View Full Version : does panic trump the best technique?

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Kathy Park
02-12-2004, 06:53 PM
Dear Aiki family. I'm giving a speech soon about self-defense and panic. My thesis is that no technique will save you if you panic. The speech goes on to describe how centering and extension help avoid panic. What I need for the speech is EVIDENCE.
That's where you come in.
Have you (or someone you know) ever experienced panicking in a self-defense situation? What did it feel like? Even if you knew some great techniques, were they available to you while you were in the state of panic?
Do you agree or disagree that the Aikido principles of center, ground, extension, etc would be helpful in getting through that panic?
Thanks for sharing your stories. It will really help my speech (and maybe get some more students in the dojo.)

02-13-2004, 06:12 AM
I suggest you get familiar with Tony Blauer's work (http://www.tonyblauer.com/). He also has a q&a at mma.tv (http://mma.tv/TUF/index.cfm?ac=SetMasterFrame&FID=18&PID=19) (although you will not be able to post there unless you are a registered member --- which is free)

Other people to contact would include Payton Quinn (for whom I cannot find an "official" website.

Essentially, these people have studied and researched the effects of stress in self-defense situations, which sounds similar to what you are investigating.



02-13-2004, 02:26 PM
Other people to contact would include Payton Quinn (for whom I cannot find an "official" website.

Another excellent source is

The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker (Author,Mass Market Paperback - May 1998)

Buy new: $7.50 Used & new from $3.00


Good luck on the speech.

Kathy Park
02-19-2004, 09:25 AM
Thanks for the tips, especially about the book, "The Gift of Fear."

Can anyone help me find that famous study of mugger inmates who described who their most likely victims would be? You know the one, where the muggers pick people who are not fully in their bodies, who are walking in a distracted or hurried or imbalanced way?

Thanks again, Kathy

02-19-2004, 01:03 PM
Can anyone help me find that famous study of mugger inmates who described who their most likely victims would be?
In the one I know, they didn't describe their victims, they picked them out of a film of folk walking down the street. Classic study:

Betty Grayson and Morris I. Stein, Attracting Assault: Victims' Nonverbal Cues in the Journal of Communication, Winter 1981.

I was able to get it through the interlibrary loan system out of my local library.

The researchers correlated the inmates responses (high correlation for several variables) and then turned the films over to folks using something called Labanalysis, a notation system designed by Laban and Lawrence to typify gestures and demeanor.

They examined such things as whether knees were bent or straight when walking, tempo, relation to uprightness, relaxed or tense, hi or low energy, heah moving with or independent of spine, gaze direction. Statistically significant correlations with the likelihood of being chosen victim were stride length, type of weight shift (side to side, up/down, etc.), body movement(e.g., arms moving with leg on same side of body when walking), type of walk (postural, moving from center, or gestural with movement activating just part of the body), feet (swung or lifted).

Jeff Sodeman
02-23-2004, 08:47 PM
I agree that those principles help in remaining calm. I think what's more important is incorporating training at a level that pushes you into feeling uncomfortable . Saotome sensei talks about this sometimes, that hard training is necessary for trusting that aikido works when the punches start to fly in real life.

Having been hit several times in a fight I know that being hit while training on the mat from time to time (accidents or me not moving enough) is what enabled me to keep calm. I actually thought "I've been hit hard than this on the mat" and that took any fear from me.

I've seen experienced technically excellent aikidoka who trained in dojos that had strict no-contact/always-play-nice rules panic on the mat when a visitor would do something unexpected. I know they questioned what value they got from years and years of training and even felt a little victimized. I could go on about this if you like, just private message me.