Within the context of martial arts we teach students to cope with fear and to take up challenges, a huge part of our character development programme that affects their whole life.
This page serves to give parents an insight into how we approach fear as instructors, of course it may seem rather technical for our students, but within the classroom it’s very much put into an easy to follow/digest context.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a two pronged approach to deal with phobias that Clinical psychologists commonly use. It’s had brilliant results and requires participants to first address their thoughts and attitudes about the specific fear and secondly combating the physical response of the fear.
We utilise this approach in how we teach students to deal with fear combined with meditation and understanding the comfort zones, along with verbal mantras like “Courage earns confidence”.
At the very foundation of challenging our students, before we can ask a student to do “the thing that they fear”, whether that’s competing, public speaking or leading a class, we must first teach them about the importance of stepping out of their comfort zone.
We try to make this very tangible with our mantra “Courage Earns Confidence”.
We explain the huge benefits of confidence and how it would “Feel” to be someone who can lead the class, compete or speak in public without fear, what emotions would they feel? Would they feel proud?
From here we then explain that by showing courage they earn confidence; confidence that will allow them to “feel” those emotions and get the “prize”. We try to make the conversation very visual and we utilise meditation techniques to bring this image to life. The more visual you can make this step the more of a driving force you will create for the individual.
Step two focuses on the individual fear and we look deeply into the worse case scenario. What’s the worst that could possibly happen? What is the most terrible outcome of doing the thing that you fear?
Humans have incredible imaginations, we are so creative and it’s certainly one of our greatest powers or forms of intelligence.
What we find this imagination also does for us, unfortunately; is exaggerates our fears into a monster that consumes our minds. By adding logic in this moment and diving deep into the details of what could logically go wrong we humanise the fear and it becomes less of a threat. It begins to become something we may be able to conquer.
It’s now time to contextualise the fear, by placing it next to far greater fears out there, (age specific of course) fear of social rejection, fear of death, injury or loss, these examples when placed next to our specific fear; make it feel insignificant. The monster we have created in our minds becomes less daunting.
Interestingly at this stage many students are capable of jumping straight in and doing the thing that they fear. Where possible we have found it to be incredible beneficial in solidifying the learning experience by taking a small step or doing “part” of the challenge that they fear and then going back to meditate on the 3 steps above before taking another step.
With positive reinforcement I always feel it’s best to “strike while the iron’s hot”. To immediately reward the student while they are at the apex of the emotions they feel from doing the thing that they fear will put the whole experience into a positive context and have a powerful effect that will create a long term memory of their victory and how good the process felt.
In class we achieve this by delivering a huge round of applause or by giving an award for perseverance or leadership in front of everyone so there is public recognition. There is then a strong association with positive feelings and being in the optimal performance zone.
By following this method we have developed for overcoming fear; our students in the Warrior Academy have conquered their inner demons and in many cases the thing they feared the most becomes the thing they enjoy the most. We rewire the way they think about challenges and this has a huge effect on their personal development and has a practical application in their adult life.
We all feel fear, but a person who is equipped with a system or process to conquer their fears is a more confident individual and can go on to do incredible things in their life without being held back by the fear of failure or rejection.
How many Adults do not reach their full potential due to lack of confidence or fear of social rejection, failure or loss?
Inevitably we miss out on the beauty of life and we manifest this fear of loss by not challenging ourselves to overcome this fear.
The many stories of adventure shared in this book are certainly at the extreme end of the “Adventure spectrum”, however, when teaching children about challenges and tackling fear, these stories are not always relevant or appropriate, but for the reader of this book, it helps to put the “lessons” in perspective.
We all have different comfort zones but the process of overcoming fear is always the same and can be applied to anyone.