Posts Tagged ‘Fear’

Fear and the Martial Arts

Written by bryan. Posted in Coaching

Fear is the mindkillerWe are all afraid of something at times. Anyone who tells you that they’ve never been afraid is lying.

For some people it’s Spiders (Arachnephobia or Arachnophobia) or Clowns (Coulrophobia) or Heights (Hypsiphobia) or Flying (Pteromerhanophobia) or Darkness (Lygophobia) There is even Fear of being laughed at (Gelotophobia) and Fear of Knees (Genuphobia.) Some people have even invented fear of new things like Bridges (Bridgophobia ;->)

What’s this go to do with Martial Arts?  As successful Martial Artists we constantly place ourselves into positions where we are afraid or at the very least out of our comfort zone. If we stay within our self imposed boundaries, we simply won’t improve, in fact we’ll stagnate and often our skills will degrade.

This ‘fear’ can be from many things

  1. Moving up a class in your club
  2. Taking a grading
  3. Training against someone much higher (in belt terms)
  4. Taking part in a competition
  5. Losing at a competition
  6. Learning a new form or Kata.
  7. Fear of being mugged/beaten up

Within our syllabus we progressively encourage people to push those boundaries to develop their skills, knowledge and themselves. It’s not easy to do, it can be challenging mentally and physically but the sense of achievement when that barrier is overcome is palpable. When someone is ready to take their Black belt, we give them a specific challenge that is pertinent to them and relevant to them improving their skills, they are definitely not easy to complete, but those that have risen to the challenge have come out of the other end as much more accomplished Martial Artists .

Einstein puts it quite well ” Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”  So do something differently.

  1. Identify what you want to achieve
  2. Understand why you want to do that thing
  3. Plan how your are going to achieve it
  4. Work through your plan and any set backs
  5. Measure your success
  6. Adapt your plan
  7. Be accountable to yourself
  8. Be positive

A good Martial Arts coach, will all been there and worn the T Shirt and is in fact still doing it, so you are not alone on the journey. A good Martial Artist will keep pushing their own boundaries to improve and enrich themselves.

 

“Everyone gets knocked down. 

Champions get back up again.”

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I’m losing! What do I do?

Written by Zane. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013

Question C:

The question is:

When someone is in the middle of a match and they are losing, what do they think and do to encourage themselves to win?

What this question tells me:

I believe that the question tells me to fight, be outstanding to impress other clubs. It tells me to trust others and not to stop. I am going to write how I feel when I am losing, the answers and ask for people’s opinions outside of karate and then link it to karate.

How I feel when I’m losing:

When I’m losing a match I feel gutted and ashamed of myself. I want to run away and give up. Then I ask myself why did I want to do this in the first place? Then I remind myself that I’m representing the club with true power and pride. Now I’ve got to this level there is no turning back. So all I can do is think positive and try my best.

My answers:

If I was in the middle of a match and I was losing I would see what techniques my opponent is using and see if I have a possibility of stopping it and hopefully add in a counter attack to gain points and maybe retrieve a comeback.

I would never think negative but have a PMA (positive mental attitude). I would be angry and imagine that they insulted me or broke my most treasured possession and I want to fight back because I should.

I also listen to what my coach is trying to tell me because I know he is the one who I could put all my trust into. They are the ones who I should listen to the most because they got me to this level and have as much faith in me as I have faith in them.

If I am being beaten I would just give it my all and just confidently and happily carry on and represent our club and show how we are dedicated to perfection by being brave and fight.

This is what I know I must be doing but in reality it is sometimes different.  In previous competitions I have found that I get angry at myself and get upset because I lost. I get upset because it makes me feel embarrassed and want to run away but there has to be one winner and one loser. Considering that the opponent was good I would learn from the way they successfully won and use the techniques that they used so I could add them in my next match or in the future. I will remind myself this in my next competition and I will remember not to get upset!

Other people’s opinion on the question:

My mum (on running):

When I start thinking of quitting early, I try my best to start thinking positive. I do not want to have the feeling of failure at the end because of stupid excuses like my legs are hurting or I’m too tired and that I can’t complete it, so I block the negatives outside of my brain.  I don’t want to let myself down, or then have to explain to my running friend why I didn’t finish! I remind myself about the good feeling of achievement at the end when I am given my time.  I know I can do it so I put in all effort to get to the end.

Michelle Maddocks (being team captain in netball):

Well as a captain I would look at where the team are weaker. First analysis would be on the opportunities at goal, are we getting plenty of opportunities, but have we weak shooters or is the ball never reaching our shooting circle. From this I would rearrange players accordingly. Then I would look at tactics, so what the opposition are doing and think of ways to interpret their play. Also look at the oppositions weak points and use them to our advantage, for example if the opposition has one shooter better than the other, then we would aim to deliberately block the stronger shooter. The team will discuss this at quarter breaks. On the field I would give more vocal direction and words to keep morale up. If we were losing by a fair amount, I would then set a new aim of getting at least half the number of goals of the opposition has got, which would mean we could gain a higher goal difference in our league. I would also say to the team, losing a game is good practise for future fixtures.

 

Thomas Maddocks (based around football):

Never give up and always encourage others right to the end. It is very difficult for a team or an individual to stay on top for the full duration of the game; you will get a chance. Knowing this fact not panicking and staying positive and determined is really important. You must however take advantage of your opportunities when they arise keep working hard and keep encouraging when you sense the opponent’s heads going down. I personally hate losing and that is all the encouragement I need.

 

The thing all these things have in common is the encouragement you must give to yourself and to give to others; either if they are winning or losing. You have to sense the smell of victory. This links to karate by supporting others and yourself. This mainly relates to the corner chair person who will give you feedback for example: hands up!!! Quick! In out really fast!! Although it is hard to listen when you are thinking about beating your opponent. So you need to keep an ear out.

 

Finally, to answer the question in a simple sentence:

You should encourage others and yourself to win by thinking positively, having the confidence that you can achieve it and focusing on the end result.

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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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