Episode 17: Doing Martial Arts Out of Fear
In this episode of the Martial Art of Self, we discuss the transformation of our motivation for doing our martial arts so that it is no longer rooted in fear.
When we do something, like our training, out of fear, and we practice individual skills out of a fear-based reason, we are only feeding into the fear. Instead of evolving inside ourselves, we are merely improving our external physical skills, while at the same time developing, strengthening, and expanding our fears.
What if we could transform our martial arts to be a support to become less fearless over time instead of growing our fears?
In this episode, I talk about my discovery of doing martial arts and training for specific things due to fear at the root of my motivation. I mention some of the realizations I gained in the process and walk you through a practical approach I used that lead me to see, understand and start changing my starting point for doing martial arts from fear to something more useful and fulfilling.
Music by Fidelis Spies
[00:00:00] Welcome to the Martial Art of Self podcast, a podcast about bringing the essence of martial arts back to self.
[00:00:10] Hi everyone, I’m Aldin.
[00:00:12] Welcome to another episode of the Martial Art of Self podcast. This is a show in which we explore how we can bring and apply the principles, philosophies, and strengths of martial arts into our daily life.
[00:00:24] We focus on transforming our martial arts journey into more than just an external discipline. Self-understanding, self-awareness, self-change and self-creation are the themes we aim at.
[00:00:35] We go beyond the martial application and straight into the heart of ourselves: how can we bring martial arts back to self?
[00:00:44] In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss fear and when we train from a starting point driven by fears, as well as the importance of making more out of our martial arts journey than just honing and practicing our martial or combative skills to be able to defend ourselves or to win in competitions and things like that, and to make it more about ourselves, the individual, the person.
[00:01:11] So, I was looking at this point that we want to make our martial arts journey and practice a lot more about the internal development of our being. We want to practice living words and hone and develop specific skills and characteristics and applications within ourselves that we can take and apply in multiple contexts or areas of our life.
[00:01:39] And not just limit ourselves to martial arts. In other words, we don’t want to be just courageous, disciplined, humble, dedicated, powerful, strong during martial arts classes and practice only. But we want to be able to map those words, to map those characteristics into other areas and contexts of our life.
[00:02:02] Because, I mean, otherwise it is like only living a portion of your life, isn’t it? While– while the rest, the other areas in parts of our lives, like relationships, work, studying, school, friendships, the various challenges we face and that come along in our lives, health, our self-image, et cetera, et cetera – are essentially rotting away if we segmentize, our– the living of those words and concepts and really box them only, and make them accessible – where we access them and live them and experienced them and– and hone them and develop them only during our martial arts classes.
[00:02:48] I mean, I would argue that it is more beneficial and fulfilling to practice ways and methods that will help us transform our being and the way we are and help us to change up our default accepted programming, if you will of– meaning of how we tend to respond to situations in or around our world.
[00:03:12] Like when we are suddenly faced with a challenge that life, ‘throws’ at us – let’s say losing our job or a loved one going through depression or mental or physical health challenges and so on.
[00:03:25] For me, in my case, I was looking at how often am I– am I going to in a lifetime, going to be in an actual situation that will require frequent self-defense and fighting skills?
[00:03:43] Yet my approach to training and why I do certain exercises and why I seek power, strength, speed, superior technique, and so on was rooted in fear at the end of the day.
[00:03:58] I was afraid at the root of my starting point to the question: Why am I training in doing the martial arts that I’m doing?
[00:04:06] The approach was mostly all based on this ‘what if’-fear. Where I would imagine and speculate to maybe someday in my life be in such a confrontational situation where all my grind into developing the combat skills I seek would come in handy. But look at it, I mean, it is all based in fear, isn’t it? I mean, sure, of course we aren’t in control over what may happen to us in life to such a degree.
[00:04:36] And we could up–, we could end up in, actual fighting scenarios and need to defend ourselves. But all the training done out of fear, all the skill honing out of fear, anxiety and worry is not worth, the grind, in my opinion, at least, it is not worth for me, I have established through my self-inquiry process.
[00:05:00]I mean, yes, self-defense is good and I believe everyone should learn at least some basics to defend themselves, but we need to get the fear component and reason and starting point out of our system for what we are going to learn, and why we are learning–, going to learn self-defense or– or walk our martial arts journey and path.
[00:05:22] We want to liberate ourselves from fears through our martial arts and not create more of it or sustain it through our martial arts.
