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How Crazy Can Mental Toughness Get?

John McCarthy has a story about how Forrest Griffin once gave himself 3rd degree burns on the forearm with a lighter to mess with a mutual coworker in the police department Forrest didn’t like (and then went right back to watching a movie like nothing had happened).

I also remember a post fight interview with Chris Leben admitting that he didn’t remember a thing from the Yoshihiro Akiyama fight and would have to go watch the tape to see what happened. Then of course, there’s Ben Rothwell beating Gilbert Yvel by decision despite tearing his ACL in the first round and other crazy shit like that.

Does anyone know if being willing to go this far is typical of UFC fighters?

I’m not sure it is so straight forward. Mental toughness is an interesting topic, but I actually think a lot of guys who are very tough in the ring would quite possibly crack under circumstances that required true mental strength. In fact, you very often see it happen to fighters. They break down, sometimes during, sometimes after their careers, and sometimes not at all.

Plenty of tough guy fighters have killed themselves. Many fighters come from rough beginnings, and have a confidence that comes with having been physically dominant in their respective environments. They are undoubtedly tough, and have been conditioned to be the predator rather than the prey, which has ingrained an ability to push themselves past societies conventional limits.

Taking a lead from your examples above: You might well make a solid argument that it takes mental strength to give yourself third degree burns to prove to someone not to fuck with you. Personally, I don’t think that sort of thing makes you mentally tough.

I feel that mental toughness is much more subtle than that kind of physical tolerance of pain (although there is undoubtedly a mental element involved). I don’t think you have to be tough to be unhinged, or borderline psychopathic, which is what giving yourself 3rd degree burns sounds like to me. What did he prove to the co-worker? What did the co-worker suffer as a result?

The fighting through injuries one is another area where of course, a degree of physical and mental courage is involved. However, again, how mentally tough is it for a fighter to fight through a potentially career ending injury is open to debate. I am of the opinion that in many ways, the mentally brave thing to do is to stop the fight, protect your career, which is your means of living after all, and not jeopardise your future in the sport just to be a tough guy.

I’m not saying fighters aren’t mentally tough, some of them definitely are, but I think there is a distinction that should be made in types of toughness. The kind that sees you prevail in the ring, might be the kind that sees you get killed/or not be able to handle the high pressure of certain military settings.

Hi HeroicWolf, in a few months I will be a licensed psychologist so this is one of the few topics I can answer with authority! hahaha

What LondonBoxer is saying is not wrong, however we have a problem with semantics, what is Mental Toughnes in itself?

Mental Toughness is domination of the mind over the body. In the same way we can argue that having a high IQ does not make you street smart, we can argue that there are different types of “Mental Discipline”. It is true that those situations in a military situation would get you killed, however, they are not soldiers!

What I’m trying to point out (english is not my native language so sorry for shitty spelling) is that these guys have abilites that work FOR THEM, and that’s fine.

There are also numerous factors that go on, like the amount of adrenalin that goes on in a fight. Sometimes you just don’t feel the pain till later, and it has nothing to do with mental toughness, it has to do with that you just don’t feel it!

A friend of mine was close to becoming a pro, one night after a fight his leg bothered a bit, his dad insisted to take him to the hospital but he said that after a cold shower he would be fine. That night he woke up at 3am with a blue throbbing leg, when he got to the hospital the doctor told him that if hadn’t woken up, they would have to amputate his leg! He had 3 FRACTURES.

Was my friend being “tough”? No, he just couldn’t feel the pain until the adrenaline backed down.

However, we can’t take the “mind over body” factor for granted. I think that when going out for a jog is when this factor is more evidenced, “one more mile, one more mile, just one more”.

Another example is when you haven’t worked out for a long time, and when you are back from the gym for the first time after the break you can’t stop flexing in front of the mirror, did you really get that much bigger from just one workout? Or is it your mind saying “you are awesome”.

Cheers!

From what I have seen - and I know A LOT of fighters - they’re some of the most mentally fragile, childlike people I’ve ever met.

Real mental toughness is forged in a different way than punching people.

FightinIrish, are you talking about THE thread that span’s 4 years long and involves a certain alien?

[quote]FightinIrish26 wrote:
From what I have seen - and I know A LOT of fighters - they’re some of the most mentally fragile, childlike people I’ve ever met.

Real mental toughness is forged in a different way than punching people.[/quote]

This, in 3 lines, is what I was trying to say from the start.

Pinta, that was an interesting post, and I largely agree.

Real mental toughness in my view, while it does involve the ability to put mind over matter, also involves the ability to thrive in making difficult decisions under extreme pressure, whilst aware of the consequences. Real mental strength is the ability to handle one or more of: pressure, disappointment, loss, hardship, risk of harm to you or those dependent on you, etc, and still perform to your absolute peak, without showing the strain or negatively impacting on those around you.

[quote]LondonBoxer123 wrote:

[quote]FightinIrish26 wrote:
From what I have seen - and I know A LOT of fighters - they’re some of the most mentally fragile, childlike people I’ve ever met.

Real mental toughness is forged in a different way than punching people.[/quote]

This, in 3 lines, is what I was trying to say from the start.

Pinta, that was an interesting post, and I largely agree.

Real mental toughness in my view, while it does involve the ability to put mind over matter, also involves the ability to thrive in making difficult decisions under extreme pressure, whilst aware of the consequences. Real mental strength is the ability to handle one or more of: pressure, disappointment, loss, hardship, risk of harm to you or those dependent on you, etc, and still perform to your absolute peak, without showing the strain or negatively impacting on those around you.[/quote]

I can’t agree more, that is what we call in Argentina “Anonymus Heroes”… it’s the guy that doesn’t complain in public about his issues and alway’s goes through hardship with his head held high.

