Combatives and Brain Function


Kerberos Combatives training starts with a belief that,

Philosophy gives rise to an inner narrative on what fighting is.  Narrative conditions the way you train and what that training involves.  Your training ultimately creates your reality.

Standard martial arts like karate, Judo or Taekwondo are skill based arts.  Meaning 90% of the student’s time will be focused on martial skills. The goal of a martial style is to make the student proficient in the curriculum of that particular style and not on preparing them for actual combat.  The  martial art student will work for years to perfect the particular skill set used in that particular style, like basic punching, kicking or things like wrist controls or grappling and often movements called a form or “kata”. A kata is a solo routine that mimics fighting moves in a dance like fashion.  The underlying concept of kata is that the skills used in mastery of the actions in the form will transfer over to actual fighting skill in real life.  However upon studying how the brain learns and works, we can understand that this does not work as well as once thought.   The brain works by creating small pathways that transfer electrical information. This neural net is like tiny highways that carry information. The more the pathway is used the thicker and stronger the path becomes, thus the information can travel quicker and the brain can more easily find the information it needs. The problem arises when the actions and pathways that are reinforced do not match or resemble actual combat. The brain will have difficulty finding the correct responses under the stress and confusion of combat.  The goal of Combatives it to make a student better equipped for a violent encounter from day one.  Aquainting the student with emotional stress by simulating scenarios that reflect actual self defense situations against a role playing partner or partners.  The student can practice martial skill and train the brain to recognize those situations and apply the correct responses while being familiar with the stress component of combat.

It has been known for a long time by violence professionals that the more choices the brain has to navigate through the longer the reaction time.  In standard martial arts there can be hundreds of hand and kicking strikes.  This slows reaction time.  Combatives will teach a small set of versatile strikes that makes up a “tool box” that the practitioner can rely upon under stress and in chaotic situations. During a violent encounter the body will dump adrenaline and other chemicals into the bodies system.  This has both positive and negative effects.  The most evident is that fine motor skills are hampered due to the shutting off of the energy supply for these muscle groups and sends that energy to the larger muscles for an increase in gross motor skills.  under this adrenal influence you will find it difficult if not impossible to thread a needle or put a key in a lock (should also be noted that you may find it difficult to navigate your cell phone to call 911) but the positive is the added strength in things like running as well as the vasoconstriction that will reduce blood loss if you are cut from a knife.  There are many effects on the body and mind from the adrenaline caused by stress and fear and these effects must be taken into consideration and applied to training.  Many standard martial arts simply do not address this issue. Any good martial art or Combatives program will acknowledge the physiological effects and aftermath of stress and violence.


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