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Switching On

Martial Arts, ultimately, is about fighting. Put whatever philosophical spin on it you like and you will still never get away from the fact that spending hours learning to punch, kick, choke and dislocate is the pursuit of violence.

I’ve no problem with that, the skills I’ve learnt over the years have on several occasions pulled me out of a tight spot. I know all the official Wild Geese Martial Arts instructors around the world can say exactly the same.

Unfortunately there are many who can’t. (upon rereading that last sentence, it actually may be better saying “fortunately”, as getting into a fight isn’t really something to be proud of. Avoiding a fight, is.)

Most of us have heard of at least one story where Johnny Black Belt had his arse handed to him on the street. Yet this same martial arts “expert” is practically untouchable in the Dojo or the ring. So what happened? Why could he not be as efficient outside as he is in his home ground.

Ah, I let it slip there. Home Ground. Comfort Zone. The knowledge that you are not going to get hurt, or at least only get slightly hurt, the knowledge that some one is watching for foul moves and bad attitude, this knowledge can become detrimental on the street.

It can hold us back in a couple of ways:

  1. We become fearful when forced outside our comfort zone

  2. We become complacent to violence.

Lets look at number 1. Fear is normal. In fact dealt with correctly it can serve to our advantage. Fear is largely down to a chemical change in our body. The rapid release of adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone. There is also a third option, freeze. And if you freeze, you’re toast. This is why we need to learn to switch on. Snap out of the frozen state and launch into either full on fight or rapid flight. Your training can, and should help with this. By training with the knowledge that your skills are of value, and occasionally putting them to the test, you will gain the confidence to use them while frightened and under pressure. But thats still not the most important point. You must also learn how to go from zero to 100 ,miles an hour in less than a heartbeat. You must have a trigger that will set you in motion, not stopping until the threat has been eliminated.

What is your trigger? Hell, I don’t know. Maybe it’s Bruce Buffer’s “Lets Get Ready To Rumble” that gets your hackles up. Perhaps it’s the sound of a the bell or whistle. Find it, memorize it, internalise it and keep it in your head. When the time come to get down and dirty, replay it in your head and BANG! Your away like a man possessed.

The downside, if you haven’t recognised the threat before it’s too late, no amount of triggers can help you.

Option 2, was becoming complacent to violence. Has your ego become so overgrown that you fear nothing and nobody? Maybe you have gone unbeaten in the ring and your are the top dog down the Dojo. That doesn’t mean some bloke half you size, with no training, can’t put a glass through your face. Begin to realise the dangers of what your up against and loose the ego. If you’re as good as you think you are, a little fear will sharpen you up to a razors edge.

While it is important to switch on, don’t forget to switch off again afterwards. Just always try to maintain your awareness so that you can avoid any further trouble, or switch onto a new threat.

All the best

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