Fighting For Your Life: What happens?
We like to think of a real fight as being like a dogfight: no question that the two dogs are moving with 100% intensity. The difference is the fight on such an “instinctive” level that they are able to focus their aggression in a way that benefits, rather than hinders them. Often students who’ve been attacked with machetes, bats, knives, and axes have stated that everything seems to happen in slow motion or like they were watching themselves move in the third person. Let’s look at this more deeply.
The reason I believe that people, especially those with some form of martial training (including firearms) tend to lock up in a fight or get tunnel vision is that in the split second they have to react, their minds become overloaded with sensory information that cannot be processed at the cognitive level. When a million techniques come to mind at once the question becomes: “Will I pick the right one?” The attack may not even be one you have trained for. It’s like having a lock-in one pocket, a thousand keys in the other, and not even knowing if any of them will fit—with only a microsecond to find out.
Or think of it like this: you’re driving in your car and you see a ball or kid enter the roadway. If you had to “think” of the 50 things that run through your brain at once that allow you to avoid running the kid over, you’d never be able to respond fast enough: calculate distance, speed, traction; turn the wheel, hit the brake, avoid the embankment, other cars, that tree… etc. Yet somehow you just “do it”. This is because the physical act of driving is a subconscious activity with little cognitive thought involved. Sure, you know you are driving the car and where you are going, but the actual act of driving, once you learn how, becomes second nature.
Putting It All Together
Of course, it makes no sense to be loose while improvising your defense if you’re not on balance, so you also need free-form balance drills, otherwise, your brain would anticipate only being on balance within certain specified drill patterns.
The most important component is consistent, the conscientious practice of free-form sensitivity drills to teach you to read an attacker’s movements (instead of expecting him to move as they do in the dojo).
The contradiction between how a real attacker moves, compared to how your “attacker” moves in the dojo create real life brain freeze.
Now there are those who will tell you that it’s impossible to remain loose under such conditions or move with such fine motor coordination. Not true! It’s not that it is impossible—it’s that “they” can’t do it because they have the wrong training methodology.
Just through my own training and experiences I personally believe that 90% - 95% percent of what we think we understand about body movement dynamics for real fighting is all wrong. These wrong assumptions about how real fights go down have led to the development of many flawed systems and techniques that, while they seem plausible (and look cool), areas far from the truth as Heaven is to Hell.