Embracing fear

There are many questions martial arts aim to answer. One of the deeper ones is, how we face fear. Only someone who passed through the masks of technique and strategy can face the real questions that in turn, unmask the fog of the battlefield.

Fear is a terrible master and a powerful servant. It is how we face it that sets its place in our own theatre. I will present a few methods to connect with the fear so it may be one of the horses in our chariot instead of the driver.

  1. First comes the breath. The breath is the main bridge between the autonomic and automatic nervous systems. One can hold breath but not forever.  We can use breath holds to mimic danger and to note to ourselves and with partners how the fear or realization of mortality ebbs and rises inside us and how both the body and the mind seek to rationalize the process and stir us away from finding the connection between the systems of the body. Once we cross that bridge once and meet our fear, it is easier and easier to feel the first embers of that flame when it rises and through continuous breath, let that fear turn into focus and assertiveness to solve an issue without letting it take us out of our center. Another method of breathing is to exhale more than we inhale. The exhale is a release and when the breath delta allows us to naturally release any building excess, we avoid the rise of it from the base level of operation. The last breath method to mention here is to let the breath come to you. Over breathing and mouth breathing is a very wide gate for fear to drive through and keeping the mouth closed and relaxed and letting the breath happen on its own from the body instead of pulling it in is a great step toward calm under pressure. Once this is achieved than also the body will manifest a waterfall. Always moving but never changing. The torso will not be burdened by excess breathing and will not alter shape and pressure beyond what is necessary for the moment.
  2. Second comes the tension. We leave fear in the body in the form of tension and acid in the muscles. This displays in our posture and body tension and how our eyes perceive the world in front of us or under us. To face our tension, we connect it with the breath. We inhale and tense a part of the body, exhale and release. Never aim to relax the body from the natural state because that will just add activation to the area and treat the current tension level as normal and it is never so. Always use a wave to tense and relax and also move the tension from one part of the body to the other with the different phases of the breath (inhale and tense the left side of the body, exhale and move the tension to the rights side) and so we learn with our bodies and our conscious mind together that freezing does not actually exist but the speed with which we deal with rising tension does. Animals in nature do not waste. Nature does not waste. The freeze comes as a way for pray to avoid detection and for predator to attune to the sign of the pray. Connecting ourselves with our breath, daily and understanding how tension forms and serves us, lets us ride the wave instead of being succumbed by it.

This is an response to a wonderful question asked by Sensai Jordan Augusto I learn a lot from my friends questions and I am thankful for them. One might say questions evolves us better than answers.

I wish to include a song by Robert W. Service that depicts the attrition of war better than anything else I read.

A Song of Winter Weather

It isn’t the foe that we fear;
It isn’t the bullets that whine;
It isn’t the business career
Of a shell, or the bust of a mine;
It isn’t the snipers who seek
To nip our young hopes in the bud:
No, it isn’t the guns,
And it isn’t the Huns —
It’s the MUD,
      MUD,
        MUD.

It isn’t the melee we mind.
That often is rather good fun.
It isn’t the shrapnel we find
Obtrusive when rained by the ton;
It isn’t the bounce of the bombs
That gives us a positive pain:
It’s the strafing we get
When the weather is wet —
It’s the RAIN,
      RAIN,
        RAIN.

It isn’t because we lack grit
We shrink from the horrors of war.
We don’t mind the battle a bit;
In fact that is what we are for;
It isn’t the rum-jars and things
Make us wish we were back in the fold:
It’s the fingers that freeze
In the boreal breeze —
It’s the COLD,
      COLD,
        COLD.

Oh, the rain, the mud, and the cold,
The cold, the mud, and the rain;
With weather at zero it’s hard for a hero
From language that’s rude to refrain.
With porridgy muck to the knees,
With sky that’s a-pouring a flood,
Sure the worst of our foes
Are the pains and the woes
Of the RAIN,
      the COLD,
        and the MUD.

Thank you

Sharon Friedman

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