Technique Tip - Using your keys...
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Feature Article: Emotion-Based Defensive Response (part 2)
by Jeffrey M. Miller, Shidoshi
When discussing self-defense training, we really need to be discussing more than just learning some tricks and techniques for dodging punches or escaping locks and holds. Why then, are most instructors content with stopping at, and most students satisfied with learning, self-defense in a vaccuum?
In part 1 of this article, we discussed the difference between the way we human beings typically learn the best and how we naturally respond under pressure. Regardless of the reason that the majority of martial arts and self-defense instructors out there teach only the physical techniques, if we are to be properly prepared for a dangerous situation, we must train in a way that incorporates the psycho-physical response or emotional stress drivers that underlie the action phase.
If you missed part 1 of this article, You can access it from our archives URL - the link is at the bottom of this newsletter. It would be best if you read it before moving on to this next part to make the most sense out of the whole presentation.
To continue where we left off...
There are four base emotional responses that can be seen to come from our primative "fight-or-flight" defense system. This system, also known as the adrenal response, is hardwired into our natural makeup. It doesn't have to be learned as we learn other skills. Instead, we must learn "about it" and understand how it stimulates our thoughts and actions if we are to be able to use it as a tool. However, contrary to what some are teaching about adrenal response and the "fight-or-flight" defense mechanism within the human psycho-physical make-up, there is more than one single "go-get-'em" response that can come up.
As we discussed in the first part of this article, the four motivational drivers that could be present during a stress-induced situation are:
- Confident, stability - we're basically unmoved by the threat, because there is no perceived threat.
- Defensive repulsion - we are overwhelmed by the source of the impulse and instinctively cover our targets or pull away to a safer distance.
- Aggressiveness - we quickly move in to take control of the situation.
- Evasiveness, avoiding - we sidestep or evade the problem, seeking primarily to completely avoid having to deal with the problem at all.
Let's take a look at each one as a viable defensive response to danger.
Confident Stability - While not easily seen to be motivated by either fight or flight, this emotional driver causes us to hold our ground and "stand-up" to the assailant. We may do this because we perceive no threat from them or, we do not have the luxery, as in the case of a police or security officer, to walk or run away.
Generally speaking, when we're under the influence of this confident state, we feel strong, capable, and "in-charge." This is not to be confused with stubborness, which is the condition of needing to move but choosing not to out of a misdirected sense of pride or out of "principle." In this emotional attitude, mood, or "mode," we don't feel the need to move very much to deal with our attacker. In fact, we use minimal movement altogether, choosing to stop the opponent with proper positioning and, using our strong weapons against their weakest points to crush them in place, we firmly take control of the situation.
Defensive Cover - When we feel overwhelmed, it's usually because we lack enough time or space to be effective. Under the influence of this emotional state, we find ourselves anxious and often feeling "too-close-for-comfort" in relation to the danger. We find our body blading and bringing the limbs in to cover and protect the life-sustaining systems and weak points.
In order to relieve some of the pressure and immobility produced by being too close to danger, when feeling defensive, we find ourselves backing away to create more distance - and more distance naturally creates more time. We may even find our arms naturally moving out in front to create a barrier between us and our assailant.
Aggressiveness - Sometimes, we simply do not have the luxery or ability to escape to safety or otherwise dissuade the assailant from attacking. We may feel like we are outgunned and, if we allow the assailant to make the first move, we will lose. In these situations, we may choose to directly confront the assailant and take the fight to them before they have a chance to properly prepare.
By getting in the first shot, we may be able to put the assailant on the defensive or, at the very least, give ourselves the necessary time to choose a different alternative. This is not to say that we do what is often suggested by some instructors and "go ballistic" as soon as we've been confronted. Can you imagine being confronted by "Uncle Joe," whose had a little too much to drink at a family gathering and you completely lay him out because that's all you know? Can you imagine how happy and loving the rest of your family will be toward you after you've used your "kill the foam-man" manuevers on him?
Not necessarily destructive per se, this emotional mode has us "on-edge" and ready for anything. We directly engage the assailant and go straight to the source of the danger in an attempt to shut it down as quickly as possible.
Evasiveness - Under this emotional driver, we want to avoid the encounter completely. By putting as much distance as possible between ourselves and the assailant, we cause them to have to overextend to reach us.
We may also use a sense of slippery or tricky, last-second timing, to easily slip the assailant's attacking limbs and cause them to waste their shots. Like the wind, we can be felt by our assailant but he or she finds it very difficult to get a hold of us.
