Self Defense Training, Part 1

So Davinder, one of my students, posted this on my Facebook timeline, and I’m finally taking a minute to review and post my thoughts. I am glad he did, because I have been meaning to address some of the topics in this video.

geoffI was first introduced to Geoff Thompson’s material from one of my good friends, Calvin Millar. I remember reading and digesting a lot of his books, like The Fence and Headbutts. If you like Geoff’s stuff, you may also want to consider looking up Marc MacYoung, another reality based self defense expert.

So this will be the first of many articles on “self defense training”.

I am going to divide this into 3 sections:

Physical, Mindset, Technique and Tactics Selection.

I will try to touch on all of this in future articles and videos.

Before we get into all that, I want to briefly discuss what happens to your body, what are the physiological changes that happen to your body when you are in combat.

I learned a lot of this when I got certified as a PPCT Management Defensive Tactics Instructor. Some great resources that you might want to consider are Sharpening the Warrior’s Edge by Bruce K. Siddle:

And another one is On Combat with Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and Loren W. Christensen:

Tachypsychia: your perception of time is messed up. Some people recall events as happening in slow motion, or extremely fast. Some people may even get the order of events wrong. That’s why you get different accounts of an event from yourself and witnesses.

Tunnel vision: your field of vision narrows to the focus on the immediate threat. This might be bad because you might not see other threats, like other attackers, attacking you from outside your field of vision.

You might try to expand your vision by moving backwards. This can be also be bad because your attacker generally moves forward 4 times fastest then you can backwards. Defending while backpedaling is not the best tactic. That’s why we always suggest stepping off the line of attack, by angling or circling from your attacker.

Stuck in the Dinosaur Age: if you have never trained while under combat stress, you might resort to using the lizard or reptilian part of your brain. This is the animal, instinctive part of your brain that stopped developing when you were 2 years old. It is responsible for your flight, fight and freeze relations.

When fighting you want to have that nice combination of your cortex ( that part of your brain that actually thinks) and the reptile (animalistic) part of your brain. Unfortunately, unless you train for aggression and under stressful conditions, you will probably resort to the reptilian part. Some of your fancy martial arts skills may go out the window. Your ability to make the proper tactical choose might also be compromised.

You can find some excellent information through the net on this or take Wintensity’s course. One of the best courses for developing the proper mind set for fighting.

Reduced hearing: when some people are under stress, they might not hear everything around them. This could potentially be bad, especially if friends or witnesses are trying to warn you of other dangers.

Increased cardiovascular stress: obviously when you are in a fight, your heart, lungs and over all conditioning is tested and stressed. This kind of stress also affects how we manage our motor skills. Generally speaking there are 3 categories of motor skills: fine, complex and gross.

Fine is like using a a computer keyboard. Complex are skills that involve timing. Such as drawing a firearm and trying to hit a moving target. And gross are skills like running, pushing, lifting etc.

When you are under stress, your ability to conduct fine and complex motor skills go out the window. Ever get the shakes when you are under stress? There goes your fine motor skills. This means that disarms, small joint locks, weapon retention skills, complex martial arts skills can go out the window. Gross motor skill use is actually very good. Grappling, flurries of punches, running away, can generally be good under stress.

Vasoconstriction: our body can be pretty smart when it is in combat. Most of the blood pools in the important areas: lungs, heart, brain etc. This means less blood in our extremities. This is good if we happens to get slashed in our arms; hopefully our last defense against an edged weapon assault. However at the end of the assault, when your adrenaline wears off, blood begins to flow freely to these areas, which can result in a lot of blood lose through your injuries.

Adrenaline dump: when we are in combat we get that adrenaline dump, and other hormones are dumped into our blood stream. The good thing about this is that for a short period of time, our physical attributes like strength and cardio are really good. The bad thing is when we get out of our adrenaline dump, we are considerably weaker then our normal state.

These are just a few of the physiological changes that can happen to your body under combat. If you are interested in combat, competition or self defense, take the time to study the effect that combat has on your body. Next week I will cover how to physically train for self defense.