Never felt "tough"

I've been studying martial arts of some kind or another for almost 15 years. I've had my share of scrapes and have never been afraid to speak my mind (which can cause problems) BUT... I've NEVER felt tough in my life. I've never gotten into a fight where I wasn't nervous as hell, never had a match where I didn't have to take a deep breath before we started, I've never been around a violent situation that didn't get my heart beating just a little bit faster.

I have plenty of friends and training partners who I honestly believe do not fear these dangerous situations. Maybe it's because I'm a little guy (5"6, 160 lbs),but any potential of violence always gets my at least a little jacked up. I was making the observation in conversation the other day that the "best" fights I've ever been in (sustained the least damage) are the ones where I was in it before I realized WTF was going on. Any time I have a chance to think about it nerves take over.

I'm not necessarily posting for advice per se (although any is welcome), but to put it out there because I'm sure there are a lot of other people like me that feel this way. I remember Mike Tyson once saying he got scared before every fight he ever had. Any of the pros in here that have honestly gotten past all jitters? And if so, if it's on the street are you still as confident?

The other side of this is the situation that gets me so pissed that I'm throwing myself into a fight before I can think. Watching some guy obviously pick on someone half his size, or this one time when a pissed off drunk at the bar thew his beer bottle at the lady bartender 'cause they ran out of his favorite beer. In a case like that I may just throw myself into the mix before I can think also.

Once my teacher and I were having a bite to eat at a local pub and a fight broke out and one guy pulled a knife and the other got a tire iron.

They sorta chased each other around the place and I looked at my teacher to see what he was going to do about it.

He pointed at my salad and said, "Are you going to eat that?"

It was great advice.

cus d'amatos quote about fire and fear is how they can either consume you or make you sharper, just try to harness that fear

I've been in my share of fights too and my heart always races and I get butterflys. In my mind I'm absolutely positive I can dismantle the guy, but I still get nervous. As soon as it's go time, it all goes away and I feel very comfortable though. It's just a natural reaction for most people when danger's a possibility. I say most people b/c I don't think everyone experiences this. Is there anyone here who doesn't get butterflies before a fight?

Almost everyone feels the same way. I would think that only psychopaths and guys who have had over 50 fights no longer get amped up before a confrontation.

A great fighter once told me that before every fight he would try to think of an excuse to get out. Like he would hope that he tripped on the way to the cage and twisted his ankle, just so he wouldnt have to fight. This is a guy who appears fearless, has fought really tough guys, and has had at least 15-20 MMA fights and countless streetfights.

Some people can act despite being scared, others just freeze up and back down or take the punishment without fighting back. As long as you try to be the first type, you will be ok, but dont think you will ever be completely fearless.

I put my rubber on with a tire iron, now thats tuff!