A question about mindset and psychology

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aero_student
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A question about mindset and psychology

Postby aero_student » Thu Apr 25, 2002 12:00 am

I was active in karate and kenpo for about 7 years but had to stop attending classes because I had too much schoolwork to do. I learned to put myself in a trance if you will, where i stopped thinking and let myself move in situations like sparring and tournamnets. Is this what you guys are referring to as a survival mindset? I was also curious what exactly it is that brain and body are doing when this happens. I still practice my martial arts in my spare time and keep in pretty good shape.

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Postby judge » Thu Apr 25, 2002 5:45 pm

The mindset question will probably yield a different answer from each person you ask.
I don´t get in any trance state at all while training. There´s the usual adrenaline rush in hard sparring which kinda blurs out the pain (torn fingernails, bleeding cuts, etc you notice afterwards; got a front kick to the chest while sticksparring a few weeks ago; in the heat of the moment I only noticed it because of the stopping effect it had on me, not the feeling, that came later :D ) and some details.
For me, survival mindset is the will to do whatever it takes to survive an ugly situation; keep on running, keep on bashing the bad guy till he´s down and out, whatever. Maybe it´s blending out social conditioning, morals, the "what if the others see that" voice in my head.
It´s natural to me and I think to everybody else, but most people do not realize it. Training, visualizing, even thinking about possible problems sharpen that survival mindset, form the will, but sadly many "average" people hardly think about it till something more or less bad happens, and some don´t even get it afterwards.
One of the best books I came across on survival mindset during violent situations was Sanford Strong´s "Strong on Defense". I really liked that, definitely recommended.
Keep on training, stay safe!

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Postby liko » Thu Apr 25, 2002 10:32 pm

I play paintball, which is the closest I can come in my experience to being in a fighting or combat situation. I know from personal experience that you can be hit and not notice it, even if the hit was on a more sensitive area, such as the kidneys, sternum, inner thigh, and neck. I've never had a person fail to realize he'd been hit in the crotch, though <img src="smile.gif" width=15 height=15 align=middle border=0>

The trance state you describe is part intense focus, part adrenaline. You're clearing your mind of all other thoughts that don't have to deal with the situation you're in, but you're body knows something's going on, and it should prepare itself by releasing adrenaline.

This would work well as a survival mindset, if you could rely on yourself to reach it in the heat of a real conflict. You don't think, you just do, and worry about everything else (like pain) later.

Wise man say, forgiveness is divine. Remember that when your <img src="http://www.spyderco.com/forum/spyder.gif" border=0> bites you!

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Postby dogged » Mon Apr 29, 2002 10:33 am

Chinese stylists call this "Wu Chi". It's a state where the ego is disengaged, dissolving the boundary between the inner mind and the world around you. This allows the body to access all it's senses and react without the filter and delay of consciouse decision. It is founded on training and "muscle memory" which allow the body to choose from tools and techniques appropriate to the moment, again without thinking. You might catch yourself driving in this state, reacting to traffic and predicting (without understanding how) the actions of other drivers. (I could make the case that Wu Chi is the safest way to ride a motorcycle. You often don't have time to decide on appropriate action and if your body doesn't know how to guide the bike, thinking will only get in the way.)

Survival mindset is determining in advance that you will do whatever is needed to preserve the life and safety of yourself and those who depend on you and seems to work on two levels.

First, it means recognizing that there are hazards and predators around us and determining that we will not be prey. This allows us to take precautions without worrying that others might think us foolish or paranoid. Precautions can be anything from locking your doors at night, being cautious where you walk, to training in lethal and less-than-lethal arts.

Secondly, in a potentially lethal conflict, it allows the body to act on it's preparation and training, even if the ego doesn't completely disengage, and not be distracted by the rage and fear bubbling on the surface. It clears the path for the ruthless animal in all of us to get us through using whatever it takes.

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Postby liko » Mon Apr 29, 2002 12:53 pm

This is starting to get interesting. Wu Chi may be a mindset in which you fight, but it shouldn't be one in which you live your life all the time. The samurai were warriors, but they were encouraged to study as well, to learn about the world, and to be the ideal citizen of their culture. Knights may have been the captains of whetever peasant army was needed, but they also enjoyed beauty and culture. In fact, most warrior cultures, even those we term "barbarians", also had peaceful pursuits, such as music, art, etc. to distance themselves from the fighting they spent much of their lives doing.

So, just to get back to the point, be ready to fight by any means necessary if you sense trouble, but don't expect trouble everywhere you look, and don't try to escalate a conflict, i.e. turning a fist fight into a knife fight or a shootout, simply because it would end the conflict more quickly.

