I have no idea why, but fear seems to be a subject that is rarely discussed or addressed when it comes to self-defense training. In a real situation you are probably going to be absolutely scared witless. When it comes to addressing fear, you avoid the subject like the plague. Yet it plays a vital part in our survival.
When it comes to self-defense, the failure to acknowledge fear and its part in survival is preparing for failure. You must understand how fear works, how you react to it, and how you can make it work for you.
Fear is not only natural, but you can guarantee in the emotional pressure cooker of a real situation that you will experience it. Accepting that you will experience fear is an important step to trying to overcome it. The adrenal dump we experience in the fight-or-flight mode of our sympathetic nervous system is a natural part of the process of fear. While the experience of fear and the adrenal dump aren’t one and the same, they certainly show up hand in hand when things go south.
If your body is a loaded gun, then your mind is the trigger. If you can’t pull the trigger, you are in trouble. Teaching the mind to pull the trigger rather than to hit the power switch is a difficult skill to develop and especially hard to implement with a window of opportunity that lasts only a few seconds. Overcoming that fear and having the confidence to act decisively is the name of the game if we want to survive an assault.
Learning to confront fears in day-to-day life and learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable can help us develop our inner strength. Learning to work past your power switch. We are all creatures of convenience and comfort, but gravitating toward doing things that make us uncomfortable and facing other fears rather than putting them in the too hard basket can help us become more confident. It can highlight how we respond to and act in the presence of fear and what we can do about it.
Confidence is often defined as believing in yourself. I think this is absolute dribble. If confidence is a belief, then you could believe (without any swimming lessons) that you can swim, but when you jump in the pool and sink to the bottom, you may find believing in yourself doesn’t work. But if confidence is your actual capacity to employ some tactical, psychological, and physical skills even when you are scared, then I think confidence is one the most important attributes you can develop.
Remember the mind comes first. Techniques are useless unless they can be applied tactically and with intent. People survive deadly assaults every day with no physical self-defense training whatsoever. This is because of instincts, luck, and having some of the tactical, physical, and psychological skills necessary to survive. This indicates to me very much of survival is determined by mindset.