Self-defense and mental preparation: what they do not tell you

What risks run those who do not have a solid mental preparation?

In a serious self-defense path, mental training starts before the physical one.

One of the most important (but undervalued) aspects of self-defense is the psychological preparation for the stress to bear in an unexpected dangerous situation.

Martial arts do not teach you how to manage improvise extremely intense emotions / sensations like:

  • Pain
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Tension
  • Panic
  • Adrenaline

Everyone reacts instinctively in a different manner but even just one of these mental states is capable of:

  • Make unaccessible all our martial skills (both physical both technical. endangering our lives)
  • Lead us to perform disproportionate reactions (with irreparable consequences for the rest of our life)

A note by Master Kongling – Due to civilization, most humans have lost the natural attitude (that animals possess) to correctly manage the improvise dangerous situations. The animals trough their instinct always know how and when it is possible /necessary to fight, escape, (etc.). Try to imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t controlled myself in this situation: Self-defense: aggression in front of a supermarket.

How to train the mind for self-defense

The first thing that we must stress is that there is no exercise that can truly prepare us to a similar stress level, the best thing is to:

  • Practice sparring regularly (read the mini-guide The meaning of sparring fighting in martial arts) – This can teach us to control adrenaline, anger, that pain is only a signal and not a so terrible thing (as long as we have not been truly damaged and we can continue to fight)
  • Practice meditation regularly (read Meditation method 1) – This can teach us to prevent and manage the spikes of anger, tension and panic (but it is not a matter of 2 weeks)
  • Train our martial skills every day (read Why martial arts do not work: 5 reasons) – There are no shortcuts, we have to dedicate a minimum of 15-30 minutes every day (read How to start practicing from scratch) if we truly want our body and our mind to respond in time and effectively (read the mini-guide Self-Defense: is it possible to always be ready to fight?)
  • Face our fears – We have to gradually address each of our fear, from the most irrelevant and irrational (eg. small superstitions) to the most incisive and real (eg. economic problems)
  • Have a plan (start reading Personal defense: the S.A.F.E. method) – No one can build a good strategy (made of rational tactics) in the moment of need, the focal point is to study a plan and to test it in realistic simulations (not cooperative, etc.)
  • Know the law in detail (read Best martial arts for self-defense) – Knowledge is power and can become a weapon at our service; we have to be aware of what we can and what we cannot do in terms of proportional reaction, legal consequences (etc.)
  • Open the mind to tolerance – It is not strong who responds to every minimum provocation, is strong who resist to them to the bitter end; any self-defense expert knows that when there are no (unequivocally) endangered lives the solution is negotiating (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///); one of the best ways to avoid being drawn into the spiral of violence is to try to understand the “wrong motivations” that push those who are against us to humble themselves to the point of attack us (frustration, poverty, mental limits, etc.)

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Have you ever experienced the high level of stress of a real self-defense context?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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