Mama is far from feeling like a champion these days, let me tell you. I train and I train and I train - working on particular techniques and pushing the fitness thing and eating super freakish clean and getting my beauty sleep and generally doing my best to do the right thing. And yet, for some reason, these days I feel like a heavy wet sponge and hit about the same. Why?

I don't know why. I'm sure people with a lot more experience than me fighting and coaching fighters have excellent theories that would blow mine out of the water right clean, but that doesn't mean I don't have a theory. (Yes, one day I will write a book with the title "Brigitte's Theories on Everything" but not now, not now...)

My theory is that the more you push yourself, the worse you feel about how good you're getting. That's because you're pushing yourself. Clear, right?

No? OK, let me try and explain differently.

Say you've been training for some time and you've achieved a certain level of proficiency that you feel is your everyday normal. You can reliably hit a certain level and keep it there, without too much sweat. But say you want to push past that level and raise your everyday normal to a new and better one. What do you do?

You identify particular details that need improving. Personally, I'm working very hard these days on my hand positioning during sparring and on my footwork (being careful not to step before kicking and also making sure my neutral bounce is more focused and intense than that of my opponent - because apparently this helps me win fights). So I'm working on those details, and a few others besides. Which means I'm focusing on those particular details.

Makes sense so far? Good.

Now. I don't know about you, but when I'm intensely focusing on a few particular details that I'm not naturally very good at, it requires a lot of mental and physical energy. Precisely because I'm not naturally very good at mastering those particular details. I don't really need to work very hard at my defensive side kick because it comes out very naturally and (relatively speaking) much faster than many of my other techniques. But the things I'm not already good at? They take a lot of mental juice.

So while I'm focused on these details I'm working on, I'm not paying very close attention to those things I'm not working on at the moment. And yes, those often suffer for a while. That means my usually-reliable techniques aren't coming out quite as fast as usual. And since the things I'm working on still need a fair bit of work, my general level of proficiency feels like it's going down, not up. At least temporarily.

That's OK, though. I've gone through a few of those episodes already and I know that after a while the small things you're working on start becoming more natural and you can go back to devoting your mental energy to your regular game and - tada! - your proficiency baseline is up a notch.

You just need to grit your teeth while it feels like you're not improving and have faith that you are. Which is a lot easier said that done. :)