Adrenaline Stress Response



Adrenaline Stress Response must be understood before attempting any kind of defensive tactics/physicals skills training.

When activated, Adrenaline Stress Response (ASR) has both a physiological and a psychological effect on the body. When understood, this effect can become empowering or, at least, manageable.

When not recognized or understood ASR effects can affect our perception of the threat and cause us to react to it in a negative/inappropriate way.

Some of these effects, according to current research are:

Increased Heart Rate:

ASR is directly related to an increased heart rate. At 115 beats per minute (bpm) most people will start to lose fine motor skills (finger dexterity and hand eye co-ordination) as well as the ability to multi-task using long or complicated combinations of techniques. At 145 bpm, most people will lose their complex motor skills (three or more motor skills designed to work in unison).

Effects to the Perceptual System:
(from a study on trained Police Officers)

84% experienced auditory exclusion
79% experienced tunnel vision
26% experienced intrusive distracting thoughts
7% experienced temporary paralysis

Effects to the Brain:

Memory loss known as "Critical Stress Amnesia"

A state of Hyper-vigilance (freezing, repeatedly doing things that are just not effective, irrational behaviour, unable to move, yell or scream, etc.)

Three Natural Results of ASR:

Flight - your mind "locks" onto thoughts of escape leaving you incapable of asserting yourself or of delivering effective self-defence tactics.
Fight - you can feel so charged up that you hurt someone when you have no legal right to use force (or that level of force).
Freeze- hyper-vigilance.

To Remain Effective In a Stressful Situation:

Adrenaline Stress Response must be managed to maintain a heart rate of between 115 and 145bpm.

**Remember:** In a threat/ self-defence/combat situation a person's heart rate can go from 70bpm to 220bpm in less than half a second.

Training must be "gross motor based" as ASR will negatively affect fine motor skills regardless of training.

The part of the brain that continues to function is only capable of simple gross motor skills and processing a maximum of FIVE bits of information. Thus a person can effectively recall and/or employ a maximum of five techniques while in the adrenaline rush state.

(Most street fighters successfully use 2-3 techniques in their real life attacks).

Thus simple gross motor strikes that do not require pin point accuracy and basic take-downs or throws should form the "meat and potatoes" of any successful training. Ideally a small core of defensive tactics "principles" should be utilized in as wide a variety of "attacks" as is practical. In this way a person will learn to respond, predictably and effectively, from a small number of techniques that can be instinctually recalled and employed when needed.

The Ten Commandments

The following simple rules are useful to remember in any altercation. They are fondly referred to as the Ten Commandments of subject control.

RULES FOR PHYSICAL CONFRONTATIONS (Taught in most correctional services or police training centres)

1. BE COMMITTED AND EFFECTIVE FROM THE BEGINNING.

2. NEVER SPAR WITH ANYONE.

3. CREATE A DISTRACTION/DYSFUNCTION AND ESCAPE.

4. END IT QUICKLY.

5. ACT BEFORE YOU HAVE TO REACT.

6. PRACTICE MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY.

7. COMPLACENCY KILLS.

8. ADOPT A PROPER MIND SET OF I WILL WIN. I WILL SURVIVE. I WILL NEVER GIVE UP.

9. TIME EQUALS DISTANCE AND DISTANCE EQUALS TIME.

10. BE AWARE OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT. (ESCAPE ROUTES, AVAILABLE SAFE HAVENS)

Three primary methods of subject control are variously promoted by different defensive tactics and/or martial arts groups.

Pain Compliance - we do NOT recommend counting on this. There are people out there upon whom you can inflict permanent harm and still not be able to stop.

Motor dysfunctions - The pressure point “Charlie horses”. These are great when they work but don’t bet your life on them. There are many non-responders who simply do not feel pressure point applications.

Balance Displacement - When most people are off balance they are more worried about falling than about attacking you. This is what grounding is all about and we highly recommend it in its appropriate place and time.

Understanding the Adrenaline Stress Response, sticking to techniques that involve only gross motor skills, remembering the Ten Commandments and keeping or getting your subject off balance are the keys to controlling the outcome in most subject control situations.


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