Saturday, February 26, 2011
Knife Survival Series - Part V - Stress
Most of what you'll read will deal with what you, as the intended victim, will experience when attacked. It may be loss of fine motor skills, tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, shaking, or an altered perception of time and events. This is all really important stuff to know, and your training methods must reflect factors that come into play in a life or death situation. 'Reality' type training tries to mimic some of these factors by 'jacking' up the trainee prior to the attack, using a variety of methods.
What often isn't covered, or even considered for that matter, is the effect stress has on the attacker. This is a mistake. All those stress related factors that affect your response also apply to your attacker.
In Part IV of this series, I touched upon the most common forms of knife attacks someone is likely to encounter. The first two categories were big slashing and big stabbing movements. One of the reasons that these are more common is due to the stress response on the attacker.
Attacking someone with a knife is a stressful event. Untrained knife attackers (the non-psychopathic ones, at least), experience many of the same chemical changes that the intended victim does. Most do not really know what the outcome of the attack will be. Will it work? Will their victim fall to the ground like on t.v. or in the movies? Many have to 'psych' themselves up just to initiate the attack.
This stress response, and the accompanying loss of fine motor skills, is what makes this type of attack more likely. The attacker loses the ability and/or the confidence to execute complex attacks. The stress, adrenaline dump, and the shaking of the arms and legs all make the most likely form of attack to be big, 'gross motor skills' based movements. This is why big slashes and big stabs are common forms of attack with knives. I would like to reiterate that I'm referring to the most likely form of attack from the most likely form of attacker. There are exceptions to every rule.
In survival training, it's extremely important to understand what you will be going through during combat. To properly prepare, it's just as important to understand the physiology and the psychology of your attacker. Without this understanding, your training is limited, at best.
"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you sill succumb in every battle"
- Sun Tzu (The Art of War, Special Edition)