I may not have understood Dogged's message, but I just wanted to make it clear that the ruthless animal that surfaces in a fight is a part of us that we've been trying to extinguish since we founded civilized cultures, and it shouldn't be called on unless it is absolutely necessary.

Wise man say, forgiveness is divine. Remember that when your <img src="http://www.spyderco.com/forum/spyder.gif" border=0> bites you!

dogged
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Postby dogged » Mon Apr 29, 2002 9:24 pm

Yes, there does seem to be some misunderstanding here. My last post was put up rather quickly, so I may not have been too clear.

Wu Chi is not a fighting mindset. It is a walking meditation; a way of emptying the mind by giving the body familiar tasks that demand a certain level of concentration. Once the mind is distracted and quieted, the body can act and react quickly using sensory input that hasn't been filtered or diluted by conscious thought. Wu Chi's value in everyday life is it's soothing effect on the mind as the body performs functions that it has been trained for. Surely, quickly, without doubt or second guessing. There is obvious value in this in training and sparring; maybe driving and washing dishes. As a fighting mindset it may be practical only to a master.

And yes liko, thank you for your observation that the well rounded warrior would do well to cultivate gentler skills. I'm sure even paintball players have their softer side.

I must disagree with you on looking for trouble. If you're looking for it, you will have more time to avoid it. Living your life in what Col. Cooper calls "condition yellow" has other benefits as well. You notice more of the good things in life if you're looking around and paying attention.

As to survival mindset; judge and I seem to have a common understanding and I'd like to add only a couple of things.

Firstly, you must convince yourself that you have not only the right, but the duty to survive. There is no room for doubt that you will triumph. Failure is eliminated as an option.

Secondly, you must give yourself permission to do whatever is necessary to survive. We are culturally programmed to believe violence is wrong; even as it is used against us, we hesitate. We want to fight fair. But, I submit that if an unprovoked attacker is beating you to death with bare hands, only a fool would fail to use whatever means are available to survive. Lethal force can and must be met with equal force. If your attacker does not survive the encounter; so be it. If freeing that frightened lizard hiding at the base of my brain is my best means of survival, then it's in charge until the emergency is over. Over millions of years it's helped form what we are and how we act. We have survived and become the dominant species on this planet with it's assistance and we won't excise it anytime soon. Nor should we. It still has a lot to teach us... about ourselves and the other predators out there.

Edited by - dogged on 4/29/2002 9:49:51 PM

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Postby vampyrewolf » Tue May 07, 2002 9:33 pm

From sparring with my friends, both with padded wooden swords, AND padded(pipe foam AND ducttape(5+ layers)) knives(liveblade though)... I found that I can just use instincts.

They're still trying to figure out how I'm able to block their shots, while still sneak in breaks in thier defense. I only go half-speed, they go full.

I spend most of my day in that same state of mind. Blank, yet aware.

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Postby earthworm » Wed May 08, 2002 12:47 am

I like dogged's comments.To me,mindset is the most important part of self-defense.
1.Awareness-the acceptance in your heart,mind,soul & gut that it WILL happen to you.
2.Alertness-see the Cooper Color Code & the OODA Loop.Particular kudos to dogged for his comment that"Living in Yellow is not looking for trouble";I guarntee anyone who practices this will see more beauty in the word than they ever thought existed.
3.Willingness-making the decision that you will not be caught unaware,that you will react to whatever you select as your trigger & that you will do so full-power.

earthworm
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Postby earthworm » Wed May 08, 2002 12:47 am

I like dogged's comments.To me,mindset is the most important part of self-defense.
1.Awareness-the acceptance in your heart,mind,soul & gut that it WILL happen to you.
2.Alertness-see the Cooper Color Code & the OODA Loop.Particular kudos to dogged for his comment that"Living in Yellow is not looking for trouble";I guarntee anyone who practices this will see more beauty in the word than they ever thought existed.
3.Willingness-making the decision that you will not be caught unaware,that you will react to whatever you select as your trigger & that you will do so full-power.

earthworm
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Postby earthworm » Wed May 08, 2002 12:49 am

Apology for double post<img src="tongue.gif" width=15 height=15 align=middle border=0>OS computer!

aero_student
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Postby aero_student » Wed May 08, 2002 3:51 pm

This has gotten interesting. A teacher of mine (english) knows a bit about the mind and psychology explained to me that it is actually a trance that I experience. Apparently people do it all of the time. You basically let your conscious mind slip away at least partially and allow instinct and muscle memory to take over. The more you slip into the state the less you tend to remember of what you experience.


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