[00:05:30] And I’ve seen many times and also for myself, that the essence, the effort, the focus we put into our martial arts practice is put into honing our external skills, such as becoming physically stronger, faster, more agile, perform and have and develop better and superior, physical techniques for a ‘just in case’ situation that we would be able to beat somebody, that– that we can be superior and better than our opponent should it ever come to a confrontational event where we would have– where we would have to defend ourselves, or even if we train for, let’s say, a competition or sparring sessions, we would inquire into ourselves and we should inquire into ourselves if we are training and expanding our– our sparring skills, if you will, or the drills for the competitive fights out of fear, like a fear to lose, fear too embarrass ourselves and so on.
[00:06:33] We should rather investigate why such fears of losing, of ridicule, judgment, and so on exist in us in the first place and put our effort, our energy, and our time to understand and transcend those issues we have.
[00:06:51] The training of skill should simply be practical and free, out of all, from fear.
[00:06:57] And I firmly believe that training from a starting point of fear is not a training or practice life worth the skills and– and definitely not a healthy one.
[00:07:09] Now, this doesn’t mean if our starting point is fear that we now have to abandon our training. I believe we should just become aware of our starting point of training, become aware of why we are training, what is driving us and is that thing that is driving our practice and our motivation to develop our martial arts skills – is there really fear behind and underneath the hood and be radically honest with ourselves about it.
[00:07:39] We have to be radical in our self-honesty to make an effort, putting the time and the energy to transform that starting point that is based and rooted in fear into one that is not fear-based.
[00:07:54] And how do we change our starting point from fear to something not fear-based?
[00:08:01] Essentially we have to look at the fear, isn’t it? We have to confront it. We have to dissect it, find where it comes from, why it’s here, how it’s created, and how has it become our starting point?
[00:08:13] How has it become the thing that drives us? The juice that drives us into our training and into us developing our martial arts skills?
[00:08:24] So, it is essential from my perspective to make much more out of our martial arts journey than just developing external skills out of fear, out of anger or destructive and compromising emotions or emotional starting points because it can have a much deeper essence and a much deeper ‘being’, if you will, it can have a more profound spirit than just training out of fear.
[00:08:57] And, the– the practice of martial arts and the martial arts path and journey, and everything we practice and the things we developed through and from it should have and can have a much deeper meaning, a much deeper spirit than just the purpose of developing external skills for the likelihood that someday we might need to have and apply in a self-defense situation or a competitive situation or for a competition.
[00:09:25] Otherwise a life, one’s life will be– and– and the hours, the sweat, the effort, and the energy one puts in into the focus and focusing on developing specific skills for– from the starting point to develop it for a likelihood of, or– or– or preparing for an ‘in case’ situation where we will be demanded to apply our skills, our strengths, oue honed and developed speed and techniques for self-defense or for competition – I would say is a life and hours wasted if martial arts– if our martial arts has not become much more about self and self-development to be able to apply, in any situation, to transform the being – our being and not just to unconsciously or subconsciously train for a preparation out of– out of this fear from a likelihood that we will someday maybe be in a position that will demand self-defense or winning in a competition for a medal, for money, for fame, for pride, whatever.
[00:10:36] Because, training from that starting point would be a training out of a starting point of the emotion of fear, a preparation in terms of fear, not preparation in terms of– of something practical, out of practical reasons, but a preparation in terms of fearing that we will maybe one day be in a situation that where– where we will have to defend ourselves and we might lose or not be able to, or at least not be able to perfectly protect ourselves without any, without– without receiving any damage, battle or battle damage ourselves.
[00:11:13] And, to train from a starting point of fear, I find is, is hours and skills wasted. At least I have established it for myself and for my life and that yes, we can be in a situation where we will have to defend ourselves and yes, we might receive battle damage, if you will – we might even lose or be beaten up.
[00:11:34] While, and– and while preparation and preparing, to be able to defend ourselves is– is just, and– and is healthy, and definitely has its practical, qualities – I believe that living life in a constant state of fear, hovering over our shoulders, over our heads, directing us like puppets on a string for an ‘if’-case, like, ‘What if this and that happens to me?’, ‘What if I get in a fight?’, ‘What if I’m not prepared enough to defend myself and I get beaten up, I get hurt’, et cetera is– is just feeding the fear and is not a rich life experience I found.
[00:12:22] And, the least we can do is transform the starting point of our preparation, of us preparing, of us developing skill could be practical, to be based on practicality rather than fear-based.
[00:12:38] Taking the energy out– the energy of fear out of why we are doing something like– like our training or preparing something and making it simply practical instead.
