Controlling Fear is an important and often overlooked aspect of self defence. In this article we hope to provide the martial artist or RBSD trainer with some insight into the chemical responses your body will go through during this process.
There are main five factors dictating how severely the Sympathetic Nervous System will take over
In other words, the 5 things that will dictate your fear response.
- The severity of the perceived threat
- How much time you have available to respond
- Your confidence in your skills and training
- Level of experience in dealing with the threat
- The amount of physical fatigue combined with present anxiety
The Predator Vs the Victim
The predator chooses the time, place and the victim. This puts them in an excellent position biologically as the predator will subconciously work themselves up or down into the optimal performance zone of 115 – 145 beats per minute heart rate range.
The victim will be in the normal heart rate zone until the first contact in which case the heart rate will, in the time it takes the heart to beat ONCE, rocket off the chart into gross motor skill fight, flight or freeze zone.
IF an effective response has been conditioned then the victim will be able to get in one response/strike in that time. Being able to counter attack in this time is crucial as this is not what the predator would be expecting and you will be able to elicit the same response from him kicking his heartbeat off the chart and levelling the playing fields. This is where controlling fear is imperative.
Adrenaline Curves for Men and Women
Typically men get a big surge of adrenaline very early on that soon dissipates fairly quickly whereas women have a much slower build up and a longer cool down time. As soon as a situation kicks off a man will be ready to go berserk (or freeze) as soon as engagement starts whereas a woman will be able to think much more clearly until she get her “rabbit caught in headlights” response.
You will see this effect during arguments between male and female partners. The argument gets heated, the man gets angry, slams the door and then a few minutes later maybe half an hour and he’s calmed down and ready to talk whereas the wife’s adrenaline is just hitting full peak anger.
We can use this knowledge (of controlling fear) offensively to defend ourselves:
- If the threat is male, the longer you can put off engagement the less dangerous he will be.
- If the threat is female, the quicker you can end it the less danger you will be in.
With enough exposure it is possible to become inured to certain types of violence. Controlling fear is one of the reasons why we regularly partake in aggression training drills at the club. Even highly experienced martial artists, if not experienced in dealing with aggression, can find themselves freezing and using NONE of their skills.
All the best.
British Krav Maga Association Instructor
MMA Conditioning Coach