The fear of getting punched and five things you can do about it

My good friend Mike Black once said something that stuck with me: “The fear of getting punched in the face is worse than the punch itself.”

I’ve thought about that from time to time since he said it. And you know what – he’s absolutely right.


The fear of getting punched | The Iron Qualities


And why are we afraid of getting punched?

It’s the thought of the physical pain. The thought of someone throwing their fist at you and busting your face wide open. And the pain that goes along with that.

But here’s the thing – in the heat of the moment, a punch doesn’t hurt half as much as all that. You’re high on adrenaline – it’s fight or flight, nothing else. You get tunnel vision and if you get hit, the pain doesn’t register. That comes later like a hangover after pounding several six-packs of Bronsons.

It’s natural to try to avoid a slap in the face. It’s unpleasant and annoying. But the pain – when it arrives – is temporary and will not totally put you out of commission most of the time.

And if it does, chances are you’ve been knocked the fuck out and you won’t remember a thing about it anyway.

So if you ever find yourself in a barroom brawl – go with it. Live in the moment. Take the punches and keep swinging. Here’s a textbook example – Clint Eastwood & Conan the Barbarian’s father in a 2 vs 45 man handicap match (cut to 00:35 if you’re not a fan of Country music and Spoiler Alert: Eastwood and Conan Senior kick ass and take names)




Be at peace with the truth: In a fight, you will get punched and bleed. And so will the other guy

Live in the moment. Like when you were a boy. Climbing trees, seeing how fast you could go on your bike, staging a mini Wrestlemania in your back yard.

There were no thoughts about how much it would hurt if we fell from that tree, crashed our bikes or couldn’t escape that figure-four leglock.

When you live in the moment, the fear disappears. We are single-minded. Trying to achieve only one thing. And doing it one millisecond at a time. There is no future beyond that.


Negative thinking leads to inaction

These negative thoughts stop us from taking action. And not just when we’re in a physical confrontation.

Far better to unleash that inner child and go for it. And if it doesn’t work out…so what? It’s not a failure – just an opportunity to learn. Take the learning from it and move on.

But I digress. Let’s get back to getting punched. And the fear.

So what can we do to get rid of that fear? Here’s five quick tips:

1 – Get punched in a controlled environment

Sounds a bit counter-intuitive…but join a boxing, kickboxing or MMA club. Not only will you get as fit as two fit things, you will also get used to physical conflict and getting punched. But in a safe and controlled space

2 – Always keep your eyes open

You need to observe what the hell is going on if things ever do get aggressive. Closing your eyes in anticipation of a punch is a bad idea. Keep those peepers open. Observe. And exploit any observed openings

3 – Never turn your back

If someone gets behind you, that means you can’t see them. That in turn means you don’t know what is going to happen. Just like the previous point, all observed information is knowledge. So keep facing forward. Keep moving forward

4 – Don’t flinch

A tough one to do. But if someone fakes a punch and you flinch you will probably have closed your eyes too. Which is bad (see point #2). So flinching is bad. But you can fix this by following the advice in point #1

5 – Keep moving

A moving target is harder to hit. You might not have the skill to float like a butterfly, but even dancing like a chicken is better than standing in one place waiting to get smacked.


When someone punches you in the face it causes pain, shock and surprise

It makes us feel belittled, controlled, bested and it has the intention of scaring, exploiting, hurting and dominating us. It causes both emotional and physical pain.

Most of us are risk averse. It’s a self-preservation thing. Getting punched causes damage and so it’s a risk of fighting.

But we need to take risks to become the best we can be and learn new things. We need to step into the arena and be prepared to take a hit.

Challenging ourselves will absolutely lead to some pain and discomfort. We might get punched in the face. It might bleed, bring tears to our eyes, cause brain fog and wind us. But we can’t win if we don’t fight.

That fool Balboa had it right: “It’s not about how hard you hit – it’s about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward.”

Nathanial Poe: A Man of Iron Qualities

Michael Mann’s 1992 film ‘The Last of the Mohicans’  is a special piece of cinema. In fact it is so special it has earned one of the highest accolades in film and television in being named in Bo Ideal’s top 5 favourite movies ever. Ace.

One of Bo’s honeys once told him that a truly great movie needed two things –  pretty people and explosions. I guess she hadn’t seen any of Michael Bay’s filmmaking attempts but The Last of the Mohicans has plenty of both.

But what sets it apart from the likes of Bad Boys 2, Pearl Harbour and Transformers? One of the main reasons is the character of Nathaniel Poe – the adopted white son of Chingachgook, last chief of the Mohican tribe and played by the acting juggernaut himself – Daniel Day-Lewis.

