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The Importance of Mental Fortitude

When we are attacked there are three places we get ‘hit’. The first is our emotional system, next is our psychological and the the last is the physical confrontation.

Emotional - This is an attack to the spirit, your emotional system. “I have a bad feeling.”

Psychological - This is an attack on the mind, verbal posturing that affects us psychologically. “This is bad, I’m going to get hurt.”

Physical - This is the attack to the body. “Ouch.”

It is no surprise therefore that a complete self-defense system needs to take on a three-dimensional approach to defend against all 3 components of a confrontation. If you do not train in all three dimensions you are predisposing yourself to failure should the situation go outside your comfort zone. Therefore in training and cultivating physical strength, mental strength and technical strength will help best prepare for the unknown and unknowable and having a deficiency in any of these kinds of strength could lead to the ‘downfall’ of the individual. It is a common misconception in martial arts that ‘technique’ is the key; and that if we have good technique then we will be effective in combat.

I would argue that technique/skills and drills are no more or less important than physical fitness or mental conditioning. In this article I’d like to address the mental components of our conditioning that is often overlooked. Given the choice between a strong mind and a weak body or a strong body or a weak mind I would want the strong mind. Mental fortitude and the mindset to fight back is all important in anything the poses a challenge in life. This applies to anything that we do, be it a new life endeavour, a self-defense scenario or a difficult CrossFit workout.

Mental toughness and fortitude is a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances, such as difficult training, a difficult competitive situation or a frightening confrontation.

Coach Tony Blauer has an excellent article on his website called The Zen of Chu Fen Do ( The most important lines in it are,

“There are more people who defend themselves every day with no training than there ever will be people who are attacked and successfully defend themselves with martial arts. Through sheer will and indignation, people fight back rapists and attackers more so than black belts who get attacked. There are people who just reflexively do things and then they’re out of the situation because they weren’t the compliant, complacent subject or victim.”

In CrossFit Defense we learn how to effectively harness the human elbow, head, teeth, fingers, knee, shin, voice and the list goest on. We don't need to build these we just need to use them that is mindset.

There is a Blauer Tactical Systems Maxim that goes, “The mind navigates the body. If the mind hesitates, so does the body.”

Mindset the the proverbial mental trigger in making a decision that is part of our innate psychological infrastructure. One of the critical concepts we embrace in our training is The Overkill Mindset. “Overkill” in this instance refers to doing more than necessary. This is not meant to be taken literally, we doing want to burn out or injure ourselves but the concept is to do more than your opponent; don’t settle for less than you deserve and challenge your limits.

If people saw how real fights transpire, they would probably change they way they train and not make the mistake of getting stuck in a ‘best style’ or secret technique’ trap and focus more on a system that mentally conditions the overkill mindset.

Consider these words, apathy and denial will seal your fate. The victim mindset is often one born of apathy and then imprisoned in denial. The key to action (the remedy for hesitation and emotional inertia) is to simply accept the situation and move on. This is the first step towards tapping into the ‘victim’ to ‘victor’s’ shift. There are many aspects of mindset that can be discussed but here are a few fundamental points to get you started and thinking about the shift in your attitude to that of a “warrior”.


  • Do more than your opponent does

  • Know more than your opponent does

  • Think more than your opponent does

  • Have more than your opponent does

  • Want more than your opponent does

SYNERGY - Mind Body Spirit

When training remember to use your whole being. For every physical action there should be an accompanying, congruous, strategy; a reason to take this action. And for every plan there should be an emotional essence; what was your motivation for taking this action? This is synergy. This is training with integrity. The result of this type of training is unshakable faith. Too often we simply imitate movements and parrot philosophies. In the end there is little substance. For “overkill” confidence you must be able to answer the “why” question for every action. Why should I move my leg like this? (Biomechanics body). Why would I do this technique and when? (Strategy mind). What would be my motive for employing this technique? (Emotional fuel spirit).

How can you embody these rules? Remember, on judgement day, you will not be asked what you have read, but rather what you have done. Talking never translated into experience and theorising is not true knowledge. Our CrossFit Defense classes at Innervate CrossFit will help you translate theory into action using a system that is more reliable, much less perishable (easy to remember, even in a high stress environment) and that approaches training with a three dimensional integrity that allows for faster and more proactive responses. I hope this short article helps motivate you to step out of your box, and explore the possibility of a system that can greatly enhance your survive-ability and response-ability (intentionally spelt this way to emphasize your heightened ability to survive and respond).

Train smart, train hard and stay safe.

Coach Leonard


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