The Killer Instinct

My junior football coach always inspired us to be our best.

Mick often talked about the importance of possessing “the killer instinct”. That feeling deep within that drives you to your potential. That inner desperation that pushes you further than your opponents. The burning sensation of feeling unstoppable. Together with the mind set that nothing can stand in your way…

This was one of the reasons we achieved so much, one of the things that made our team so strong. This is what pushed us so far – the killer instinct.

Too often these days it seems that many karate students lack the drive to be better. A lot of students just cruise through class, rarely giving their all unless the instructor is watching. They believe that just plodding along coming to training every now and again will serve them well, when in fact it does the opposite. They lack the motivation. In short they lack the killer instinct.

People who have the killer instinct contest the impossible. People who have the killer instinct never quit. They believe that their goal (whatever it might be) is first priority, and everything else takes a back seat.

Even pain.

In any life threatening confrontation “the killer instinct” is critical for survival. Your focused desperation must be greater than your opponent’s. Assuming skills are equal, the killer instinct might be what pushes you over the line. And if the situation is unfairly weighted against you, the killer instinct may make up for those shortcomings.

My grandfather served 5 1/2 years in the Australian army during WWII, serving one tour in the Middle East and two tours in the jungle in Papa New Guinea. He always said that he was lucky to come back but he also told me that he believed there was no enemy out there that could touch him; there was no enemy out there that could outsmart him; there was no enemy out there that could defeat him. Clearly he possessed the killer instinct. It kept him safe in the worst of circumstances.

The killer instinct isn’t something that is exclusive to survival or sports, however. You can utilize the same feeling to create massive change in your life and achieve what you perceive as seemingly impossible. You can use the feeling of the killer instinct to achieve your black belt, become a national champion or open your own school. You can switch on that killer instinct and tackle projects in school, at work … even at home.

It’s what can separate you from the mediocre. It’s what makes you remarkable. It can give you the edge and in karate specifically it can help you reach your karate potential. People who possess the killer instinct play to win. They dream big and act accordingly. They don’t let fear, intimidation or anxiety stand in their way. They realize that it’s easy to achieve when they draw on their killer instinct, when most of their competition doesn’t even consider it.

If karate training just seems “too hard” sometimes, it’s time to heed the words of “The Doors” and use your killer instinct to “break on through to the other side.”

So how to you find your killer instinct?

As a new parent I can tell you the easiest way to discover your killer instinct, is to think of how you’d feel if you had to protect your child from an imminent threat. Imagine what it might be like to have your kids in a perilous situation and how you’d turn your fear and anger into action. That’s the feeling right there. It’s the “whatever it takes” attitude to put your goal beyond your personal consideration.

If you’re not a parent the best way I can explain it is to think of a time when someone told you that “you can’t do that” or that “you’re not good enough”, and the feeling you had and the actions that followed to prove them wrong. It’s the desire to achieve against all odds.

In a nutshell the way to find and then utilize your killer instinct is a two part process. First you’ll need to attach your strongest emotions to your goal. You need to attach them to achieving, winning, and being the best you can be. Those emotions or how you feel is what drives you to take action. The stronger the emotion, the greater the action.

Part two is to think about the result if you achieved your goal. How would you feel? Try to physically feel the feeling of achievement and success as if you already have it.

Now get the feeling of your deepest emotions in the first step (by using the examples above), then visualize your goal in step

Go back and forth visualizing and feeling the emotions with each part. Try to make the connection between the two. This technique helps you make a new neurological association in your mind – an actual physical pathway in your brain – linking the two together*. Linking the “whatever it takes” attitude (the killer instinct) to achieving your goal will help your body kick it into high gear easier and faster when your goal is in sight… because it will have become your habit.

So if you find that you don’t care about a particular goal, or can’t be bothered when the going gets tough it’s clear you haven’t attached your killer instinct to achieving it. However once you do make the association, you’ll feel empowered and the results will follow. You’ll feel unstoppable. Achieving your black belt or next dan rank will become reality as you’ll have committed yourself both consciously and unconsciously.

If everyone were to give their best every time, standards would be raised and skills would develop faster. The best of the best people in karate and other sports, business and those successful in life realize this important point. They are the ones who combine their killer instinct together with their passion for what they do. And of course success follows.

So next time you have a choice between sitting on the couch watching tv or getting to karate class, which will you choose?

Next time you spar against someone who intimidates you, will you give it your all and perk up at the challenge or give up and cower away? Next time something seems just “too hard”, what will you do?

Will you choose weakness and take yourself out?

I hope not!

Just summon your killer instinct instead and see how far you can go…

7 thoughts on “The Killer Instinct

  1. Inspirational article – absolutely can use this for my next dan grading coming up! That is a key difference between winners and losers. Thanks Jason – cheers – Andy

  2. Dear Jason,
    I do appreciate the time you have put into creating the above article. It really sums up my current feeling in regards to my karate practice as well as my day to day life.
    I have a question and a request for advice, if you would be so kind to consider.
    I have the feeling, as well as the certainty, that the majority of my karate class mates do not put in 100%, in fact I would reckon about 50%. The lack of "the killer instinct" is clearly shown by turning up for class late, not paying attention when the Sensei is in the process of explain a technique, paying little respect to the class formality and so forth. The sloppiness also affect the class schedule and the overall practice, leaving me with a deep sense of under accomplishment at end of each class.
    Now, the question is the following.
    Have you ever found yourself in the situation I am currently in? Not as a Sensei, as a class member. Is there anything I could do, in your opinion, in order to stimulate "the killer instinct" into the others?
    Also, can you please advice on how I should express my feelings to my Sensei without hurting his? I am pretty sure is aware of the situation and he might even be in the process of finding a solution to it, but still I feel I should let him know.

    Thank you so much for "The Killer Instinct" article.


  3. Hello Jason:

    Good article, I believe that the "killer instinct" is something that we all are born with, some discover this faculty when they need to fight for survival, others with discipline and proper training. As a former special forces teammate, I know from first hand how important is to be always ready, and what could represent in a real death life encounter the application of our "killer instinct"

    Thanks for the article

    Sensei Taylor

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