What is Fear?

Written by Bob. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013

 Fear

 

 

Fear as described in the dictionary is: An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat, but what does it actually do when we feel it?

The brain structure that is the center of most neurobiological events associated with fear is the amygdala, located behind the pituitary gland. The role of the amygdala in fear is best understood as part of a circuitry of fear learning.[2] It is essential for proper adaptation to stress and specific modulation of emotional learning memory. In the presence of a perceived threat (or something which causes fear), the amygdala generates the secretion of hormones that influence fear and aggression.[14] Once response to the stimulus in the form of fear or aggression begins, the amygdala may trigger the release of hormones into the body to put the person into a state of alertness, in which they are ready to move, run, fight, etc. This defensive response is generally referred to in physiology as the ‘fight-or-flight’ response regulated by the hypothalamus.[15] Once the person is in safe mode, meaning that there are no longer any potential dangers around them, the amygdala will send this information to the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) where it is stored for similar future situations. The storing of memory in the mPFC is known as memory consolidation.[16]

Some of the hormones involved during the state of fight-or-flight include epinephrine and norepinephrine and cortisol. Epinephrine regulates heart rate and metabolism as well as dilating blood vessels and air passages. Norepinephrine increases heart rate, blood flow to skeletal muscles and the release of glucose from energy stores.[17] Cortisol increases blood sugar and helps with metabolism.

Brain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relevance to ‘self defense’

The above mentions the ‘Flight or Fight response’ which a lot of Martial Artists refer to in their training, but what is it?

 

The above explains a bit about the science but in simple terms the Fight or Flight response is a Survival Instinct which is programmed into all of us (young, old, disabled etc). How we react to the instinct and our preparation is what separates us. To produce the fight-or-flight response, the hypothalamus activates two systems: the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal-cortical system. The sympathetic nervous system uses nerve pathways to initiate reactions in the body, and the adrenal-cortical system uses the bloodstream. The combined effects of these two systems are the fight-or-flight response.

When the hypothalamus tells the sympathetic nervous system to kick into gear, the overall effect is that the body speeds up, tenses up and becomes generally very alert. If there’s a burglar at the door, you’re going to have to take action — and fast. The sympathetic nervous system sends out impulses to glands and smooth muscles and tells the adrenal medulla to release epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) into the bloodstream. These “stress hormones” cause several changes in the body, including an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

At the same time, the hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) into the pituitary gland, activating the adrenal-cortical system. The pituitary gland (a major endocrine gland) secretes the hormone ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone). ACTH moves through the bloodstream and ultimately arrives at the adrenal cortex, where it activates the release of approximately 30 different hormones that get the body prepared to deal with a threat.

The below diagram shows how parts of the body change during this process. We’ll go into this more on page three.

 

Body

 

Fight or Flight’

The term “fight or flight” describes a mechanism in the body that enables humans and animals to mobilize a lot of energy rapidly in order to cope with threats to survival

The fight-or-flight response, also known as the acute stress response, refers to a physiological reaction that occurs in the presence of something that is terrifying, either mentally or physically. The fight-or-flight response was first described in the 1920s by American physiologist Walter Cannon. Cannon realized that a chain of rapidly occurring reactions inside the body help mobilize the body’s resources to deal with threatening circumstances. Essentially, the response prepares the body to either fight or flee the threat.

 

flight or fight

The sudden flood of epinephrine, norepinephrine and dozens of other hormones causes changes in the body that include:

  • heart rate and blood pressure increase
  • pupils dilate to take in as much light as possible
  • veins in skin constrict to send more blood to major muscle groups (responsible for the “chill” sometimes associated with fear — less blood in the skin to keep it warm)
  • blood-glucose level increases
  • muscles tense up, energized by adrenaline and glucose (responsible for goose bumps — when tiny muscles attached to each hair on surface of skin tense up, the hairs are forced upright, pulling skin with them)
  • smooth muscle relaxes in order to allow more oxygen into the lungs
  • nonessential systems (like digestion and immune system) shut down to allow more energy for emergency functions
  • trouble focusing on small tasks (brain is directed to focus only on big picture in order to determine where threat is coming from)

