More articles by John Edwards

Eltham CKD

Eltham ECKD Martial Arts and Self Defence School

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How To Handle fear,fighting,frightened,scared

Fear is a normal physical function when confronted by an aggressor, and often results in your body going into the FREEZE mode.

I found in my personal experience and talking to others that just knowing some self defence gives confidence and helps you in a big way. However, whether you are totally inexperienced or an ultra-experienced martial artist, fear is a MASSIVE factor. When confronted with danger everyone of us will feel the effects of the 'Survival Stress Response', this is triggered into action via the safety control centre of the brain called the Amygdala. Which is the threat detection centre of the brain.

During extreme stress such as that of a VIOLENT confrontation the Sympathetic nervous system will take over and cause an increase in heart rate that will in turn  raise our blood pressure. This results in blood being withdrawn from our extremities in order to be pumped to our vital inner organs. Blood is also drawn from our brain cortex for the same reason. The result of which impairs our thinking, in particular our decision making abilities. Due to this restriction in blood flow to the brain the Neo-Cortex or higher brain is gone, and the Limbic System which is the part of the brain that is responsible for emotions will take prominence, making all complex decision making impossible.


The result is that we are now reduced to the intelligence of a DOG !

In addition to this is what's known as adrenal dump this will create a release of endorphins that will make you temporarily stronger, faster and more resistant to pain and shock. The FLIP side of this coin is the mental implications that will also have to be dealt with. These include impaired hearing, tunnel vision where our peripheral vision closes down and various unpredictable side effects dependant on our personal makeup.

So how do we handle FEAR ?

Knowledge of what is happening to ourselves physically and emotionally during a period of high anxiety and stress is a great advantage - "knowledge is power" plays a role here. Also, having a self defence and or martial art training experience will ALWAYS be an advantage because this knowledge will help you concentrate on what you must do to physically defend yourself, and thereby end the situation quickly rather than be totally engulfed by the fear of being hurt which will play into the hands of the aggressor.

So if you find yourself in a frightening situation -  FORCE yourself to STOP and THINK...

Concentrate on what you must do to end this situation quickly. Normally there will be a nasty verbal assault first followed by threatening movements (raising fist, pointing and jabbing etc). These all indicate the person has lost control and it is up to you to take advantage of this and stay as logical as you can by concentrating on 'the moves you know that are suitable for this situation'. Even running away is a logical defence move. Just because you've trained in martial arts pummelling someone into pulp who has 'lost it' will not fair well for your defence in court ! Whether to run or fight is a decision that can only be made on the spur of the moment so I won't offer any advice.

However, if you decide you have to fight go in and commit yourself 100%, and get it done and over with quickly.

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