This is a character who can teach us all a thing or two about being a man. Anyone who has seen the movie will understand what I mean. And if you are one of the unlucky few who hasn’t – well…get on it. This is a mandatory piece of the Iron Qualities curriculum.

Hawkeye aka Nathaniel Poe

Beholden to none – not living by another’s leave

The character of Poe and his adopted Mohican father and brother live off the land in Frontier lands in Young America during the mid 1700s. They make a living trading furs and hunting what food they need.

They are living in the middle of the French and Indian War and they become entangled in it when they rescue the daughter (played by Madeleine Stowe) of a high-ranking British Officer from a group of Huron Indians.

Poe and his family escort Stowe’s character and her daughter to the British Fort where her father is based. Following a seige and heavy artillary bombardment by the French, the Fort is eventually surrendered by the British who are allowed to leave the Fort and head back to Albany in peace.

They are ambushed on the way by those pesky Huron Indians again and Poe, Stowe’s character and the rest of his family go on the run, which eventually leads to one of the great climaxes in movie history.


Nathaniel Poe – kicking the shit out of adversity since 1755

So the character of Poe gets caught up in some serious adversity in the movie. And like I always say – men of Iron Qualities face adversity head-on and kick the shit out of it. Poe is no different.

From the very first scene of the film, the Iron Qualities of Poe and his adopted father and brother assault our eyes and ears. We find them on the hunt in the woods where they snag themselves a pretty impressive looking stag. Not for game – but for food. Out of necessity.

Poe and his boys are able to comfortably live off the land – demonstrating some top notch tracking and hunting skills. In the modern world of convenience where we have GPS and supermarkets, these skills are less and less in demand. But men of Iron Qualities seek to be self-sufficient and I’ll tell you what – if there was ever a Zombie Apocalypse, I would absolutely want Nathaniel Poe at my side.

Poe and Bo vs the Zombies…the dream team. It’s like when Hulk Hogan teamed with the Ultimate Warrior to fight the Triangle of Terror at Summerslam ’91.


Poe is looking at you, Miss

And as this is Hollywood, there is a love interest. In this case, Madeleine Stowe. Poe sets his eyes on her pretty quickly but doesn’t turn into a pathetic swooning mess in the process. He maintains focus on what needs to be done and a honey will always fail the test when it come to breaking this resolve.

When he does focus his attention on her however, he does it directly and with a single-minded purpose. After escorting Stowe’s character and her sister back to the British fort where their father is based, he finds her in the infirmary.

Needless to say, about 5 minutes after this they are smooching behind the bike sheds like a pair of horny teenagers. There’s not a woman alive could resist the Poe stare-down. There was no approach anxiety here…no pickup artist games. Just a self-confidence bordering on cocky. The way it should be.


You say dilemma, I say meh

Remember that adversity I talked about earlier and how Poe leaves it bloody and broken on the floor? Let’s talk a little more about that.

Numerous times in the movie, Poe is faced with difficult dilemmas. And each time, he shows that he is not afraid to take decisive action.

  • On the way to the British Fort with Stowe’s character, he stops at the cabin of a friend. They find the cabin burnt out and the charred bodies of his friend and young family laid out everywhere. Poe touches nothing and refuses to bury the bodies, as doing so would have been a sign for the Huron that someone had been there
  • While at the British Fort, Poe speaks about the cabin scene and the implications of what he saw (guerilla warfare by the Huron on the Frontier). He facilitates escape for the local militia so they can defend their homes while he himself stays – an act seen as sedition by the British Officers, which he is improsioned for
  • While on the run from the Huron, Poe and the group are discovered. Rather than fight superior numbers and probably die, he runs away and leaves Stowe and her sister to be taken prisoners; the plan being a rescue attempt later with better odds of survival


The Last of the Mohicans

In the final scene of the movie, Poe’s adopted father rightly refers to himself as ‘the last of the Mohicans’. Mohicans here stands for something more than the dying Indian tribe. It’s a way of life that is being eroded and ultimately lost. A way of life that is making way for the modern ways of the Europeans who are fighting all around them.

Poe and his father live outside this world. On the Frontier, “beholden to none, not living by another’s leave.”

In a debate with the Chief of another tribe, Poe comments on the many problems that the French and English bring with them in a cutting piece of foresight:

“Would the Huron make his Algonquin brothers foolish with brandy and steal his lands to sell them for gold to the white man? Would the Huron have greed for more land than a man can use?…Would Huron kill tribes with disease? Would the Huron fool Seneca into taking all the animals in the forest for beads & brandy? Those are the ways of Yengeese and Les Francais masters.”


Greed, deceit and desire for trivial things. Traits that Poe as an adopted Mohican rejects. Traits that any man worth his salt knows don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.