Can Martial Arts Help Overcome Fear?
Can Martial Arts Help Overcome Fear?
The short answer to that question is YES. Martial arts can help you overcome your fears but there’s a lot more that needs to be discussed.
The feeling of fear is a very real emotion and when acknowledged can be manipulated, controlled, and used to your advantage. In this article, I’ll be discussing fear from many different angles with the goal of helping you better understand it and how you can eventually overcome your fear.
We’ll also discuss how martial arts can help you overcome your fear and how rewarding such an endeavor can be to your life and to the lives of those around you.
What is Fear?
So what is fear anyway? There are many articles and books written on this subject and I’d like to give you my take on the idea of fear. Real, heart-wrenching, nerve shaking, blood stopping fear is a very real emotion. One that I hope people don’t experience often BUT…it is a part of living on this planet and the best way for me to help you is for you to understand that fear is energy.
It’s an energy that flows through us but is influenced by external forces. A bear running at you, climbing a tall ladder, being confronted in a dark alley, or standing up in front of a crowd to give a speech. It’s all energy and not all those examples are equal and thus have varying degrees of energy output.
I think we would agree that being chased by a bear and giving a speech are not the same thing. Sure, for some it may ‘feel’ like it is but it’s not. Most, actually feel this fearful energy when they are getting ready to start a martial arts program. I get it. I’ve been there once before. A new environment, new people, you don’t know anything…wow, talk about being out of your comfort zone. Again, it’s energy. And it’s the first step to overcoming fear. Understand that what you are feeling is the energy that already exists within you.
Fear is a Great Illusionist
Wait, isn’t that contradictory to fear being “very real”? One may think so but allow me to explain. Remember my comparison of the bear and the speech? Well, one is “real” fear and the other is the illusion of fear. Giving a speech may seem like it’s fear but it’s not life-threatening, you’re not in danger, and you’re not in the presence of evil doings. I’ll get to that more later.
You see. In the case of giving a speech or even doing a martial arts class for the first time, it’s very much like the person performing the card trick. Sure the cards are real, the magician is real, the audience is real, and his story is real…but what you are experiencing as “magic” is an illusion, a trick.
When you are feeling this fearful energy, because you are outside of your comfort zone, the NEW experience is actually presenting the illusion of fear to you. Your mind has been tricked. Because of this illusion, you have created all sorts of stories and side missions as to how it will all play out and you haven’t even played the game yet.
Fear Can Save You
Above I mentioned the bear and how that is a true feeling a fear. Let’s dig a little deeper into that for a moment. When you are faced with life-threatening danger, being chased by an angry momma bear – for example, is going to prompt you to respond and more than likely it’s going to be one of three responses. Fight, Flight, or Freeze.
Now against a bear…you’ll probably lose that fight for sure. Could you flee? Sure, there have been many stories where people have successfully avoided such an encounter. What about freezing? In the case of the bear…it depends on many factors but freezing could also save your life. Oddly enough.
My point in this is to illustrate that ‘fear’ can and will save your life. It’s a primal response to danger and thus, fear is your friend. It’s your alarm clock so-to-speak. That inner voice that is telling you something is about to go dangerously wrong…let’s avoid it at all cost. Which means it’s probably a good idea to listen to that little voice or gut feeling. Remember, we’re talking about life-threatening danger here…not having your pants fall down in front of a crowd of people giving a speech (though that would not be good either).
How Can You Overcome Fear?
The best way to overcome your fears (non life-threatening illusions) is to embrace this energy. What I mean is stop running away from the things, situations, and circumstances, that cause this “fear”. Chances are you’re still operating within your comfort zone.
Bob Proctor, a famous personal development guru, calls this the “terror barrier” and it most certainly can feel like that. At times it can feel like a giant wall is placed in front of us and is keeping us from taking that chance and putting ourselves out there. This is one of the great things about martial arts training.
If you remember, in martial arts, like most things – everyone had to start somewhere. In the case of martial art training, everyone started off with a white belt. A person doesn’t just show up knowing everything. If that were the case we’d live in a very boring world where, thinking, trying, and overcoming wouldn’t be a thing. There would be nothing to achieve if you knew everything.
Once you realize everyone had the same starting point this can help lower the illusion of fear and once you change the narrative you can now focus on making small promises to yourself. Taking one small step at a time and accomplishing one small goal at a time is a sure-fire way to get over your fears. Just don’t be so hard on yourself if you’re having trouble.
The amazing thing about Budo Shingikan is that you’re not alone. You have an entire community of other people, just like you, overcoming challenges and wanting to make improvements in their life.
You’re not alone. Come join us and let’s work through your journey together.