Self-Sufficiency Means No Fear

Last month, Sihing John travelled to Kembativz Brand headquarters in Virginia to take part in Kelly McCann’s Sudden Violence workshop.  Unlike every other martial arts weekend seminar I had attended, this was not about learning new techniques or tricks, but rather a gut check and trial by fire, an exposure to the sudden violence, the unexpected, the reality of ambushes on the street.  Through various experiences and scenarios involving batons, hoods, multiple opponents, strobe lights, stun guns, and being tossed into dark rooms with people ready to jump you at a moment’s notice, we had the opportunity to test our awareness, our training, and our mentality through situations that were as close to combat as possible.

For many people, the reality of combat, of fighting, of self-defense, is just a theory.  Some are very confident in their theories and prognostications of how they will perform under pressure.  Any good scientist will tell you though, the most important thing about a theory is that it can be proved falsifiable.  It is one thing to think about how you would perform when the hood comes off and someone is inches from your face with a knife.  It is quite another to have already been through it.  Behind theory is fear, but behind knowledge is confident caution.

Once, during an interview, Sijo Bruce Lee was asked about his confidence in relation to fighting opponents.  He responded,

“I have no fear of the opponent in front of me.  I am very self-sufficient, they do not bother me.  And that should I fight, should I do anything, I have made up my mind, and that’s it, baby.  You better kill me before I get you.”

Notice where Sijo’s lack of fear comes from.  It does not come from theory, it comes from self-sufficiency.  There is an old proverb in Korean martial culture; “有備無患”, Yubimuhwan.  Literally translated, it can mean that preparedness does away with anxiety, fear, or worry.  To the soldiers of the Yi Dynasty, it was the equivalent of the Boy Scout motto, “Always be prepared”.

So, for us in our practice of Jeet Kune Do, we are seeking self-sufficiency.  By gaining self-sufficiency through our training, our opponents do not bother us.  The constant rounds and repetitions of sparring, clinchwork, groundfighting, and weapons work move us to that confidence.  Whatever our opponent comes at us with, we have been here before.  It is not theory for us.

What I discovered through round after round and ambush after ambush during the Sudden Violence workshop was that techniques and concepts that I had drilled for years came out of me without plan, without decision.  I did not know how I was going attacked, from what angle, by whom, armed with what weapon.  Simple, basic things that I had practiced for years, that I drilled for years, that I had sparred for years, came out of me with no thought of anxiety or worry.

Notice the second party of Sijo’s statement.  His mind was made up.  The Zen practice of Jeet Kune Do provides rounds of developing that mindset, just as rounds of our kickboxing helps us hone our striking skills.  When that opponent appears in front of us, we breathe in and realize we are sufficient, and we breathe out the realization that our mind is made up already.  The decision that Sijo speaks of cannot be made in the moment of the fight, it happens well before hand.  It happens today, as you breathe and move with your partners in class.  It happens as class ends and you take a moment to come back to your breath.

The confidence and attitude that Sijo talks about have far reaching conclusions beyond that moment of sudden violence.  The romantic relationships, friendships, and even some of the mentors I took on when I was younger were because of need I had, a lack of sufficiency in myself.  Those relationships failed, brought me harm when they ended, and when I was in them, I feared losing them because I did not feel I could be self-sufficient.  As I grew and shed those relationships, each ending brought a renewed focus on myself, and with that, the realization that I didn’t need that person the way I thought I did.  When my wife and I finally met each other, I was in a completely different place than before, and I was lucky enough to meet someone sufficient in herself as well.

We encounter countless worries in our work lives.  Running my own business, each day presents new challenges and struggles.  At the outset, many of these seemed insurmountable.  Going from receiving a paycheck from the company I worked for to being completely responsible for generating every single penny that I earned could have been a frightening thing, and I have spoken with other small business owners who have shared those fears.  Thankfully, I had sought out a business mentor and coach who had run several successful martial arts schools who was able to train me and prepare me for the struggles that come with owning a business.

When I prepare, and when I set my mind to the task at hand, there is no place for anxiety, or fear, or worry in me.  I am ready to take this all the way to the end.

So today, I am going to take some time during my daily sitting meditation to introspect on the things cause me anxiety, fear, or worry in my life right now.  Then I am going to look at what preparations need to be made to eliminate the causes of those mental states.

Then, I am going to make up mind.

What are the opponents in front of you causing you fear?  Where in your life are you lacking self-sufficiency?  What do you need to do to find that self-sufficiency?



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