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  • Courage


    This is a question that I have been podering for years. Some people say that you have to be born with courage/"bottle". Others say that you can develop it.

    I mean specifically in a confrontational context. Fighting, standing up for youself against verbal/physical aggression, and so on.

    I tend to err toward believing that you can develop courage. What do you guys think?

  • #2
    We each have all emotions within us, albeit some of us have tem in different amounts and differing levels of potential.

    Some guys need to work on developing this courage. Others would be safer if they paid more attention to that little friend called fear!

    But it is there in all of us. We just need to be able to bring it out.


    • #3
      Great thread, Bullseye, and I agree with you. I especially loved Thai Bri's response (all three paragraphs but especially the first two).

      I think some of us are born with a greater trait of courage than others. I think some of us are nurtured from the cradle in such a way where we develop more of the trait of courage then others.

      I think I was born and or reared more fearful than most males. Perhaps I was just born that way [shrug]. But time and factors in life forced greater and greater degrees of courage into my character. I'm still not very much of a courageous man, but I do have rage in me.

      Rage and courage I think can often be confused. A courageous man can be moved by anger (for the good or worse) but he does not have to have anger to essentially display courage. A person with rage however is chemically induced (per emotional change) to action or the lack of action and would otherwise be fearful.

      Then you have the aspect of believing you don't have much or anything to live for. People like this will stand up to large numbers of men. (By the way the FBI says there is a fine line between suicide and murder) They will kill a person(s) and be willing to do the prison time.

      I think people can develop courage - like you do - I think that has to come about by certain factors. Those factors can be varied and many and differ for people. Having been in the Marine Corps I would say they have a pretty good program going on, but they depend more on instilling anger in people. I spent a short time in a Catholic community that was semi-monastic but heavily shaped by pre-Vatican II monasticism. The monastic cultures before Vatican II, I found out from that short experience, were hardcore. That experience gave me a glimpse into the *cultural* traits that formed 15 year old and 20 year old Conquistadors centuries ago, that sailed to the "New World." I think I better know why now, they had so much courage, and how 20 year olds could be tasked with such responsibilities (equal to that of a General or ship Captain today). That community had a better program in my opinion than even the U.S. Marine Corps, but they don't teach violence, but moral courage (strangely mixed up with a certain cruelty towards tolerating others being in pain - even if it meant watching them be eaten alive by gators)

      I think the martial arts and boxing and other sports like football or rugby go a long way in helping develop courage in people too.

      Just my thoughts.


      • #4
        to me courage is harnessing your fear and using it as a tool


        • #5
          Courage, as I understand the word, is the ability to do the right thing instead of the easy thing.

          However...since "right" and "wrong" are subjective...I always try to do the "hard" thing...and end up failing miserably at life. (joke)


          • #6

            I totally agree with courage being the ability to do the right thing as opposed to the easy thing. I think a lot of "cowardice" is often down to a kind of apathy or laziness.

            Think of the example of someone pushing in when you are in a queue. It's easier just to let it go and not bother. It takes effort to say something. Not necessarily courage but effort. I find that when I don't react to somethin it's often due to this apathy or a kind of timidity.

            I am not naturally courageous either, but I really think this has a lot to do with how we are brought up, and what we are taught to value as children. It also depends on the examples around us as well.

            Regarding anger, I often find that when I am angry, I am also weak. I think that anger is usually seen as a "strong" emotion, but I think it's a weakening emotion. Anger flares quickly, and fades quickly, leaving you nothing. I also personally hate the burning feeling of rage. It hurts me, and doesn't hurt the people who hurt me.

            I agree that we all have these emotions. I personally dislike it when people (particularly martial arts instructors) say you have to have been born with bravery. If a MA instructor believs this, he/she should be honest and refuse point blank to teach anyone they don' t consider a natural.


            • #7
              Considering the supposedly, incredibly, large number of German soldiers the German military executed during WWII, this new movie based off a true story certainly warrants my stamp of what courage is or lessons and examples about courage.

              Trailer of movie starring Tom Cruise:


              • #8
                This is a great thread with some great responses. I always ponder this myself. The ability for one to develop courage, as opposed to being born with it. In my opinion, one's conditioning has a large part in the whole process, but I do believe some people are born with "more" courage than others, and their upbringing either tones down or emphasizes it. However, I do also believe that courage can be learned. Every human has the ability to adapt to their surroundings, within reason. And, if a person is continually approached by situations which breed the ability to defend oneself, or stick up for oneself. If you are constantly tested, eventually you will either give up, or fight back.


                • #9
                  Good contributions, Mike. I never thought of it in that goal sense you were talking about.

                  It's why I love going camping for a week at a time with nothing but whatever I can cram into an Altoids can.
                  On the other hand...


                  • #10

                    Regarding anger, the reason I think it's a weak emotion is because I feel weak when I'm angry.