­All of these physical responses are intended to help you survive a dangerous situation by preparing you to either run for your life or fight for your life (thus the term “fight or flight”). Fear — and the fight-or-flight response in particular — is an instinct that every animal possesses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that’s the reaction – How do we as trained Martial Artists deal with this

Whilst researching this topic I contacted a fellow martial artist who has many years experience from outside of my club and asked him ‘what is the easiest way to describe ‘Fear’ and the ‘Fight or Flight’ response to an audience or Martial Artists?’ He put it very simply – ‘It’s the body’s way of hitting the emergency button, if you don’t control it though it can lead to the Panic Button being hit’.  The one thing we’re told whilst training (from an early stage) is, ‘at all times relax’ whether your punching, throwing, kicking etc the worst thing you can do is to tense up or panic.

 

Fear when controlled is part of the body’s process (along with the release of adrenaline) where the senses, oxygen levels etc are all increased and are put into a heightened state of alert. If this is used as a positive rather than a negative fear and stress can be used as allies in order to get you away from the threat by whatever means possible. The trick is to control it, not give into it.

 

 

To Conclude

So one night you’re leaving the pub, walking to a taxi rank alone through a dark alley to be confronted. Fear will inevitable set in but the key is to understand that Fear is a normal reaction and as we’ve seen stimulates the body into the survival stages which are hugely beneficial however, uncontrolled it can cause panic which is a hugely negative and potentially destructive emotion.

 

As a Martial Artist we should embrace the emotion and hormones our body releases, they make us stronger, react faster, move quicker etc but we must control these emotions so that we react with clarity, we make the correct decisions i.e. Standing and fighting isn’t always the best option! if you’re being asked for a wallet, mobile phone etc, throw it away from where your standing so that when the attacker goes for it you run. If he doesn’t go for it, you’re in trouble and fighting may well be the only option. Remember though, whatever happens we must always act in a controlled and measured manner.

 

 

 

Facebooktwitter

The differences between Judo and Tai Chi What is Judo? ‘

Written by Jess. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013

BJA, Senior Examiner, AWE, Basingstoke Judo, Black Dam Judo, Brighton Hill Judo, 3rd Dan, BJA, British Judo AssociationThe differences between Judo and Tai Chi

What is Judo?

‘A sport of unarmed combat derived from jujitsu and intended to train the body and mind. It involves using holds and leverage to unbalance the opponent.’

The word Judo means ‘the gentle way.’ It was developed in 1992 by Dr. Jigoro Kano (President of the University of Education in Tokyo.) He studied Jujutsu as a child and used the ideas and techniques from this within the new art Judo.

The main two principles/goals of Judo are ‘Maximum Efficiency and Mutual Welfare and Benefit.’ Maximum efficiency teaches the students to use the least amount of strength necessary in order to throw an opponent. This is achieved by precision and timing. Mutual Welfare and Benefit was a belief of Dr Jigoro had that Judo could help the students to become better members of society. He felt that the personal discipline that Judo taught would be used within everyday life and not just in the dojo.
Having done a bit of Judo (a few throws etc,) within karate classes, it is very clear how the maximum efficiency goal is used. You do not need to use all of your strength to throw your partner, just by being sneaky and timing everything correctly, even a tiny movement of your body can throw your partner.

Judo is mainly recognised for it’s throws and groundwork; it is compared to as freestyle wrestling because of this.  They are fairly similar, but Judo doesn’t use as many dangerous self defence techniques.  A practitioner will have to use careful timing and leverage of their own body to throw their partner.

People practise Judo for the same reasons as other martial arts and other sports; its exercise, for self-defence and a social event but mainly because it is fun. But some practitioners of Judo think of it as a way of life. Judo is a good martial art to use for exercise because it improves your flexibility, speed, coordination, muscle development and the cardiovascular system. They will all improve the standard of living for each practitioner as a healthy body creates a healthy lifestyle.

