Scared of fighting

How to overcome the fear of fighting | by Tomislav Zivanovic | Martial Arts Unleashed

A human being consists of various instincts and fears. As most of us know, the strongest ones are the instincts for survival.

In very stressful situations, a human mind can react with a high dose of fear when we feel like our life is in danger. Thus, fear of fighting is a normal thing. It’s just a natural human reaction.

A fight by itself is a very stressful thing. It often leads to troubles with the law, injuries, and even deaths. Thus, there are a lot of things to be afraid of. But in the world of martial arts, fear of fighting is more like a myth that’s actually very real.

So, we have decided to take a closer look at the link between fears and fighting in martial arts. In this article, we are bringing you our findings and ways to overcome this fear.

What is the fear of fighting?

Fear of fighting falls into the category of normal fears. It is very interesting to us since it is the most common one. Yet, what scares us that much?

Of course, we are afraid of nasty injuries and death. But there is also a fear of ego and honor disturbance. The human ego is a tricky thing and it can hurt us more than bruises for sure. Also, we don’t want someone to embarrass us in front of friends or significant other.

It’s interesting how our perception of this fear has been changing through the ages. In the Middle Ages, for example, fear of fighting was a myth. Religion and mythology even viewed it as a curse or a hoax.

At the time, warriors were using various spiritual rituals to increase their confidence before the battle. New Zealand’s “HAKA” is a great example. Even the modern-day athletes are using meditation techniques to calm themselves.

HAKA performed by New Zeland’s rugby players — Source

With the rise of scientific fields such as psychology in the 20th century, humans have started searching for explanations of fears. For the first time, science gave us the chance to look deep into ourselves and figure out how to eliminate fears.

Fear and martial arts

Let’s be real, fear is an illusion that a man creates and conquers. When it comes to fear of fighting in martial arts, there are usually three main triggers:

· Oversensitivity
· Uncertainty in our fighting abilities
· Testimony or participation in the fight with the bad outcome in the past

It is well known that all fears have a close relationship with stress. So, fighting in the martial arts academy or in public places is a unique stress for every person. Whether it’s a sparring or professional fighting, it simply affects everyone.

Boxers and MMA fighters are often publicly talking about the presence of fear. Every athlete enters the battle with huge pressure on their back and fear. In the video below, you can hear the UFC fighter Donal Cerrone perfectly describing how fear of fighting looks in his case.

Still, martial arts are the source of fear and its medicine at the same time. As beginners, we were all anxious and scared in the first months of our journeys. Even with the great desire to learn and have fun, most new martial arts students are afraid of pain, injuries, and failure.

Also, we all know at least one guy who was very talented in the gym but failed to deliver under the lights of the ring. Regardless of how talented you are, you can’t succeed without a strong mindset, and here is why.

In what way does fear affect a man in a fight?

Fear plays a key role in the abilities of every athlete regardless of the sport. The ability to stay calm and embrace the moment can make a ton of difference during the competition.

In martial arts, it can affect a fighter in many ways. First, it raises the number of heartbeats and with that, the body seeks more oxygen. This leads to faster and uncontrollable breathing which causes fatigue. No matter how well trained you are, fear will empty your gas tank like crazy.

Further, it freezes a fighter and has a direct impact on their movement. Instead of thinking about the game plan, they are anticipating the attack and strikes. Bit by bit, your mind will enter a survival mode. Thus, it will start working incredibly fast and the only thing you want at this point is for a fight to end.

What separates the champions from average fighters is the ability to control the emotions and fears. Every great fighter has the ability to stop the emotions from turning into fear and panic.

What can you do to eliminate the fear of fighting?

Have you ever watched the whole Boxing or MMA match? Have you ever noticed that both fighters are hesitating to strike at the beginning? The thing is, both fighters have brought a certain amount of fear into the ring.

But, have you noticed the behavior of the same fighters in the last rounds of the fight? They’re both confident and their hands are swinging all over the place. Suddenly, none of them cares about pain, injuries, or ego anymore.

This teaches us that the only way to get rid of fear is to fight!


