“Freeze, Fight, Flight and Martial Arts Training,” by John Law

“This is the first of two posts that describe the wonders of the human response to stress. Many people in martial arts refer to the stress response (or freeze, fight or flight) in a pretty negative manner. ‘Adrenaline dump’ is a term used to highlight a detrimental natural phenomenon that needs to be overcome during a self-defense situation. In fact, the stress response involves a complex integration of the body’s systems involving a powerful mix of neural and hormonal factors, preparing the system for survival.”

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  1. …our training helps us use our adrenaline constructively. wonderful stuff, adrenaline. there are all sorts of “superhuman” feats attributed to its influence.

    something that our training does NOT help us with a lot is “the standoff”. there can be a lot of adrenaline, elevated heart rate and all that, but in the nature of the situation you just have to maintain position, usually in order to deter somebody from an unwanted action. fairly obviously, leaving an opening would invite that which is unwanted and result in a less than desired outcome, win or lose. would be interested if anybody can give me a time number for how long such a state of elevated metabolism can usually be maintained.

  2. Probably 30-60 seconds. Its supposed to prepare you to fight/run, not to duel.

    The “standoff” is a situation that you should be avoiding. It is only appropriate for sport competition, dueling, and a situation where lots of cops have a subject contained.

    If as a citizen you are in a “standoff” you are losing initiative rapidly. You are there either because of ego, because you have frozen, or because you are covering other’s retreat. In the first instance, leave! In the second, break the freeze by taking action into or away from the threat, in the last, you should be moving WITH the retreat, or you should be engaging.

    Unfortunately we are conditioned through most martial arts training to square off with our attacker, sink weight, set stance, steely gaze and “stand off” – even alleged self defense systems do this. This is conditioned on the dueling/sport mentality and not a defensive/combative one.

  3. People, read what Kit Leblanc has written here. Read it again and again until it sinks in.

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