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The first bit of bad news is, the only way to overcome your fear of sparring is to actually do it. But that doesn’t have to mean rushing out tomorrow to register for the next tournament.

Susan Jeffers, author of the book ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ suggests we start with small bites, breaking the problem into manageable steps to avoid being overwhelmed. Every move forward will eventually create a new ‘normal’ and give you the confidence and momentum to tackle the next one. So if you’re like me and have a serious fear of kumite, here are a few steps recommended by Karate Nerd Jesse Enkamp (mixed with some of my own), to overcome a fear of fighting.

1. Start Small.

Pick a class and an environment that you’re comfortable with and most importantly an opponent you know. Explain to them the situation and ask them to work within your confidence level.

2. Limit your Techniques and/or Targets.

This is the keep it simple advice, and echos what Susan Jeffers says. Start with a few techniques or targets and become comfortable. Once you’ve created what she says is the ‘new norm’ you can build from there. When you’re ready to add to your repertoire of moves, go through the same process.

3. Reduce the Speed.

As they say ‘speed kills’ so start at a slower pace and gradually increase the speed when you become more comfortable. Of course these are only a few suggestion to help take those first baby steps into sparring, or tackle any fear you might have. Please share your suggestions in our comments section.