There are three main areas within Judo- competition work, free practise and forms. The Judo terms are Randori, Shiai and Kata.  In free practise, you can spar and use which ever techniques that you want.  In competitions, the aim is to win by being determined; if you aren’t determined or decisive then you won’t win the points. Competitions aren’t the aim of Judo, it is another aspect that will help you to improve your weaknesses and see your strengths.

Kata, in Judo, is different moves in a scenario. The aim for Kata is to teach and learn different values in combat through choreographed moves and techniques are learnt and practised in Kata, but not in competitions and free practised.

Lectures were a main aim, but it generally isn’t used in teaching judo any more. By using lectures, the practitioners learn the theory side and knowledge of Judo.

Within Judo, certain clothing is required. This clothing is called a Judogi.  It can be in white or blue, and they are made of a firmer, thicker material than a normal Karate gi. This means that the gi will be stronger and will not rip easily.

 

Basingstoke Tai Chi, Yang Style, Soft Martial Arts, Internal Martial Arts, TaijiWhat is Tai Chi?

‘It is a Chinese system of slow meditative physical exercise designed for relaxation and balance and health.’ wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Tai Chi (also called Tai Chi Chuan,) combines deep breathing and relaxation with slow, controlled and gentle movements

It is a health benefit but is also a subtle, sophisticated method of self defence. Tai Chi doesn’t need any equipment so people of all ages and backgrounds can easily participate. It has evolved to help improve people’s physical health and helped them to defend themselves against others.  Unlike other martial arts, Tai Chi helps people to survive by using self-defence and fitness.

It develops a healthy body and alert mind, and is suitable for all ages so everyone can be developed. Tai Chi can be practised anywhere – indoors, outdoors, in a hall, or at work. Also, when it is practised in a slow, relaxed way, it can be used as a balance drill for the muscles, and can help the mind to process and remember complex moves.  By using deep breathing, it allows the body to use correct expansion and contraction of the lungs and diaphragm. Thus, more oxygen can be taken in, and then given to the muscles.

Tai Chi focuses on qi – Life Force.  Tai Chi allows practitioners to work with their qi, and thus changes their life. A lot of qi makes the body and mind feel alive, alert and lively to all the possibilities that life can offer. A lack of qi makes the person feel tired and dull. Tai Chi’s movements increase the qi and develop it too.

Anyone can do Tai Chi, regardless of their: age, gender and fitness levels. ‘The Perfect Exercise’ is what Tai Chi has been called because the injury risk is low and the health and fitness levels are high.

You can wear any type of clothing when practising Tai Chi; it depends on your situation. For example, if you are going to practise it for 10 minutes in your office at lunch time, then you can stay in your work clothes- suits, dresses, and skirts. However, loose, stretchy clothing is best, especially something like a tracksuit. If you are learning Tai Chi in a martial art environment where it is formal, then the teachers may request that traditional clothing is worn.

 

 

Differences between Judo and Tai Chi  

In Tai Chi, the main focus of the martial art is the body and how to develop it and work with it for relaxation and meditation. Although Judo requires understanding of your body, it focuses on how small movements can allow you to control your opponent throw throws, groundwork and grappling.

Judo practitioners have to have certain clothing- a Judogi. In Tai Chi however, you can wear anything, but stretchy, loose clothing is generally worn. A t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms are frequently worn.  Specific clothing is required due to the nature of the martial arts, i.e., in Judo, you pull on the clothing, so it needs to be strong material.

In Judo, although most teachers will not specify a set age or health requirement, a basic level of health and fitness is needed to ensure that no injuries occur. However, in Tai Chi, anyone can practise it as it increases your health and fitness and poses a minimal injury risk compared to Judo.