Though it may sound weird, fear of fighting can become your ally as well. It keeps you awake and focused on what you have practiced in the gym. Also, it gives you a better awareness of what’s happening in the fight.

Now, let’s switch our focus on the positive things and what could you do to make your martial arts experience more pleasant.

OSU Gym — Check out our exclusive gym with workouts and martial arts tutorials from top influencers in the space.

Get to know your fears

It’s very important to know your fears and to accept them. In order to defeat the enemy, you have to know who you are fighting against.

Every week, give yourself around 15–20 minutes to visualize the training session. Lay comfortably in your bed, take a couple of deep breaths and start thinking about those things you are afraid the most. Imagine receiving hard strikes, pain, and everything that bothers you at that point.

Breathing and isolation will allow your mind to calm down and focus on the problem. In the beginning, it will surely be difficult and unpleasant.


This way, you can prepare yourself for the next training session. Even if the worst happens, you will be prepared for it. This can make all the fears less intensive and with that, you can get more confident.

Over time, the visualizations will become more peaceful and fear of fighting will not have that much of an impact on you.

Open yourself about the problem

If you keep the problem for yourself, your fears will keep on coming back. Soon enough, a person like this can turn into desperate and without a solution.

Thus, the first time you meet the martial arts instructor, tell them about your fear of fighting. Remember, no one comes to the martial arts classes with the intention to hurt someone. Training facilities full of a positive atmosphere and everybody need to be respectful.

When the coaches are aware of your fears, they will become your ally in overcoming them quickly. For them, you are not the “special” one. Many of their previous martial arts students have shared similar problems and these trainers are more than capable to help you.

This way, you will start working on eliminating the problem from the beginning.

Be consistent and train smart

Showing up in the gym as much as you can is the best way you can put an end to all the anxiety and fears. You need to have trust in the process of learning and be on the mats at least three times a week. But this doesn’t mean you should train like a maniac and sparr every day. Instead, be smart!

Once your coach feels confident, you will have to feel some live-action with the partner. However, don’t panic. People tend to forget there are many variations of sparring in martial arts.

As a beginner, you will take part in controlled sparring. This means the focus is on performing the techniques slowly and gently. For instance, you and your partner will throw a jab-cross combination at each other and then repeat the process 10 times.

This is one of the best ways to boost your confidence and fight without fear. With the slower and weaker punches, your body gets used to being hit and it becomes much stronger. But above all, your confidence grows as well.

The human body is very adaptable to various things, including getting hit. But you should also focus on becoming more muscular by lifting weights.

Take control over the emotions

Emotional reactions are a very bad thing, especially in stressful situations like fighting. It is not helpful in solving the problems in your personal life either. Yet learning how to control these things is very hard.

Emotions are activating various instincts and push you far away from what’s reasonable and rational. We can see examples of emotional reactions in just about every fight.

A better fighter is always calmer, more focused and disciplined.

There are many ways you can train how to control your emotions. In the martial arts world, the most popular are yoga exercises and meditation.

In combination with the training sessions, these exercises will improve your focus and keep your mind calm and relaxed. In other words, it helps you build strong mental resistance to fear and let go of the ego.

If something bad happens in the gym or you feel anxious for any reason, step away from the mats and take a couple of deep breaths.

Remind yourself why you are here, what you want to achieve and what steps you need to make. Don’t let the fear to hold you back from your martial arts dreams.

Final Words

It takes some time for the one to overcome the fear of fighting. Like everything in life, it requires energy, patience, and dedication.

As martial artists, we have all battled against the fears at some point. We all share similar fears, and you are not any different. Follow the presented advice above and enjoy the martial arts experience to the fullest.

How to Overcome Fear In A Street Fight? – Law Of The Fist

by admin

Let’s face it! Fear can cause you to freeze in a street fight or at least not fight at your best abilities. So how can you overcome it?

Table of Contents

I have received many questions from the blog readers, and I could not help but notice that the common trait between all these questions was the remorse of not acting properly during the moment of confrontation.