Using this wind-like analogy, we can be gently subtle as we evade and perhaps use light parrying, or we can be as forceful as a hurricane as we surround the attacker with our evasive movements and come at them from all sides.
Summing It UP...
These descriptions are, in no way, complete. In the coming weeks and months, we'll be exploring each of these responses more thoroughly. With each, we'll be examining such aspects as footwork and overall dynamics as the body adjusts to the pressures and influences of each of these so-called emotional "modes" of operating under pressure.
Remember also, that none of these options is better or worse than any other, Each is merely an option that can be chosen or adapted to as we recognize that we are naturally under that influence. The important thing to remember is that, unlike a stylized martial art, we do not have to limit ourselves to a single response and reaction mode. When we understand that we move into and out of these four base modes or moods throughout the course of our daily activities - sometimes acting confidently - sometimes taking a step back to evaluate and take up a better perspective - others times directly confronting a problem before it gets too big to hande - and, other times we simply seek to avoid directly confronting or dealing with a situation at all - we can take charge of the process itself and use these natural states for the purpose of self-protection.
The Warrior Concepts Life Mastery Program and it's basic self-defense version, the EDR:Non-Martial Arts Defensive Training Program, use this emotion-based responsiveness as the foundation for connecting with and using those drivers that are at our very core, serving to direct us through stress and danger. This 'natural' use of emotional energy is very different from the left-brain, logical, step-by-step approach taken by most other self-defense programs as if you could possibly memorize a string of moves to fit such a chaotic situation as a fight or self-defense encounter.
For more information about this emotion-based responsiveness to danger, take a look at this article.
Self-Defense Tip -
DO NOT place your keys between your fingers as shown by many of the self-defense "gurus" out there. This is another one of those "urban legends" that started who-knows-where, and has spread from teacher-to-student to show up in some form or another in books, videos, and classes everywhere. This is one technique that is both unsafe AND impractical.
Why? As with all of the principles that govern our philosophy and methods, we need only look to science - specifically, physics and psycho-physiology.
First, it's a simple matter of leverage. Placing the keys between your fingers is a very weak way to hold them. You cannot counter the force exerted against the key as cutting edge with enough force of your own to be effective when it makes contact with a target. And, the counter-pressure causes the key to push back and into the soft, nerve-rich webbing at the base of your fingers (this is very painful!)
You can see a very good demonstration of this dangerous technique, and the correct way to hold and use your keys as a weapon in the powerful video, Danger Prevention Tactics: Protecting Yourself Like a Pro.
Second, when under stress-induced trauma, you lose all fine motor function. This means that you cannot execute tricky little manuevers that require a high degree of manual dexterity. And, trying to get your keys between your fingers during an attack qualifies as requiring a "high degree of manual dexterity." Depending how many keys (not to mention what else) you may have hanging off of or connected to your keyring, you may find that you simply can't get a "handle" on them at all.
This Year's Spring Ninja Training Camp is right around the corner. Before you know it, the weekend of April 15 - 17th will be upon us and you will either be having or missing a one-of-a-kind training opportunity. Remember that, although we hold these camps every Spring and Fall, each camp is unique in and of itself. Since the training is based around a particular theme and the breakout sessions are chosen by the guest instructors present, we can never recreate the training for you. Unlike the standardized curriculum in a class environment, the yearly Ninja Training Camps are designed to provide a unique, intense, and powerful training experience that capture the essence and freedom of the art of ninjutsu itself.
You'll find more information and details about this year's Spring and Fall Training Camps, here.
In the next issue of the Self Defense Newsletter, I'll give you information about how you might be able to still get some of this year's camp experience, even if you don't make it to camp.
Let Me Hear from You!
I want this newsletter to be valuable to everyone who gets it. To do this, it has to personally relate to your life. And, the best way to make sure that this newsletter is providing you with exactly what you need, is for you to tell me what you want to see.
So, beginning with the very next issue, I will be adding a special section to answer questions or to give you feedback about a particular issue or concern that is sent in.
To contribute questions or topics, just use the contact page on the site. Don't worry if I don't get right to yours as I expect a lot of feedback. I promise though, to answer everyone, either in the form of an article topic or in this new questions and answers section. Okay? So, get those topics to me.
So, Until next time. Live Free. Be Happy. And...
Peace and Happiness,
Jeffrey M. Miller, Shidoshi
Warrior Concepts International
Self-Protection & Personal Development
"Master Your Self - Master Your Life!"