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Your Mental Toughness is Your Most Important Asset!

April 4, 2011

I remember one of my friends back in the 70s had just won the Los Angeles City Karate Championships. Back in those days the winner received a 6-foot tall trophy. He was jumping with joy. People looked up to him at that moment. Many thought he was a really “bad mutha.” Heck, back then, it was assumed that having a blackbelt in karate and beating all your competitors in a tournament made you a fighting machine.

After he left that day having won, he was challenged by some street thug. My friend thought it would be easy to beat somebody who had no formal training in the martial arts. And he had just beat some of the best. So he prepared by getting into a stance and as he was doing that, the thug suddenly rushed him. He punched, kicked, slapped, my friend until he went down. Not only did he go down, his mindset could not handle what just happened. He had not experienced anything like this in the dojo.

My friend had just been beaten to a pulp by somebody off the street. After this his confidence sank to almost nothing. Why did this happen? I talked to him about it later. He had experienced what most martial artists think about, “Will my training actually work in real life?” His had not. First and foremost, he was not ready mentally. He had a mindset that works in a safe and controlled environment that had rules. On the street there are no rules. People there have developed a toughness of survival.

More recently, a fan of the San Francisco Giants was in Los Angeles watching his team play. After the game, he was pushed and prodded by some punk fans of the Dodgers. He tried to walk away they kept pursuing him and his friends. He was attacked and severely beaten. He’s now in critical condition in a coma. His ex-wife describes him as always wanting to help, but passive when it comes to confrontation.

As a former Los Angeles Police Officer and having served in the Marines, I learned that having a tough mindset will help you to survive and to thrive against street thugs. It starts there. It’s your most important asset! All training that can be described as self-defense, should incorporate reality-based concepts that help to develop mental toughness.

Also, studying newspaper articles on victims of crimes and imagine what you could have done differently will help. Combine that with actual training, then you become better prepared when it actually happens to you.

I’ll have future articles on how to develop a tough and winning mindset. Start where you’re at and start creating that today.

-Bob Choat

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