The men who asked about the subject were mentally beating themselves up.

Most of them blamed themselves “Why did I feel scared?” “Am I a coward for feeling so?” “Why did my hands go shaky?” “Why did my knees went jelly?”, etc.

My answer is always: “Stop beating yourself up mentally! This is a natural phenomenon, You are not the only one”

Important note: most of our fighting tips are for a one-on-one situation, if you are looking for tips on how to fight multiple opponents check this link here

Fear in a fight is like when you get high. If you freak out from the weird feeling of your neurotransmitters getting affected by THC you are likely going to have a bad trip.

But if you understand that the feeling is completely natural and you don’t freak out from it you are more likely going to enjoy your trip or even have a great artistic performance.
Same thing with fear. You have to understand the phenomenon first.

In a fight or flight situation the skin turns pale because the blood vessels to the skin contract and the blood flow goes rather to the muscles. 

This evolutionary biological reaction prevents the skin from bleeding and wasting the so much needed blood in a fight or flight situation.

Adrenaline stops temporarily digestion, which is why you can feel nauseous. Blood leaves the stomach and goes where it is required. 

Our ancestors needed all the blood they could in their legs and skeletal muscles to run from that prehistoric saber-toothed tiger.

So in a fight situation, your body decides that dodging a powerhouse punch coming to the chin has more priority than digesting that burrito you ate in lunch.

Your body can’t afford being overheated in a survival situation, so sweat glands open up to cool down the body.

This trembling is a direct response to our fight or flight system. The sympathetic nervous system (Which activates/deactivates the fight or flight mode) releases adrenaline to the skeletal muscles which turns your body into a McLaren P1.

Now your body is in full mode to throw down. In case of no action, the adrenaline released in your blood stays circulating in muscles and causes your limbs to tremble.

So once you throw down and action takes place you will be well served with that adrenaline in your blood and you will not feel the trembling anymore.

Ask any of your friends, you will have the same answer that once you start action the jitters go away with all its symptoms.

Those were the symptoms of fear. Totally natural symptoms that appear on the body once the flight or flight mode gets activated.

This knowledge is the tool that will make you understand that you are in a completely natural state once you feel all these symptoms happening in your body.

So next time you feel your heart racing like a Lamborghini’s engine and you are sick to your stomach and you are sweating like a nun in a cucumber farm just remember that you are supposed to feel this way, there is nothing wrong with you.

That is just your body gearing itself up to throw down. Go with the flow and defend yourself aggressively!

Your body is turning into The Hulk, the adrenaline running in your system will make you super fast, super strong and your pain tolerance will be super high.

Now that your body is operating under Hulk mode, don’t waste your hulk power on futilities.

If you fail to diffuse the fight and the aggressor decides to penetrate your arms reach, then this is a good sign that the aggressor means business. Hulk smash!

Feeling scared is not exclusive to your regular Joe. Even the best professional fighters feel scared before a fight.

Listen to the legendary 7 year reigning UFC champion Georges St-Pierre talk about fear

There is a great article we wrote about how do professional MMA fighters control their jitters

We talked excessively on “fight or flight”. But in reality, in a dangerous situation our response is not binary, there is a third response that some people feel in a street fight, freezing.

Some people might feel reactionless and static in a fight, feeling nothing and not knowing what to do. This freezing behavior is common in animals too as their last line of defense.

When an animal is overwhelmed by the situation it might have a freezing response like a deer when it gets overwhelmed by headlights, it is an attempt to slide under the radar and not attract attention to it.

Or sometimes when an animal is being preyed on and is overcome by the predator, it might fake its death so the predator stops its attack and the prey can seize the opportunity to flee.

Take a look at this snake

Before telling you what to do, you have to understand first what to activate and what to deactivate. The human body works under two modes and they work proportionally:

1-Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS): Responsible for our fight or flight mode

2-Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS): Responsible for our relaxed mode

If you freeze in a street fight then your sympathetic nervous system has taken over your parasympathetic system, so what you have to do is to reactivate your parasympathetic system (Responsible for relaxation).

