“Since you have free mastery of your body as a result of your training, you will win through your body; since your mind is accustomed to this way, you will also win through your mind. Once you reach this stage, how can you be defeated?” — Miyamoto Musashi
“Anger” and “Aggression” are spelled differently for a reason. They are not the same word and they do not refer to the same processes in the body.
Anger is a shut-down response: it shuts down your ability to perform high-skill movements. Sure you can flail around like a wild animal, perhaps with lots of intensity, but you will not be able to be PRECISE.
Studies have shown that as anger increases, fine motor coordination (and cognitive processing) goes down. However, as aggression (or intensity) increases, strength goes up. So on the one hand, you want that strength increase. But you DO NOT want that drop (often a sharp drop!) in fine motor coordination or cognitive processing.
As anger increases, so does your aggression (intensity). But anger is NOT the only way to get aggressive! The good news is that you CAN get the best of both worlds. This is what soldiers, samurai, and high-performance athletes have figured out a long time ago, and the research is backing them up.
Anger is an emotion, aggression is not. Aggression is simply a way of ramping up positive hormones in the body like endorphins. You need to be able to do this WITHOUT the negative effect that becoming emotional has on your performance of high-skill movements.
“If a man strikes at him with a sword, he simply meets the attack without anything in mind.” — Takuan Soto, a Zen Monk in his letters to a Samurai
Cowards require anger to deal with fear. Real athletes are calm emotionally, yet aggressive biochemically — they are able to perform high-skill movements with focus and intensity.
High-stress situations — like sports — require you to rely on skills that took a long time to build. Those skills have to be performed non-consciously. The instant you get emotional, you’ve made yourself WORSE at the performance of any skill.
If you are weak in your mind, fix it — just like you would any weakness in your body.
The Samurai took seriously that meditation and other forms of mental training were essential, not luxuries — they needed strong minds, otherwise, they would die. Your sport is not as frightening as that! (I hope.) So if they can do it, you certainly can.
Your sports-performance depends upon your state of mind in competition and in training. We have a zero-tolerance policy for emotional outbursts in my gym for this very reason. Every athlete must get over their shit. (As you might imagine, this has broad applications outside of the gym!)
Embrace the fact that your brain is a part of your body, and like the rest of your body, it can (and should) be trained HARD and DAILY.
Here’s one of my Weightlifting Academy Episodes on this topic: Less #BeastMode, More #ZenMode
Intensity and aggression are good, even essential to your success. Anger and emotions will screw you — they are the enemy. Attack them!
Now go lift something heavy (with your mind),