Friday, August 31, 2012

Predator or Prey

  Many of the assumed concepts that martial arts are based around are (frankly) B.S. The one that has bothered myself the most, has always been the “Fight or Flight” assumption. Interestingly, while I was writing this blog, I happened across another blog (loosely) discussing the same (basic) topic (though I believe he went in a slightly different direction, LOL). This assumption/theory was coined by Walter Cannon in the early 1920s. It was based on the responses made by cats when confronted by a dog. Additionally, it ignores the 3rd most prominent reaction, to freeze (remaining motionless).  
  Supposedly (like an animal), a person will either Flee, when presented with a threat, or they will Fight that threat. This is closer to being an educated guess (50/50), than being any manner of useful conflict theory. That decision is being based around a hundred additional/different decisions, that are all being made in less than a few seconds.
  The facts (of what this assumption was originally made upon) tell a completely different story, than what was assumed to be occurring.
Walter Cannon’s work showed that reactions from the major emotions involve the excitation of the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system.
  This excitation leads to changes in a body’s muscles, glands and bodily functions including increased secretion of adrenaline, increased heart rate, blood pressure, perspiration, increased visual focus (a leading factor of “tunnel vision”) and decreased digestive activity.
  Excitement/anticipation could be argued to be a predator-type of emotion involving a physiological arousal and is (what I would consider to be) a positive anticipatory response/emotion. It is better associated with the approach or predator-type behavior, rather than a withdrawal/retreat (prey-type of)behavior.
  Emotion involves physiological arousal. Excitement/anticipation is an emotional response. Stress is a prey-type of emotion involving (albeit often unknowingly), the negative emotion of anxiety-fear. It is what I consider to be a negative anticipatory response/emotion.
  Both of these responses are based upon one's prior knowledge/ability to perform specific responses to those situations. When one has (enough) sufficient training to feel confident with utilizing that training, then they will use it. What must be remembered, is that each individual will require a different amount of that training to feel sufficiently confident (in their own mind) with those abilities.
  These positive/negative responses can be taught to occur, or even be suppressed under predetermined circumstances. It is for this reason/purpose that we engage in repetitive training and practice. The more at ease one is with a particular response, the more likely they are to utilize it in a given similar situation.
  By practicing prearranged responses, the option of “fight or flight” is modified beyond the either/or level. That response is (of course) dependent upon the user's comfort level with the practiced responses.
  It's also based upon that premiss, that we have student's practice techniques that will provide functional responses regardless of the particular aggressive action. Granted, one cannot predict or prevent every possible manor of aggression, but the more popular/common of those threats can certainly be anticipated and practiced to defend against.
  The majority of RyuTe® techniques (tend to) work in response to techniques whether the aggressor uses their right or left hand to perform the action. This follows Taika's instruction regarding the use of a single action that can respond to several (different) manors of attack.
  These are the types of techniques that Taika was working on during the last number of years while he was alive. Numerous “ex” students would complain that he had (simply) gotten old, therefor couldn't perform the more physical (if not brutal) techniques of his earlier instruction (a.k.a. Ryukyu Kempo days).
  This is (of course) a ridiculous assumption, but is (frankly) to be expected. Those individual's hadn't worked with Taika for quite some time, so could hardly be expected to be familiar with what Taika was working on, much less teaching.
  Taika always emphasized simplicity and effectiveness. There was never an implication that necessitated complexity or brute force be a factor of any technique that he ever taught, or endorsed. This may have been considered to be a factor with techniques that he previously taught (and partially explains why he quit teaching them, not because they didn't work, but because he improved upon them).
  Fight or flight is often used as an excuse for person's with minimal (or insufficient) training/practice. All that it really amounts to, are what the probable (untrained) reactions to a threatening situation are likely to be (ie. 50/50%). More importantly (for defensive training purposes), it should be viewed as an emotional element to be included in one's defensive strategy. Being an emotional element, means that it can be learned/trained to be controlled and/or manipulated to the user's benefit. 
 Fight or Flight is (too often IMO) used as an excuse (for improper training). When examined in the wild (with animals), it doesn't (really) occur (as described). It is always dependent upon different factors, and (of course) which creature is the predator, and which is the prey.
 It was this same premiss that Taika would "poo-poo" regarding the Chinese systems that were based around animal's ("human's aren't animals, they don't have claw's, or fang's, but they have far greater intelligence,... they just don't use it", LOL). 
 Understanding what is emotionally as well as physically occurring during this initial segment of an assault, allows the student to modify their training to compensate for any deficiency's that may occur or be present at that time. The greatest factor (to any corrections that need to be made), is that by being aware of them, they can be corrected and/or eliminated, as the student requires.



Anonymous said...

While reading this, it made me this of a book that I had read last year by Joe Navarro. What every BODY is saying. He talks about the freeze, flight, fight, just briefly, but his insight on body language is very interesting.


Openhand said...

Hmm, not familiar with it, but I'll check it out, Thanks.