Principles of Combat
How many people have:
jumped out of an airplane
gone night diving in the ocean
climbed a vertical mountain
Knowing that we are very likely not going to die allows us the rush, thrill, fear, and excitement of voluntarily engaging in all of these “activities’.
Now, how many people have:
had a gun or a knife put in their face
been shot at or had said knife attempt to perforate you
been shot and/or perforated by said knife
realized you were being gang attacked AFTER you felt the first punch
The hormonal cocktail is the same but when the choice of whether or not we engage in a dangerous activity is taken from us, our perception of the physiological responses changes. This understanding allows us to better approach the realities of dealing with violence. Most modern combative systems acknowledge three basic Principles of Combat:
1. Understand the Survival Stress Response (SSR) and its affect on performance
2. Attitude (or Mindset)
3. Managing Fear
In fact these same principles can be used for any stressful situation one might encounter. Understanding SSR comes from a book and from experience. There are several excellent reads on the subject including “Sharpening the Warriors Edge” by Siddle and “On Combat” by Grossman. If you are serious about this stuff, invest. Experience is a little harder to come by. Replication of an adrenal dump in a training environment is almost impossible but we can get close using the correct methods and motivators.
In American Kenpo, your attitude constitutes half of your response. Logic, skill, and physical ability constitute the rest. I have seen women fight like tigers and men cower in a corner. The Unbeatable Mind is a term heard often these days among military and civilian motivators. Once you accept the fact that bad things happen, you have to make up your mind that surviving (winning) is just as important as oxygen. In other words “Refuse to Lose”. Managing fear is a by-product of the first two principles and is a combination of both physical and psychological responses. Autogenic breathing, forced visual diffusion or surveying your environment, and forcing yourself to action are physical responses. Visualization and stress inoculation are “brain training” and allow the body to “break the freeze” during an SSR. Some reality-based instructors incorporate Damage Control as a principle. If the body is taking damage and experiencing pain during the event, a whole new beast as added to the equation but based on personal experience, pain is usually not an issue during an SSR.
Future blogs will dig deeper into each principle as well as provide videos of drills and scenarios students can use to improve their skills under stress.