Updated: Oct 18, 2020
Effective Self-defense is not complex, impressive, or pretty. It is simple, brutal, and efficient. Practical self-defense skills rely more on mindset, naked aggression, physical fitness, and gross motor skills more than the perfection of technique.
The single greatest contributor for the need for simplicity in self-defense is human biology. There are volumes of studies that can explain physiology however we will review a few here. When human beings are adrenalized our cognitive abilities begin to diminish and we experience brain fade.
In his book "On Combat" Lt. Col. Dave Grossman discusses Fear, Physiological Arousal, and Performance. He addresses the physiological shift that the body goes through in moments of combat stress.
How Our Bodies Respond to Danger
Our autonomic nervous system commands all the voluntary and involuntary functions of the human body. They are divided into the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems.
Throughout periods of non-stress, both branches work collectively to create a state of balance known as "homeostasis". This point is when and where human beings perform at our peak levels when trying to utilize our complex motor skills.
Deterioration of a Person's Performance
in relation to arousal levels
When our brains sense a threat or impending danger, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is stimulated involuntarily, resulting in an instant release of stress hormones. The discharge of these hormones can bring about some extraordinary changes to our bodies.
Hormones will raise our heart rate which increases blood flow through our arteries to large muscle mass groups which improve gross motor skills and strength capabilities. At the same time, they decrease blood flow to minor blood vessels throughout the body which decreases blood loss if we were to experience trauma.
These same hormones will trigger enhanced visual abilities, faster reaction times, increase strength and a decrease in pain sensitivity. Often times victims of stabbings don't feel the injury for several minutes. So much so combat medics are taught to perform a "Blood Sweep" which is a physical check for wounds by running their gloved hand around the patient's body. Many knife trauma victims have reported feeling fine before collapsing to the floor from blood loss.
It's important to point out that only heart rate increases induced by hormones impact our body chemistry this way. Exercise-induced heart rate increases will not trigger our sympathetic nervous system. While conditioning helps in many ways, desensitize using exercise will have modest benefits.
Effects of Human Performance Based On Hormonal Heart Rate.
60-80 BPM (beats per minute) Normal resting heart rate
80 to 115 BPM. Fine motor skill deteriorates
115 to 145 BPM. Fine motor skills deteriorate
145+ BPM complex motor skills deteriorate
The following data set pertains to only human hormonal induced heart rate increases. They are performance and strength trajectories over time. According to the data, the following occurred over a 90 second period;
+100% increase of potential max within 10 seconds,
-55% decrease after 30 seconds
-35% decrease after 60 seconds
-31% decrease after 90 seconds.
This is important to consider as currently, the average street fight lasts 30 seconds. Strategies for consideration are deploying your weapons within your peak development time or waiting for the opponents to peak and diminish.
On average it took at least three minutes of rest to "recharge" the body. Any elongated periods of relaxation after an intense sympathetic nervous system arousal can result in vital declines in energy level, heart rate, and blood pressure. Humans may exhibit symptoms of shock like dizziness, nausea and- vomiting, clammy skin and/or intense fatigue.
One of the biggest jobs cornermen performs for professional fighters is communicating what's going on in the ring and calling out offensive and defensive moves. Why? despite the rigiris training, desensitization to violence and experience some of these professionals have they too are held hostage by human biology.
There is a cost of our newly acquired superpowers. People need to understand sacrifices to take the fear and anxiety away so when the following occurs you understand. The implication of the SNS is catastrophic to certain systems. It causes:
Loss of near vision.
Tunnel vision, loss of peripheral vision.
Loss of fine or complex motor skills.
Loss of depth perception.
Involuntary bowel movements
Above 175 BPM, we see the following responses.
Voiding of bladder and bowels
Gross motor skills are at the highest performance level.
Optimal hormonal based heart rate performance levels for complex motor skills, visual reaction time, cognitive reaction time are between 115-145 bpm.
In the range of 150 and 175 beats per minute our cognitive processing deteriorates. The narrowing of the blood vessels occurs resulting from the contraction of the muscular wall of the vessels.
We experience auditory exclusion in the form of temporary loss of hearing or selective hearing loss. It is related to tunnel vision and "the slowing of time in the mind".
