Fear is a natural response that we have all experienced at some point or another. Don’t get clouded by cockiness; even the toughest of us encounter some sort of anxiety or uneasiness when faced with a stressful situation. However innate it is, we can still discover ways to overcome it.
Some of the greatest lessons you can follow to get over fear come from trained martial artists. Martial artists, our black belt instructors especially, have spent years staring doubt in the face. How do so many of them seem composed enough to fight on then? Their training, their ideals, are just a few of the things that help mold these individuals into confident fighters that can take on anything.
You don’t have to be a fighter to learn from these powerful people. Take a look below at five lessons you should follow that will lead you to conquering your fear.
Lesson #1: Acknowledge the Inevitable
As stated before: fear is a natural response. One of the first steps to overcoming it is accepting two things. You have to first come to terms with what exactly it is that you are afraid of. From there, you need to recognize that you will come face-to-face with it at some point.
As black belts in martial arts, any practitioner can tell you that a good trainer will help you realize your fears. Are you afraid of getting hurt or hurting someone else? Do you have a fear of competing and the probability of losing?
These are inevitable facts martial artists face. Thinking otherwise will blindside you and will only skyrocket your fear, which more than likely will lead to you panicking. It’s only when practitioners realize these things that they can start the process of beating them.
Let’s say you’re gunning for that new job. Do you feel a twist in your gut going up for the interview? So, what’s the worst case scenario? You bomb the interview and you don’t get your dream job. The odds that it will happen are basically 50/50. Once you accept that beforehand, you can work on ways to better yourself that the worst doesn’t come to pass.
Lesson #2: Take it One Step at a Time
Whether you have multiple stressful situations hanging over your head or just one major fear, it will help to take everything one step at a time. Our martial arts instructors direct their students to focus on one thing rather than trying to rush through.
If it helps, try to create a list that either separates your individual fears or a list for one that details everything about that fear. For example:
What is it that I fear?
Is this fear holding me back (my life, relationships, dreams, etc.)?
What’s the worst that can happen if I face it?
What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t face it?
Again, it’s just an example, but it can give you a general idea of how you can work your way through your anxieties one step at a time. Doing it this way allows you to put all of your focus on peeling the fear apart layer by layer until you overcome it.
Our MMA Instructors will have their students address one aspect before moving onto another. Are they worried about the pain they may feel hitting the mat? Good teaching doesn’t involve throwing them in the deep end. They work their way up to it all, going through some light instructions on how to fall before allowing things to intensify during sparring sessions.
Address one facet at a time, and you will be that closer to getting past that pesky fear.
Lesson #3: Prepare for the Hit
If you know anything about training in martial arts, then you know about conditioning. It is a way to better prepare your body to take a blow, to accept that it is something you’ve experienced before and you can bounce back from.
Martial arts practitioners handle this in a variety of ways. Have you seen boxers or Muay Thai fighters lying down as someone drops a medicine ball on their stomach? It’s an excellent way to prepare their stomachs for punches they will, no doubt, face in the ring. Their bodies become accustomed to getting hit, which then helps to reduce the fear of it.
Now, if you’re not gearing up to fight someone, this isn’t a technique that will exactly work out for you. However, the idea behind it still stands. If you know you’re going up against something, it doesn’t hurt to get ready for it.
Let’s say you have a fear of public speaking. How do you prepare for it? Practice. Stand up in front of your friends and family, ask for their honest opinion. The more you practice something, the more you become used to it. By the time it happens for real, you’ve already cut out a fear of the unknown and are better equipped to handle it all.
Lesson #4: Face it Head-On
Nothing quite says ‘conquer your fear’ than by just marching straight up to it. We have stressed that fear is not something you can avoid. If you try, then you will ultimately limit yourself in life and hinder your growth into becoming the best you possible.
Life is not filled with comfort around every corner. Walking up to whatever it is that you fear will let you know that you can do it. You can go through whatever hell you’re afraid of and still come out on the other end whether you succeed or fail. Facing it all head-on will remind you that it all isn’t as bad as you thought; afterward, you can tackle any fear that crosses your path.
Lesson #5: Remain Calm
In the martial arts world, panic is something that will surely cost you. It’s one of the many reasons why a focus is placed on calming oneself. If a fighter enters a sparring match filled with trepidation, it’s easy enough for them to fall into a panic-like fight style. If that happens, the risk of them gravely injuring themselves or their partner only rises.
If you’re not calm under pressure, you’re ensuring that you will fail. Step back and take a few breaths. From there, you can better relax your body and mind. Martial artists who have mastered the art of staying calm preserve their energy better in order to activate it when they need it most.
There are several ways to help stay calm when faced with stress. Some of the techniques many martial artists utilize are meditation and proper breathing exercises. You can focus your mind, solve problems faster and more efficiently. When you stay calm, you remove agitation and dread, building the confidence that you can climb over whatever obstacle that’s in front of you.
Fear is a provoking beast that loves to poke and prod, trying to break you and your spirit. Follow these five lessons from our our martial arts instructors at AKI, and you will find yourself on an unwavering path to facing that fear and promptly defeating it.
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At the American Karate Institute, we teach a way of life. Our Miami martial arts school and MMA Classes has developed a well thought out curriculum that teaches more than just the art of self-defense. We delve deep into our students’ technique, skill set, intelligence, intuition and overall physical fitness. Contact us today if you’re interested in mixed martial arts and self-defense classes and schedule your free-trial class!