Breathe from your diaphragm. Take deep breaths, not from your lungs only but extend it to your abdomen.

If you put your hand on your belly you must feel it going up and down.

This abdomen breathing or diaphragm breathing slows down the breathing process and sends signals to the brain that the situation is not that alarming and that the body is not in great danger.

As a result, the body stops producing all those neurotransmitters and hormones responsible for extreme high speed and agility.

Remember, controlling fear is a just a fraction of the game. Now go and get yourself desensitized by exposing yourself to the same stimulus of a fight by doing a lot of sparring in martial arts.

If you have never been to a martial arts school then start now no matter what age you are. Martial arts will teach you how to fight, and therefore it will build your self-confidence.

Getting into a fight knowing that you have zero skills on how to fight will always make you feel terribly scared.

Do lots of sparrings on the ground (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, wrestling, sambo,etc.), have sparrings in boxing, Muay Thai, Kyokushin karate, etc.

Sparrings have to be full-contact from time to time. Light and semi-contact sparring is good for establishing technique, but it does not simulate a real fight.

If you want to take things up a notch get involved in competition, the type of martial art does not matter, competition, in general, has a great stimulus of fear.

If you expose yourself to all these stimuli repeatedly your emotional responsiveness to street fights will diminish significantly.

And remember, fight only in defense and bullies suck!

90,000 child does not know how to fend for himself

01 October 2022, 21:45

Article in the development of

The film "Poddubny"

The film "Escalibur-Camp 2015"

The reader writes: "" "" My son is very smart, affectionate, active baby. But he is very afraid of aggression or just, let's say, a violent manifestation of feelings on the part of other CHILDREN.He communicates with adults with pleasure and is absolutely normal (he is a sociable child).I know that I myself am to blame for the fact that that once did not give him complete independence in the sandbox. He asked to play with him, and I never refused. And I was always protected from the attacks of other children. But it's not about that. How can we change the situation? How can we help not be afraid? How do I convince him that he is strong and can fight back? I'm worried that he will become a whipping boy in kindergarten. nine0003

In fact, the question is broader: a child needs to learn to protect himself from peers, from other adults, and sometimes from his own parents...

Question from a reader

on friendliness, the ability to negotiate in a good way, to share and change. As a result, the son does not know how to stand up for himself and his own, he is lost and afraid of screams, aggression. What can and should be done about it?


You've got it all mixed up: why does one exclude you from the other? There are aggressive boys - and cowards at the same time. And there are quite friendly, determined to agree on everything in a good way, while being brave and able to fill the face of someone who does not understand in a good way. nine0019

You need to teach your son how to fight. More precisely, not to participate in fights, but the ability to respond to the offender, including in his language, if necessary. With the right upbringing, yours should not like to fight, but be able to do it well. Let him be inclined towards friendship and cooperation, but if necessary, be ready to strike back.

Total: quickly look for a good section of boxing or martial arts, the main thing is to have a reasonable coach. A good coach will teach your son how to combine these two sides: friendliness and the ability to stand up for himself. nine0003

By the way, if you can send a child to the Excalibur camp (watch the video), many issues can be resolved.

Single question:

How to teach a child to protect himself from dangerous adults?

Among adults, unfortunately, there are also thugs who can kidnap and rape your child. How to prevent these dangers?

Some children, even knowing how to act in a dangerous situation, remain silent. Because after many years of suggestions, “Don’t make noise!”, “Behave yourself!”, “Good children don’t behave like that!” afraid to shout and call other adults for help. Your child must be careful - and brave at the same time. You must instruct him in advance how to behave in problem situations, but knowledge alone is not enough: oddly enough, training is also needed here. Your child's actions must be confident and practiced. See details → nine0003

Video from Yana Schastie: interview with Professor of Psychology N.I. Kozlov

Topics of conversation: What kind of woman do you need to be in order to successfully marry? How many times do men get married? Why are there so few normal men? Childfree. Parenting. What is love? A story that couldn't be better. Paying for the opportunity to be close to a beautiful woman.

