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Killer Instinct

When Shit Hits The Fan - Training To Perform Under Duress with Mahipal Lunia

When Shit Hits The Fan - Training To Perform Under Duress with Mahipal Lunia

When Shit Hits The Fan!

What happens when all negotiations have failed and emotions start flaring? What happens when you end up in a real fight? In other words - what happens "when shit hits the fan?"

Over and over again I have seen even black belt ranks forget techniques and concepts when shit hits the fan. The reason is you react the way you train. Explaining this to some of my students has been hard. So decided to write about this a bit. Beautiful techniques are great fun to work on. Elegant concepts are fascinating and intellectually fulfilling. Embodying principles enable you to leverage nature itself. All this is awesome, and yet there is one all determining factor - how you react under duress! 

When under duress, the ability to remain aware, unleash the beast within and returning to a restful state is the difference that makes the difference. Most martial artists do not train for or under duress. I will share my thoughts and training methods of Mountain View Aiki Kai to develop this skill.

Situitional Awareness, evaluation of options and consequences will define your ability as a warrior. Key attributes to develop are 
1. Controlling of your mental and emotional states . Our brain is the biggest weapon and yet does not come with an owners manual. Learning how it works and the ability to take it into peak performance states at will are must have skills. Study neurpsychology and peak performance technologies, they will pay you dividends many times over
2. Manipulating the opponent's states mental and emotional states by
- Verbal Martial Arts to control the frame of the conversation (look up Milton model, Meta Model and Sleight of Mouth patterns from NLP)
- controlling his/her perceptions of threat
- controlling the choices s/he has

The next attribute (a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of you) is learning to unleash the beast within. This killer instinct is not a chip on your shoulder, but rather a state you can access. I always point my students towards studying big predators like pumas. You will notice they go from extreme relaxation into the kill frezy and back to poised relaxation in a matter of seconds. This flow between states has to become second nature. 

This calls for starting in calm composed fighting in the atemi/striking range. And as you breach the tegumi or trapping/locking range going into an animalistic frenzy ready to finish, much like the puma. And then allowing well honed training to bring the precision of a quick tactical kill (if needed) or finishing move. And from here returning into the calm composed person - all in a matter of seconds. If you do not train for this killer instinct, your techniques most likely wont work. Reason for this is two fold 

1. Brain research has shown over and over again that all learning is state dependent. If you are learning techniques only in the safe environment of a friendly studio, guess what? They will work great in the friendly environments and will be unaccessable in the heat of a battle. Dont take my word for it - try it. If you dont want to try it research state based learning/response.
2. The absence of the killer instinct will most likely move you from being the predator into the prey. The person with the greater access to this instinct will most likely win.

So after executing the finishing move return to your calm composed self in a jiffy. Discharge all emotional content and return to the ability to use your prefrontal cortex or thinking brain. And with it returns the ability to plan and take meaningful next steps 

This is skill - meaning an ability gained through practice. IMHO the true purpose of all martial arts training is to move from extreme duress to relative calm by using your skills. Learning to perform under this duress is the difference between life and death.

To develop this skill we use the following methods in my dojo ( 

1. Shugyos where we head into wilderness for days and train at the end of long days of hikes. Why we do this? Look at any special ops teams - be it the US Marines, the Russian Spetznag or the Philipine ParaMilitary. their training begins at the end of big runs or massive tasks. The goal is to exhaust mind and body before seeing what you do when push comes to shove.

2. All sparring is one against many attackers. there are no rules other than fighting within redefined confined space. The fighting stops with tap outs or chokeouts. We sometimes up the stakes by using blindfolds, tieing up hands/legs or use other handicaps.

3. Training with live weapons - you response will change in the face of steel as compared to wooden replicas

4. The practice of Kokyu Ho/Neija. The essense of both these age old practices is to bring the body back into harmony and into deep relaxation. This beings about the right functioning of the 14 meridians, balancing the 5 elements and building up your chi/ki. 

5. All the advanced students work on understanding their prime weapons - mind and body. Models such as Neuro Linguistic Programming, Spiral Dynamics and Peak performance are deeply studied. As they grow in rank, they spend time studing the energy anatomy. This is essential to build "your own manual of the mind-body to tune optimal states of being."

Remember when shit hits the fan you will not rise to the level of your martial arts aspirations. You will drop to the level of your best trained techniques and attributes. Build the skills of working under duress - this will make your art functional. It could be the factor that enables you to make those martial aspirations a reality in the future. 

Your thoughts? Mahipal Lunia