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Discussion Starter #1
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So here's my dilemma...
A dislike or fear of conflict is natural in INFPs and in many martial artists but the combination of this and my INFP inability to release or vent my anger/stress/anxiety in any direction other than inwards, proves fatal in putting myself in a sparring mindset. In fact I have never been able to put myself in this focused state except for once. In probably close to 1,000 sparring practice and competition sessions, I have achieved this focus once by accident.

I've taken Taekwondo since I was about 10 or 11 and I am 18 now. Through all those years I never enjoyed the sparring competitions and eventually stopped attending altogether a few years ago. This was never a lack of ability but the ability to apply. So while I've taken a year out before college, I've been training harder at home and finally getting in good shape. I have been approached by one of my instructors who wants to put together a team for sparring competitions. I am apprehensive about the idea of sparring but feel it would be a good opportunity for growth if I could learn to release any of my pent up feelings.

I'm hoping any other martial artist INFPs could share their experiences in taking on this problem.
 

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Can you try to pinpoint why sparring bothers you so much? Disliking "conflict" is really broad, and I'm sure there have been times in your life where you've been able to stand up for yourself despite repercussions. So what is it? Are you worried about hurting your partner?

I think the main thing is to remember that sparring isn't "real" conflict. Neither one of you is going to end up dead, both of you have chosen to be there. In a way, you're actually helping one another - to become better martial artists, to grow familiar with application, to hone your form. So in that sense perhaps you should try to change your mindset surrounding it.

You seem to be saying that martial arts is a way for you to release your feelings... I feel that way too, not only about self defense, but exercise in general. I've never had a problem with it. I'm excited to let loose.

This is one of the best ways for you to exorcise your stress without having to worry about seriously injuring anyone. If anything, it's the most responsible thing for you to do, because it keeps you physically and emotionally healthy while keeping others out of harm's way (letting loose in a controlled environment rather than on unsuspecting friends or family).
 

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Can you try to pinpoint why sparring bothers you so much? Disliking "conflict" is really broad, and I'm sure there have been times in your life where you've been able to stand up for yourself despite repercussions. So what is it? Are you worried about hurting your partner?

I think the main thing is to remember that sparring isn't "real" conflict. Neither one of you is going to end up dead, both of you have chosen to be there. In a way, you're actually helping one another - to become better martial artists, to grow familiar with application, to hone your form. So in that sense perhaps you should try to change your mindset surrounding it.

You seem to be saying that martial arts is a way for you to release your feelings... I feel that way too, not only about self defense, but exercise in general. I've never had a problem with it. I'm excited to let loose.

This is one of the best ways for you to exorcise your stress without having to worry about seriously injuring anyone. If anything, it's the most responsible thing for you to do, because it keeps you physically and emotionally healthy while keeping others out of harm's way (letting loose in a controlled environment rather than on unsuspecting friends or family).

That's exactly it, disliking conflict is so broad so I can't put my finger on it. Maybe it's the combination of fearing injury and what would happen if I "let my Bear out", (sorry, personal/local term for anger) because truthfully I have never seen myself angry. I suppose there's a chance I'm afraid of what happens if I do get angry and cause injury.
Maybe I've yet to experience this but have you ever properly directed or expressed you anger towards someone else instead of internally?

I agree with you to a certain degree about releasing my feelings, my anxiety and stress can be released through exercise but for me exercise isn't a way to release anger, that just gets shoved down where it mulls. How can I allow myself to let this out instead and properly channel this in a productive way?

Have you been in a position like this where you've been unable to achieve focus and instead do the trademark INFP overthinking?
 

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Fear the the mindkiller!! or i have heard.

My path of action when i went through this same thing in karate was to not view sparring as any actual conflict that i should be afraid of, but rather as a test of my will of strength/training. Think of your opponents in a different manner and things shouldnt seem so intense in that manner.

Also, read the art of war or the concepts explored within. hell, go read some quotes by sun tzu if you dont have time for a whole book. the mental game is the first and only game in combat. control
 

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Maybe I've yet to experience this but have you ever properly directed or expressed you anger towards someone else instead of internally?
It depends on what you mean by "properly"! I'm assuming you mean expressing anger in a way that didn't hurt the other person, but still allowed me to release those feelings.

It's partly a maturity thing. I don't mean to sound condescending, just that it's something you have to actively work on, especially as an INFP. I still have to remind myself. When I was a teenager (I'm in my 20's now) I had a similar problem. I would let anger stew until it eventually boiled over and caused problems. Over the years I've realized that letting stuff fester isn't worth it - you'll feel better, more free, if you talk about things before they get to the boiling point.

