“We will fight like we train only if we train stupid, blind, deaf, clumsy and mentally impaired.” SGT Rory Miller

We’ve all felt the effects of the adrenalin dump (actually a whole cocktail of hormones and chemicals, not just adrenalin). Something scares us (like a close call in our car) that leaves us tingling, breathing faster, heart rate up, etc. If this happens in an almost accident imagine how much more pronounced it will be with life threatening violence. This will happen and, sadly, this is something that is totally ignored in most self defense systems. Too many martial arts and defense systems take a logical and mental approach to visceral and chaotic problems.

Effects of fear (the “dump”) include;

-your mind will change! The mind you have will not be the one fighting for you when attacked. Memories can be wildly distorted. Perception and auditory input can become very messed up. This is seen when those being attacked remember, for example, a knife that was four inches long being a machete, a handgun going off by their ear repeatedly that they didn’t hear, etc. Irrelevant thoughts can intrude in our heads. Off the wall thoughts can seem like brilliant ideas. We make dumb decisions and get stubborn about them. We can get tunnel vision and not see the other attacker or the weapon. Behavioral looping can easily occur with trained fighters. They will use a technique that isn’t working but get stuck on that technique and try it over and over. Sadly, if we haven’t used mind setting and had a plan for this attack already formed we won’t come up with one now because our mid-brain is now in charge and it will be stuck in freeze mode…trying to scan for any training for this scenario.

-You don’t feel pain and don’t bleed as badly due to vasoconstriction. This is one of the few good effects of the dump. Remember, however, that the attacker is in the same state and doesn’t feel pain either. That awesome joint lock that you never fail with in class doesn’t faze the bad guy….and we freeze because our brain said that it should end the fight.

-Skilled techniques degrade under stress….a bunch! Our heart rate goes way up. Blood is pooled into our internal organs. This makes our limbs feel heavy and we feel weak. Our skin gets cold and clammy. Fine motor skills go to pot.

The dump is the bane of Self Defense Instructors as it makes the untrained more dangerous and the trained less! A great example of this is police officers. When they are shooting at a target at the range within ten feet most have over 90% accuracy. Under fire on the street? One major city studied police hit statistics under live fire over a six year period and found that their officers from contact range to six feet out hit the bad guy only 38% of the time. There is a big difference in how our body reacts on a range and with someone actually trying to kill us!!

Again, the dump makes those who are trained fight worse….and the untrained actually fight better. Why is this? God put this response into man at the beginning. It wasn’t for self defense but for self preservation against wild animals! No amount of technique will drive off a tiger, but a flailing, focused (tunnel vision), repetitive (behavioral looping) defense might. Not feeling pain and not bleeding like we usually would comes in handy when limbs are being bitten. At the worst stage we freeze, drop and even have bladder and bowel evacuation…..this is good as a last resort with a wild animal who may think you are dead and save you for later! If you ever hear someone say “if it were for real, I would have done a lot better” try not to laugh at them!

Why Krav? In our classes we don’t teach a lot of joint locks or things that need fine motor skills? This is the reason! Under attack we want to think only of hitting the scumbag, grabbing hold of him any way we can and then kneeing and kicking him into oblivion. We don’t teach that one devastating attack will end the fight…because when that technique doesn’t end the fight we won’t know what to do. We teach attacking with whole body, gross motor skills and we teach to go with all we have until they are on the ground, balled up and knocked out!! BE SAFE!


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