The Media Myth Of The Flinch Reflex!

Understanding how to control one's emotional arousal is paramount to victory... and survival. Due to the nature of martial arts, I intended CST to provide a means of off-setting negative affects combat causes and to perform better.
Two issues ago, I introduced the concept of the development of emotional control through physical training in my article, Circulo-Respiratory Distress. Last issue, in Panic Control for the Warrior Athlete, I expanded upon emotional management of stress. Understanding how to control one's emotional arousal is paramount to victory ... and survival.

Many martial artists come to Circular Strength Training (CST) because it is the only system ever created to specifically prepare one for the trials of combat; a system deeply entrenched in the language of science and wrapped in empirical study and personal experience of combat and fighting. Due to the nature of martial arts, I intended CST to provide a means of not only off-setting negative affects combat causes the body, but also to help the body better perform within the cauldron of fighting.


From Dump To Release

Reflex-based approaches in martial art offer physical preparedness in the shortest time possible. No other approach can render their speed of preparing effective combatants. All so-called "adrenaline-based/reality-based" systems are based on this. Any approach deliberately activating in training and platforming off of the endocrine system (adrenaline/epinephrine, norepinephrine, endorphin, aldosterone "dump" - deactivated by cortisol) are reflex-based systems.

These systems seek to convert the 'fight, flight or freeze' reflex to a few select gross motor, high percentage 'techniques'. However, these approaches remain limited by their own basic doctrine (read belief system): gross motor only, platform off of so-called "hard-wired" reflexes, striking more effective, proactive aggression superior, et cetera. Their belief system creates their method of training, which in turn also reinforces their beliefs.

No action hard-wires your organism. Every behavior remains subject to the Laws of Conditioning. Platforming off of (and reinforcing) a reflex imposes upon the reality of the situation and thus never truly 'responds' to the event as it unfolds. If you only have a short amount of time, then this is a valid consideration.

Different methods of training (Strategies) evolve from disparate belief systems (Doctrine), and as a result produce different results (Tactics). For instance, grappling against one person on the mat, and grappling against plural weapon wielding assailants require different training approaches. Having a belief system which would lead you to approach both situations with the same tactics is foolish. The rules of engagement determine the preparatory methods. Your belief system should be flexible enough to adapt.

One can, through proper methods, learn to remain calm within crises, including combat. Fine motor actions become capable with autonomic and hormonal arousal management training. Reflexes are not hard-wired and can be brought under control and even "unhinged," though the current media hype and industry mythology markets against this biological fact. Ask yourself why they do.

From a motor development perspective, a response-based approach is a much more "Efficiently Effective" educational model since one actively stimulates the learning channels of the body (called Mechanoreceptors: which sense movement, position and tension/force.) It is not trapped in the conventional Reaction-based approach (technique/counter-technique) and therefore is the superior form of manifesting bodily awareness and refinement.

Refinement requires much longer time and training focus than conventional military preparation permits. So, to prepare Jimmy from Kentucky to walk out of the woods and head into battle with a pernicious enemy in short weeks requires a different training model - hence the industry success of Reflex-based approaches. The same is true of law enforcement personnel who are on average allotted 10 hours of hostile subject control training per YEAR.

But what if you have more time? Do you train as if you're heading into war tomorrow? Current media marketing pushes your danger buttons to convince you that is exactly what "may" happen. In this way, they influence you to believe that you face imminent jeopardy if you do not accept their beliefs ... and as a result, adopt (buy) their methods.


The Three Approaches To Martial Art

There are three types of educational approaches in martial art. Years ago, I created this distinction in order to categorize not the "style" (which is only indirectly related to how an individual teaches martial art) but the method - which is of the greatest importance. There are no secret "techniques" - only more powerful educational methods for the appropriate situation. To understand these distinctions below is to gain access to that power.

Reaction Based Approach

A number of reactionary techniques are presumably rehearsed and memorized to be called upon in crisis for application to an attacker's action. Reaction-based approaches are context-specific: if the attacker does "A" the defender reacts with technique "B."

Reflex Based Approach

Built upon reinforcing and positively utilizing the autonomic and hormonal arousal as a platform for counter-aggression. Reflex-based approaches are context-free: regardless of the attacker's specific weapon launched, the defender once determining imminent danger proceeds indiscriminately until the attacker is neutralized; if they use techniques, they restrict the number to one-handful of biochemically-augmented, gross-motor, large target oriented tactics.

Response Based Approach

Diminishing relative autonomic and hormonal arousal, diminishing response time, increasing efficiency and proportionality, and increasing kinesthetic, position and force/tension sensitivity. Response-based approaches are context-sensitive: awareness, sensitivity and improvisation spontaneously create an appropriate solution to the event as it unfolds without any predesignated 'skills' but a deep internalization of natural laws and efficiency.

I've used all three methods across the course of my career. It all depends upon the audience, though I have a deep preference personally for the response-based approach.

There are systems, such as in some Russian Martial Arts, which can produce masterful fighters, light years beyond the effectiveness of Reflex-based approaches. But you need to consider training time, level of focus, money, etc ... Bottom line is that most are not prepared to invest the time and hardship to become masterful.


The Neuroendocrine Response

Just remember that these terms can be confusing. "Adrenal-Response" (actually the correct term is neuroendocrine response, but people are fascinated by adrenaline) refers to that hormonal arousal elicited by the autonomic arousal which comes "reflexively" from perception of a threat. In other words, the so-called "adrenal dump" method is the Reflex-based approach to martial art.

The problem with sustained or repeated exposure to the Reflex-based approach is the same one faced by those enduring heightened elevations of trauma - whether in the trench, on patrol, in abusive relationships, or chemical imbalance: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Chronic maximal elicitation of the neuroendocrine response is harmful in later life leading to Eternal Vigilance Syndrome. Despite incredible performance gains in the short to near term, you can only repeatedly accept this biological gift with harm to yourself.

So basically, if you're headed out onto the battlefield in a few weeks, then the lesser of two evils is fast-hard exposure to emotionally acclimate to combat's chaos in order to survive. However, if danger is not TRULY imminent, and you do not face extreme urgency, then a different approach is obviously preferable.

The Response-based approach minimizes the negative impact of hormonal performance enhancers and maximizes the sensory accuracy of the event. In other words, over time one can through proper conditioning modulate a slow-release rather than the dump of this biochemical cocktail into one's bloodstream. A slow-release is much more rapidly absorbed and does not impede refined performance. To state it plainly, through the response-based approach one can become an eye in the storm of crises.

Unfortunately, if one cannot see development immediately, many assume mastery is a fluke or fake. This is sad because everyone could reclaim their self-mastery if it were not for the ego's resistance to letting go of the need for the illusion of controlling combative engagements.

Performing "Hard-Work" Dynamic Drills periodically for those not willing/able to work Incremental Progression through Response-based/technique-less approaches definitely offers effectiveness in short-duration. I spoke above to the deleterious effects of sustained or prolonged exposure to such.

To those who have time/funds/opportunity, in short-order you'll be an effective fighter.

Now you're an effective fighter, so now what? What comes after effectiveness?

Either you have an express elevated to the 5th floor, or you have the slow, freight elevator to the 30th floor Penthouse.

You decide the kind of view you want each time you practice.

Be sure to check out my article:
Double-D: 8 Minutes Of Delicious Torture!

Faith Matters.

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