Alexander Babia, four times Ashihara-Karate world champion, was recently invited to the seminar “How to reach your goal and stay motivated”, organized by the HomeTraining.TV online platform. If you missed the live streaming, AK MASTERS blog presents interesting aspects of the Romanian athlete’s life, his beginnings, his recipe of success, his goals, his sacrifices for achieving an objective and his plans for the future.
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Initially, I just liked the idea of practicing karate. I didn’t intended to compete, but slowly the coach guided me, knowing what “buttons” to push. At my first national championship I was made KO, only after the third contest I managed to get my head out of the crowd. My first winning competition was the European Championship. Then the National Championship. However, my first major goal was the first place in the World Championship. It seemed to me at that moment a goal so great that I didn’t tell anyone, not even my coach, initially being sent by sensei Dan Mătușea just to see how is the competition. I arrived there, I liked what I found and I thought it would be very interesting to win this championship, and three years later I did it.
The best teachers
The failures until my first winning contest were my best teachers. When you win, you have nothing to learn; you can just enjoy your success. From failures, however, you have many things to learn: you analyze what happened, what the competitors did better… Then you go back to the dojo and you must be happy that you have many things to do. You don’t have to feel sorry about losing. Analyze what you did wrong and start building. With the age comes the experience! The 20-year-old athlete has no experience, but great desire, while the athlete over 30 years old compensates for the youth’s vivacity with the experience accumulated over time. In other words, there is a compensation in the sport that I practice.
The recipe of success
When I started to win competitions, I didn’t consider I was making sacrifices. Now I realize they existed, but at that time I didn’t perceive them like that. I trained three times a week in Ashihara-Karate, I had two Capoeira sessions (for fluidity and cardio), I was running three times a week (to improve my physical condition) and I made fitness another three or four times, especially CrossFit. For me, this was the recipe of success, because they all had “united”. In general, preparing a competition starts with general physical conditioning, building the aerobic part, then gradually passes to specific and long training sessions, endurance running and lot of punching bag training. Subsequently, the training becomes more intense (but shorter), more specific and towards the end of the training cycle more sparring. After that, the first fight!
Personally, to motivate myself I use music, videos, I try to visualize the day of competition, I think a lot about what I felt in the past, what I feel now, I analyze my workouts and take from them everything that is good. Motivation comes from inside! If you set limits, you can have the best coaches in the world, you will not succeed. If you have a strong desire and the best coaches, then you will certainly obtain the desired performance.
The first step towards success is to set your goal. It must be clear in you rather than in your mind. For example, this autumn, the World Championship will be held in Kazakhstan, and for me it has become the main objective, which means I have started preparations from yesterday. Slowly, everything that I do will be to accomplish my purpose, meaning to win. So I’m going to run more, I’ll take care of alimentation, I’ll analyze the competitors through the videos, I’ll improve my technique / physical condition and I’ll be more careful about all aspects involved in this competitive training process. I’m aware that I can’t lose nights, I can’t travel as much as before and other things so that I can reach the optimal physical shape on the day of the contest. But what I’ll do until the World Championship won’t be consider sacrifice, even if my personal life will come second.
If an athlete stays five hours a day in the dojo, and another, talented, only one hour at a time of two days, then the first – even if he advances harder – will arrive at the destination before the other and the latter will be difficult to beat him if they face together. A lost workout means two training sessions sacrificed, while a waste week becomes a hindrance to reach the goal. If you miss the training today, tomorrow and so on it will get harder for you and you will intend to quit. A very good mental is obtained by routine, more precisely coming to the dojo daily. This routine, frankly, after a while you get sick of it, but if you do it, then the results will appear. You have to get out of the comfort zone!
Before the day-long competition, you have to be calm and reconciled with yourself. You must eliminate any source of stress around you. You need to put things so that you don’t care about rent, food, life partner, etc. You have to avoid the quarrels and absolutely everything that could turn you off the road and make you lose your focus. The moments I feel the most alive are karate fights, because here doesn’t matter what was before or what will be after; you must be present at that moment body and soul. And before I step on tatami I feel fear, because I’m experiencing such intense moments and I must enjoy them. If I ain’t feeling fear and afraid of losing the championship, I wouldn’t compete, because it would mean I wasn’t in the right place. It would mean that it wasn’t important, and the whole ritual up to the day of the contest would make no sense. If I want to participate and obtain a good result, I have to feel like I can lose the competition. Fear of this gives me the excitement I use to motivate myself to go forward.
In ten years from now I see myself still practicing. I don’t think this will stop once I’ve started and practiced for so long… I really like Ashihara-Karate! I do it with passion. Apart from this martial arts style I practice other sports and I want to practice them, but I think the base will remain Ashihara-Karate. I will continue to teach and maybe I will compete in one more championship. All I want in the next ten years is to give back everything I got from this sport.