 

If you would like any more information on either Judo or Tai Chi, here are the websites that I used to create this report. http://judopedia.com/index.php/Overview_of_Judohttp://judopedia.com/index.php/Overview_of_Judo
http://www.beginnerstaichi.com/tai-chi-dictionary.html
http://www.taichichuan.co.uk/information/introduction_to_taichi.html
http://www3.nd.edu/~judo/whatisjudo.htm

http://www.wikihow.com/Learn-Tai-Chi
http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/taichi.aspx

 

Facebooktwitter

Philosophy & Martial Arts – The ramblings of a senile mind

Written by Sue. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013

Philosophy & Martial Arts

Susan Pogmore

FOURTH REPORT

The remaining subtopics are:

1)      What, if any, is the relationship between philosophy and Marital Arts in today’s society?

2)       Karate is often said to be ‘Moving Zen’. Why?

I am not really in a position to tackle either of these yet, so this report is an update, although to be honest, I think it would be fair to describe it as ramblings of a senile mind. See what you think.

There was once a time when karate was nothing more to me than an after school activity for the kids. A physical pursuit, with social interaction, that I thought would help my girls to be better rounded individuals – discipline, concentration, co-ordination, and learning the art of self defence.

Why did I start karate? Well if you ask my husband, he’ll tell you I was talked into it by the sensei, but I think I’d already become hooked before I even stepped onto the mats. I had been watching the girls’ lessons for 6 months and I was quite literally absorbing it from the sidelines.

For some people karate is no more than a means to physical fitness, or a competitive sport and for some the goal is to be a formidable opponent on the street. Karate at face value if you will, no personal journey of enlightenment attached.

 

Max Planck, the originator of the Quantum Theory and winner of the Nobel Prize in 1918 said             “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”

 

 

Tadashi Nakamura wrote in his book The Human Face of Karate in 1988

“I have been pained by extremist beliefs that maintain that modern-day karate in Japan is made up of only brute force and strength, and by the trend that holds this to be an overriding principle. Present-day karate has been made into too much of a competitive sport, too much like a game and is overly commercialised.”

 

“Karate is not something with which to win a competition, nor is it something just to make a strong exponent stronger still, on a much larger scale it teaches the way of humanity. It is something that enables people to learn karate to further develop their character; thus each person is able to make a marvellous contribution to society.

Technique rather than force, spirit rather than technique. Sincerity is the way if heaven. Making this a sincere belief is the way of mankind.”

 

So the question that springs to mind is who is right?

I think the answer is BOTH, because every single person on this planet is unique and so are our experiences and therefore our viewpoints. And that is the basic element that makes philosophy so fascinating and so complicated.

To illustrate my point I found this eBook called Project Gutenberg’s The Problems of Philosophy, by Bertrand Russell.

“Is there any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it? This question, which at first sight might not seem difficult, is really one of the most difficult that can be asked. When we have realised the obstacles in the way of a straightforward and confident answer, we shall be well launched on the study of philosophy – for philosophy is merely the attempt to answer such ultimate questions, not carelessly and dogmatically, as we do in ordinary life and even in sciences, but critically, after exploring all that makes such questions puzzling, and after realising all the vagueness and confusion that underlie our ordinary ideas.

In daily life, we assume as certain many things which, on closer scrutiny, are found to be so full of apparent contradictions that only a great amount of thought enables us to know what it is that we really may believe. In search for certainty, it is natural to begin with our present experiences, and in some sense; no doubt, knowledge is to be derived from them. But any statement as to what it is that our immediate experiences make us know is very likely to be wrong. It seems to me that I am now sitting in a chair, at a table of a certain shape, on which I see sheets of paper with writing or print. By turning my head I see out of the window buildings and clouds and the sun. I believe that the sun is about ninety-three million miles from the earth; that it is a hot globe of many times bigger that the earth; that, owing to the earth’s rotation, it rises every morning, and will continue to do so for an indefinite time in the future. I believe that, if any other normal person comes into my room, he will see the same chairs and tables and books and papers as I see, and that the table which I see is the same as the table which I feel pressing against my arm. All this seems to be so evident as to be hardly worth stating, except in answer to a man who doubts whether I know anything. Yet all this may be reasonable doubted, and all of it requires much careful discussion before we can be sure that we have state it in a form that is wholly true.

