Recreational Martial Arts and Fight, Flight or Freeze
Trained and conditioned responses, sometimes take months even years to develop. Special Forces operatives usually undergo a year of extensive training before ever seeing combat. The same applies for law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics and even bouncers. Furthermore, time spent patrolling the streets, or on the battlefield, heightens their sense of awareness, which in turn allows them to experience the fight, flight or freeze syndrome in a calm and detached state, unlike the ordinary civilian.
And herein lies the problem with recreational martial arts practice and self-defense programs. Recreational martial artists are often led to believe they are learning how to fight, but sadly the dojo bears little resemblance to the mean streets of most metropolitan cities. And even in schools devoted exclusively to self-defense students may never experience the fight, flight or freeze syndrome because while physically practicing realistic techniques on a subconscious level, they feel safe because of the familiarity of their surroundings.
Worse yet are those who teach one-day seminars to unsuspecting persons all the while guaranteeing complete protection from any and all threats. This can and does happen frequently in large corporations, government agencies, and private companies when a well intentioned person desires to improve work safety, yet knows little about realistic self-protection.
Hence a martial arts instructor is paid to lead a self-defense seminar and the corporate staff comes away with a false sense of security and a handful of knowledge that may prove more dangerous than useful. For example, on several occasions I have personally witnessed self-defense instructors advocate striking the thorax as a first response in addition to the advice “just keep moving forward, you’ll work through the fight or flight as you go.”