[00:12:49] And, the ‘what if’-fear, I find, makes very compelling arguments for why to trust it and keep it and act from it. It tries very hard, but in the end it is merely another way that our fear tells us to keep feeding it. To empower it. So that– so that it has– so that IT has power over us instead of us taking that power into our own hands by practically directing our reactions to empower and support us to express in self-honesty, and to stay true to our principles we subscribed to in life.
[00:13:27] And, the ‘what if’-fears, and fears in general will always try to argue well for their existence.
[00:13:33] I mean, have a look really honestly at your own life, and your relationship to fears. They will always try to argue well, and find justifications, reasons and excuses for their existence.
[00:13:47] And, I find I need to remind myself continuously when this type of fear or fear in general, comes up – that I merely need to assess what it is telling me.
[00:13:59] What is the fear telling me practically and be practical about it rather than fear-driven alone and– like– like ‘What if I don’t train enough and get beaten?’
[00:14:12] I mean – then I become motivated to train more and harder, but it’s all based on this fear, isn’t it? Now my whole training becomes fear-based and all I do from there, every exercise, every minute and every little bit of effort that I put into the practice becomes simply a channel to feed that particular fear even more.
[00:14:34] So, we actually exercise our fears to grow, to develop, to expand and become more powerful, but we should exercise ourselves, our being and our body to develop, grow, expand and evolve and– and– and ‘free’ ourselves more from fear, to have less fear.
[00:14:55] Wouldn’t– wouldn’t we want a life like that is fearless and where we have less fears instead of more fears? I mean, personally for me, I would.
[00:15:06] And, I mean the truth is that yes, it is possible to be beaten and to lose a fight. But so what? Honestly, so what? If we get damaged and knocked down by that then it’s about an indicator that only our ego gets damaged.
[00:15:26] We have constructed a mental image of ourselves where we assigned labels to us like “I am this”, “I am that”.
[00:15:34] Like– like “I’m strong”, “I’m good at this technique”, “I’m fast”, “I have won previous fights or conflicts, and therefore I cannot afford to lose, or I will lose face”, “My fans are counting on me, my family is counting on me”, et cetera.
[00:15:49] All mental labels we assign to ourselves in our own minds. Who are we trying to impress and why, honestly? We should impress ourselves rather by becoming a better person than the day before. We should impress ourselves rather by facing and walking through our fears and lessening our fears inside ourselves so that from day to day we have less fears and we are directing more of our fears and not letting them control us.
[00:16:19] We should impress ourselves by treating our body, our mind, and ourselves today better than the day before. We should impress ourselves by proving to us that we learn from our mistakes and we strive to actually better ourselves in how we treat our mind, our body, our self, and the countless other forms and expressions of life on this shared existence and planet.
[00:16:44] I believe that– I believe that that is what we should concern ourselves with when it comes to impressing something.
[00:16:52] To impress ourselves, to impress life itself with proving that we as humans, as– as– as this person we are, as beings actually can change for the better in how we treat ourselves, our minds, our bodies, and each other, and we can evolve in– in supportive ways.
[00:17:13] In supportive ways meaning where we support the life in us,and the life in others, rather than competing and trying to become better than the life next to us, if you will.
[00:17:29] But, to train– but I find that it is much better and much more– it is more– there is more integrity within oneself and a much happier life, I believe, in living a life without fear and with less fear than living a life where you trained– where you train and continue training and honing your skills out of fear in preparing for some fearful situation based on fear itself that might happen; of something that “What if this happens?”, “What– what– what do we do if this happens”, and so on, where you will need to, for example, defend yourself, where you will need or want to emerge, victorious, et cetera.
[00:18:14] Because a life lived in fear is a life and hours wasted. I believe– strongly believe in that. It is not a– it is not a pleasant experience and like most things that we do, the way we behave, act, speak, what we do, where we put our energy in, where we put our effortand our focus in our training, in our martial arts journey, in our– in our career – whatever it is – if we do it from a starting point of pure fear, for an ‘what if’-fear case scenario, it is– it is hours and life wasted.
[00:18:46] I mean, like honestly, ask yourself that question. And, I mean, for me, honestly, I would rather have no martial or combat– or combative skills at all, but be fearless.
[00:19:04] Or at least have the ability, have developed the skill, the transformation within myself, within my being to be able to direct and transform my fear when I do experience it or it comes up as a reaction or trigger towards something in my reality, like a situation of fighting, sparring, losing a job, losing a relationship, having to, let’s say, you know, perform– do– do public speaking, having to talk to a female or a male, et cetera, and to be fearless or at least direct myself and have that skill to direct the fear, transform it and not have it lead me and move me and decide over me and to have less fear today than the day before.
