The Four Poisons
There is a Korean martial art called Kum Do. This is a brutal game that involves a fight to the death with very sharp swords. The way it is practiced today is with bamboo sticks, but the moves are the same. Kum Do teaches the student warriors to avoid what are called “The Four Poisons of the Mind.” These are: fear, confusion, hesitation and surprise.
In Kum Do, the student must be constantly on guard to never anticipate the next move of the opponent. Likewise, the student must never allow his natural tendencies for prediction to get the better of him. Having a preconceived bias of what the markets or the opponents will do can lead to momentary confusion and—in the case of Kum Do—to death. A single blow in Kum Do can be lethal, and is the final cut, since the object is to kill the opponent. One blow—death—game over.
Instead of predicting, anticipating, and being in fear and confusion, you must do exactly the opposite if you are to survive a death blow from the market movements. You must watch with a calm, clear and collected attitude and strike at the right time. A few seconds of anticipation, hesitation or confusion can mean the difference between life and death in Kum Do—and wins or losses in the stock markets.
If you are not in tune with the four poisons of fear, confusion, hesitation or surprise in the markets, you are at risk for ruin. Ruin means that your money is gone and the game is over.
How can you avoid the four poisons of the trading mind: fear, confusion, hesitation and surprise?
Replace fear with faith—faith in your trading model and trading plan
Replace confusion with the attitude of being comfortable with uncertainty
Replace hesitation with decisive action
Replace surprise with taking nothing for granted and preparing yourself for anything.
Success in trading is a long journey with many twists and turns. You can and will get there if you are patient, watchful, non-anticipatory and always on guard for the exact moment when you can strike. Trading is a game of survival and the spoils are money. It’s your money, your life and your future. You have the power to survive and flourish if you remember the lessons from Kum Do.