Startle Flinch

 In Stuff We Say

startleIn 1981, Muhhammad Ali appeared on a talk show in the UK along with comedian Freddie Star who played a prank on the Champ.  Stop reading and watch this to see what happened. (Skip to 1:35, stick with it until 4:55).

Did you see what happened?

The Greatest boxer whoever ever lived, a seasoned fighter blessed with immeasurable talent and lightning-fast reflexes was startled, and then he flinched. Despite thousands of hours of training to do otherwise, he responded by throwing up his arms and withdrawing from the perceived source of danger.

There are a few things we can learn from this.

First, when an aggressor controls the timing and proximity of an attack trained skills, like a boxer’s parry, do not readily appear. If they appear at all, they’re not in time to intercept an attack.  If we add verbal distractions and fear, (you know, real life) the trained responses learned in fighting sports are even less likely to be demonstrated.  Stated another way, skills you practice in fighting sports probably won’t be available to you in a real life violent encounter. At least not at first. But that’s usually when it matters most.

The second lesson we can learn is that the startle/flinch response is hard wired into our nervous system.  It’s an autonomic, unconscious reaction that occurs before a victim can even identify the source or nature of an attack.  Because of that it is fast, really fast.

The S.P.E.A.R System (which stands for Spontaneous Protection Enabling Accelerated Response) pioneered by Tony Blauer is based upon the fact that when you are scared and surprised, you will automatically have this reaction. Instead of trying to overcome your body’s natural reaction to danger, Blauer’s system encourages you to use it: At first to protect yourself and then as a bridge to give you options to help you escape.

Our Self-Defense Seminar on January 19th with Maximum Defense’s Dave McDobson is based upon Blauer’s system.  You will learn skills and drills that begin with this fast and natural reaction to keep yourself safe.  You can sign up either online or by signing the clipboard in on the “Upcoming Events” board in the gym.





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