you may not win, but you hit him with the best you got - and often that's surprisingly enough.

If you are in the middle of a form and forget the next move, which has happened to me before in class, tests and tournaments (I used to compete in forms too back in the day), just finish by doing the best moves you know, bow and pretend that that's what you intended all along. Gymnasts practice this particular skill in advance knowing how frazzled one gets in that moment. You messed up and you can't change that once it happens; use the time to showcase who you are - a strong finisher in the face of adversity. And next time practice it more to commit it firmly to muscle memory.

Hope this helps.

Edited by ETFnerd

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If you are in the middle of a form and forget the next move, which has happened to me before in class, tests and tournaments (I used to compete in forms too back in the day), just finish by doing the best moves you know, bow and pretend that that's what you intended all along. Gymnasts practice this particular skill in advance knowing how frazzled one gets in that moment. You messed up and you can't change that once it happens; use the time to showcase who you are - a strong finisher in the face of adversity. And next time practice it more to commit it firmly to muscle memory.

Hope this helps.

Yeah although the sparring bits are useful its mostly during forms. especially when there are alot of people in class that day and I get told to go practice a form on my own while he shows some of the higher or lower belts something else. I guess I could use the go-to-techinque idea in the forms for when I'm testing or what not but I don't know if that'd be good for practice. Practicing the wrong thing leading to learning the wrong thing and all.

Having had a little bit of time and perspective from the issue now I think I need to practice on my own outside of class more so it isn't an awkward shift to go from following instructions to practicing on my own. Between that and the breathing/meditation suggestions earlier posters made.

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Having taught martial arts for over 15 years, I have seen this many times with students. Most often this occurs when learning new forms or techniques, ussually as a result of being nervous about making mistakes. Many people's biggest fear is making a mistake and being wrong. You have to accept that you will make mistakes and be wrong and allow them to happen. Your job as a student is to make mistakes, your instructors job is to correct them.

The first thing I tell students is to not watch each other because that will only distract them and cause them to loose consentration. If you mind keeps wondering while doing/ learning a form, then a technique I use is to review in my mind the previous moves up to were i am, it keeps the mind from running away.

If your mind is wondering when doing forms, on your own count, a technique I use and tell my students to, is to imagine that you are fighting oppenents and using each move against them. Also pour everything you have into each technique and that should keep your mind occupied, it wont get enough energy to over think. Pouring yourself into a form should end with you breathing heavy and swetting afterwards.

Hope this helps.

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There is a great book called the "Way of Kata" while doing the moves is great, all of the old styles were actually doing something in the forms and were trying to pass the knowledge on through repetitive motion and muscle memory. If you have trouble focusing, switch things up and do your forms Tai Chi style. With flowing motions and more thought on the breathe and breathing. You can switch up how you do your forms, the speed and focus. From my experience forms are also like conversations. They have starts and very visable stops. Look for how the conversation goes as you do the form each punch and kick like emphasis on a word as you speak .

Hope this helps.

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ok, I do tkd and sometimes feel your pain.

The thing that works most of the time for me is just "relax" I mean, really, relax, and do 1 movement or 1 group, then breath and do the next one, practice in your home in your off days and practice the movement in diferent positions (like if you have to do a side kick do it, then do it after a block of your form, then do it 2 times in a row).

When you start to feel like your body knows what he's got to do with no need of overthinking, put the strenght and speed needed for a good form, then if you have a mistake it's gonna be more... ... easy to detect, but usually they'r little things (important, but little, things to change), and if the overthinking appears again... just relax and repeat the cycle.

oh, and always ask exactly the purpose of every movement and their logic, it help me a lot especially with blocks that I can't see when they worked in a fight.

PD: relax, and take it easy (yes, you can be relaxed while you do things that force your focus, strenght, speed and balance without sacrificing any of these).

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I find that I can keep my mind focused on the form by imagining the situation in which I would be using each fragment of the form. So if there's a slap block followed by a lunge punch, I imagine a guy in front of me who's strike I just blocked. For me, the extra thought helps me to memorize the forms. It also comes in handy when I'm sparring, because I can't think when I spar... I just do what seems right for the situation. If I've practiced a certain way of dealing with a situation in a kata, then that way of dealing with it comes out in my reactions when sparring.

As for breathing, use your breathing to create a tempo to move with. On each action, force out short burst of air and breath in between each motion. Once my sensei taught me to breath through my forms, I was able to make them much more fluid, which helps with remembering the next step.

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i found that focusing on what i was doing, and did it happen the way i thought it would, was it smooth, did i look like i had just had a seisure (ok hopefully not the last one) was almost enough to keep my mind from drifting...but i think the idea of literally emptying ones mind is too far fetched, the goal is to fill your mind with something, that either contributes to what you are doing, or doesnt distract it too much from what is going on...

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