Interesting how fear manifests itself and the results it produces. Fear is used by predators to immobolize and control their prey... remove the desired effect and you remove some of the predator's power - an essential tool for those of the "weaker sex!"
To me, fear can be used as a tool. Like deBecker writes in his book (The Gift of Fear
- it is a signal alerting of potential danger - giving the first and perhaps best use of fear - AVOIDANCE!
When a situation can NOT be avoided, then Strong's advice as listed in David's post (React immediately, Resist intensely, Never go to a second crime scene, and NEVER give up - from Sanford Strong's Strong on Defense
) all makes a lot of sense - but may be ineffective if the proper mindset is not developed FIRST as the body's primal reactions under stress (the "chemical coctail") will not give you a chance to rationalize and think "now, according to that book I read, I should do thus and so"... Once in the grip of fear, rational thought flies out the window, and without prior conditioned responses mentally and physically, the fear may very well paralyze you like a deer caught in the headlights on a deserted road!
Unfortunately, we will not know truly how we are going to react in any given situation until we are in it. So many factors play a part in our ability to deal with the stresses of fear, threat, and anger. So how can we prepare against fear? Look back into other situations where you have felt real fear - and analyze you you reacted. Did you freeze? Did you react with anger? As correctly pointed out above, anger can also be a tool to combat the paralyzing aspects of fear - use the rage to fight back relentlessly. Again, you won't have a chance to think "ok - now I'm scared, so I need to get mad to fight it" - IMPOSSIBLE! Don't delude yourself into thinking that you will be able to make that concious decision while it is happening!
In looking back on a few occasions where I've been in danger, or a family member has been threatened, I know I was not capable of conciously "deciding" upon a course of action. It happens too fast. When avoidance was impossible, I REACTED - furiously and relentlessly, and so far so good. But I still continue to work on ways to develop the mindset and "bodyset" that will be most effective in confronting fear and threat.Mindset:
One mindset development technique I like out of Peyton Quinn's Real Fighting
is to visualize the absolute worst possible outcome as soon as a potential threat appears. (And even as a mental exercise for "text book" scenarios.) Imagine being beat to a pulp, brutalized, pistol-whipped, stabbed or even shot and what you can do in each situation, using environment weapons, using a weapon you carry (take it to the point of losing that weapon as well) and where and how you would strike the assailant in each situation...Quinn gives a great example toward the beginning of his book of a school bully situation. This technique can be applied to ANY situation, and my feeling is, that if you go through the absolute worst case scenario, then you will be as mentally prepared as possible for the real scenario which probably won't be as bad as you can imagine it!Bodyset:
To perhaps coin a new term here - this is the other tool you have to develop to be the most effective in a threatening situation. This is the biggest disadvantage women have! It is harder to develop the physical strength (not impossible, just harder) that can match a man's superior upper body strength. So we have to train harder if we want to be as effective as possible. As Van Sensei has discussed on his forum - there is no substitute for "explosive power." All the fancy wauke blocks and strikes that you practice will do no good at all unless the are delivered with maximum power. This is a harder thing for females to develop. So, aside from developing the all important mindset, we have got to integrate reality based training into our practice. Kata is great for developing technique and flow and all of that, but if we don't practice delivering these strikes with power and try them on actual targets instead of air, these "strikes-o-doom" will portend our own doom! Bag work helps, but there is no substitute for practice on an actual opponent. (With CAUTION and an experienced instructor of course!) "Bulletman" suits or other type of body armor can be a help in developing the muscle memory necessary as well. You don't have to have one of those expensive high-tech suits to practice - our dojo can't afford one, but that doesn't stop us from dressing up one of the seniors in a cup, chest protection and head gear and giving some of the guppies and minnows a chance to hit full-force. Interesting to see how those groin shots take on new meaning when you are actually trying to make contact! You even see immediate difference in the execution of the strikes when doing the kata after such practice. So the upshot of all this verbage is that if you truly want your training to give you an edge in a confrontation, you must inject some reality into your time in the dojo! Don't just go through the motions - work with your fellow karateka and explore the infinite applications to the moves you are doing by rote. Don't hold your belt up as a "talisman" against evil - consider it merely a licence to learn!
Through the last year a lot of great reference books have been reviewed on these forums - I've created some links to them on my own web-site - (Great Self-Defense Books
) feel free to check them out - and please discuss them here - you can even follow the links on my site to buy the books directly from Amazon - (how much easier can we make it?) The three books I've mentioned in this post are at the top of my list of required reading for anyone serious about self-defense. There are many more of course - and if you have any personal favorites that you would like to review, suggest, or discuss, please feel free to post it here or email me.
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