I’ve been a long-time devotee of the martial arts. In fact, I’ve
studied, trained and taught in various styles, off and on, for over
35 years. There have been gaps in my training, but I always come back
to it, often with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.
Because, truth be told, there is so much to learn in the martial arts!
And the more you learn, the more you realize you have yet to learn.
So it’s truly a lifetime endeavor.
Probably one of the most fun periods in my training was when I did
full contact kickboxing. I know that sounds crazy, describing it as
“fun”. But it was!
However, I have to admit, when I first started I was a little apprehensive
about what a full contact fight would entail.
I had competed before, but only in tournament competition, where the contact is
(theoretically) controlled, and competitors who make excessive contact are
Of course, there is the potential for injury in this type of sparring, just as there is
in every sport.
But in full contact competition, you are getting into the ring with someone who
wants to knock your block off. Or, at a minimum, beat up on you more than you
beat up on them in order to win the fight.
As I trained for my first fight, I was trying to focus on all the right things in terms
of my physical and mental preparation. I had been through this type of
preparation before, so I knew what I was doing.
But the fear of getting injured kept creeping back into my head.
As I thought about and tried to analyze this fear, I realized that what I was really
afraid of was getting knocked out and embarrassed.
I thought about my opponent coming at me and really laying it on. I wondered
if I would be able to counter with a sufficient level of aggressiveness. I moved
completely away from concentrating on what I needed to do to win the fight.
This type of thinking resulted in increased apprehension and anxiety, and caused
me to get completely off track mentally. I felt myself literally tighten up and my
Fortunately, after a few days of this, I realized what was going on and put an
end to my negatively focused thinking.
I did this by changing my focus from what I couldn’t control to what I COULD
Instead of thinking about what my opponent might do to me, and what might
happen as a result, I began to focus my thinking on what I was going to do to
I concentrated on the techniques and tactics that I knew would work best for
me. I recommitted myself to the physical training that my instructor had mapped
out for me.
As a result, I won my first full contact fight with a unanimous decision.
The more significant outcome, however, was what I learned from the way I
handled my fear and apprehension, and how this helps me in dealing with
the stresses, issues and problems that are so much a part of life in today’s
If you’re a human being, you can probably relate to the feelings of being totally
at the whim of outside forces, feeling like you have no control over many of the
events, both trivial and major, that can serve as stressors in your life.
When facing a challenging situation, you may have experienced increased stress,
apprehension, anxiety, and even fear. This is a natural reaction. We are inherently
afraid of change, and afraid of people and events that take us out of our comfort
Instead of focusing on what you could do about the situation, you probably focused
on what was being done to you, or on what might happen to you.
What I learned from fighting is that you have to focus on what you can control.
You may not be able to control all of the crazy, out-of-left field events, or even the
trivial daily annoyances, that life throws at you. But you CAN control how you think
about and react to those events and annoyances.
When you focus on what you can do, you begin to establish a method for handling
surprises, challenges, and bad news that minimizes stress and anxiety.
Through simple strategies and techniques, such as the dynamic deep breathing
taught in the Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume 1 , you learn how to
temper your reaction, calm yourself, and regain control over your mental and
Focus on what you can control.
You Can Do It!
Copyright Karen Van Ness 2010