Whether you feel confident or not, at one point or another you’ve had a bad week at fencing. Factors could include: you made mistakes, you had a long day and your head wasn’t in the game, or you chose to react poorly to events around you. No matter the cause, we’ve all had Friday nights where we’ve gone home a little (or very) discouraged. Unfortunately, if you have too many bad nights, you might notice your confidence and will to fight are slowly falling short of where you’d like them to be.
The first step to building confidence is figure out why you lack it. Have you made a mind map? Try drawing a single circle and write fencing in the middle. Then make two branches – one for what makes you feel confident and another for what makes you lose confidence. See where it takes you. If you end up simply with “wins” on one side and “losses” on the other, you best continue thinking. There’s a lot more to fencing than getting the kill shot.
Once you’ve found what triggers your loss of confidence, congratulations! You’re one step closer to fixing it. It doesn’t matter if you have 1 item or 50 that drag you down. At least you found out what is scary for you.
One hundred times
If you want to build confidence, there’s one central factor that it revolves around. And that is you. In order to have confidence, you may feel inclined to seek out advice from others who appear confident or to ask for feedback about your fighting to increase your skill. Both of these ideas are excellent and should be executed. However, no amount of outside feedback can change what’s inside your head unless you let it. Others can tell you how they gained confidence, but that doesn’t mean you will absorb their feelings by osmosis or fairy dust.
Think about those in the group who exude confidence. Do they use power poses to make themselves feel big and powerful? Do they have one classic shot that works every time for them? Do they growl and whole heartedly laugh to gain dominance? Or even more likely, have they been around a really long time?
A great TED talk about facing fear was given by astronaut Chris Hadfield, and is called “What I learned from going blind in space”. It’s worth the 18 minutes to watch, but in his talk, he addresses a fear of spiders. His solution for the fear? Walk through 100 spider webs. Hadfield explains, “How do you get around [fear] though? How do you change your behavior? Well, next time you see a spider web have a good look, make sure it’s not a Black Widow spider and then walk into it. And then you see another spider web and walk into that one. It’s just a little bit of fluffy stuff. It’s not a big deal. And the spider that may come out is no more threat to you than a ladybug or a butterfly. And then I guarantee you, if you walk through a hundred spider webs you will have changed your fundamental human behavior… You will now be able to walk in the park in the morning and not worry about that spiderweb… And you can apply this to anything.”
Whatever it is that’s holding you back, do it one hundred times. Be patient, and understand that confidence can only come from you. Until you believe you deserve it, you’re not going to find it.
Do you deserve it?
Yes. Every fighter in The Order of the Rose deserves to feel confident, but being confident doesn’t mean you’re free from mistakes or that you win every fight (or even any sometimes). Have you paused to think about how different the dynamics are for each duel you fight? Different weapons with different lengths, different sides, different settings about which to move, different numbers of opponents, different objectives… That’s half the beauty of fencing. It’s a dynamic sport that requires very quick decisions and A LOT of understanding of your opponent and surroundings.
With that, watch your skill and watch the skills of others, but don’t compare someone else’s strengths to your weaknesses. Your opponent may be really good at snipes, but maybe they have a natural advantage because they’re taller than you. No amount of practice can change that, so you might want to start blocking higher. Another opponent might be able to give really solid blocks, while you feel otherwise. But can you be faster on your feet? It doesn’t matter what strengths your opponent has. You have your own, so you best figure out what they are and how to use them.
So why keep fencing?
There’s no single answer here. Decide for yourself why it is important to you. For me, it’s a fun hobby filled with friendship. I also get to poke fun of Kane. I can give away his secrets like how he once tossed in his sleep, and began clawing through the sheets calling for his sword. Then he flipped 180 degrees in the air to fall right back on the bed and return to whatever dastardly deeds he was fighting for in his dream. Obviously, he eats, drinks, and sleeps fencing… and yet, once upon 10 years ago, his signature move was to jam the tip of his sword into the ground and run around the back of it to stay alive as long as possible! Joking aside, you can see Kane is a great example that skills & confidence came with time. Remember that everyone deserves to feel comfortable and confident in their abilities in The Order of the Rose.
Go build confidence
Take a few minutes this week to make two mind maps. Make one as described in the paragraphs above, and one to list ALL the reasons you should be confident in your abilities.