“The Thrill of Battle” by Nev Sagiba

When facing the possibility of imminent death in battle, in an emergency situation, parachuting, base jumping, swimming with sharks, in a stupendous storm, fire, flood, cyclone, earthquake, volcanic activity, war, or other situations of imminent risk and sudden changes, the body releases chemicals to help in the process of awareness, function and thereby precision survival action.

For some this is an exciting condition often misnamed “adrenal rush.” In fact, medically, the adrenals play a small part of a combined set of survival responses which include the pituitary release of vasopressin as well as other peptide hormones and endocrine secretions, forming suitable cocktails which combine to vivify and prepare body and mind for intense action.

For the unprepared such releases are not thrilling at all but can be terrifying, toxic and disabling and often continue long after the event, to disrupt life and sleep patterns with impact upon health.

The thrill of the warrior facing odds greater than himself is entirely different to that experienced by the cowardly bully imposing upon the weak. The former is authentic, the latter a mere addiction more akin to that which the cannibal, torturer and drug addict experiences. This addictive dependency also gives rise to ideas of megalomania later to be followed with depressive and suicidal states.

The real and authentic thrill is instead liberating. Its chemistry is produced from within, a combination of natural, built in designer drugs made by your body just for you and with a safe and natural cut off point so that only optimum benefit can result. The ultimate internal natural balance can contribute to enhanced body-mind connection and experiences of increased insight and awakenings.

Our bodies are a biochemical laboratory of awesome capability. When you hug, specify chemicals are released. When you swim others. When you dive under the water these alter again. During sex the biochemistry is intensely altered, particularly as a result of orgasm. During sleep immense recovery potentials are activated. If you rise early the biochemistry is different than if you sleep in. When you exercise, your body will produce different agents than if you do not. What you eat will make the difference. When you run it changes again. Run long distances and immense changes occur as the runner goes through the first, second, third and further “winds.” Some of the chemistry unlocked in feats of endurance and exertion would kill an ordinary person if they were suddenly subjected to the same chemistry. When fasting it’s different again. Certain foods produce specific results some being beneficial and others detrimental. And so on.

No matter what you experience or do, the body’s chemistry immediately adapts. Different activities alter and vary suitable chemical responses which develop to match the demands.

We are infinitely adaptable creatures.

These biochemical changes alter our perceptions to suit the prevailing conditions. Our mind states are affected. An athletic high leaves your average and expensive drug trip for dead.

Natural activity extracts the price first in the form of regular exercise which transforms you and then rewards with such potentials that have lasting and salubrious health enhancing effects; whereas artificial chemicals pretend to “give you a high” then extract endless extortive tolls from your body and mind, hence the destructive effects of addiction. The artificial high which appears to be derived, whether from ingesting, imbibing, inhaling or injecting with artificial external chemicals is nothing more than the body’s defense mechanisms rallying and responding to a poison.

Artificial addiction damages the natural balance of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine etc., and also modify the pain pleasure receptors, affecting the brain function. Denial of the problem then becomes entrenched as a feeble excuse making that slowly destroy the addict.

You may like to imagine that the “junkie” is a dirty, skanky, dropout shooting up in a gutter somewhere, but let me disillusion you.

Do you use sugar? Fried foods? Coffee? Tea? Beer? Wine? Tobacco? Prescribed or other medication?

Could you stop?

I rest my case.

It is really fascinating how professional athletes are grilled over the coals over a cup of coffee or a much needed painkiller and accused of “cheating,” when the average person is daily encouraged to cheat themselves out of a fulfilled life when they believe advertising that falsely promises endless magic bullets with mythic results that never happen. Most of these drugs are not necessary, do not work; and many have to be withdrawn following protracted legal class actions in the aftermath of destroyed lives and permanently wrecked health of the victims, who paid good money for the privilege of such assisted self destruction.

An immense portion of humanity’s thoughts and actions are modified, stultified and warped by ingested chemicals which warp the mind, age the body and give rise to diseases such as cancer. Did you know that tobacco, alcohol and fried foods cause the body to develop acetaldehydes which are a precursor to cancer?

Well now you do.

The thrill of being alive can only arise in the best possible way when it does so naturally; and more so when living in conformity with the best possible living, drinking, sleeping and exercising habits available.

As for battle, it’s preferably best left to sleep where it lays and addressed only and if and when absolutely necessary.

But it will not be able to be addressed successfully unless regular training that makes you capable is conducted as part of life.

All animals know this in that they play fight among their friends. This also keeps the body producing healthy life giving chemicals.

Hence the dojo for humans.

Nev Sagiba


  1. Fantastic.

    Even though I am not ‘pure’ I am aware of the effects of subtle chemicals.

  2. My name is Chuck and I’m addictive …to sugar, caffeine, alcohol… even aikido!

  3. I was following your description of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. When you arrived at calling, for all intents and purposes, “medication” poisonous, you are correct. As a matter of fact it is the first question on almost every medical school exam that states, “True or False: All drugs are poison.” The answer is True, and it is worth a substantial part of each test grade.

    Now, many people do their best to live and function normally with such Axis I psychiatric ailments as schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, anxiety disorders such as OCD, and ADD/ADHD. Many other mind disorders exist as well. The trade off in ingesting poisons daily, with varying side effects, is usually well worth it. Many psycholoogists believe they have the ability to cure mental ailments with talk therapy alone. This is, regrettably, complete nonsense. A person with a serious mental ailment will do best with medication and therapy combined. Medicine can bring a person up to the point at which therapy actually can do its job. Are the side effects of these “toxins” worth the rewards? Oftentimes, the answer is yes. Thank you for writing an intriguing, bold, and controversial essay. I hope you have found my feedback useful, Mr. Sagiba.

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