Fight or flight or… FREEZE! (Martial Arts)

The fight-or-flight response are natural reactions to stimuli that occur in our sympathetic nervous system that originates in the spine. It is the most basic of all human defensive instincts, the urge to stay and fight or to run for your life is ingrained in all of us.

Sequences of nerve cell firing occur and chemicals like adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol are released into our bloodstream. These patterns of nerve cell firing and chemical release cause our body to undergo a series of very dramatic changes. Our respiratory rate increases. Blood is shunted away from our digestive tract and directed into our muscles and limbs, which require extra energy and fuel for running and fighting. Our pupils dilate. Our awareness intensifies. Our sight sharpens. Our impulses quicken. Our perception of pain diminishes. Our immune system mobilises with increased activation. We become prepared—physically and psychologically—for fight or flight. We scan and search our environment, “looking for the enemy.”

We need to consider why we react the way we do. Is it because we are confused or frightened by the stimuli? Are we stepping backwards to avoid getting hit or do we do it because we have a plan?
It always helps to learn why we are doing what we do…then we can make it happen without thought after we have drilled it into our brains and muscle memory. The Mushin Mind.

There is nothing wrong with not wanting to get hit of course. Not wanting to be hit is one of the bigger goals we should have when it comes to sparring, fighting and just defending ourselves from threats. When a person is throwing strikes, there are 2 ideal moments for to consider hitting them because of their exposure.

Number 1 is to hit while they are throwing strikes, as they would be leaving their body open in places and often times have weakened their foundations / stance by not being as balanced or maybe they are too high on their feet etc
The other opportune time to respond to an opponents advance of strikes is the second that they have stopped and are not as focused on you. They have just thrown a strike or couple of strikes and the second they are done is a great time to explode on them.
The key to this method of counter fighting is to not have created a big gap between you and the opponent. We often do this by moving back too far to avoid being hit.

Going backwards can give you a lot of information, like how committed is he, how fast can he close that ground, what strikes does he possibly prefer, etc But try be aware that what you are doing and that you are doing it for a reason and not just to hope you don’t get hit.


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