Courage in martial arts and life

The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It’s the same thing, fear, but it’s what you do with it that matters – Cus DÁmato (trainer of Mike Tyson and Floyd Paterson). 

Fear stops so many people from achieving the things that they want to do. As humans, we have an in-built ‘fight or flight’ syndrome. This syndrome was originally for the cavemen to help protect them from danger. However, these days, we do not have to worry about being eaten by animals. However, we can internally be eaten up inside if we do not do things due to doubt or fear. This is where courage comes into play.

Courage, is undertaking an overwhelming difficulty despite the presence of fear. This differs from bravery, where you confront obstacles without any feeling of fear. Courage is a state of mind knowing that the end result will make the struggle worth it. You are willing to put up a fight, regardless of the consequences. It is a special quality to be able to press forward and do what you need to do, irrespective of what you are feeling inside. It is empowering to feel fear, but have the courage to go through with things anyway. If you were afraid, you would not go through the actions unless the goal was really, really important to you.

Martial Arts

Let’s use martial arts as an example. Walking into your first class is daunting. Without question, you will feel fear and doubt. From that first step, you will feel your heart racing with everything you do. This is normal. In fact, it would not be normal if you did not feel this fear.

Even after all of these years of doing martial arts, I still feel fear. I feel it when I walk in the dojo, I feel it before sparring, and I feel it before teaching classes. The reason I feel fear is that I want to do really well, as martial arts is really important to me. I want to help out the entire community. Even though I feel fear, it is courage that keeps me coming back time and time again. Even though I will always feel that fear, I learn how to deal with it and perform anyway. This is what courage is all about.

Courage is not something that is simply isolated to martial arts. Once you develop the “courage trait”, you can apply it all every area of your life. You see, courage is not a skill. Courage is an attitude, a state of mind. Once you have a courageous state of mind, it will help you at anything you put your mind to. It might be telling the teacher you are being bullied, or you know someone who is being bullied. For adults, t might be approaching your manager with a new idea for work, or starting your own business. It might be trying that new activity you have always wanted to do. It could be anything that makes you feel afraid, but you step forward and do it anyway.

Benefits of courage

Having the courage to do the things that are important to you, but you are fearful of, has so many long lasting benefits for you, such as:

  • It will increase your confidence. You are developing the habit of ‘’action’’, irrespective of the fear you feel inside. When you constantly keep proving things to yourself, it can only increase your confidence;
  • You will start looking at life in a more positive manner. And why woudn’t you? You are overcome the things you are afraid of. All of sudden, that “scary obstacle” may not seem so scary anymore. You will start to lose that negativity and look on things more positively;
  • You inspire those around you. How often have you looked at someone in awe of what they achieved? I see real life examples every day. What you may not see, though, is what that person was feeling before they achieved something wonderful. They could have been filled with incredible fear and anxiety. However, they went out and performed anyway. You can draw strength from this;
  • You get experienced at taking chances and overcoming obstacles. The more you confront challenges, the more you feel comfortable in dealing with them. I am not saying you will ever feel completely comfortable with challenges. However, you learn your emotions and how to deal with them in challenging situations. This will help you go forth and be courageous in other areas of your life;
  • You will exude success and rightfully so. You never get anywhere in life by playing it safe. The world makes way for the courageous and disciplined person. Take that courageous step forward and be successful at the things that are important to you;
  • Most importantly, you will be truly happy as you are having the courage to chase what is really important to you (even if you are afraid). Isn’t happiness what we all want in life? Are you willing to go through a bit of discomfort (such as fear) to achieve your goals and, in turn, be truly happy? I know I would.

For this week, think about something you really want to do, however have been afraid to do so. Then have the courage to give it a try. Remember, it all starts with a simple step forward. If you want to let us know what you goal is and what is holding you back, we can help you take the courageous steps.

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