  • Parenting book
  • Problematic features of children
  • Raising a boy

Comments (6):

Guest, March 19, 2014, 23:31

After all, the clear question was raised how to stand up for yourself among your peers, how not to become a scapegoat. What to do when you are beaten or insulted. How to respond to the fact that the teacher, instead of punishing the aggressor, punishes the victim. No pancake about uncles write.

Guest, April 10, 2014, 03:49

Yes, many probably share your vision of the issue, but I am for something else - for openness and friendliness in relations with others. Intersecting on business or on a walk with mothers with children, my child and I can happily strike up a conversation, say hello if anything, thank you, joke ... And in response we see how the child hides behind his mother with fright or looks like a wolf cub .. And what about mothers? Who is like, but not very friendly ... This, it seems, is typical only for Russia. The problem stated in the title must be solved in a different way, without frightening children by communicating with all adults. I keep looking for how. nine0003



N.I. Kozlov, April 10, 2014, 08:06

Thank you, the Psychologos editors are with you. To scare children by communicating with adults is not the point.

Life is beautiful, October 13, 2015, 3:39 pm

Nikolai Ivanovich, but how can you teach a preschooler to stand up for himself? Tell me, if it's not difficult, you have three sons. Maybe there is a relevant article? I haven't found it yet. The fact is that when we raised our son, we focused on friendliness, the ability to negotiate in a good way, share and change. As a result, the son does not know how to stand up for himself and his own, he is lost and afraid of screams, aggression. What can and should be done about it? nine0003

Guest, May 04, 2016, 03:59 PM

My child is 2 years old, the teacher said that he cannot fight back when he is hit, and when they make comments, he immediately cries! How to raise a real man from him?

Guest, February 19, 2018, 11:09 pm

I asked a "question from a reader" a few years ago, at first I looked in the comments, but without waiting for an answer, I stopped waiting. It turned out that Nikolai Ivanovich answered directly in the article, I read it and last year they sent my son to wrestling! Although hockey was originally planned, and even put on skates. They did not regret it, and I am very grateful to you, Nikolai Ivanovich, for your invaluable advice! the son has been studying for six months, he has not lost his friendliness, but he is not afraid of pain, he is not afraid of the enemy, he is not afraid of falling. And dad began to do homework (in wrestling), together with him, we became even closer! Thanks a lot!!! nine0003

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Raising a Winner: Why Teaching Your Child to Fight Back is So Important


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“My son Nikita is 7 years old. I noticed that my son often returns from a walk not in the mood. We talked. It turns out that a 6-year-old bully comes to the site, who either teases, or takes away toys, or even swings stones at all. I say: “You are older, can’t you answer the offender?” And Nikita so quietly: “I feel sorry for him.” How to teach a son to respond correctly to injustice and how to temper his character?

Evgeniya, Petrozavodsk

Family psychologist

How to teach a child to fight and not be afraid: father is an example for a son

Raising a real man from a boy is the task of a father. If he is not, then grandfather, uncle, godfather. But not mothers or grandmothers. A woman can tell the right things, but only a father can show. The boy is "pollinated" from his father and becomes infected with masculinity - in joint activities, games, memories, reactions to what is happening. It is the father, analyzing the situation, who advises the child how to answer the offender, give it in the nose or send it away. nine0003

Should adults intervene in the conflict? My position is yes. If a child cannot defend himself and defend his interests, it means that his mother and father did not teach him this. At the same time, it is important that parents are able to conduct a dialogue without rudeness, insults and threats, calmly and confidently. Then the baby will receive the appropriate communication experience, which will be useful to him in the future.

If you notice a quarrel, there is no need to complain to the bully's mother and, moreover, to threaten him. It is enough to appear next to the sandbox and ask the children: “Are you all right?” Usually this is enough to make the mischievous switch. You can ask not to take the toy or return it, but do it kindly - in this case, the conflict will be reduced to zero. nine0003

Getty Images

Competently react - almost win

Nikita from the letter says that he feels sorry for the offender. Apparently, he mentally painted a picture that he could give the bully a serious rebuff: break his nose, bruise him, tear his clothes.

