On The Emotional Edge Of Training – Why You Shouldn’t Jump

I learned something new last week as I was teaching one of my private instruction students. I’ve always had the mindset that I can learn just as much from my students as they can from me. What is being learned may be a different nuance or type of life lesson, but nevertheless the learning occurs.
I just started training this particular student over the summer, and she has had little or no personal defense training prior. I am preparing both her mind and body in the ways of personal defense and how both are crucial in an attack. We train two hours at a time every other week. She is an adult with a full time job and a laundry list of responsibilities. This is the amount of time she can devote to her training, and we are making it work. The goal is to see how much we can cover in six sessions, so I have front loaded the training in order to give her the most pertinent information (for her) in allotted time. Intermediate and advanced training would require an additional time commitment if she chooses to continue her training.


After our third meetup, I noticed during our end-of-session discussion she had become a tad quiet and her gaze was a bit distant. I asked for an honest answer to my questions, “How are you feeling about your training? How does all this knowledge make you feel?” (Keeping in mind that all students process information differently, I find it necessary sometimes to provide an ’emotional check-in’ to make sure they are in the proper frame of mind to move forward in their training.) She told me that she never expected to have so many emotional reactions to the training. She also said she wasn’t used to thinking of the world or people as dangerous, and she didn’t really like that feeling. It was uncomfortable to her.

The training was forcing her to face realities that she wasn’t expecting to have to deal with so soon, or at all. First, she fully admitted that she didn’t like thinking about the world and the people in it as being less than pleasant. Second, she didn’t like thinking about her own weaknesses, which led to her thinking about her own mortality. These two discoveries on her part made her realize that not everything is controllable. Every situation cannot be dictated by us – sometimes we have to react to the situation at hand. And while she may be fully capable of understanding these situational transactions in a work environment (overcoming obstacles, dealing with difficult co-workers, etc.), having to think of them in a physically threatening manner caused her to give pause.

What Can You Learn From This?

When the weight of what someone is actually preparing themselves to do finally sets in, it can be overwhelming, but it’s not insurmountable. It’s at this time that you need to breathe, be calm, and push through the uncomfortable, negative vibes. You also need to realize that while you are downloading all of this new information, you are hypersensitive to dangers and solutions and reactions and preparedness and so forth. It’s a lot to digest. So be easy on yourself and know that it won’t always feel this way. As your training continues and your confidence builds, the “bad world / bad people” thoughts will settle into their respective place in your brain to keep you paying attention but not enough to put you into a state of panic. You’ll also find that your happy, peaceful perspective of people and the world will reemerge, but it will do so with a reality filter.

Life is good, people (for the most part) are good, and sometimes it’s okay to be uncomfortable in your training. Odds are your teacher has been there before, can relate, and will be more than willing to offer a few words of advice. My words of advice to my student: “Thank you for your honesty. I get it. But you need this training, and you know that or you wouldn’t have called me. You are becoming a stronger person, you are finding a level of confidence you didn’t know you had, and you are facing a reality that many people will never have the strength to face until it’s too late. You’re on the right track. Keep training, keep smiling, keep safe (RSB).”

And with that advice she said, “You’re right. I’ll see you in two weeks.”

Julie Loeffler

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