Scared? I was too.

Two weeks ago I was scared.

“You’re going to Combatives Level 2” was the word that came down the chain. “Ok” was the response, followed by sweating, and a lump in my throat.

Modern Army Combatives was born in the late ‘90s, after the US Army performed an in-depth study on their hand-to-hand and ground fighting combat training. Some serious gaps were found in the training programs, and so special attention was given to finding a solution to this problem.

The solution came in the form of a ground fighting technique known as Brazilian jiu jitsu. What has now been popularized by MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) was the basis for the newly formed Modern Army Combatives program. You can read more details about it here.

After nervously attending MAC Level 1 in Montana last year, I was thoroughly surprised and found that I enjoyed the training. However, I knew that level 2 would be more difficult and would most-likely be more painful. I’ve always considered myself a lover, not a fighter (feel free to laugh at me, now).

Nobody likes to get punched in the face. The less that this has happened to you, inversely, the greater the potential fear of it happening. I’ve been in fights (what boy hasn’t grown up getting in fights?), but that was a long time ago. Not to mention that my 10-year old counterparts couldn’t hit me as hard as my battle-hardened brothers in arms.

Less face it, I was just plain scared to go.

Let’s talk about fear for a second

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” – Mark Twain

Fear has held back many a potential great act from actually taking place. There are quotes left and right from many courageous people that talk about how “courage isn’t the lack of fear, it’s the act of facing it” (or something comparable to that paraphrase). But let’s face it, when you’re scared, you’re scared.

Oftentimes it takes some action to eliminate that fear. The Magic of Thinking Big is an excellent book that talks about this – how action conquers fear. But how do we get to the point where we actually ACT in spite of our fear?

I am no expert on answering this question, but I’ll offer up my thought-process that came about when I didn’t give in to my opportunity to backing out of this school.

My “why”

First, I asked the question “why”? Why would I want to go to a school like this? Why would I want to subject myself to potential pain like this? Why would I leave my great civilian situation at home to willingly get the crap kicked out of me for two weeks?

The answers didn’t all come at once, but they did come.

First, I thought of a large group of people that have gone through things like this and not only come out alive, but they came out thriving. I thought, if they can do it, so can I!

Second, I vaguely remembered the confidence boost I’ve had throughout rough portions of my life that I came through. With no struggle, there’s really no appreciation of victory. This school was a victory that I needed in my life right now.

Third, I thought about the rest of the soldiers that are under my care. How can I stand in front of them, train them, push them, expect them to be the best, if I’m not willing to do the same to myself?

And lastly, I thought about some very dear friends of mine that are halfway around the world in much worse situations that I am. I’m sure they’d trade their position for mine any day. I owed it to them to suck it up, grab this bull by the horns, and just do it.

Guess what?

With all of the fear and worrying that I wasted my time on, I actually came out all right. Getting beat didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would, and I actually ended up enjoying this course…a lot!

Funny isn’t it? Just like Mark Twain said above that he had wasted a lot of time worrying about things that never actually happened, so did I. This is something that I want to keep doing, and I’m fairly confident that going through this “tough” experience (can I really call it that?) is going to be a launching pad for bigger and better things.

Not out of the woods just yet

We’ve all gone through various trials throughout our lives, some more than others. This isn’t the first time that I’ve had my doubts about making a decision (and made it anyway), and I’m SURE that it won’t be the last. But by writing it out, and laughing about how silly I was before going does help (and it makes for a good story, yes?).

So here’s Josh signing off, letting you know that nothing that I feared actually happened, and that I’m much better off knowing now that I won’t have to regret turning this opportunity down. I’ll leave with a quote from an unknown author that has led me to some of the best opportunities I’ve experienced in the last 3 years:

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”


–       JC



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