Talking is good if the anger is related to a person, of course, but not so much if it has to do with a living situation or something more cerebral. In those instances, I do like using exercise or sparring as a release. Also note that if the latter is true, you should try to change those circumstances as much as you can. Temporary physical release is great, but if all you can do afterwards is go back to the reality of your situation, you're going to get stuck in a cycle of release and then anger building up again.

How can I allow myself to let this out instead and properly channel this in a productive way?
It might be helpful if you only sparred with someone close to you for a while. I began sparring with my husband, and this went a long way in being able to let the "bear" out in a safe way. Because we were already close, I wasn't afraid he'd freak out if I went a little wild and trusted that he was capable enough to defend himself in turn. I got used to sparring with him, then that familiarity transferred to others. It trained me in how to let go - and that's really all you can do, find confidence in yourself. You are the constant, not your partner.

I don't know if you have someone like this, but since you've been practicing for so long I'm sure you have instructors you feel comfortable with. This is something you could take to them as well - no doubt they'll be able to share some helpful insights.

Have you been in a position like this where you've been unable to achieve focus and instead do the trademark INFP overthinking?
Definitely, but not so much when it comes to self defense. Really, that's the only time I'm able to let go of overthinking because everything happens so fast! It's beautiful in a way. You only have time to react in the moment. You have to make a decision or you're going to get punished for it; letting go of all those convoluted thoughts is a real relief.

The mindset you really need is NO mind. Mushin. You're talking a lot about releasing anger, but to truly release anger you need to let go of it. That's what "mind without mind" does for you. Being totally in the moment, not having any feelings about what's happening, but doing what needs to be done.

Many times I've felt something negative, then let myself get absorbed in a fight or training, and somehow when I'm finished it's just... gone. Perhaps the body showing the mind that those emotions aren't necessary, weren't useful.

That's a really incredible trait to develop; it would be a shame if you let the opportunity pass you by. It's okay if you make mistakes or even end up hurting someone. That's why the other people are there, to help you grow and develop true discipline over your technique and your mind.
 

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I am not a martial artist (I really do want to take up Krav Maga whenever I have the money though) but it's worth noting there was a thread recently on martial arts, and a fair few people talked about seeing sparring as good fun, whereas no-one showed particular enthusiasm for actually getting into fights. Which, as I said then, is a pretty good mindset. The point there is that there's a very clear disconnect between the two going on which maybe you have issues with?

I'm going to guess it comes down to two main things which may be causing you problems.

Separation of concepts of sparring and combat, and related intensity: if the atmosphere is very serious this is more naturally a problem. Depends on your instructors and environment. I would think this may be a greater issue for a particularly elaborate and generally Eastern martial art like Taekwondo. Ability to do this and be comfortable sparring derives from my next point.

Establishment of mutual trust and knowledge of boundaries and safety: if you go at it enough someone probably will get hurt by accident and that comes with the territory, but there needs to be mutual trust between you and your sparring partner. Appreciation of the facts that, say, accidents are accidents, proper and safe technique will be followed by both of you at all times, limits will be respected, learn trust in safety equipment, things like that. I'd go so far as to say that in much more structured and form-based martial arts, like Taekwondo, it would be easier to know what to expect from your sparring partner and easier to have confidence in that. You also need confidence in your own self-control, which apparently you do not have; this presents issues.

I would caution you, though: I think sparring in a competition is not an ideal venue for releasing pent-up feelings. Competition should be a fun test of skill, with the appropriate tailored mindset. Given the stress and natural seriousness of even a fun competitive environment there's more to go wrong that way. Sparring for your own amusement, or practising solo, I would think is more appropriate for that purpose.
 

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As someone who has taken Taekwondo since age 2 (though I have had training breaks) I've never had this issue.

I've feared more skilled or talented people, and I've feared people who can't control themselves, but never has conflict in the Dojang bothered me because, for the most part, sparring is just simulated combat aimed to assess where you're at technique and physicality wise.

Don't see it as conflict.

See it as working on your technique in a healthy environment.

Not only is it technique you're working on, but you are polishing yourself as well. You gauge and mold yourself to your partner and his techniques and level of intensity and skill.

To be frank, it's disrespectful to not work with your partner because you're in an environment where they (most likely) pay to train, and you waste time because you want to avoid conflict.

Conflict that really doesn't exist, (unless you pissed someone in your class off :tongue:)
 

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Did you ever see the movie The Matrix, In the scene where Neo learns all the different martial arts, no thinking allowed, all present moment awareness and natural reaction, your thinking mind only gets in the way and tells you things that are not true.
 
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