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I have a problem.

I’m too damned nice.

This isn’t a problem in life, necessarily, now that I’ve learned that being nice doesn’t mean being a pushover. But it is a problem in the ring.

I never used to have a problem with aggression in sports. I was aggressive in muay thai sparring at my old club, aggressive in soccer, aggressive in sponge hockey. (And I’m not talking about the type of misguided aggression that leads sports fans to destroy their own city…I’m referring to the healthy, competitive aggression two athletes must have when they face each other down.)

Even when I’m taking a punch or kick these days, I’m smiling, laughing, expressing awe over how good my partner is, and otherwise having a good time. It’s fine to have a good time, but I’m not doing myself any favors by squandering these opportunities to redevelop my aggression.

There’s a saying that goes, “you fight the way you train”. If that’s true, I’m going to be in big trouble unless I do something now to correct it, and believe me, I’m working on it. I’m not sure where my aggression went, but the bitch has got to come back!

How about you, Dear Readers? Are there areas of your life in which you wish you were more assertive? Or, if you engage in competitive sports (muay thai or others), how do you hone your aggression?

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  1. Chris

    Ok, you’re cut off: no more Chloe for you. Now’s let’s see the aggression come out. 😉

  2. Angela

    I think you enjoy the art form that is martial arts. Your awe-struck at your opponent’s skill and discipline, just as one marvels at anything we see as near perfection. Forget about the art, and think about the win. Maybe practice on some board games. A few friends and few beers and an evening of Scattergories should do the trick! ….Or, you could always start a car on fire!

  3. Story Teller

    Ha ha! Thanks for the comments.

    @ Chris – You know full well that I have no problem being aggressive with YOU. I need to bring it to the gym, and unless my opponent plans to play keep-away with Chloe, your brilliant plan may fail.

    @ Angela – I do for sure. I am in constant awe of people who are better than I am. One of my trainers can run up a heavy bag, for pete’s sake! (And yes, I said RUN.) It’s funny that you mentioned board games. I can actually be too competitive with them. I am a competitive person in general. My gym’s just so happy and friendly that I think it rubbed off on me! 🙂 Perhaps I’ll go break some windows and set some stores on fire. Roar! Grr! No, wait, I don’t give a rat’s ass about who won the hockey game. Perhaps next time.

  4. MuayThai_father

    Hmmm; Aggression…

    Well I guess the only way I can put it in perspective is to talk about what I feel when I am training (sparring or etc).

    I guess I have never thought of it as aggression. Mostly because I guess when I hear the word aggression it draws my mind immediately to the work anger. I don’t think I train with anger, I am not sure training or fighting with anger makes someone one have an edge over their partner.
    Now I know you are not referring to anger directly but i am not sure were “the bitch” comes into it with out anger. Maybe a conversation we can have in person.

    My training (the way i feel in training).

    Working with pads:
    (in order of importance to me when i am training)

    1. Although most would disagree with it:
    To get into great shape. -Its about me when I am striking, and i have to get into good shape, or else i am in trouble later on while sparring.

    2. Body Conditioning; muscles and striking surfaces.

    3. Practice My Technique

    So focusing on those three things is what motivates me while working on pads(if it comes out as aggression to my partners than so be it – but it is nothing more than motivation and focus to get better)

    Hmmm… this one is trickier: (And just gave me an idea for class tonight) 🙂

    But here is what i feel when i spar:

    1. Confidence – Find it, everyone needs it in the ring

    2. Competitive arrogance – the ability to be willing to win at the cost of the other person losing – silly as it sounds – many people are uncomfortable with the thought of being the person to make someone else lose. Oh well, *TS* , that’s just the way it is.

    3. Fear – I have to know – do i fear my opponent or do they fear me. ( I love having music on in the back ground while sparring. If a song come on i like and gets me pumped up then I find myself feeling like rocky or van damme. ha ha 🙂 I feel strong, I feel quick, I feel I am better than my opponent and I am going to make sure they know it.) You do not have to inflict pain to gain someones fear, There DOES NOT have to be malice or violent. We are all friends and no one needs to get hurt on purpose.

