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Why Adrenalin May Not Be Your Ally in a Fight

Updated: Oct 19, 2023


A major subject we often discuss at Tandez Academy is what is the ideal mental and physical state for combat. Violent conflicts are extremely stressful and anxiety-ridden situations. Fear and panic can override you and all sense of logic and sense escape you, leaving you in a state of chaos and adrenalin. Let's discuss how to deal with this topic.


When you are faced with a threat, real or perceived, your body goes into one of three states: fight mode, flight mode, or freeze mode.


In freeze mode, your mental computer cannot identify what the right course of action to take, akin to getting an error message that says "File Not Found." The mind is a computer in which hundreds of thousands of files of data can be stored. When the mind is given a challenge to solve, it will search its database for the proper information with which to solve the challenge. But if you don't have any data that corresponds to that challenge, your mind may freeze, just like a computer would. When this happens, you end up in deep trouble. For example, if you have never trained in how to defend and disarm a knife attack that's coming at you at lightning speed, you may freeze and get seriously hurt, even killed. Why? You don't have "knife defense" in your mental database. This can apply to hundreds of different combat-related situations. How do you solve it? Learn, train and get thousands of repetitions in knife fighting and knife defense until it becomes reflexive and second nature. If a knife attack presents itself, you'll be less like to panic and more likely to disarm the attacker correctly.


In flight mode, this is simply you running away from the threat. This is the one choice that seems intuitive and easy to choose. But oftentimes, when you're gripped by fear and panic, you'll freeze and you won't run. Running away means you're still in control of your mind and you haven't allowed fear consume you. But there is a right and wrong time to run away, which I will discuss in another blog.


When you choose to fight back, that's when we start getting into the nitty-gritty of combat states. When you're in a fight state, adrenalin can become your biggest friend, but more often than not, it becomes your worst enemy. How? There are many reasons. Adrenalin will lead to increased combat stress on your system. Think about the last time you woke up in the middle of the night to a loud noise. That's your sympathetic nervous system, or red alert system, going off. That's adrenalin. It will increase your heart rate. It will create auditory exclusion, where you can't hear anything around you. It will cause tunnel vision. It will increase your reaction time, meaning you will get slower. It will lead to a deterioration of your motor skill performance. It will restrict blood flow to our brain and your limbs, which is why you get dizzy and lose feeling in your arm and legs. It will prevent you from relaxing and breathing properly, which could lead to you going unconscious. In other words, immersing yourself in adrenalin may not be good for you in a combat situation.


A lot of martial arts rely on becoming adrenalized to give them the courage and strength to beat their enemies. They channel their inner "Incredible Hulk" to smash and bash their way to victory. But what if the enemy is twice as big and ten times stronger than you? No amount of adrenalin will help you beat Mike Tyson in his prime. Try charging at an NFL linebacker relying on adrenalin and see what happens. I hate to state the obvious, but in the real world, size and strength matter. Did you know that when your heart rate goes above 115 beats per minute you can no longer perform fine motor skills? Good luck hitting your targets with punches and kicks at that rate. When you adrenalize, you're forced to use gross motor movements, such as swinging punches, tackles, and wrestling. When you go above 115 beats per minute, you lose control of your accuracy, timing, and balance. Not good.


At Tandez Academy, we prefer to go into a completely different approach from adrenalization and gross motor movement. If you've ever seen the way characters like James Bond, Jason Bourne, or Denzel Washington's Robert McCall in "The Equalizer" films behave in combat, you'll see how we do things. Our combat tactics are heavily influenced by the elite Navy Seals because one of my main teachers, Paul Vunak, trained the top-tier DEVGRU, or Seal Team Six. He developed the Seals' hand-to-hand combat and weapons combat system. This knowledge was then passed on to me. What words describe the Seals? Cool, calm, collected, focused, silent, and dangerous. I've learned over the years that you can be perfectly calm and quiet and still unleash brutal damage on a human being. Being loud has nothing to do with it.


At Tandez Academy, we teach our students to stay relaxed and loose during a fight. Breathe but slow down your breathing. Exhale forcefully whenever you perform an action, like a punch. The most important thing to note is that you must lower your vitals. Slow down your breathing, which will slow down your heart rate, which will lower your blood pressure. You must remain calm and cool, no matter what. There is no emotion, just an intense focus on the objective. If you can keep your heart rate below 115 bpm, then you can use fine motor skill techniques like eye jabs, groin kicks, or takedowns. We call it surgical precision striking, just like in the military. If you'd like to know more about how to stay cool, calm, and collected during a fight, come to the Tandez Academy.

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