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Old 05-07-2004, 01:03 PM   #9
makuchg's Avatar
Dojo: FL Aikido Center
Location: Spring Hill, FL
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 84
Re: How to get past the stress response?

Great example Guy. Tunnel vision is often the result in an extremely stressful situation. The military attempts to train soldiers to not have this affect because it affects combat effectiveness. I have found that how an individual reacts under stress is a combination of several factors:

1. Training-the individual must have been trained in techniques that are effective in that situation. When I say trained, I mean practiced to the point that techniques are second nature (which should be the goal of all training).

2. Mind Set-an individual must have menal preparation for the situation. One of the best bits of advice I ever received dealing with knife fighting is "expect to get cut." Too many schools teach that you won't get cut if you respond X to technique Y. It's crap! Prepare to get cut and when it happens you will be able to function through it. When I teach knife fighting, we use large red markers and white t-shirts. You know when you've been hit by the bright red mark!

3. Physical fitness-I'm not saying you need to be an Olympic athlete, but you need to be able to physically endure the encounter.

This applies to any stressful event-whether it is the loss of control of a vehicle, a stranger in our home, or what not...

Now how to prepare: First, the easiest of the three is physical fitness. I suggest walking, running, biking, or anything-just get moving. It is important to improve or maintain your physical fitness. Try different exercises, but try something. Just a note, make sure you check with a doctor before you get started.

The other two are somewhat harder. Aikido begins training us mentally to deal with confrontation. Successful mental training involves clearing one's mind to allow the body to react to events without excessive thought, just instinct. I feel randori is excellent at this. At some point, you become overwhelmed and techniques are not thought out, you just react. Great mental preparation for actual stressful encounters.

Finally, techniques. I believe in training as you fight. I like techniques to be progressive, but should be done to the point of actual success. What I mean is, ensure uke provides nage with a committed attack and nage does the technique to actually take uke's balance or energy. If the nikkyo doesn't hurt, don't drop! Make nage apply the technique correctly, we owe to each other. Finally, ensure to increase resistance as well as speed as proficiency increases. Samurai practiced with bokken at full speed, yet remain controlled enough to stop prior to contact. This allowed them to learn to react during combat. Baseball players don't practice hitting with a nice slow underhand pitch. They practice with a pitch thrown as hard as in an actual game. You cannot learn to hit in a game if you never see a ball pitched that fast. This applies to martial arts as well. You can't learn to defend against a punch if no one ever throws one at you. Don't be afraid to get hit, it helps you techniques. You'll learn where you left vulnerable, as well as where you weren't paying attention.

Greg Makuch
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