    And to be honest after a while I don’t even think of it. This was actually very hard to put into writing as I am not sure I have ever really thought of my “aggressive” spirit. So if it came out wrong so be it ask me in person tonight i guess. But here is one last thought:

    I guess I will tell you a story because I am not sure I can describe it any other way.

    Growing up doing martial arts my best friend use to kick my ass. I never really got hurt, and he wasn’t really a bad guy, he was just such a cocky arrogant ass! ha ha
    He use to get in and get out in order to hit me 3-5 times for every one I got him with and when it hit the ground he was so much stronger with a better base than me.
    He would just laugh and smile as he beat me in every facet of either grappling or striking. Man it pissed me off. Standing across the ring as he laughed and taunted me; He was just so damn sure of himself! He was so un-humble of his ability and he made sure with a cocky smile and a taunting laugh you knew and understood the gap between you and him. *sigh*

    But I learned something from it. It taught me that in sparring situations attitude is a major under looked factor. Whether it is a favorable opinion or not; their are winners and their are losers. I am not saying laugh in your opponents face as my buddy did. But be willing to win at the cost of your friends losing (this will make you a stronger fighter). Know that you are better than they are! Show your opponent your skill and the gap between you and them without remorse. *Sorry to those who disagree with this attitude* But it is a hard feeling to describe. And it is just my opinion.

    Hope this helps


  5. Story Teller

    Wow, Grant…thanks for chiming in with such an incredible, thoughtful post. Much food for thought.

    “Aggression” is the word Kelly uses when he describes what I need to work on. But I agree that it doesn’t mean anger. I think getting angry is actually detrimental. It saps one’s strength and is a useless waste of energy.

    Perhaps a better word choice is “competitive nature”. When I’m sparring with someone better than I am (and all my regular sparring partners are currently much better than I am, by choice), I admire their skill and laugh as they get in shot after shot on me. I don’t get serious and start giving back what I’m getting. I need to treat it as more of a battle and less as a game. I think I will always enjoy sparring and view it as fun, but that doesn’t mean I have to continually present myself for a beating. I’m not sure why I’m like this now, but I suspect it has something to do with the friendships I’ve formed at KWest. I wasn’t friends with many people at Sik Tai, and my best friend and I did go easier on each other (perhaps that is a woman thing). I may be finding it difficult to get competitive and strike people who are my friends. The fear of losing those friendships may be a factor (I’m just guessing here). Guys are usually lauded for assertiveness and strength, while in women, it can be be viewed negatively. (Which is so wrong, but I don’t think it’s going to change while I’m still alive…I hope it does, though.)

    Thanks for sharing your insights and advice. I train with Olivia tonight, but will see you on Monday!

    And if there’s anyone that you’re afraid of, I’d love to know who it is! 🙂

  6. laura best

    Many of us wish we were more assertive, myself included. For me it is in the area of writing. I find self-promotion challenging, not only that, I usually find approaching an editor a bit of a challenge as well. Even once my book was published I found it difficult to ask my publisher questions, not because they were unapproachable, totally the opposite, but because I didnèt want to be a bother. Sounds silly now, but I have learned from that experience and am sure things will be much different the next time. I have promised myself I will be more assertive and I plan to keep that promise. Great post, Holli.

    And there is nothing wrong with being nice. Hopefull we will learn to be both nice and assertive. 🙂

  7. Story Teller

    Thanks for your comment, Laura. What you are struggling with is very normal…a lot of authors find it difficult to promote themselves. The personality of the novel-writer is usually quite different from that of the salesperson. At least you’re not one of those “BUY MY BOOK! READ MY REVIEW! HAVE YOU BOUGHT MY BOOK YET?” authors. There’s enough of those in the world.

    I think your problem with being assertive does come from the same well as mine…confidence. (And, as a woman, you were probably taught not to boast or be pushy.) Just tell yourself that you have a great product, and you’re only doing people a favor by letting them know about it. It’s only annoying if you overdo it, and I can’t see you ever crossing that line.

    Good luck! Hugs.


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