To make our difficulties plain, let us concentrate our  attention on the table. To the eye it is oblong, brown and shiny, to the touch it is smooth and cool and hard; when I tap it, it gives out a wooden sound. Anyone else who sees and feels and hears the table will agree with this description, so that it might seem as if no difficulty would arise; but as soon as we try to be more precise our troubles begin. Although I believe that the table is ‘really’ of the same colour all over, the parts that reflect the light look much brighter than the other parts, and some parts look white because of reflected light. I know that, if I move, the parts that reflect the light will be different, so that the apparent distribution of colours on the table will change. It follows that if several people are looking at the table at the same moment, no two of them will see exactly the same distribution of colours, because no two can see it from exactly the same point of view, and any change in the point of view makes some change in the way the light is reflected. For most practical purposes these differences are unimportant, but to the painter they are all-important: the painter has to unlearn the habit of thinking that things seem to have the colour which common sense says they ‘really’ have, and to learn the habit of seeing things as they appear. Here we have already the beginning of one of the distinctions that cause most trouble in philosophy – the distinction between ‘appearance’ and ‘reality’, between what things seem to be and what they are. The painter wants to know what things seem to be, the practical man and the philosopher want to know what they are; but the philosopher’s wish to know this is stronger than the practical man’s, and is more troubled by the knowledge as to the difficulties of answering the question.

To return to the table. It is evident from what we have found, that there is no colour which pre-eminently appears to be the colour of the table, or even of any on particular part of the table – it appears to be of different colours from different points of view, and there is no reason for regarding some of these as more really its colour than others. And we know that even from a given point of view the colour will seem different by artificial light, or to a colour-blind man, or to a man wearing blue glasses, while in the dark there will be no colour at all, though to touch and hearing the table will be unchanged. This colour is not something inherent in the table, but something depending upon the table and the spectator and the way the light falls on the table. When in ordinary life, we speak of the colour of the table, we only mean the sort of colour which it will seem to have to a normal spectator from an ordinary point of view under usual conditions of light. But the other colours which appear under other conditions have just as much right to be considered real; and therefore, to avoid favouritism, we are compelled to deny that, in itself, the table has any one particular colour. 

The same thing applies to the texture. With the naked eye one can see the grain, but otherwise the table looks smooth and even. If we looked at it through a microscope, we should see roughness’s and hills and valleys, and in all sorts of differences that are imperceptible to the naked eye. Which of these is the ‘real’ table? We are naturally tempted to say that what we see through the microscope if more real, but that in turn would be changed by an ever more powerful microscope. If, then we cannot trust what we see with the naked eye, why should we trust what we see through the microscope?  Thus, again, the confidence of our senses with which we began deserts us.

 

The shape of the table is no better. We are all in the habit of judging as to the ‘real’ shapes of things, and we do this so unreflecting that we come to think we actually see the real shapes. But, in fact, as 

we all have to learn if we try to draw, a given thing looks different in shape from every different point of view. If our table is ‘really’ rectangular, it will look, from almost all view points, as if it had two acute angles and two obtuse angles. If opposite side are parallel, they will look as if they converged to a point away from the spectator; if they are of equal length, they will look as if the nearer side were longer. All of these things are not commonly noticed in looking at a table, because experience has taught us to construct the ‘real’ shape from the apparent shape, and the ‘real’ shape is what interests us as practical men. But the ‘real’ shape is not what we see; it is something inferred from what we see. And what we see is constantly changing in shape as we move around the room; so that here again 

the senses seem not to give us the truth about the table itself, but only about the appearance of the table.”

I will spare you the rest of the text; I think this brief snippet is a very good indication of just how complicated the nature of philosophy can get. I had to read through it several times to fully absorb the complexities and was left feeling quite drained.

My own interpretation of philosophy goes something like this:

Philosophy is vague in its attempt to be precise; it’s incredibly personal and ever changing.

It’s about interpretation and viewpoint and as everyone is totally unique, and no two viewpoints will ever be exactly the same, philosophy is infinite in its absoluteness.

It can be immense fun and it can also give you a BIG HEADACHE.

Facebooktwitter