Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Daily motivation in BJJ part 2

Using music to elicit a biochemical change in the Jiu Jitsu fighter's brain

Start off simple. Try this out on a day when you don’t have to rush out the door to go to work or school and enter a hectic environment. Have time to relax and put full effort and concentration into it. If you have other things on your mind, you may miss out on the benefits. If you hurry through the process you may not see the desired results right away and may give up on it before it has a chance to help you. If need be, wake up a few extra minutes early, but not so early that you resent the practice! This will be a process of trial and error in the sense that some things will work better for you than others. Pick what aspects and techniques suit you best and go with it. A little bit of advanced preparation will make the process time efficient and effective. The type of music or motivational material will vary and you will eventually find what seems most appropriate for you. I find that there are 3 main types of music to set a tone. Type A) for relaxation, type B) for a positive mood and type C) for motivation are the main categories. Music has a proven benefit to mood and psychological well being. Research has shown huge emotional changes and physiological benefits from listening to music. Listening to music will actually improve cognitive functioning and may help to “refresh” certain memories or even in BJJ, techniques. If you train with music in the background at your gym, listening to that type of music will begin to put your mind in that same emotional state you reach when you are rolling hardcore. You see fighters with head phones in their ears walking around warming up at tournaments because it will act as a distracter to take their mind off of the environment and get their mind and body ready for combat. Psychologically, without the same environmental factors that we are used to when engaging in a specific activity; we are creating artificial anxiety which may have a detrimental effect on performance.  Music can relax you at night and energize you in the morning. It helps set the mood when trying to romance a date, sends the audience onto the edge of their seats in action or horror movies and even can create uncontrollable physical reactions when a person hears a song that they like. Music is also used to pump up and excite crowds and players at sporting events. In recent years professional sports owners and coaches have realized this and will play chosen songs for their players each time they come up to bat or come onto the field. Walk in music has been pumping up fighters for years in boxing wrestling and MMA. Soldiers will listen to certain tracks before battle. It helps create emotion. Music is one of the strongest sensations for evoking past memories. It will help clear the mind of all problems, set a tone and environment for directing your consciousness and helps one focus on connecting mental, physical and emotional energy for positive use by the athlete.
Music for relaxation may be anything from classical music to meditation tracks. Yoga and Chinese themed songs work well. Research into what you like and what will help you relax. Music for a positive mood will vary greatly. What music do you love that always makes you happy when it comes on the radio? This could be any genre of music and is dictated by the personal taste of the individual. Download several of your all time favorites and play them back to back uninterrupted. Make sure that these songs all have positive memories associated with them, for it will be counterproductive to have a song that reminds you of an ex and makes you depressed or angry for the rest of the day. Finally, songs to motivate you can be similar to the previous category in the sense that they make you happy to hear, but have the extra little edge that makes you want to attack. Create a list of 5 songs that you’d walk into the ring or cage to and that’s a good start. You’ll find that you will start remembering other songs and the list will be very easy to create. The chemicals produced when these feelings are being generated are more than just “in your head” but are physiologically altering the composition of the brain and make very real changes. Music is recognized and processed by the auditory cortex in the temporal lobe, so listening to music will awaken this area in the brain and facilitate other areas involved with similar cognitive functioning. Adrenaline will be produced as well as testosterone and enter the blood stream. Cortisone levels will fall and endorphin levels will rise. Creating an environment where you can get your mind and body at a level both physically and psychologically where you want it to be is a huge advantage for an athlete to begin their day and their training.
            While listening to the selected music, this is the time to allow your body a chance to wake up. This can be accomplished by a combination of stretching and light calisthenics. Depending on the desired outcome, you can change the intensity of what you do, but the idea is not to establish a strong workout routine in the morning but rather devise a quick set of activities designed to increase mobility and range of motion. With all of the chemicals your brain is now pumping out via the endocrine system, you want the circulatory system to deliver them to all the possible cells and muscles that they can. There is a direct benefit from stretching first thing in the morning due to the physiology of the body. At night when we sleep we experience a pooling of the blood in the visceral tissue or internal organs. Less blood reaches our peripheral muscles and as such or circulation is inadequate in the morning when we first awaken. By stretching lightly we increase the circulatory capabilities of the body and increase cerebral blood flow. This has a positive effect on waking up the body and mind. An increase in blood flow to the brain and endocrine organs will increase the flow of beneficial hormones throughout the body and initiate positive changes in the individual over time. A steady production and distribution of the right hormones will prevent depression and encourage physical activity. It’s the same way that on a nice sunny spring day, people are more likely to get outside and go for a run whereas on a gloomy grey day, they are more likely to stay inside. Some people even suffer from SAD, or seasonal affective dissorder, which is a mental disorder that causes depression in the darker winter months. There isn’t much physically that a little extra vitamin D wouldn’t take care of, but psychologically this disorder has a tremendous effect on mood causing many people to become sedentary due to the changes of the seasons. By generating a steady production of hormones the body will have an increased amount of energy and psychologically there will be greater motivation to workout and train. The increased blood flow does more than just wake up the muscles it also wakes up the brain. The Cerebellum will become more engaged at this point and help with coordinating voluntary muscle activity in the body making the transition into the day an easier one.
As the body will be cold upon waking, it is important to keep the stretching light and fluid as to not cause an injury. Finding a good place to stretch out while listening to music will be an important part in changing the biochemistry of the body. Depending on how much time you have a little light exercise in the morning is an option as well. Light exercising in the morning will jump start the metabolism and elevate energy levels and keep the metabolic rate higher throughout the day for longer when compared to not exercising. A more intense session may involve some pushups, squats and sit-ups as well but were not trying to replace a proper workout at this point, only get our body geared up towards bigger things later in the day and sustaining a positive physical and mental mood throughout the day. By intense, I refer to a more “motivating” activity with emphasis on a particular mindset as opposed to the description of the actual workout. A handful of bodyweight exercises to pump up the major muscle groups and release a few endorphins to connect your brain and body to get you ready for hard workouts later is the goal. Remember, the goal is to wake up the body and mind and direct it towards succeeding in a goal oriented capacity, not necessarily to provide a long or intense workout. It should be pleasurable and something that you look forward to doing. Most people won’t continue doing something that they dislike, so this needs to be enjoyable to become a permanent part of the daily morning ritual.
Next post...part 3...Reading.

                      Tim Bruce vs. Gregor Gracie in the Grappler's Quest finals

Music as a tool to elicit biochemical changes for a fighter


  1. Hi, this comment is actually for every post you have made about goals and motivation . they are all great. For a long time I have been thrashing through thoughts of how to goal set and measure goals and progress in this way and was just meeting dead ends. Yet you have captured all the relevant points and gone beyond. GREAT!!!

  2. Thanks for the positive feedback.
    Keep reading as there is more to come.
    Most people think that they'll get better by just rolling on the mat...and they will, but this limits their growth. BJJ is getting to a point where you need every competitive advantage if you want to reach the top levels in the sport.

  3. Thanks for a nice share you have given to us with such a large collection of information. Great work you have done by sharing them to all. Simply superb.


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