What You Cannot Control


Elements that you cannot control but must acknowledge and prepare for to keep yourself as safe as possible:

1. Freeze response

  • When faced with violence, everyone freezes to varying degrees.
  • Even trained soldiers and police officers freeze during combat, so it is normal to freeze when faced with violent attack.
  • Sometimes freezing is good: if you are trying to hide from an attacker, freezing and keeping quiet can help protect you.
  • When freezing is dangerous: if you are being attacked and you freeze to the point of inaction.
  • Be aware that you may freeze in a situation, know that this is normal, try to overcome it as quickly as possible.
  • Train your self-defense moves and techniques in high-stress, high-energy training scenarios to help reduce the effects of freezing.

2. Adrenal response

  • Our bodies are designed to handle stress, danger, and violence through the adrenal response.
  • Adrenaline production can give you a boost of energy for greater strength in a fight situation or greater speed in a flight/fleeing situation.
  • However, adrenaline effects can make self-defense more challenging:
    • You can lose fine motor control, and your extremities (namely hands and feet) can shake and tremble, making it difficult to execute highly complex techniques or to strike your intended targets accurately.
    • Vision can be reduced by tunnel vision phenomenon, thus making it more difficult to see your opponent, strike the targets accurately, or to see other people around you who may be trying to attack you as well. 
    • Hearing can be reduced, making it more difficult to notice other things happening in the situation.
    • Memory can be blocked or erased, making it difficult to recall exactly what happened, what you did in the situation, and why to reacted the way you did (thus making it more challenging to give accurate police reports if necessary).
  • To help counteract the effects of the adrenal response:
    • Train your self-defense moves in high-stress, high-energy scenarios to become accustomed to executing techniques with high adrenaline in your system.
    • Practice very simple, straightforward, practical techniques that can be constructively used in a self-defense situation.
    • You can condition your body to adrenaline by engaging in high excitement activities and to train 
    • Avoid relying too much on fancy, flashy, complicated martial arts techniques that may not work in a real situation due to negative effects of adrenaline on your system.

3. Other people’s response

  • You cannot control how other people behave and react to situations. 
  • You can only control yourself; therefore, strive to live in peace with others, be humble, avoid reacting arrogantly or egotistically to other people’s challenges and insults, and strive to deescalate conflict to avoid violence.
  • Other people may be aggressive jerks, but you do not have to be this way, and you do not need to take the bait of their aggression and engage in violence. 
  • Learn to walk away! (This can be especially difficult for men.)
  • Give the aggressive person a face-saving way to leave the fight or conflict: apologize (even if you are not in the wrong), accept responsibility and declare you do not want trouble and did not intend to offend or upset the person (even if you are not in the wrong), admit error (even if you are not in the wrong) and state that the other person has won. These strategies may help deescalate the situation, allow the other person to “win,” and to end the conflict such that the aggressor is still saving face without having to attack or hurt you to gain face. 
    • Very important: if the aggressor is willing to walk away, DO NOT throw in a final insult, as that just damaged his sense of self, and he may attack just to save his own face. 
  • Remember that other people rely on you, and your own ego may get you into trouble, affecting not only your own personal safety but the lives of others who depend upon you.