The Emotional Component

(For this discussion, I would like to remind readers that as an overall principal, Combatives are not designed for or generally used for the typical bar room fight or “Establishing Dominance” type confrontation.    Civilian Combatives are more suited for “assault response” and life threatening situations.)

For every combative system there are underlying philosophies and principals.  The techniques and martial attributes are the physical expression of the systems underlying beliefs and concepts.  The single most important philosophy within the Kerberos system is the belief that any system does not exist in a vacuum on its own without the human component, it is executed by human beings and as humans we are susceptible to our own fears and frailties.

Ardant  DuPicq wrote

“Battle is the final objective of armies and man is the fundamental instrument in battle. Nothing can wisely be prescribed in an army—its personnel, organization, discipline and tactics, things which are connected like the fingers of a hand—without exact knowledge of the fundamental instrument, man, and his state of mind, his morale, at the instant of combat.

It often happens that those who discuss war, taking the weapon for the starting point, assume unhesitatingly that the man called to serve it will always use it as contemplated and ordered by the regulations. But such a being, throwing off his variable nature to become an impassive pawn, an abstract unit in the combinations of battle, is a creature born of the musings of the library, and not a real man. Man is flesh and blood; he is body and soul. And, strong as the soul often is, it cannot dominate the body to the point where there will not be a revolt of the flesh and mental perturbation in the face of destruction.”


It must be understood that under the stress of life and death combat, that man is a complex creature and that there are variables that need to be taken into account for an efficient combative system.  There is a common failure within many systems and styles of martial arts, it’s called PEACE.  Training often occurs in a safe space with soft mats, friends as opponents and the idea of having to engage in actual combat is a fleeting far off possibility. Within the training halls four walls of safety, over time the realities of violence are forgotten.

A persons actions are in direct relationship to his emotional state of being and his morale at the time of engagement. The Kerberos combative system recognizes this.  The system has three “Tactical engagement modes”.   These TEM’s are labeled ALPHA, BETA and GAMMA.  Each mode encompasses a combative behavior, a spatial sphere of time and distance and a corresponding emotional state.   Alpha is an aggressive, linear, forward moving type of behavior and would typically correspond with an aggressive emotion like anger.  Beta is more passive. It’s a dynamic evading type of behavior to keep distance while still being engaged. the emotional state would be that of fear and caution.  Gamma is typified by ground fighting and wrestling for a dominant position. It could be either aggressive or neutral depending on the situation.  What is important to note is that the individuals emotions will naturally dictate their response, therefore the system must be designed to accommodate for this.  A martial art that dictates that the person should move forward and attack will fail if the person’s heart is telling them to run or keep distance. There are also times when a person’s anger and willingness to engage will override a more passive art and that martial art will be forgotten and tossed aside in the heat of battle.

While the individual’s emotions are shown on the surface, there are biophysical responses that happen within the body when under the stress of combat.  Tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, loss of fine motor skills and coordination, these factors have a large impact on one’s ability to perform.  An efficient combative system incorporates good training habits and specifically designed components to manage these adrenal effects.  Scanning, drills are designed with an assailant or multiple assailants. The student is taught to scan the area before and after the engagement as well as being aware of backdrop. The use of drills that require the head and neck to scan the area is repeated until it becomes a habit. This habit will reduce the tunnel vision effect.  Training drills must always account for “friends, family and sympathizers”. Reality has shown us that if you focus on one assailant, an accomplice or someone else we were not aware of always tends to blind side us.

As the adrenal system forces our heart rate up we lose our fine motor skills.  It’s important to have a focus on gross motor actions rather than fine motor skills that will degrade under stress.  It’s easier for gross motor actions to become hardwired through repetition so that these actions become automated responses. They are more reliable and more effective.

Nothing in combat can ever be guaranteed but a well thought out system can improve the possibility of success.  An awareness of the effects of adrenaline being dumped into the body’s system can help prepare an individual so that when these effects take over they are not a surprise and nothing to be feared.

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