                    For example, it's happened that I have been out and about and someone has pissed me off with some kind of rude or inconsiderate crap, and I have walked around in a bad mood.I have been angry all day, and gone home and moaned about what happened to my girlfriend and stressed her out as well. Great eh?

                    This is weakness. Period. Point.

                    When we allow the rudeness or stupidity of other people to upset us, we are being weak. There's no question in my mind about this.

                    In order to feel strong, I have to feel confident. And to me feeling confident means a strong and neutral feeling. Of course anger is not a negative emotion in itself, I don't believe that any emotion is negative. But our reactions to our emotions are either positive or negative. What we do with them. How we use them.

                    I agree that overcoming hardships leads to a stronger character, and this is what will make us more courageous. Especially if we force ourselves to confront things that we fear. But this is very hard, and I really struggle with this myself.

                    I think being morally brave is easy in theory, but in my experience it's not easy in practice.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by g-bells View Post
                      to me courage is harnessing your fear and using it as a tool
                      EXACTLY! Courage is not the absense of fear. Courage is doing what needs to be done regardless of the presence of fear

                      Robert Heinlein (just messed that up) said

                      "Without fear, there could be no courage"



                      • #12
                        Reminds me I have an article on overcoming fear I'll copy and paste sorry for any extra spaces

                        Overcoming Fear in a Self-Defense Situation by Sensei J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc.

                        How do you overcome fear in a self-defense situation? Basically you don't, you learn to use the fear instead. Making it a tool that you shape not allowing fear to control you. All fine and dandy, but how do you go about learning how to use fear?

                        Let's examine what fear is. Fear is an emotional response to stimuli either eternal or internal. Fear has certain physiological responses.

                        Increased heart rate

                        Increased respiration

                        Introduction of epinephrines into the body which constrict capillaries, increase strength and increase speed.

                        There are various mental responses to fear

                        Freezing up. Not being able to move at all though your mind may be telling to run, block, fight!

                        Anger. Anger and fear are very closely related. A reaction to fear of anger will at the very least help you to survive better than freezing up, but it could also inhibit your thought processes and get you killed.

                        Trained reaction to fear. Your body relaxes, your mind focuses. Adrenaline increases your strength and speed making you a very dangerous individual.

                        I've personally spent a long time studying fear and it's various physiological and psychological effects on individuals. I've developed a very good method of dealing and working with the fear response, which directly and indirectly over the years has saved my life from avoiding car collisions to defending my life.

                        There are two different ways of training to use fear.

                        1. Place yourself in life threatening situations on a regular basis.

                        This method has the disadvantage of ending your training career at an early start.

                        2. Place yourself in life threatening situations on a regular basis mentally.

                        This method has the advantage of extending your training career while at the same time possibly saving your life.

                        Many martial artists spend their lives learning to block and strike. Going through situation after situation. Attacks from the front attacks from behind, from the side, multiple attackers.

                        Some martial artists don't even practice these scenarios. Assuming the same defensive reaction from the front will work from the side and from attacks from behind. Some martial arts instructors when asked "what if" by their students will simply say, "just don't put yourself in that position". If that were the answer there would be no need to take self-defense at all. Just don't put yourself in that position.

                        For those martial artists who do practice situational self-defense training, many of you are not allowing for the mental aspect of a physical attack.

                        Mental preparedness for a physical attack, I believe, is even more important than the physical side of preparing for an attack. Why do you think it is that a trained martial artist would fear a seasoned street fighter (weird term). Because the street fighter has been in real fights. The few tricks he's picked up to win a street brawl have actually been executed by him under the mental stress of a life and death situation Most martial artists, fortunately, have not had this misfortune.

                        My Method of Emulating Fear

                        Let's look back at the physiological effects of fear once again.

                        Increased heart rate and respiration are two major physiological responses to fear.

                        A tensing of voluntary muscle groups is another, more so in the untrained individual.

                        If you emulate these three physiological responses to fear, you will be on your way to emulating it mentally as well.

                        So first a slight tension of voluntary muscle groups. Now increase your breathing. Short shallow breaths are best to emulate this physiological response.

                        Now to The Mental Aspect

                        You need a padded up live partner. For this drill I would often take an air shield and tie it to the front on an advanced student.

                        You need to have enough mental control to remember to strike only the air shield of your partner.

                        Now your partner must do some acting as well. He/She must look both in the face and body language as though they intend to hit you and hurt you. Even emulating the foul language you might hear from an attacker in an attempt to intimidate you would help.

                        Now you put it in your mind that your partner is not your partner. He's a stranger that intends on doing you harm, mugging you, raping, beating you senseless and unless you defend yourself and hit this !@#$ just as hard as you can and don't get hit yourself that's just what's going to happen.

                        Start with a prearranged attack and counter-attack, but, put it out of your mind that you actually know what's going to happen. Feel the fear and tension before the attack, then block or evade like you mean it, like your life depends on it and counter-attack (eventually at the same time naturally). Takes turns doing this with your partner. Be careful not to get so carried away you hurt him. Remember it's his turn next.

