If you have ever been placed into a self-defense situation, there’s a strong possibility that when you saw your attacker, you were at least a little intimidated or scared. Fear is a natural human response to potential life threatening situations. No amount of training can fully prepare you to face an opponent who actually means you harm. Fear, however, exists purely in the mind. How strange that the feeling we get when facing a foe can be the very same thing that defeats us before we even get a chance to protect ourselves?
To paraphrase a quote from an old science fiction classic:
“fear is the mind killer.”
On its onset, we can rationalize fear as being the element in our body that cues our kidneys to being producing adrenaline. Adrenaline is a vasoconstrictor and makes our blood move faster. It is also a vasodilator of skeletal muscle tissue. Your heart opens up and your veins and arteries to your extremities constrict. This allows your heart to pump at full volume. The blood moving faster, it increases our bodies’ ability to react and move quickly. When being hunted or in a predatory situation, the ability to run is important.
Your body’s ability to handle this rapid expansion ultimately governs your readiness to react or act in a life or death situation.
It’s not uncommon for people to faint, become weak, or even pass out if they are not suitable able to handle a jolt of adrenaline.
Your ability to maintain a clear mind and allow your body to defend you is also at risk.
That is why we have to view our own mind and bodies as both our greatest asset in a fight as well as potentially our greatest enemy.
Focusing on exercise, meditation, a decent diet, and a regimen of a martial arts program can help us both mentally and physically move past the surge of emotions and psychosomatic responses associated with danger.
Reinforcing The Mind
Without your mind, your body is useless. The part of your brain closest to where the brain stem meets the rest is responsible for your immediate physical response. This is where you run into people “acting without thinking”. It’s considered very early in the development of animal life but it is also the part that is thought to be chiefly responsible for muscle memory.
It can be plagued by “static” or conflicting impulses from the rest of your brain to your body. Maintaining a clear mind allows it to act best as it sees fit.
Activities that promote a healthy, responsive mind:
Vitamins and nutrients such as Potassium, phospholipids, and B complex allow for expedited energy use in highly demanding circumstances.
Many of the things that help your mind will also be beneficial to your body. That’s because, at the core, the mind is but a subset of the body as a whole and what helps it will inevitably help the rest of you as well.
In a future article, we can discuss specific physical activities outside of martial arts which will promote and assist your mind and body to becoming your greatest ally — something it always wants to be and something we all strive to become.