In my own experience I have plenty to be afraid of. This has ranged from schooldays when I was bullied, threatened with knives spat at and beaten up (this was by the teachers). Generally, this kind of adolescence led in later life to cause anxiety disorder, leading to the condition known as agoraphobia, resulting in me staying in-doors, and shrinking my comfort zone. After some years, and plenty of research and help, I was able to conquer my fear of the outside world and embark upon a martial arts journey. Later on, fear was bought on by the thought of and taking part in tough gradings, hard courses, full contact sparring with professional boxers, grappling with European champions. Teaching at seminars, opening my own gym, effectively going public and being there for all comers to see and/or take on. Appling for membership as an instructor to possibly the most prestigious self-defence association in the world, with some of the world’s top instructors at the helm. Worrying that they wouldn’t accept me and then feeling fear when they did. Now I would have to prove that I could instruct, would have to travel away to train under some of the best instructors in the World.
Outside the’ controlled’ environment, fear was brought on by dealing with and defeating a drug dealer and his company of friends, after a dispute lasting over two years. The drug dealings were his not mine. My dispute against this man was unconnected to his activities. Threats were made by him; his threats were overcome by me. Face offs were instigated by him and his, those same face-offs were won by me, by controlling fear, not showing fear, but instilling fear in him and his gang. It was a very scary time for me, I do not wish to sound clever about this. But any chink in their armour, I would expose and play on it. With great difficulty at first, but gradually at first, but gradually it became easier, I was able to disguise my own weaknesses and fears (there were many). Things came to a head when after two and a half years of minor altercations and veiled threats on their part, full-scale showdown became inevitable. They came mob-handed to my house to the tune of seven to my two. My two being me and my wife. Fear for me was at an all time high, and all my training in controlling it was ready to leave me. I couldn’t afford to let this happen (this was my house with two young children inside. Standing my ground, being aggressive and more threatening to them, it was apparent that not one of them had what it takes to be first (why bother turning up in the first place). The safety in numbers philosophy back-fired when they all realised that they couldn’t rely on each other for back up and that apparently I wasn’t bothered by them(nothing was further from the truth) When push came to shove none of them would meet my challenge. They went away with their tail between their legs. The outcome of this conflict was the group fell out with each other, the main dealer was left to face up to me on his own, causing him in the end to leave the area, moving to the other side of the country leaving no forwarding address. The show-downs were never won by not feeling fear. This can never happen. The sooner it is accepted that fear is present in every confrontation, the easier I is to start learning to control fear. The goal of this story is not to try to impress you by bravado. There wasn’t one time when I didn’t want the conflict to end, not one day when I didn’t wake up scared. It is to show you that if you can steel yourself, hide your fear, unavoidable conflict can be won, if I can do it anyone can. Further ‘live’ confrontation/fear management has even learnt through dealing with ex-employees, who left the job under bad terms, making threats against me and my family. Once again face to face situations wee resolved by controlling fear, and not allowing opponents to gain the upper hand. Instead taking the initiative, letting them know that any threats would be met. This usually resulted in a back down fro said people. Even the business of teaching/training self-protection in a small town results in threats and noise being made by local so called ‘hardmen’. Letting them know I was willing to meet with them, and accept any challenge they cared to throw, whilst at the same time getting the message through to them that confrontation is what I trained for, even though admitting to myself it wasn’t what I wanted, resulted in yet another backdown,with apologies sent. The purpose of this section is to demonstrate that with a healthy respect for fear, but not allowing it to dominate you, coupled with the correct hard training, confrontation can be won. Not won easily, it is never easy, but won non-the-less. The ‘live’ situations, the ones that happen when people have no regard for another human being, no ethics or code, should, if possible, be avoided. If avoidance isn’t an option, deal with them quickly and move on with your life, drawing from the experience. The situations that you create to better yourself, opening your own business, starting a martial art, learning to grapple or spar etc. will create a feeling of fear. You will tell yourself you are not good enough to do this or that. You are wrong, you are good enough. If you are willing to try, to dare to step that bit further, to work the extra hour, train that bit harder and generally put yourself out there, then the rewards are yours. There will be failing points, points that it takes everything you have to keep trying, but by daring to be better, you have already passed more tests than most people will ever bother taking. The result of my fear and my willingness to try to control it has lead me to being a 5th Dan black belt with the most respected association around. I own my own full-time gym and dojo teaching people how to defend themselves, compete, spar, wrestle but most of all to over-ride their fears. I have been lucky enough to make some great friends and more and more I am being asked to teach my findings to a more widespread audience than the two students I started with at a community centre some years ago. I have taught men women and children, police officers, professional boxers, wrestlers, doormen and security personnel. Likewise I have been taught, and continue to be taught, by some of the leading instructors in the world, including martial artists, boxers, doormen, bodyguards. Every time I do so, I feel fear; every time. If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right.