[00:19:50] I would rather have that than a superior, an excellent martial or combative skill, but that I am the directive over, the directive or leading power over my own fears in being able to direct them, understand them, transform them, and then act from my personal decision in my own awareness, rather than act and do something and behave in a way that is coming from fear and as an outlet or result from a starting point of being afraid or anxious.
[00:20:28] I mean, imagine you’re walking down the street and you get attacked. You have no self-defense or combative skills and ability really. But you have no fear inside of you. Nothing moves in you. You are stable, you are calm, and you are centered within yourself. Or you may have a reaction of fear or– or become anxious, but you take initiative to direct it.
[00:20:57] You’ve got tools to forgive it and let it go and not let the fear, the anxiety rule your life and your decisions as opposed to you are all well-prepared with self-defense and combative skills and abilities, but you tremble with fear and you tremble with anxiety and it takes you over completely and you shake, you doubt yourself, you become small and little inside your own ha– inside your own head towards this big master that is your fear, your anxiety, and the fear, the anxiety defines you and is essentially the master over you.
[00:21:33] I believe to be fearless and live in such way is a life much, much more worthy of living and with much more happiness; filled with much more happiness than a life where everything we do, behave and are – the way we speak, what we train, and how we train, the hours we put in, and why we put so many hours into developing a specific skill, strength, power, ability, movement, and so on – if done out of fear is counterproductive to us in our self-development.
[00:22:05] Because it is done from fear and it is virtually due to it being done out of fear, it is keeping the fear alive. It is adding energy, it is adding a life, it is adding more substance and more purpose to the fear to continue existing in us.
[00:22:21] And, thus we are literally erecting our own fears and keeping– and keeping our fears up there. It’s like we’re building the Rocky Balboa statue, just that ours is a statue of our fears that overshadows and overpower us because we allow it to be our dictator and a– we allow it– we allow our fear to be the guiding and the directive and controlling power over us.
[00:22:48] So, just some points about making our martial arts journey much more, or whatever we do for that matter, much more about ourselves than honing a specific skill or ability or– or a path or behavior and doing it from a starting point of fear towards– or based on a ‘what if’-fear case or scenario, for example. And, to be, and to more focus on and be more attentive of transforming our being through the art, through the martial arts journey, through the practice and really– and– and what we exercise and really make that our practice-‘focus point’.
[00:23:32] So, that we can live fearless eventually and have the ability and the skill to direct and transform our emotional/feeling reactions, our thoughts, our backchats – anything and everything that compromises us on a being and living level to live less and be less and experience our ourselves less than we potentially can. Anything that disallows us to live fully and live life to its fullest and discover, what would it mean to live life to its fullest without fear, without anger, without all these emotional reactions that direct us.
[00:24:12] And, instead we will direct our own emotions, feelings, thoughts which pop up in our han– in our heads, and– and we will, move ourselves to understand them, to dissect them, to analyze them, see and find out where and how did they come from, and so on.
[00:24:30] How can we transform them? Why are they here? Why are we allowing ourselves to be directed by them? Can we rise above our default reactions to things and instead lead ourselves actively and in real time through these reactions when they come up and transformed them deliberately when they come up into more creative and supportive expressions and actions, and behaviors, of ourselves?
[00:24:57] And and practice taking into account all life is equal and respecting and honoring all life as equally valuable and worthy and learn what that would mean practically.
[00:25:09] Not just theoretically and in thought or a mere– or having a mere feeling about it, but practically what would it mean to live life to its fullest on this earth, in this physical dimension, if you will?
[00:25:23] And what would it mean to make our martial arts journey one where we explore and really actively for that tool of martial arts, and our martial arts journey, support ourselves to learn and figure out what would it mean to live fully?
[00:25:40] How can we support ourselves through our martial arts journey to live more, to live more fully? To lessen our fears, to transcend our fears, to become better than the day before.
[00:25:52] Not just in physical combative and martial skills, but as a person, as a being – the way we react to things, situations, people, circumstances, challenges, and so on.
[00:26:06] And I believe such a life is much more worth living than a life that is based on fear or based on other default programmed emotional reactions, we have programmed into ourselves.