Think about the mother/father who work’s double shift in a shitty job just to be able to pay their offspring education, and most of all, they do it GLADLY.

“Real mental toughness in my view, while it does involve the ability to put mind over matter, also involves the ability to thrive in making difficult decisions under extreme pressure, whilst aware of the consequences. Real mental strength is the ability to handle one or more of: pressure, disappointment, loss, hardship, risk of harm to you or those dependent on you, etc, and still perform to your absolute peak, without showing the strain or negatively impacting on those around you”

Excellent comment: I would like to add an example that fully sums up this statement. A Army officer was engaged in combat, when his squad was ambushed by insurgents. During the fire fight, a grenade was throw into his area, he grabbed it and threw it back, but, it exploded about three feet in the air, blowing off is hand. He tied off the stump, and continued to call in air support on his hand held radio, and, continued to direct his troops, while still under fire. That is doing your job as a professional, that is “mental toughness” to the degree that most people can only dream about.

self inflicting yourself with third degree burns is not toughness, that is plain and simple stupid. Yeah, I want someone with me who does shit like that, in a situation that could turn deadly. That type of X-box mentality will get other people killed. either get professional mental help or grow the fuck up.

Great example Idaho. That is real mental strength. A full appreciation of the severity of the situation, and despite that a calm and collected approach to dealing with it, from tying off the hand, to continuing to do the job others relied on him to do.

The kind of guy who’ll put a third degree burn on himself is the kind of guy that will hide injuries, say he is alright when he is not, and do all kinds of stupid things that could jeoperdise those around him if he were in a genuine high pressure situation.

I would like to point out that the “Big john” mentioned in Forest’s book is NOT John McCarthy, and using the name “Big John” to refer to one of Forrest’s personal friends was an over site addressed by him him in a later book.

what Defekt said is true, Big John is actually John Grantham who unfortunately passed away a couple of years ago on Father’s Day weekend. He was one of Forrest’s best friends and an all around good guy (and slightly crazy). With that said, yes, most of us MMA fighters are crazy and we fight injured all the time. I fought my first fight with a torn labrum and got surgery after I got it over with.

Fighting is more mental than physical, I hate to sound cliche about it, but it’s true.

[quote]FightinIrish26 wrote:
From what I have seen - and I know A LOT of fighters - they’re some of the most mentally fragile, childlike people I’ve ever met.

Real mental toughness is forged in a different way than punching people.[/quote]

Mind elaborating?

[quote]Pinta wrote:
FightinIrish, are you talking about THE thread that span’s 4 years long and involves a certain alien?
[/quote]

LMFAO.

True mental toughness is persevering through torture while staying mentally intact. It would be fun to put different stereotypical groups of people through torture and see who is more mentally tough. I’d wager cage fighters would crack in minutes

[quote]ElevenMag wrote:
True mental toughness is persevering through torture while staying mentally intact. It would be fun to put different stereotypical groups of people through torture and see who is more mentally tough. I’d wager cage fighters would crack in minutes[/quote]

typical ridiculous post

no category of person (soldier/fighter) is mentally tough. its down to the individual. obviously a person who can do the training of fighters/seals are tougher mentally than 99% of the world. mike tyson is a great example. the man was a beast, but he was used to running through dudes. as soon as he faced adversity he crumpled.

[quote]sammiza567 wrote:
no category of person (soldier/fighter) is mentally tough. its down to the individual. [/quote]

/thread

[quote]sammiza567 wrote:
mike tyson is a great example. the man was a beast, but he was used to running through dudes. as soon as he faced adversity he crumpled. [/quote]

oh dear.

Riddick Bowe anyone?

[quote]sammiza567 wrote:
no category of person (soldier/fighter) is mentally tough. its down to the individual. obviously a person who can do the training of fighters/seals are tougher mentally than 99% of the world. mike tyson is a great example. the man was a beast, but he was used to running through dudes. as soon as he faced adversity he crumpled. [/quote]

I disagree. Special forces soldiers are mentally tough. Without exception. Every single one of them. Every single one, past and present. Take a test like ‘selection’ here in the UK. Only the best (although not all of the best), fittest soldiers in the army go for it. Of them, only a few pass. The entire test is designed to break you mentally. The very very few that pass do so because mentally they are on another level. All of them. That is their purpose, because what is required of them requires superhuman resolve and mental strength/intelligence.

Mike Tyson actually proves Irish and I’s point. He was a phenominal athlete, but mentally incredibly fragile. He completely lacked mental strength. It was this lack of mental strength that tore his career apart.

[quote]LondonBoxer123 wrote:

I disagree. Special forces soldiers are mentally tough. Without exception. Every single one of them. Every single one, past and present. Take a test like ‘selection’ here in the UK. Only the best (although not all of the best), fittest soldiers in the army go for it. Of them, only a few pass. The entire test is designed to break you mentally. The very very few that pass do so because mentally they are on another level. All of them. That is their purpose, because what is required of them requires superhuman resolve and mental strength/intelligence.

Mike Tyson actually proves Irish and I’s point. He was a phenominal athlete, but mentally incredibly fragile. He completely lacked mental strength. It was this lack of mental strength that tore his career apart. [/quote]

Thank you, someone that understands.