FPP Episode 17: Dr Paul Wood – Harnessing Anger and Aggression for Combat Sport


About this episode

In this episode, Dr Paul Wood, an expert in differential psychology talks about how anger and aggression, while seemingly damaging and unbearable can be harnessed to positively improve oneself and lead to a positive contribution to society through combat sport.

Paul discusses some of the research and current thinking around Anger and Aggression, what role these characteristics have within combat sport, and how they can influence the path you take throughout life. 

Guest bio

Paul was someone who grew up thinking that your capacity for violence and the demonstration of aggression was the measure of a man. He spent a lot of his adolescence getting into physical confrontations and fights, but when he was 18 ended up killing someone, as a result of a drug deal gone wrong. Paul: (01:43) He was convicted of murder and spent more than ten years in New Zealand's toughest prisons.

He began his undergraduate studies while incarcerated, and pursued a PhD, and Masters within an area of psychology called differential psychology, which concerns itself with the psychological differences between people, attributes, behaviours and characteristics such as aggression.

He's also a Judo Black Belt and although he won't claim to be an athlete, has been an avid competitor in the sport.

With his knowledge in the area of differential psychology and his life experience in two spheres of society which could be considered violent, he's got an interesting perspective and a firm grasp of the theory and application of anger and aggression within the context of life and sport.

In this episode we discuss

  • Paul (03:45) - Defining anger and the broad categories of aggression.
  • Paul (04:52) - What kind of Aggression is most useful in the context of combat sport. 
  • Paul (09:07) - How Paul’s path throughout life has been influenced by anger and aggression.
  • Paul (12:30) Development and regulation of aggression within your environment.
  • Paul (15.46) Personality traits and characteristics associated with aggression.
  • Paul (19:21) Martial Arts as a positive outlet and direction for people to channel their aggression.
  • Paul (26:05) What part of Anger and Aggression can be attributed to nature as opposed to nurture.

Advice and learnings for athletes

  • Paul (31:01) - Focusing your attention on the immediate sensory experience. 
  • Paul (33.32) - Choice and decision making under pressure.
  • Paul (37:146) - Dialling into instrumental aggression in competition.
  • Paul (38:44) - Perception and awareness of aggression in context
  • Paul (44:25) - Implementing aggression within training and competition for self development and the pursuit of excellence.
  • Paul (50:20) - A framework for heightening arousal level and increasing levels of aggression.

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