The Fear Factor Part III:  Developing the Objective Mind – Paul McRedmond

You’re not you when you’re scared.

More precisely, you’re only a small part of you, that part where your normally rational mind-set has been hijacked by the survival brain and its adrenaline response (freeze, then fight or flee).  The freeze takes time, time you may not have.

To reduce freeze time (the perception-action gap) requires developing the objective mind (OM) through knowledge, training and experience.

OM is the 4th Brain, the one that is NOT the rational, emotional or survival brain but is a coherent (hierarchically consistent) synergy.  OM is the ‘anchor’ of the personality, a ‘place to stand’ and view the internal (psyche) and external (the world) environments.  By realizing, and remaining anchored in OM, you are able to act, correctly and successfully, without waiting for the rational mind to grind through its processing procedures.  It’s a type of mental reflex:  see it, it’s done.

First, knowledge – the academic pursuit of information – reading, listening, contemplation and discussion.  Think about these basic questions in order to gain a better understanding of the self:   what are the levels of the personality and how do they express and interact, how do the three brains perceive, process, store, recall and share information, what are your ‘buttons’ and how do you react, and recover, when they get pushed – is there a pattern?  What do you need, what do you want, which environments and activities make you feel happiest, saddest, fearful or angry?  

Second – training in the inner and outer environments.  Inner training (developing mindfulness) must include some form of meditation, a way to still the still the incessant chatter of the rational mind and the pressure of the emotional mind to act on feeling instead of thought.  As with any training, meditation should be done daily.  How many hours do you spend on fitness, or forms, or drills?  There should be, must be, Balance.

Outer environment training should include all of the martial arts from the Spectrum, with emphasis on that category necessary to your needs.  For instance, in the criminal justice field, the ability to CRUSH THE BAD GUY (defensive tactics) (following a sensitive and caring conversation, of course) is necessary.  

Last is application of your knowledge and training.  But, absent getting into the criminal justice or military career fields, finding environments and situations where your life might be on the line is difficult.  You can get at least a dose of adrenaline from certain sports such as rock climbing, skydiving, bungee-jumping and tournament competition.  Whatever makes your heart pound, mouth dry, bowels loose, palms sweaty and eyes a’google will give you some inoculation against the stress of startle adrenalization – the fear factor.

Then, if you get scared, you’re more than you.

The Fear Factor, Part II: Mind-Set and the Martial Arts Spectrum – Paul McRedmond


COMBAT: Kill High adrenaline, emotional commitment and

SELF-DEFENSE: Escape ‘spiritual’ cost, extreme legal repercussions



ART: Coordination

FITNESS: Fitness Low adrenaline, emotional commitment and

PHILOSOPHY: Knowledge spiritual cost, no legal repercussions

The purpose of combat is to kill the ‘enemy.’ The issue here is that a modern, ethical martial artist is not trained to kill or to deal with someone trying to kill them while a wolf (one of the three categories of criminals, the other two being coyote and weasel) has no compunction about killing you, nor any concern for legal repercussions.  The mind-set here is ONE AND DONE and the ambush the best tactic.

Most martial arts are advertised as self-defense styles but the training is based on staying engaged – multiple strikes, locks and holds, takedowns and pins, etc. This is fighting, not self-defense. The mind-set, and tactic, is “STUN AND RUN.”   

Defensive Tactics are the realm of the criminal justice and security specialists.  The goal is to control the individual; this means either getting him or her into secure custody or to voluntarily alter their behavior.  Training here MUST include Verbal Judo (George Thompson), conflict simulations, grappling and counter-assault techniques, behavioral psychology and stress management and inoculation.  The mind-set is “I WIN, YOU LOSE’ and the tactic is the swarm-and-pile.

Sport is a formalized contest between one or more players.  It has rules, time limits, special environments (like mats), referees, protective gear, restricted techniques, etc.  Sure, you can get hurt and many martial artists ARE capable of hurting someone badly, but the training doesn’t include the one most important factor that divides martial arts from ‘shtreet’ fighting – the fear factor.  The mind-set is I DON’T LOSE and the tactics, better fitness and force delivery.

