Conquering Your Fear

Lay people always ask me, “Do I have to be in shape, ‘do the splits like Van Damme’ or ‘like to fight’ to be good at kung-fu?” “No,”  I answer.  “You just have to have some intestinal fortitude.” Surprised, they ask why.  The reason is because a student must face his or her own deficiencies every time they come to class. This, and not the hard work, is the most difficult part. This fact is countered by the student’s fierce desire to correct these deficiencies and develop the confidence of knowing that if grabbed, swung at or otherwise threatened, the student can stand his or her ground and dissipate or channel fear into action.

The human species is a fearful species. Humans have no natural weapons like the animals and has lived in fear since his origins on earth. The human mind has taken over and developed incredible weapons and fighting disciplines like Wing Tsun™ to help bring security to their lives.

To ignore the reality of violence in today’s society is a form of denial. Nobody wants to dwell on thoughts of being attacked. Organized martial arts is a way to make the pursuit of self defense skill fun and rewarding.

Part of the training is developing an ‘attitude.’ It would be nice if a student could come into the training with the attitude or the ‘edge.’ However the ‘edge’ can be developed. The willingness to use those skills if attacked can be developed. The student learns to ‘turn it on’ and ‘turn it off.’ All humans have this ability. It is more sublimated in some people than in others. Only a sociopath cannot turn it off.

Some of the best martial artists that ever lived can be examples for us to follow. They had or have a strong sense of justice. The very idea that somebody would attack another without provocation would turn on their self-defense mode, particularly if it was themselves that was under attack. This can be practiced with restraint in a martial arts class.  Other people use their ‘fear of defeat’ to turn on their self-defense mode. The developers of Wing Tsun had a strong sense of self preservation. This old proverb used in some of the Yip Man schools exemplifies this sense:  “Think of yourself with a glass head and a bean curd body protected by an iron hand.”

– Sifu Keith Sonnenberg