Mental Endurance in the Martial Arts

Mental endurance - Learn what it is; how to effects our martial arts, the ways in which we can improve it and more…

Mental endurance is by no means a simple concept – not to define, not to explain and not to improve.

Improving it is part of our mental training.

This endurance, like its physical endurance companion, is a quality which allows us to continue what we set out to achieve, despite hardships we encounter.

However, having good endurance does not mean we don’t feel the pains and difficulties along the way it “just” means we can overcome them…

Mental endurance in the martial arts

In the martial arts mental endurance is a key element – both in fighting and in training.

In fighting it allows us to over come:

• Fear

• Stress

• Pain

• Anger

• And so on…

In training it allows us to overcome the same hardships which can be encountered in a fight but with less intensity, and also deal with an obstacle like

• Tiredness


• Temporary loss of motivation

It’s that quality which in many cases allows us to persevere and become diligent martial artists.

The 2 phases of mental endurance:


The first phase of being able to overcome an obstacle is to avoid it to begin with. Why overcome fear if we can avoid feeling it?! Why fight the stress if we don’t feel it.

We talked about this extensively in the mental training article.

Attaining deep concentration is the main method of achieving this phase, and we can do this with the means of deep meditation, hypnosis, imagery and so on… (Fedor Emelianenko is a great example of some one who attains and practices this before a fight…)

Nevertheless we need to be very well trained in order to be able to keep and reach the full concentration needed in a real fight.

This sort of state of mind is relevant usually only in short fights where our need to stay focused isn’t spread over a long period of time.


The second phase comes into play once we reach an obstacle and want to overcome it; or in other words, we’re fighting or on the verge of it (be it competition or self defense…) and we begin feeling, for example, stress and anxiety.

How can we reduce it, even ignore it, and how can we make sure it doesn’t badly affect our performance? This is dependent among other things on our mental endurance.

In this phase we have the same means and techniques to help us as we do in the first one, only now we have another element, the motivation – the fighting spirit. We examined the fighting spirit extensively in martial arts mental training. It is this which keeps us burning and motivated despite the difficulties (the motivation being what – not wanting to lose face, winner character…).

For example – we receive a strong body shot, let’s say to the liver. Despite the vast effort we put in building our physical endurance (our bodies ability to protect itself from injuries… who knows, if it weren’t for our hard training the shot might have damaged the liver permanently) we feel a pain so devastating we think we’ll faint.


Yes, but now something kicks in, it’s something which lets us and makes us fight back – it’s our fighting spirit. For our example it doesn’t matter whether or not we’re fighting for our life, for our mother or for the sheer hate of losing.

Now, how do we prevail?

Our strong mentality is first and foremost our ability to not break, this is done with the help of our fighting spirit, it keeps us motivated. However, not alone; we have a responsibility “to ourselves” to endure in the best way possible.

So when we decide to keep on fighting despite the pain it’s not enough. If we don’t put the pain aside it will take over our focus and concentration, and will not allow us to perform at the best level we can…

It is now that other elements and techniques come into play and serve our mental endurance. Techniques like meditation, hypnosis, imagery and other such techniques… help us better overcome the situation and retain the focus and concentration needed.

These and our experience…

Experience and mental endurance

No matter how hard we train and no matter how skilled we become, nothing can substitute for experience. On this fact all of us, at the Warriors Project, agree on.

We discussed this point extensively on the martial arts sparring and fighting experience article

Back to our example – If in our past sparring trainings and fighting ordeals we had gone through a similar experience it would surely be helpful in overcoming this one.

Enduring for endurance sake

It is important to understand that enduring is not for endurance sake, rather it is to allow us to win and not “give in” - neither to our opponent nor to ourselves.

While not giving up is important, it will not win the fight. Our endurance allows us not only to “stay in the game”, but to do it in the best possible way mentally.


Mental endurance not only prevents us from breaking, but also gives us the best mental conditions to win.

The martial arts mental training article is a great completion to this one; and so are the articles on:



• Imagery (in the near future)

Sparring and fighting experience

Together with the

Warriors Project – Drills and Tips E-zine

Are the perfect way to start improving our mental endurance abilities

Learn more about Martial Art Training

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