A lot of martial artist spend a major part of their training time working on skills. Kata, Kumite, 2 man forms, weapons, and self defense sceanarios. And yet I keep hearing of black belts getting their butts kicked in fights. I believe there the two main reasons for this are rarely discussed, let alone trained. These two attributes are what I call "brain up shifting" and "pure reaction." 

When in a fight- flight situation , the first thing that happens is your amygdyla hijacks the thinking brain. The neocortex process are sidestepped. Your emotional brain now steps in to deal with the threat. The ability to think is down shifted, and your survival mechanism kicks in. Whats needed is ability to gain control of your thinking brain and response potential. This is what I call "brain up shifting" - the ability to gain control/reverse the brain amygdyla hijack. 

Ways to gain control/reverse this hijack include 

1. Slowing down your breathing 2. Shifting from focal to peripheral vision 3. Moving into formless relaxation and 4. Controlling distance between you and your threat 

If the matter escalates into a fight, you need "pure reaction." Intuitive, formless, and in harmony with what is coming towards you. The attack determines an equal and opposite response so there is zero pressure on you. This is beyond a system or a prescribed method of fighting, and into the realm of pure expression. And the best ways I have found to train for this include

1. Training to deal with attacks from a variety of systems. We live in a multi cultural world, and no one attacks only in one way. Learn the biases of different arts/cultures. 2. Spending time working on energy/flow drills to learn to read and feel how energy flows 3. Making distinctions between principles, concepts, attributes and techniques. And then training to have harmony in all the 4 aspects of training. 4. Putting personal expression above system. Mans survival is more important than stylistic loyalty. Focus on what is natural to you. Hone that! 5. Killer Instint and knowing your limits

A skill is something you can acquire or lose. Both 'brain up shifting" and "pure reaction" are conscious process' and skills. This means they have to trained for in a conscious way. The way you train is the way you are going to respond. 

So how are you training to deal with amygdyla hijack and pure reaction?