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Old 06-28-2004, 02:40 AM   #18
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

Chris Birke wrote:
I was reading, and I was wrong in saying tunnel vision is only caused by exhaustion - it is also caused by going into shock, but not simply severe stress.

This had me wondering, and it turns out you're right as far as I can tell.

Why I wondered, although I am not a neuroscientist by any means, is because I read and it seems that the stress hormones trigger a part of your brain responsible for deciding what should be remembered, and it tells the part of the brain which organizes those memories get its butt in gear.

The end result being, although your eyes don't see better, you remember everything with an unparalleled

Though you state you can't remember where you are looking, I'd bet you remember certain things in vivid detail. This incomplete activation hasn't been fully explained to me (if anyone even knows).

This, by the way, is espoused as one of the benifits of alive training.

But, that potential illusion aside, an argument can still be made for visual clarity during stress, because the stress response causes pupil dilation, (as we all know anyone frightened has huge pupils) and thus maximizing the visual field of each individual eye. (thus unfortionately placing this fact outside the realm of the where to look discussion)

It follows likely, the sympathetic nervous system does what it can for the other senses as well. So, not only are you remembering things like mad, you are perceiving them with utmost sensitivity.

Does this sensitivity equate accuracy? (this I think is debatable, I know any sense of time goes out of wack, for one...)

After the fight, or in worst case...

If the stress response continues for too long, the pupil muscles will eventually wear out and one loses control over their eyes dilation (eventual tunnel vision). To compound this, shock will lower the bloodpressure (despite a rapid heartbeat) and hinder the eyes even more. (But, at this far point, you were in no way going to fight anyway)
Actually, this isn't true, I don't believe, in situations like a sudden violent encounter . The adrenaline dump that goes with sudden stress triggers a number of physiological symptoms, one of which is tunnel vision. Another is loss of fine motor control and loss of feeling in the extremities from the blood supply being directed to the core. Loss of depth perception is common.

But one symptom is especially interetsing and that is lack of memory function, not enhanced memory. It is extremely common for people who survived life and death violent encounters, like fights, to not remember what they did. They will frequently have no memory whatever of what they did during the encounter.

This is different than the "time shift" that one can undergo in situations like an accident in which one can see it coming and can remember every minute detail of an event which took only seconds to occur but which you experience as much longer.

For a great discussion of this issue read Peyton Quinn's book REAL FIGHTING: Adrenal Stress Conditioning Through Scenario Based Training. See his webiste at:
Peyton Quinn's Website

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 06-28-2004 at 02:55 AM.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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