“Yes, you can be angry with the offender, but this does not mean at all that you should inflict physical damage on him with your actions,” you explain. In fact, anger and aggression, absolutely sincere emotions, go in parallel with the instinct of self-preservation. And they are very important for personal development. nine0003

Unfortunately, it happened so historically, and for this "thank you" to the Soviet upbringing, that in our country an indignant person is often blamed and shamed. “If you are a beech, kids won’t be friends with you,” is that familiar? So parents, without realizing it, inspire the child with a ban on the manifestation of negative emotions. And they don't give you any choice.

Often adults themselves are to blame for the fact that a child grows up timid and shy. Moms and grandmothers are in a hurry to do everything for him, to protect, insure and put straws even in those cases when you can not do this. And the kid must learn to communicate with peers on his own. But parents definitely need to be close to a small company. Therefore, before teaching a preschooler the basics of self-defense, check yourself whether you are doing everything to ensure that he grows up self-confident, non-confrontational, but able to protect himself. nine0003

Here are some rules.

  • Explain to your child that when someone hurts you, you need to be able to defend yourself.

  • “Being good” does not mean that you have to endure an offense, a child will not become bad if he rebuffs the offender.

  • Deal with the problem situation with him. Discussion will reduce the emotional coloring of the event.

  • Build independence and courage in your preschooler.

Maskot/Maskot/Getty Images

Reacting to anger

It is important to teach your child to behave in an environmentally friendly way during a quarrel with peers. If negative emotions are forbidden in your family, the boy is unlikely to be able to stand up for himself, because answering is tantamount to allowing himself to get angry. And this is taboo. Remember how you react to his anger? If so: “Bastard, in what tone are you talking to me,” then by doing so you accuse the little man, reject him. nine0003

“I understand that you are angry, but you can't swing and shout at your loved ones. Try stomping your foot, banging your fist against the wall, hitting a pillow, and you will feel better, ”with this option, feelings are accepted and directed in a more constructive direction.

Don't hold back

Obviously, the natural reaction of the psyche is to mirror the bad guy, that is, to fight back. But since the society has done its job, and the boy's aggression is tightly boarded up, she stays with him. As a result, auto-aggression occurs, then vegetovascular dystonia, and then diseases. You can’t run away from nature, therefore, when we meet with an external stimulus, we need to respond to it, the adrenaline hormone is responsible for this. nine0003

When adrenaline is not released, cortisol, the stress hormone, takes its place. And the first thing he does is destroy the immune system. Therefore, parents, firstly, it is important to explain to the child that he has the right to express emotions and feelings, whatever they may be. And secondly, to introduce him to explain that no one has the right to violate the emotional and physical boundaries of his personality. Regrettably, parental behavior often translates the opposite. And this also serves as the reason that the child does not have defense skills - they are either not developed or repulsed. nine0003

Natalia Kedrova, a Gestalt therapist and mother of many children, describes in detail 26 emotions in the wonderful book “The ABC of Emotions”. Definitely recommend for kids and adults! The same anger, for example, can be destructive and constructive - as a manifestation of a vital impulse: to shout, call, slap on the shoulder.

Tips for preschool children

There is a wonderful exercise called "Three Steps". We play it with the guys at trainings. First, I ask: “When someone does something unpleasant to you, how do you feel?” - "I'm offended." - "And then?" - "I'm angry." The child learns to understand what is happening to him. I then explain that the first step in any argument is to tell the offender how you feel. The second step is to state the consequences: “When I get angry, I want to hit you.” And the third step is to set boundaries: “If you don’t stop, I will do what I promised.” nine0003

If, after three warnings, the offender does not change his mind and stop the bullying, the child can legally fulfill his plan. He said: I'll beat you, so you have to beat.

Getty Images/Cultura RF

Tips for teenagers

Teenage boys are easily provoked into conflict. Hot-tempered, unsure of themselves, evaluating their place in the team, they easily succumb to provocations.

Learn more