Coffee Break

Fear is good

I was asked to give advice to a man who was troubled by his fear. People, especially men, naturally look up to a person who is seen to be brave and strong. However, when it comes to being a martial artist, being scared or having a fearful nature is a great attribute.

I have a favourite Japanese author, who is also swordsman at the same time, and I benefit from his perspective a lot. He often mentions that being courageous or brave and being reckless (stupid courage in other words) are completely different. A reckless character who runs headlong into danger dies easily in the battlefield. A warrior who is brave in real battle healthily fears unknown aspects, and he carefully assesses and determines the current conditions and circumstances before he moves forward. A man who fears worthily is the brave man who survives through the war. This author thinks that being fearful is an innate quality and because of that he consistently trains hard for his military skills without being lazy. A man who has no fear tends to believe in himself too highly, possesses overconfidence and often neglects diligent training. Great martial artists are more fearful than brave.

Tokyo Riot policemen whom I trained with were all qualified in high rank Japanese budo, in either Judo, Kendo or Aikido and they were training hard daily to keep their mental and physical conditions well. Since they knew that they were strong compared to general people on the street they could face gangs and criminals with confidence. Yet, these tough men changed their perspectives after they joining the Yoshinkan to take the Senshusei Course (riot policemen’s course.) Not only were they scared of the severe training itself but of the top Shihans too – at that time it was Chida Sensei and Takeno Sensei – for their devil-like head smashing techniques. Still, it was natural for Chida Sensei and Takeno Sensei to be strong as they were young and robust. What these policemen were really scared of was the fact that the two Shihans that scared them so much were scared of a tiny, old and withered man, Master Gozo Shioda.          

They were astonished to hear these two Shihans’ scream and see their faces distorted by this little man’s effortless techniques. There, they learned to be scared and needed to be cautious even against someone who appeared to be weak and innocent. The moment they became fearful was the moment when they became the reliable, strong and brave policemen they needed to be. So, if you think you are scared of things, be proud of yourself, as you can be a great martial artist! 


Michiharu Mori                     

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