Our vision gets impaired in a number of ways including;
Loss of peripheral vision
Loss of depth perception
Loss of near vision
Improving our Performance With Stress Inoculation Training SIT
Stress inoculation training (SIT) is a non-trauma-focused stress control training that involves practicing coping techniques to manage anxiety.
Using Our Fear Triggers to Improve Heart Rate Performace
Put yourself in stressful situations and learn to get comfortable there. Take small steps to start and progress over time. It doesn't need to involve physical fighting skills. Use what triggers your fears as a tool. Here are some top phobias
Social phobias fear of people can fear being judged
Agoraphobia: It is a serious anxiety disorder than can trap people in their homes or make leading a normal life next to impossible.
Acrophobia: fear of heights
Pteromerhanophobia: fear of flying
Claustrophobia: fear of enclosed spaces
Entomophobia: fear of insects
Ophidiophobia: fear of snakes
Cynophobia: fear of dogs
Improving our Performance With Controlled Breathing
While in a hormonal triggered heart rate response event practice slowing down your breathing. Ab breathing is simple to perform in any position. A great technique to relax, relieve stress lower heart rate.
Concentrate on your belly button.
Take a deep breath in through your nose
Let your abdomen rise and set. Your chest should not move.
Breathe out through your lips as if you were blowing out a candle. Push all the air out.
Repeat and perform this 3 to 10 times, taking your time with each breath.
Improving our Heart Rate Performance With 4-7-8 breathing
This exercise also uses Ab breathing to help you lower your heart rate and relax.
Concentrate on your belly button.
Slowly take a deep breath in from your abdomen, and mentally count to four as you breathe in.
While holding your breath, mentally count from one to seven.
Breathe out completely as you mentally count from one to eight. Push all the air out of your lungs by the time you reach eight.
Repeat and perform this 3 to 10 times, taking your time with each breath.
Scenario Base Learning SBL to Improve Heart Rate Performace:
Here’s where you start to exercise the coping skills you’ve acquired. Locate a self-defense program that utilizes SBL. Contact us for some references.
After the initial training and practice, the instructors will put you in anxiety-provoking situations so you can practice coping effectively using specific anxiety management strategies. They dial up the intensity over time as you feel comfortable.
Use Of Force Skills That Reflect Human Biology
After a complete understanding of the adrenal response, we can conclude why effective counter-violence training contains a deliberately limited number of simple self-defense techniques. They are chosen so that they be easily remembered, recalled under stress, and able to be linked, to each other so a user can create an endless series of strikes.
British SAS operator once said, “I would have killed the man with a sharp stick if I didn’t have a rock.
Self-defense training should contain a limited number of functional gross-motor skills that are easy to learn and effective under the stress of fear, confusion, and exhaustion. Gross motor skills utilize larger muscle groups that perform optimally throughout the hormonal heart range. At some points, they are enhanced.
The training can be influenced by systems old or new but must be presented with a compressed curriculum of situational awareness skills. Auto Condition Response or muscle memory to develop an endless knot of actions and it must be taught so well, thinking is reduced to a minimum so automatic reaction must be the rule.
Effective self-defense training programs purposely leave out complex techniques that require fine motor skills. Simple techniques that utilize gross motor should be used as your counter-violence skills such as;
Motor Skill Defined:
Gross motor skills - Gross motor skills involve movements of the large muscles of the arms, legs, and torso. Gross motor skills use very little strength and require simple symmetrical body movement.
Fine motor skills - Body movement that involves hand-eye coordination and hand dexterity. Fine motor skills are the ability to make movements using the small muscles in our hands and wrists. They involve the coordinated efforts of the brain and muscles, and they’re built on the gross motor skills that allow us to make bigger movements.
Complex motor skills - Body movement that utilizes a series of muscle groups and requires hand-eye coordination, accuracy, tracking, and timing.
When you have adrenalized in a duressed-filled moment the last skills you should be utilizing are complex or fine motor. Basic movements that are proven reliable in multiple situations that rely on gross motor skills. Master them--find 20 and own them.
Understanding the science of danger and the fight or flight response can reduce fear and uncertainty about it. Moreover, we can artificially induce arousal so we can train ourselves to perform better. Training with the use of inducing hormonal stress while in reality-based situations can lead to better self-defense skills.
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