In previous articles we covered two Non Engagement attitudes; Alert and Preventive. By Non Engagement we mean that the predator(s) or Bad Guy(s) has not launched and overt physical attack. In this article we will cover the first of the Engagement Attitudes: Survival. This is the first Attitude we use once the assault starts.
If our efforts in using our Alert and Preventive Attitudes fail in detecting the problem in order to avoid it all together, or the bad guy persists in spite of our preventive strategies; it is time to focus our entire being in the task of survival. Fortunately in the Functional Edge System we take advantage of a two prong approach to the situation.
At First, You Don’t Do It
When the attack is very sudden and violent, or comes from a completely unexpected angle, our first line of protection is our genetic survival system. Human beings are the top species on planet earth because we have developed uncanny instincts for Survival. We are designed to persevere and continue in existence in spite of adversity. This is the meaning of Survival.
At the moment of an explosive predatory attack, several things take place in our body/mind system in order enhance our chances of survival. All of these occur at a subconscious and autonomic level. Being aware in advance of what they are will help us embrace this genetic gift and take advantage of it in the moment, as well as guide our training prior to any violent conflict.
It’s All in the Reflexes
The first of these is the Startle Reflex, the body/mind system’s immediate response to unexpected or overwhelming, visual, auditory, or tactile stimuli. The main objective of this reflex is to initiate protective motion of our upper body in order to avoid, intercept, deflect, or mitigate impact trauma to our head or the specific targeted area. For example, our arms may flex rapidly to cover ourselves from a blow to the head or face; or our midsection may quickly pull back and hollow out to avoid a punch or sharp object coming at our stomach. Another objective of this reflex is to prepare our lower body for locomotion; to move so we can escape or engage
Regardless of what Instinctive Protective motion is triggered, it is important to know that no particular posture, gesture, or motion is indicative of whether the movement was Instinctive or not. That is to say, some people Instinctively are more prone to cover up, others are more prone to push away, while still others duck and avoid. The only indicator of instinctive motion is whether there were cognitive choices at the time of the assault and that can only be confirmed by the assaulted.
The motions triggered in our body by the Startle Reflex in their totality serve the ultimate purpose of remaining conscious, and breathing which of course are very necessary for us to prevail, whether we do so by escaping or by continuing to engage our attacker.
It’s About the Chemistry
Another process that takes place during an explosive predatory assault is the Neuroendocrine Response. This is the release of chemicals into our bloodstream that accomplish several tasks. We discussed this in the Alert and Preventive Attitudes as the fear response because the physical feeling the release of those chemicals produces is the one most of us associate with feeling “afraid”. During those Pre Engagement attitudes it is more common to experience this as a slow release. Think of it as a drip. However, during a violent ambush the release may take the form of an opening of floodgates resulting in a temporary supercharged state.
Some of the chemicals released are epinephrine, norepinephrine, endorphins among others. Their designated tasks include; the production of more blood volume, movement of blood to skeletal muscle, the release of glycogen and fatty acids into the muscles and bloodstream for energy production as well as facilitating the conversion of the same into energy. The chemicals also increase our heart and respiration rate, they increase the oxygen level in the brain, stimulate the amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for survival tasks), they make us more pain resistant, and less prone to blood loss.
Basically, the job of these chemicals is to transform us into a formidable survival machine. The scenario, our directives and other factors determine whether we choose to survive by escaping or engaging.
But What Can You Do?
Although our instinctive responses to danger are amazing at their assigned tasks, it is well known that our body/mind system operates at its best when our cognitive skills and our instincts work in unison. The training methodology of the Functional Edge System is designed to achieve this goal. We focus in providing an experience that will help our students develop effective and efficient responses to these dangerous situations.
Our primary set of drills is designed to model instinctive behavior. We cognitively practice protective movements that look nearly identical to instinctive ones. The Two main behaviors are covering and pushing. We also train ancillary behaviors such as gripping and pulling that are seen frequently in real life attacks.
When facing a threat sometimes the attacker gives away his intention through physical or verbal pre-engagement indicators, this may give us time to act cognitively. If our cognitive protective action is a replication of what we do on instinct we can focus on accomplishing the same set of tasks whether we are surprised or not.
Put To The Task
The cognitive tasks we must perform during the Survival Attitude parallel the mission of our instinctive survival mechanisms.
First we must avoid, intercept, deflect, or mitigate impact directed to the head to remain conscious. If we have already been struck and are perhaps dizzy we must take the same actions to improve our level consciousness.
If the attack put us in a non-vertical, non-bipedal position we must seek to regain that as well. The goal is to be as vertical as possible as soon as possible.
To achieve all this, the next level of drills is designed to improve on our instinctive reflexes in order to accomplish more tasks with cognitive movements that are replications of instinctive ones. We learn to use these movements to pry or brace.
If the attacker uses a grappling assault such as a bear hug or headlock motion and they manage to compress our arms, we use the replicated instinctive motions to create space. This is called prying. If we use the same motion, before the bad guy is able to secure a bear hug or headlock, the action is called bracing. Whether we pry or brace, either of these actions facilitate our Reversal Attitude.
Another stage of Functional Edge training shows the student, how to take those replicated instinctive motions, and turn them into impact trauma weapons. With practice the trainee now can take these gross motor skills and use them to shift into the Engagement Attitude.
Survival of the Fittest
All of the above stages of training, Embracing Instinctive Behavior, Replicating and Improving on Instinctive Behavior, and Replicating and Arming Instinctive Behavior; create experiences that help the student develop effective Self Protection Skill in a short time. This ideal for immediate self- defense needs.
The Functional Edge System also includes, for trainees less immediate needs or that plan on a longer commitment to practice, drills that refine their ability to respond to dangerous assaults with more clarity and options.
As mentioned before, Predatory Assaults are very physically demanding endeavors so we have developed drills that develop Combat Specific fitness in the areas of Speed, Power and Endurance.
Along with the methodology of embracing the startle reflex, the Functional Edge System also trains the students in exercises that reduce the frequency, and severity of the same reflex
Attacking the same problem from two different sides makes the problem smaller at a faster rate, therefore, more easily solved. It also allows us to better bridge the gap between instincts and cognition so that we may respond to danger more efficiently and effectively.
Survival is intertwined with the Reversal and Engagement Attitudes and you will see this relationship continue through the Resolution Attitudes. It is also the most important because it is both the First Attitude our body/mind system uses when attacked and the ultimate goal in any incident.
Copyright Tony Torres 2011