Art is for coordination and expression of mind – perception – structure – movement and is also good for developing reflexes that, if trained correctly, can get you past the first punch or rush of a wolf.  Modern Arnis is an art.  Forms are art.  Bagua is an art.  Stylized knife and club counters are art, NOT reality.  The mind-set here is harmony and the tactic, rhythm.

Fitness is for increasing the available mental, physical and intentional energy so as to live a longer, happier and healthier life OR to prepare you for a sport.  The former is about health and longevity, the latter (‘extreme’ fitness) to prepare you for the intense structural stress demanded by most sports.  The mind-set here is ONE MORE PUSHUP and the tactic is finding the time to get, and stay, fit.

The purpose of philosophy, the foundation of the spectrum, is the acquisition and use of knowledge.  Knowledge is power, purpose and direction and melds the internal and external world into a greater, more inclusive whole by expanding your consciousness via the avenue of focused perception.  Knowledge can help you survive in combat, see and avoid the stalking wolf, gain control of confrontational people without incurring liability, be more successful in your chosen sport, reveal greater vistas in your art, help you train smarter, not harder and, perhaps most importantly – know thyself.  The mind-set is mindfulness and the tactic, question everything and keep at it until you find an answer.


The Fear Factor, Part I: Adrenaline and the Arts – Paul McRedmond

You’re not you when you’re scared.  And if you ARE scared – under the influence of the survival brain where the fear factor lives, then the martial techniques and tactics you spent SO much time learning will fly out your butt (literally) and leave you inefficient, floundering, flailing, bleeding, unconscious, or worse.  Granted, that moment of survival will probably never happen to you (person-to-person crimes are rare in the ‘western’ world), but shouldn’t you, at least, train up to that level of focus and intensity?

True, many training modalities are very hard physically and mentally (multi-man!), but they occur in a (relatively) safe venue – known instructors and training partners, protective surfaces and gear, guided techniques with start and stop times.

Not so in the mean shtreets.  The ‘martial arts’ of the thug is to take you out from ambush as suddenly, overwhelmingly and brutally as possible (paraphrased from Rory Miller’s, Facing Violence).  Absent a pure ambush scenario (where you never see it coming), you are seriously behind the curve not because your training hasn’t been thorough but because of the effects of the fear factor.

The fear factor is what happens when adrenaline floods the system after a ‘startle’ event.  This is the most intense of the three adrenaline events, the other two being anticipatory (like performance anxiety) and emotional (fight with your significant other).  All three have the same basic chemistry but it’s the suddenness of the adrenaline reaction that causes the initial freeze that precedes fight or flight.

The freeze is caused by adrenaline and other hormones flooding the body, slamming the heartbeat upward and creating the perception-action gap.  Muscles clamp down (thus the term “scared shitless”), you duck, compressing inward, making you a smaller target and ‘winding the spring’ – readying the muscles for rapid decompression – fight or flight.  Tachypsychia (from the Greek takhus – swift and psuche – mind) occurs (this term is used in a wider sense):  tunnel vision – fine focus with greater clarity at longer distances in exchange for peripheral vision and a sense of space and position, auditory exclusion – background sounds are damped while those that stand out from that background, like the racking of the slide on a pistol or rapid footfalls, are isolated and amplified, loss of fine motor skills (drawing your pepper spray from your purse), dry mouth (saliva is not needed) and sweaty palms (wetter palms grips better).

This freeze can last from a fraction of a second to a minute depending on your training, mental preparation, and experience.

In part two of this three part series, I will examine the seven training categories and how they do, or don’t, develop the mental preparation and mind-set for dealing with those rare situations of life or death and how ‘training-up’ to this level, using the fear factor instead of it using you, can be achieved.  Part 3 will cover experience – situations that put you in the fear zone and test your training.