The Role of Fear

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By Frank Curreri

The Role of Fear

I would say I was a very insecure kid. I was insecure for most of my life growing up in Baltimore, which was called the city of anger. People would beat you up just for looking wrong, there were people just all in. I grew up very insecure so I learned early on –  I was the kind of kid that was getting chased home from school. I went to 11 different schools in 12 years because Dad was around, Mom was around. We went to 11 different schools in 12 years which if you wanna get a kid bullied, make him really small like me, like a pretty boy, and make him change schools every year. So I was getting chased, so when I was around age 13 when I said, “You know what, I am not running away from anymore of these dudes. I’m gonna fight these dudes.” And I just realized intuitively, I’m just gonna send a message and word is gonna get around just like if a guy goes to prison, like that’s what they say. If you wind up in prison, first scrap you have you gotta make an example of a guy otherwise you’re gonna have a lot of problem. So I learnt that on the streets. I’m just not gonna run. I don’t know if I’m going to win or gonna lose, but I know I’m gonna fight with everything I have and I’m not running. So I actually did get into a lot of scraps younger but I just sort of had that code. Sometimes unfortunately I was fighting against a group of guys and taking beatings when I should have ran. But that was so much my code, but that carried over even into when I was a journalist, there were times we were sent into situations where I was scared. Sometimes a journalist thinks that they have this magic halo which is gonna save or protect them. They have this false sense but it doesn’t really work that way. You gotta be careful.

But as a martial artist – I really am the kind of guy to run toward my fears, I really always have, even before there was a fancy slogan all over Facebook “Get comfortable being uncomfortable all these things, intuitively I don’t feel right when I have a coward’s cloak. To me, dishonesty is cowardly. I don’t feel right in there, so I don’t need somebody to be like “Oh, they might catch me so I won’t be honest.” The penalty for me if I lie is, I have to wear that, I have to feel that. That doesn’t feel right to me. The penalty for me if I go to a tournament and I’m afraid of a guy and I don’t fight him cause the cardinal sin of a tournament or of a competition is that you beat yourself. The cardinal sin is not losing. The cardinal sin is you went there and you didn’t give everything you have, and you beat yourself mentally, and you lost even before you shook that guy’s hand. That’s the cardinal sin. For me, I don’t want to feel that so I show up everywhere like I’m afraid, there are times, two nights before like a tournament, “Why did I come here, why did I do this” but the best fighters in the world have the same thing. They all have to dance with that fear. We all do, no matter how bad you are; if you’re unbeaten we all dance with that. That’s part of the beauty. That’s part of the aliveness, getting there on competition day, feeling that nervousness like it’s one of the most alive feelings in the world, just like what you described like a search rescuer, or an aerial circus performer, that’s why you’re there too. That’s the alive feeling. You’re so in tune with every sense. Your sense of smell is heightened, your sense of touch, your sense of your inner, what you’re feeling is off the charts.

As you go in life and you mature and when you get real life responsibilities, you lose more and more things that make you feel that aliveness. There’s only certain areas in your life you can go to feel that. Yes there’s fear, that’s why I was there, that’s why I showed up like somebody said “Look this guy’s a world champion, and he’s Godzilla” Great, that’s why I’m here. I hope he’s really strong, I hope he’s really tough because then when you win it’s gonna mean something. That’s sort of just my synopsis that’s kind of my relationship with fear. I actually feed off it and I still do.

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