Attentiveness comes into play during training/practice as well as in an actual encounter. Being attentive means you have to stay focused on one thing at a time and then assimilate it into your mind. The brain allocates information processing capacity to incoming stimuli. When you are attentive, information processing is focused exclusively on the stimulus that you considered key (i.e., your opponent). Being attentive helps you to gauge your opponent’s strategy and tactics better.

During training: Being attentive is extremely important to help you focus during the learning process. When you are attentive, you are able to absorb more and can absorb much more quickly than when you let your mind wander. Your powers of observation also increase when you are in an attentive frame of mind. It is especially important in grappling and combat athletics to be able to observe and emulate the moves and techniques that you learn during our training.

During a match: While concentration will help you focus on “the here and now” and draws the most relevant ideas from your mind to deal with various situations on the mat, attention works a little differently. Attention will help you in closely observing your opponent’s tactics. Concentration and attention go hand in hand and work in tandem.

Your attention level has to be constant for it to positively influence your game. If your attentiveness fluctuates, you intermittently loss your sense of focus and this can have a negative effect on your overall performance. If you are completely attentive, you will be detached; you will lack clarity on what exactly is happening in the ring and will be unable to assess your opponent’s tactics. The only issue on which you can afford to be inattentive while on the mat is the pain of an injury in the other words, people have the ability to channel their thoughts on critical issues that demand their immediate attention and put off focusing on other issues until later.

Attentiveness will also help you focus on physical process like regularity your breathing and any shifts and movements of your arms and legs that you want to execute.

Alertness is the ability to be watchful and wary at all times. If you slip up for even a second, then your opponent can take advantage of you.

Let’s visualize the scenario in a grappling or combat athletics match in which you have just delivered a move that stunned your opponent. He is sitting on the mat with his head bowed. The crowd is cheering loudly for you and booing your opponent. Your behavior here could take two possible paths and these paths are based on actual observation of the manner in which grapplers and combat athletes behave in real encounters.

Path A: You get high on the applause and start strutting around the ring feeling like a king, failing to notice whether your opponent is still down or if he has managed to get up.

Path B: You allow yourself a moment, may be an affirmative shake of the first at the successful move, but then refocus yourself on the next move while keeping a watchful eye on your opponent.

Usually a grappler or combat athlete who takes path A pays for his or her momentary lapse or alertness and gets caught off guard. The opponent may recover quickly and attack you when you are unprepared. This is a common occurrence in grappling and combat athletics tournaments. The players want to acknowledge the cheering crowd and in so doing, they are caught unaware by the opponent.

A grappler who takes Path B is alert and waiting for the next move and, therefore, is ready when the opponent gets up and going again.

Adequate sleep, exercise, and pregame “walkabouts” can improve your alertness during a match. There is scientific evidence to show that alertness improves if you get adequate sleep, sufficient sleep restores the neurotransmitters responsible for brain function.

Rather than just sitting down while you await your turn, get up and walk around every once in a while. When you get on your feet and walk, you get more oxygen to your brain. Sitting for a long time creates a situation where blood collects in your in legs and lower body, depriving the brain to some extent.

Concentration blocks out all distractions, attentiveness zeroes in on critical issues, and alertness keeps you watchful and prepared at all times. Each of these can bring a high level of focus into your learning process and your performance in a match.

Lloyd Irvin is a martial arts coach. He holds the rank of 7th degree black belt in Thai Jitsu, 2nd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, 1st degree black belt in judo. In 2002 he was named The United States Judo Federation International Coach of the year. Lloyd’s coaching experience includes having taught Secret Service, FBI & SWAT. Read more on:

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