[00:26:19] And I believe strongly that if we direct our energy, our effort and the hours we dedicate to our martial arts practice and journey and drills into a more sound and wholesome starting point, which involves practicing character traits, characteristics that will transform and help transform our being in the process, which will then also naturally and can naturally map– through transforming our being will naturally map to a change of how we respond also to other areas and parts and aspects of and in our life, such as in relationships, at work, and not just in the– be limited to the context of martial arts alone and during our practice hours, if you will. And that this– doing this approach, transforming it into such a starting point is going to produce a much more wholesome life and self-experience than if we drill our skills from a starting point of fear, for example.
[00:27:27] And, just some, some practical approach for this episode, that here is how you can do that, investigative process:
[00:27:37] For me, for example, in– in– in figuring out, if you’re doing your martial arts journey from fear or anything from fear, for example.
[00:27:47] For me, for example, I write or speak about it to myself. I record myself, for example, or I write into my journal – be digital or paper, it doesn’t matter. And I investigate the fear. Admittedly, I mean, we have to be honest with ourselves and not keep the truth that comes up, the information that comes up inside our minds when we look at this question and we open it up inside ourselves through writing, through speaking – shouldn’t keep it from our–and suppress it from us, if we have a reaction of dislike or we don’t like what comes up as we open a point up, but face it.
[00:28:21] The truth hurts and the truth doesn’t necessarily have a lot of admirers at first. So, we will probably not like what we see come up inside of us about us.
[00:28:31] But it is a vital to stick to it and not suppress it, but write and continue writing and speaking to it about ourselves and opening it up, facing it.
[00:28:39] And, if you look at it, we are doing essentially detective work here. Just that we are our own detectives, investigating our own fears, for example. And finding the time, into– into finding the time when we created it, how we fed it to grow and become stronger and how we– we still keep doing that and so on and so forth.
[00:28:58] And after that investigation into our fears, we can and need to push ourselves to release it, to change it, to let it go, to find practical, doable little actions to correct our behavior or our thinking pattern or– or our, reaction and how we respond to the reactions next time we are in a situation that triggers the same fear response, for example.
[00:29:24] So, that we change over time. And, we can go ahead and spend some more time, dedicate some more time to investigating and finding different methods of how to identify our fears and how to release our fears, the thoughts that– that, step from it, the inner talk that stems from it, and so on.
[00:29:50] Because there are– writing and– and– and speaking aren’t the only ways because there are many different methods and applications in this world already developed on how to support ourselves to find, investigate, and release our fears as well as other emotions and reactions and correct our behavior that we tend to have and live out.
[00:30:15] And, we need to dedicate just a little bit more time into investigating – and actually I would say we need to dedicate a lot more time into investigating and trying the different approaches, methods, and– and- -and testing them.
[00:30:34] And if one doesn’t work, keep searching and trying other ones until– other methods and– and– and, applications and ways to help us transform our fears, change our fears, understand our fears, our default programming when it comes to how we react to certain things and situations and– until we find one that aligns with us and works for us practically at the moment and the time of our life right now.
[00:31:02] And, for me, writing or speaking, which is just an acoustic form of writing really, works very well for me to investigate my fears, for example.
[00:31:12] Self-forgiveness works exceptionally well to release the energies of the thoughts, the internal chatter, the emotions itself, and so on.
[00:31:22] And, then to remind myself that I need to apply the correction. And this is the most important point, the reminder that it is necessary to actually do the living action of the correction, to apply the correction that we find through the previous steps in and during real-time when the fear gets triggered again.
[00:31:45] And, to do that, we will through time and with repetitive correction, change the way we respond to the situations that once invoked the fear into something new that is supportive rather than destructive to ourselves.
[00:32:03] So, to conclude and to recap: If we do our practice or whatever we do from a fear-based reason, than all those hours, all that energy and all that effort that we expel and put into would be more– would have been more beneficial to channel into learning from our thoughts, from our inner chatter, from our emotions and feelings, that– and learn what are they telling us about ourselves?
[00:32:34] And, to then from there strive to understand and change them than to put them into developing and.– than to put that energy, that effort, the hours into developing and creating combative skills out of pure fear or paranoia. Because that way we are essentially supporting just a fear to become stronger, and we are literally devolving ourselves, if you will.
[00:33:03] We are evolving our combative and martial skills and– and physical strength and skill, yes, but in our being, we are really devolving the person within.
[00:33:13] We are just building more fear and keeping the fear and growing the fear we already have and we’re not lessening it. We’re not becoming– and learning from it to lessen it and become eventually fearless, if you will.
[00:33:26] Thank you. See you in the next episode.
[00:33:29] Thank you for listening to the Martial Art of Self podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, then please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes. You can also follow this podcast on Twitter and Instagram. For more information about the Martial Art of Self, please visit martialartofself.com