I said something along the lines of this: You should be scared. If you're not scared in a fight, you don't know what you're getting yourself into.
I was thinking about that question this evening, and I realized that today I would give a very different answer:
You need to accept the fact that you're going to die.
Now, I see two kinds of fighters: (1) Those few who accept the fact they are going to die, and they're at peace with that fact. It may happen in a fight, it may happen while crossing the street, it may happen quietly in their sleep when they're 99 years old- but either way, they've accepted it. (2) Those who will eventually break when confronted with the fear of their own mortality. As long as their skills or strength are greater than their adversaries', they have the illusion of security. But as soon as they face a threat they cannot best, the fear of the inevitability of death sets in.
I see two kinds of fighters because I have been both at one point, and while there may well be a third, fourth and 27th option, the world is much easier to understand in gross oversimplifications of two.
Relatively few people have actually died in combat sports. Everyone dies in life. I wonder how many people have come to terms with that?
Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi famously wrote in the Book of the Five Rings, "Generally speaking, the Way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death."
What is not as well known are the two sentences right after that one:
"Although not only warriors but priests, women, peasants and lowlier folk have been known to die readily in the cause of duty or out of shame, this is a different thing. The warrior is different in that studying the way of strategy is based on overcoming men."
And neither of these things is exactly what I'm talking about. I guess what Musashi was saying was that everybody dies, but not everyone is awesome at it.