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Man Skills: Are You Afraid of Fear?

It’s Jimbo, battling the front-lines of manhood to bring you today’s most manly of man-skills. (That’s a lot of pressure my friend, especially if my wife ever finds out).

Today I’ll cover one of the most nut-shriveling emotions of all time… fear.

  • Badasses Have No Fear: The REAL story.
  • Desensitizing: Because you’re just too sensitive.
  • Internal Dialog: Little man vs the Elephant.

Badasses Have No Fear:

The real story.

For over 20 years now I’ve been working with some of the most hardcore testosterone-driven fighters in the world.

Israeli commandos… Russian Spetnaz hardasses… reformed street brawlers… cage fighters… Long Range Recon Scouts… Black Operatives… Green Berets… DELTA Operatives… U.S. Navy SEALS… and a lot more.

(Thankfully, I’ve managed to stay on the good side of all these guys with money and carefully chosen words. But mostly money).

Okay… before going any further, let me give you a couple of brief FightFast instructor profiles so that you at least have an idea of what I’m talking about when I say “badass”.

Tom Proctor, for example, is a “cage” fighter who’s been in over 300 streetfights and illegal “pit” fights. He was also shot during a bounty hunting gig but managed to stay on his feet and get his hands on the dude who shot him.

Tom’s only comment about his assailant was: “All I know is that I got out of the hospital before he did”.

Tom also became a rather well-respected stuntman and Hollywood actor, (who always plays the “bad guy” for some reason).

My next profile is Jim Smokey West.

I dedicated a Man-Skills bio on Jim a couple of weeks back so you may remember him. He’s a former U.S. Special Forces combat soldier and (as a kind of side gig) has been in over 600 street fights.

He’s been shot and stabbed and even had his pinky toe ripped off in a fight. Oh… and he’s been a FightFast instructor for over 20 years now, (yeah, that guy).

I could give you a bunch more profiles, but this should give you an idea of the kind of relentless fightin’ dudes I’m talking about.

Common sense would suggest that guys like Proctor and Smokey have a super-human ability to feel NO fear when faced with mortal danger, righto?


In fact, both of them have openly admitted to feeling a-feared every single time they faced combat — although it lessened over time.

It’s kinda like public speaking, (except with less blood and broken teeth and stuff).

Because research shows that the “fear of public speaking” actually ranks higher than the “fear of death” in terms of sheer terror. (And “death while public speaking” is off the charts).

The solution to fear of speaking is to simply PRACTICE.

The more public speaking you do, the more “de-sensitized” you’ll become — and the less chance there is that you’ll “freeze-up” while speaking in front of a crowd of people.

So the good news is that if you can survive 600 or so streetfights and multiple years of lethal combat — your fear will be lessened.

But let’s say you want to stay alive, out of prison, and would like to keep the nose on your face exactly where it sits.

How can you “lessen” the fear of fighting without engaging in risky combat?


Practice without… practicing.

Okay… to “lessen” the chance of freezing-up in a fight means you gotta practice… and so how do you practice without… er, you know… actually practicing. (Oh boy).

Well, Spec Op trainer and FightFast instructor John Nottingham has come up with a clever solution — something he calls “aggression drills”.

He calls his system “Viper” training, and it’s a way to make your body and brain feel like it’s in a fight and experience an “adrenaline dump” — without actually taking punches to the face.

It’s proven to be an effective way to log-in “practice time” to avoid brain-freeze.

Basically the training is a series of live exercises in which students are subjected to intensive threats, verbal abuse, and insults from a man in a “padded fight suit”, (sounding a lot like the time I totaled the old man’s car back in high school… minus the protective padding).

Nottingham’s training is a lot like flying in a “simulator”… it sure feels real. But the screaming and insults and threats are all for show. Nobody’s life is really in danger.

Turns out this “dump” (sounds nasty, but you know what I mean) is the primary culprit in “brain freeze”. Basically, the heart starts racing, an internal dialog fogs the brain, and you begin losing fine motor skills, (and oh yeah, you forget your own name too).

The training is intensive and revealing.

Turns out that when confronted by a large, intimidating figure shouting threats and obscenities in their face most of the students (even the martial artists) crumbled like a dry cookie… collapsed like a house of cards… disintegrated like a Yugo hit by a semi-truck… fell apart like a wet cardboard box… went to pieces like a trailer home in a tornado…

…or uh… or a bunch of other cheesy similies for stuff that falls apart because it’s really flimsy and crappy.

After the verbal “attack” most of the students were unable to even describe simple details of the event or even answer the question, “was the adversary armed with a knife or gun?”

They simply didn’t know.

When the yelling and threats started, their brains locked-up like a frozen turkey… a quick-stop slushy… Walt Disney’s cryogenically preserved head, or um… or, uh, a bunch of other stuff that’s really, really cold and frozen.

What’s really fascinating is that the brain and body react exactly like they’re in an actual altercation just by watching the “live action” experience on DVD.

Just like a real fight you experience the adrenaline dump, the blood starts pumping, the heart begins racing, and the body goes into a kind of “fight or flight” mode. (Just please don’t attack your TV set).

John Nottingham then shows you exactly how to use his Viper system to “desensitize” yourself and dramatically reduce the chances that you’ll ever freeze-up during a confrontation, (along with specific combat moves).

It’s almost as good as watching Jerry Springer.

Internal Diaglog:

Using Your “Inside Voice”.

Another big factor in freezing-up is something known as “run-away internal dialog”. It’s a kind of rambling “inside voice” that hijacks your thinking and causes you to hesitate.

It’s what Jonathan Haidt — an Associate Professor of Psychology over at the University of Virginia – describes as The Motor-Mouth vs The Elephant.

Haidt compares that voice inside your head – your internal dialogue — to a little guy sitting on top of an elephant pretending that he’s in control.

As Haidt puts it: “The rider represents consciously-controlled thought. The elephant represents everything else and includes the gut feelings, visceral reactions, emotions, and intuitions that comprise much of the automatic system.”

And the working relationship between the little man and the elephant? Well, as Haidt points out: “They don’t always work together well.”

The little guy on-top loves to talk… babble… bark orders and gets most of the attention – and can even sometimes convince the elephant to pick up a log, or move a boulder, (reminding me of that “Heckle-and-Jeckle” pair of idiots from my old neighborhood).

So while the small guy generally creates the impression that he’s running the show he’s really only a nuisance “along for the ride”. It’s actually the elephant who makes the final decision and does the work.

So it is with your internal dialogue.

Yes, we all have that “little voice” in our head, (at least I think we do. Or is that just me?). Problem is it can often launch into hyper-overdrive during an emergency — rambling on-and-on and essentially “freezing out” any decisive action from the elephant.

So this chatty little guy can be extremely counterproductive during a confrontation.

Because again, a typical street fight lasts only 3 to 8 seconds, meaning you simply don’t have time. You gotta get the little guy to shut up and engage the elephant.

So what can you do?

Well, there’s a very specific trick – and it’s a major key to overcoming fear and acting promptly — without hesitation.

And so I’ll end this Man-Skills on that cliff-hanger. The second half of our “live without fear” newsletter will appear in your inbox next week.

If you’re interested in checking out John Nottingham’s “Viper Training”, (that includes the adrenaline training I was just telling you about), you can find it in the link below.

>> Adrenaline “Brain Freeze” Training HERE! <<

It’s good stuff that’ll help you overcome a major obstacle to fighting and winning — hesitation and fear.

Next week’s Man-Skills will bring you Part II of how to deal with fear. It’s heading your way soon, so keep your eyes open.

Stay Manly,

Jimbo, Editor
Man Skills

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