10 March 2015

Top 3 signs of adrenaline dump and how to effectively manage it

In the tactical world, there is a lot of time spent talking about the adrenaline dump that you experience during a real life or death situation.  Lots of that is dedicated to listing the changes that will occur in your body.

A principle belief of MCS is that you are far more likely to get punched in the face than shot or stabbed, even if you eventually get shot or stabbed in the altercation.

There are two types of scenarios; brewing and spontaneous.  Basically with warning or without, of course most of the time there is ample warning that is either not observed or ignored.
Over the years I have been involved in a handful of spontaneous incidents that just pop up like  grease fire.  The vast majority were brewing scenarios.

For the citizen, if you are in a brewing scenario, remove yourself by what ever means necessary if you can.  If you can't, then you are in the same situation as the cop, bouncer, or corrections officer, eventually things are going to boil over and one of you is going to initiate physical contact.

Your reptilian brain that controls the fight or flight response will subconsciously kick in way before you are consciously aware that you are going to be in a fight.  The truth is that your reptilian brain does not trust your higher functioning "this is not happening", "I am not ready to fight" brain to allow you to survive, so the reptilian brain just pushes your higher functioning brain out of the driver's seat and takes everything over.  If you survive, the reptilian brain will give your higher functioning brain a little pat on the head and hand the controls back over until it's needed again.

There is nothing you can do to stop the above from happening.  Why would you want to?  If you did, you would not survive very long.  The only thing you can do is train into it and not against it.  The biggest problem is that the reptilian brain does not like tools, it hates them.  All it cares about is getting away or fighting to get away.  So there are two options, you employ tools before hand or inoculate yourself to the point where you can manage the effects to the point where you can deploy tools.  Basically, being calm enough that the reptilian brain reluctantly hands the the controls over to the higher functioning brain.

Since we already realize that we cannot stop the reptilian brain from taking over, the best way to manage is to realize as fast as possible that it has taken over the controls.   All the physical training, shooting on the range, and in most cases time on the mat or in tournament will do little to help you prepare.  The reason why is that for an all out "I might die today" adrenaline dump to take place you have to believe that there is a very real possibility of you not surviving.  The reptilian brain does not like to be needlessly bothered.

Most confrontations begin verbally, and it is then that about 95% of people go black and are unable to do anything but run away which of course is the best option but it may not be available or you are paid to be in the situation.  If you are doing scenario training without lots of noise, threats, and cursing, you are not training for reality.  Again, most scenarios begin verbally and during this stage is when the reptilian brain takes over, so it is during this time you must train to recognize it and prove to it that you are in control and able to recognize your options.

As I sit here writing about it and thinking of all the scenarios I have been in, I want to point out things that will probably be the first things you will notice within your own body that will tell you to fight to take back the controls.  I am listing these as they have always appeared to me.  I call these the big three because they are what I always noticed first and reminded me to get a hold of myself.  Just remember TMT- Trembling, Mouth, Tunnel

Trembling hands-  your hands are shaking because your body knows a fight is coming and all your blood is pooling out of your extremities into your core to feed the heart and lungs.  

Your mouth will become dry- just like the blood from your limbs, your body is shutting down the digestive system of which the salivary glands are a part of.

Tunnel vision-  some have said it is like looking through two toilet paper rolls, actually it can be more like looking through two soda straws.  The first part of the OODA Loop is Observe and that is exactly what your eyes do.  They focus on the most prominent threat, eyes as big as dinner plates.  The primary reason training to shoot pistol with one eye closed is a waist of time.

So now that you know TMT, how do you use it?  Breathe, look around,  move, and repeat.  You need oxygen to your brain to process information.  You need to look around for subsequent threats and options.  You need to move because above all else movement is the natural key to survival.  Not only does it keep your attacker from setting up on you, it also makes you harder to hit if he does begin to attack in anyway.   Most often terrified people will continue to stand right in front of the threat.  If you want to ensure this, just put both hands on your gun, especially under 15 yards or so.  Why?  Because it inhibits natural breathing, your shoulder stops your head from rotating, and on the square range where most training is done you either have to stand still in your lane or can only move straight forward or straight back.  Another example of "traditional" square range training can get you killed on the street. So BLM- Breathe, Look, Move.  Continue as needed until the situation is resolved.

Incorporate the above into your mindset and training and you will substantially increase your chances of survival.  Remember the reptilian mind is an abacus and the majority training is for super computers.  Some things just are not going to work and some things are likely to get you killed.

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