                        Now from here perform the same mental and physical preparedness and move to my one step sparring variations you can find in my printable ebook Bringing The Martial Artist Out from Within. Continue to strike just the air shield for now.

                        Now put some pads on and remove the air shield. Do one step variations again. Same mental stress of a real situation, but strike anywhere and pull the technique so you don't hurt your partner.

                        The combination of striking the air shield full contact and pulling the techniques on your partner when striking anywhere help prepare you both mentally and physically to strike full contact anywhere on your attacker, under the stress of a life threatening situation.

                        Ready to Become More Dangerous?

                        Start again with all of your self-defense drills. Emulate your fear for at least 10 seconds to put yourself in a life-threatening mental attitude.

                        Now consciously relax your muscles. Make your breathing slightly faster than normal to emulate a threat, but make it deeper as well as if you were trying to control rapid breathing.

                        Now start again and add a mental aspect to begin working with your fear and stress. Begin again with your drills and this time take your fear and turn it into anger. It's not the final solution yet, but it will give you a better chance of survival than being frozen in place solid.

                        Turning fear into anger takes practice, but isn't that hard to accomplish. As I said earlier the two emotions are very similar. Basically this can be accomplished with an example such as this;

                        Instead of, "Oh my gosh, this stranger wants to hurt me!"

                        You change it to something like, "WHAT!? THIS SCUMBAG LOWLIFE WANTS TO HURT ME! I'LL SHOW THIS !@#$!"

                        Now add your rapid breathing to this and slight muscular tension and remember YOU'RE ANGRY!

                        Now do your steps to relax and attempt to control your breathing while remaining angry.

                        After you can successfully emulate anger whenever you want to now take your final step.

                        Start again with your self-defense drills. Follow all of my above steps, but now empty your mind! Void it of emotion. Let your well trained reflexes from various scenarios take over guided by subtle consciousness and thought. You may need to practice a meditation exercise for this which you can find in my printable ebook Step by Step Learn Internal Energy Strikes with the bonus section Taking Strikes and Coming Back for More.

                        You must be careful not to hurt your partner during any of these drill phases.

                        Don't forget other scenarios as well adding the fear factor to them as well.

                        With shoes

                        Without shoes

                        Street clothes on

                        Small space

                        large space

                        Those of you who have read my printable ebook Solo Martial Arts Drills, when you do your 10 minute workout, do you always make sure you have enough room and everything is out of the way? Always? Why? Is that the way it will be if a burglar enters your home.

                        "Just a minute I have to move this chair"

                        Do you ever grab a nearby "weapon" (a shoe, a belt, whatever) and begin using it as part of your training?

                        Think think think.

                        The more situations you can think of the more you will be ready for as many situations as possible both mentally and physically. To a slightly smaller degree, you can also apply your fear training to your solo drills training as well.

                        This training method, when done properly, will take a lot out of you. I do not recommend using this method all of the time, but definitely put it in your training schedule and practice the method on a regular basis.




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                        • #13
                          Are we talking about moral courage or courage in a fight? I like what's been said I don't think I'll add much more. But I would like to comment on courage in a fight. I think it's directly related to the quality of training received. Stress inoculation, force-on-force, simulated weapons all contribute to combat output.

                          To beat another dead horse, the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle. But that directly relates to why you're sweating. I think simunitions is a great way to train for a gunfight. I think full-contact sparring is a great way to train for a fist fight. The more realistic the training the better the output in reality.

                          Sharpening the Warrior's Edge by Bruce K. Siddle is a great read on the subject.

                          And experience has been our greatest teacher. Studies on soldier and officer effectiveness in deadly force encounters have shown a direct correlation between training quality and performance in a deadly force encounter.

                          So if we're talking having the courage to fight in a fight, I think that's directly related to the warrior's confidence in performing technique in a fight.

                          But, that's separate from having moral courage (not defining what is right or wrong) but having the character of courage vs the courage in a fight.

                          And there's nothing wrong with fear. Fear is that great little voice whispering good advise into your ear on how to stay alive. Fear is far different from debilitating fright and panic. Fear is what keeps your musket handy and your powder dry.



                          • #14
                            Courage is part born and part developed. As your warrior skills grow, your courage grows and this includes marksmanship skills also.


                            • #15
                              That's assuming mental training is part of "warrior training" Something I see missing in a lot of martial arts schools for example. I agree with Mike. It's goals over emotion.

                              Here's a wierd story you guys will probably laugh at me about

                              I spent a few months before I went self-employed as an in-home tutor and self-defense instructor weighing the pros and cons. I had it rehashed in my mind pretty good but still wasn't sure

                              Then I saw a NO Fear tshirt that read

                              "It will invade your mind and control your life if you let it"

                              No Fear

                              That day I went for it