Posts Tagged ‘Bob Wilson’

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.

 

 

 

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Fear, Stress, Nerves, Anxiety, Adrenalin, Self-Consciousness and Choking are all part of Martial Arts training

Written by Bob. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013, Self Defence


old basing karate, gkr, shotokan, wado, go-kan-ryu, gokanryu, matt fiddess, defence labs, krav maga, basingstoke
Black Belt Grading Project 2013

Bob Wilson

My grading project comprises the challenging issues of Fear, Anxiety, Adrenalin, Self Consciousness and Choking which are all part of Martial Arts training. In order to bring the topic to life and to ensure that what I write is entertaining I will base my topic around two characters who find themselves in a scenario anyone could be subject to and we’ll look at what is going on both physically, mentally and how one of the characters’ Martial Arts training helps them both in the situation.

I intend to look in depth at how the body naturally reacts to Fear, Stress and Anxiety and valium also what Adrenaline would do in a self defence scenario. I’m going to try and present full facts and not dress up the reality – for this I make no apology. As we go through the reports more information will come to light that will hopefully change views on how this initial scenario is seen.

 

To set the scene I thought I would look at a scenario and then later on we can break down certain parts further. 

Tony and Rachel are a couple in their late 20’s/early 30’s who have known each other for many years but recent started seeing each other. Tony is a Fudge Packer in a local Confectionary Warehouse and Rachel works in the Leisure and Tourism industry. Over text messages they decide that on Saturday night they will hop on a train and go to a nearby town. Whilst there they go for a few drinks and around 1 am decide to catch the last train home. On walking to the train station they encounter 3 men who stop Tony and ask if he has any spare change, he politely declines at which point the lead youth says ‘I’ll take your phones then…’.

 

So Let’s pause the scenario there and see what’s happened so far. Tony’s been studying Karate for almost 4 years and knows that self-protection begins when you leave the house not when you encounter a potential problem, his martial arts training has also opened his eyes to the possibility of dangers so as he is out of his own area and taking a lady out he is aware this type of situation was possible and to give himself the best chance he deliberately hasn’t had a lot to drink. He is also acutely aware that the last comment, ‘I’ll take your phone then…’ has changed the situation from one of three lads simply asking for some change etc to one of a potential street robbery where both he and Rachel are now potentially in danger. He has no idea if anyone is carrying a weapon.

Back to the scenario and Tony replies ‘No, mate – You’re not having our phones, we’ve had a good night and I need to get onto the platform, excuse me’. As he goes to walk past, the 1st male starts to become agitated and aggressive. He pushes Tony back shouts at him ‘Give me your phone!!’ all whilst still flanked by two other males.

So again lets look at what’s going on. Tony’s body now enters a state of emergency (also known as the ‘Fight or Flight response’). The stress of the situation has now caused Tony’s heart rate to increase from around 40/50 beats per minute to nearly 100 (bpm). Adrenaline is rapidly being released by his body which also stimulates Dopamine (a natural pain killer). His breathing becomes shallower and more rapid to keep up with the body’s increased demand to provide blood and oxygen to the major organs.

In this situation people respond differently depending on their psychological state, their confidence, whether they are prepared to engage an assailant etc etc. It’s easy for a person to go into a state of panic and fall to pieces. This often happens to people who are simply not prepared.

At this point it is very much up to the individual as to how they deal with the situation. Tim Larkin a US Martial Arts expert (a hand to hand combat trainer for the US Navy Seals) who hold’s extremely violent and controversial views on self protection (so much so that he was banned from the United Kingdom by the Home Secretary Theresa May in August 2012 because “his presence here was not conducive to the public good”) believes that in this sort of situation you should allow the adrenalin to empower you in order to maim, severely injure or even kill the individual concerned. We’ll look at these views later in the project.

So Tony, still being confronted by the attacker now allows his martial arts training to take over. He knows he has to relax and regain control of his emotions. He looks for an avenue out of the situation without resorting to violence. Unfortunately there’s nobody around at that time that could help, and the distance to the platform is around 25 meters of polished floor with around 20 stairs at the end and Rachel, helpfully, has worn high heels. Again Tony communicates with his attacker but there is no option and things quickly escalate.

 

In this case study I’ve outlined most areas in my project and to move this on I will be looking at the following in more depth…

 

* What specifically causes these stimuli are there other areas that I haven’t yet looked at?

We’ll look more at the physical, psychological and emotional areas of these stimuli. The lasting impact of being a victim and the benefits of having the right training. We’ll also look at high profile victims of crime and try to gain an understanding of how their

 

* How do these emotions manifest themselves in others?

In this section I’m going to look at the Attacker as well as the ‘Victim’. What is their mindset and how do they deal with it and are there other tactics to deal with an aggressor that don’t involve fighting. Also in this section I want to look at the emotions behind whether the attacker being armed changes their state of mind and the state of mind of the defender.

 

* How can Martial Arts training help with controlling these points?

Here I’ll look at how Martial Arts turns potential Victims into prepared defenders. Also the ability no not ‘look like a victim’ and  I’ll look more in depth at how Martial Arts begins when you leave the house (not when you’re confronted with a problem). We’ll also touch on whether there’s a danger with over confidence and finish with looking at the ‘Fight or Flight response’.

 

* The merits or not of Sports Psychology dealing with the emotions.

Does the murky world of Sports Psychology help with these emotions or is it all an expensive placebo? Also we’ll look at not only the ‘Sports Psychology’ but also the psychology of high profile teachers around the World and ask, how extreme is ‘extreme’?

 

* Finally, I’ll be looking at are there parallels between working life and Martial Arts in this context?

Can Martial Arts training spill over into an everyday working life with positive benefits? Working in a high pressure job myself I’ll base this on my day to day life as well as other high profile people I am able to research.

 

That’s a rough outline, I’m sure my research will take me off on different tangents but that’s all part of learning.  All that matters is that at the end of this I/we are able to better understand the FEAR concept. Finally in November I will end with a coaching a session on this topic where I will be inviting others to contribute their thoughts, feelings and possible previous experiences.

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