Effective self-defense requires a chain of complementary skills: awareness, discernment, agility, and so on. This chain, like any other, is only as strong as its weakest link. Many practitioners of martial arts concentrate on strengthening one end of the chain—the tactics of physical attack and defense—and give only cursory attention to other important links.
Emotional mastery is one such underappreciated skill. Emotional mastery consists of accepting responsibility for, and when necessary, exerting control over one’s emotions.
Without emotional mastery, you are unable to lead your attacker, but instead follow them. Rather than ending conflict, you support and prolong it, by providing an emotional counterbalance to their aggression.
While you clearly cannot afford to surrender to your emotions in a time of crisis, denial is an equally perilous strategy. Chronic repression causes physical and mental health problems, and sometimes even psychosis. Fortunately, meditative and martial arts offer an alternative solution.
Cycles of the Five Elements
Emotional imbalances, like physical imbalances, can be corrected through the introduction of a complementary force. According to wu xing theory, fear is weakened by anger, which in turn is mitigated with joy. Perhaps from this perspective, the ability to spontaneously manifest happiness can be considered an art of self-defense?
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