We can’t even protect ourselves, let alone anyone else, if the situation creates a fear we can’t overcome. So we choose to do the hard work. We choose to walk into self-defense class again and again, and again.
If we can look past the absurdity of what we’re doing and understand its importance,we can begin retraining our minds in ways we may not have believed possible. Retraining our minds for something better and more productive is difficult, but not impossible. Eventually it no longer feels so absurd. It begins to feel the like the right thing. It begins to feel like second nature. Honestly, it seems more absurd to do nothing and make ourselves vulnerable to a potential attack. Training to defend and protect ourselves is far more valuable as it keeps us safe from potential harm.
Ah, yes, that moment of crisis that leads to decision making. The one where you have to just lay down and let that rock roll right over you, or get back up and keep pushing. If a 5-ton rock rolls over you, that can’t be good, right? Or maybe it’s good to get life over with and move on? Perhaps less dramatic, like throwing my hands in the air and saying “I give up, God — You do it” will stop this crazy cycle of pushing and pushing and pushing. After all, He’s big enough and strong enough to pick that rock right up and take it where it belongs. But why would He do that when making me do the work is much better and good? At least according to Him.
I’m a firm believer that in most cases anybody can learn to do anything given enough time, space, and creativity in both learning and teaching. When I encounter women who say “Oh, I could never do THAT,” what they are really saying is “I don’t have enough belief or confidence in myself to even try.” Getting people over that hump is my greatest task as teacher. I’ve seen the fear in the eyes of my partners as I’ve taken them through learning to grapple, hit each other (in sparring), taking throws, experiencing pain in techniques, and the falling techniques. I had to inspire belief in their own minds and hearts. I had to gain their trust and show them the way.
Self defense training is that safeguard. As I learn to strike properly and with strength, I can see myself standing up to the Boogeymen of this world. I can learn to throw them down, stop them from hurting me, and get away to safety. The more I learn, practice and grow, the more I can do for myself with a sense of confidence. With this confidence comes a change in perception about the Boogeymen, they are not a specter anymore, I am no longer haunted by fear and ignorance, I will no longer freeze. I will take action on my behalf.
In the most basic sense, fear of the unknown is a normal response to what we don’t know a lot, if anything, about. But staying in that fear and letting it rule prevents growth. If we choose to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations — like learning a technique involving close contact with other people, (like grappling) — we can grow from the experience.