What are you doing in your training to practice staying calm under pressure? I don’t just mean, ‘how are you practicing staying calm at the dojo’ either. I mean, how do you find opportunities in every day life to practice staying cool? As martial artists we want to know we can handle a dangerous situation. We need to know we can be aggressive when it is time to be aggressive, and defensive when that is appropriate. We want to stay focused and aware. All of these we can and do practice every day at the dojo. But it can be harder to train ‘calm’ in the dojo, because most days the dojo is a fun, positive place. Intense pressure, deep anger, or overwhelming frustration are not things that happen at the dojo on a regular basis. Though we do put those into drills from time to time. (And we also have, built into the curriculum, many lessons that lay the foundation for being more calm and controlled under pressure.)
But the best training is looking for times in life when things are getting a little annoying or frustrating, take a deep breath, and remember that we want to be in control, rather than let the situation control us.
One almost daily practice I have is driving to work. I live a thirty minute highway drive away from my dojo and every day when I see someone less than a car length behind me while driving seventy miles an hour, or see someone cut right in front of me, and I find myself getting angry at the lack of concern with my life and the life of my child sitting in the back seat, I get to practice staying calm.
For self-defense training, knowing how to keep calm in the chaos is just as important as knowing how to throw a solid punch. Even more so. If I let anger or frustration take over when dealing with someone, I could end up making the situation worse. I could help start a fight. Perhaps worst of all, I could lose what is called the ‘mantle of innocence’ that is so important for self-defense. And then I’m just as at fault in the encounter as the other guy.
Anything that you say or do that escalates the situation is a step away from self-defense. Maybe the guy is a so-and-so, but calling him one does no one any good … and is probably what the guy was hoping for. So how do you train for that? Look for the annoying and frustrating times in your everyday life … and practice being calm, controlled and nice. (Until its time to not be nice … but knowing when that is, is a whole other movie, and a whole other blog post)