SP ArCHIVES: Confidence

BN wrote: I often read/hear that training increases confidence and that this confidence will be seen by others, or sensed by others, and thus if you train hard you will likely be left alone.

I’d like to ask you if you have found this to be the case? I think it is particularly relevant in your case as you said in the Adrenal Dump post that you weren’t intimidated by the dangrous and violent people that you have met in your life. So it’s reasonable to assume that you must seem very confident in the eyes of observers.

I mean, do people tend to give you a wide berth (not in a negative sense) when you are going about your daily life?

I am asking this as I feel that having this effect would keep stupid trivial crap from happening. Silly arguments would be more avoidable, and unecessary confrontation would probably be less of a problem generally.

The other side to my question is, how to you react when someone weaker than you pisses you off? Do you find it difficult to manage a situation like this? I’m asking because I meet rude people of all ages , and both sexes. People it wouldn’t be the done thing to bash. I have always wondered how you handle this kind of low key bullshit.

Steve replied: Let’s start with the low key bullshit. When I was at Bourne Hill we used to get a lot of trespassers, I had to deal with them but I couldn’t hit them. Here’s an example. Got some guy running around in his shorts and fucking t-shirt, so I stops him, gets a mouthful ‘who do I think I am, the land belongs only to God, he’s free to run around as much as he likes.’ So I says, ‘OK, then you’re going to run in the fucking nude, because if you don’t fucking get out of here, dickhead, I’m going to strip you and you can run anywhere you like after that.’ He disappeared in the appropriate direction, i.e. the one my fucking finger was pointing in.

Another example of winning without fighting, one of the trespassers was on a bike, so I got the bike and took the valves out. Tires went straight down and I winged them into the field. So now he had to fucking walk home with his bike.

This idea of me being in the company of dangerous people, I’m not sure you quite get it. In some cases, the intimidation factor plays the other way round. They were in dangerous company, too.

I didn’t achieve this mindset through training, that’s who I am, and what my life experiences have given me.

With regards to confidence, yeah it sure is an important ingredient and training does produce it, but in almost all cases it’s bullshit confidence. It’s not based on fighting experience (either outside or inside the gym), it’s based on being a bullshit artist and having all the fucking decorations to go with it.

But on a more serious note, from a fighting perspective the thing that gives me the confidence to take the fight to the other guy is naturally based on my experience, but also the fact that I know that I can take a shot. I can deal with exhaustion and pain and still keep going, and I know on that basis that I’ll win in the end.

Central to my training is having a sound defence, which includes the above as well as the skills to support that mental and physical toughness. If the guy can’t hurt me, take me down, or keep me down, then he effectively can’t win. I cover not losing before focusing on winning. That’s where the confidence come from, and that’s what the hard training delivers, and people don’t want to accept that. You’ve got to be able to take a pounding and come back. You can’t take some easy option like a dim mak strike as a solution to avoid doing this kind of training. That provides false confidence, which is OK if all you ever need to do is bluff your way out of a situation: you exude confidence, and I’ve seen a lot of guys like that in the martial arts. I can see straight past that and I see the guy i’m going to beat. And probably a lot of street fighters do the same.

The idea that if you’re a great martial artist, you walk in the room and there’s this aura and everybody turns and looks–that’s bullshit.

Trish has just brought up the fact that there’s somebody we both know who we socialise with occasionally. He walks in the room and he’s Mr Tough Guy. He’s hefty, he’s got the leather jacket and the boots, the hard look, the swagger, the NY attitude and everybody gives him a wide berth because he’s perceived as being someone you don’t want to mess with. One time I introduced Tom O’Shaughnessy to this guy and the guy turned his back on Tom and me and proceeded to hold court. Tom is a very soft-spoken Irishman, unassuming in appearance and manner, but let me tell you, you don’t want to fuck with Tom. Tom and I looked at each other and Tom gave me the eye and said, ‘He really doesn’t know, does he, Steve?’

The truth is, people don’t give me a wide berth. I’m Mr. Nobody. I’ve even been mistaken for the janitor at a course once. Everybody was looking around for the instructor and I was already there!

This big ego macho shit, can’t stand it. I’m not going to show what I’ve got until I’m going to give it. Then it’s too fucking late.

Going back to the low-key bullshit, I’ve got a real smart mouth, I’m quick-tongued and I can cut you down. Most people go away from a confrontation thinking of what they should have said. It’s already out of my mouth. And even when I’m talking, I’m engaging him verbally but mentally I’ve already put him away.

In my book it’s more important to train and have the fighting mindset, conditioning, athleticism, skills and not make a big deal about it, than to have the aura of confidence but in actual fact your training hasn’t been based on the reality of fighting.

You see guys training, they have a look on their face that shows they’re living out a fantasy in their training, and they look confident, but it’s all a fantasy. And the unfortunate thing is, people are attracted to these guys because people may well be entering the martial arts to raise their confidence, so they seek to emulate that confident person. Believing what he’s doing will provide that. But all he’s offering is a load of bullshit.

BN, it’s the training you do and the trainer you’re with that’s important. BUt the most important thing is that the training must include the unbiased testing of what you believe to be true, so that you’re not basing your confidence on a false premise.

The whole thing is about the testing.