What Happens when using Self Defence for Real

by Sep 27, 20162 comments

Using Self Defence for Real

In this blog I want to talk about how your Heart rate raising can effect your ability to conduct certain motor skills. No matter how good you are at something or how simple something is, if your Heart rate is too high, you will eventually lose the co-ordination/ability to conduct this action. In this blog we will look at different types of motor skills, relating them to Real Self Defence. We will also look at ‘The Inverted U’ Theory and finally how Krav Maga minimises problems at high heart rate.


There are 2 types of motor skills that you conduct. These are GROSS motor skills and FINE motor skills. Below is the explanation of both:


GROSS motor skills

An example of a gross motor skill in a self defence aspect is a ‘Flinch’. It is an easy move where the body automatically covers up and becomes a smaller target. We have all flinched before when been shocked and we all automatically know how to do it even though our Heart rate at this point is most likely high due to the shock that has caused the flinch.


FINE motor skills

An example of fine motor skills again in a self defence aspect would be conducting a complicated technique that involves a set of motions to insure that the technique is successful for example a submission lock. We must practice and practice again to pull off complicated techniques (Fine motor skills) to make them stick in our brain enough to be able to pull it off at speed.


Self defence Pressure test


So looking at the two of them it is clear that GROSS motor skills are more natural for us. Take a look at the diagram below and consider arousal as your heart rate. As you can see, the higher the arousal/heart rate is once passed optimum performance, the less you are able to do.  This is known as ‘The Inverted U’


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Inverted U graph

Inverted U graph

Picture from http://qasimpsychology.blogspot.com/2015/05/arousal-theories.html

Right about where it shows the “STRESS ZONE”, is where you will start to lose your FINE motor skills. Now obviously Self Defence involves a high Heart rate and 99% of the time will involve a form of anxiousness and violence. This means that most of the time when having to conduct self defence out on the street where there are no referees and death is a possibility, we lose our ability to conduct fine motor skills. This is where I believe Krav Maga has got it right!


In the Krav Maga syllabus, the techniques are conducted in such a way that they all have similarities to each other and also are not too complicated. This means that when you conduct one technique you are most of the time also repeating motions for another technique (“Constant repetition carries conviction”). They say that a technique conducted around 3000 times becomes muscle memory. I’m not sure that this is the exact figure however the principle is correct. This means that keeping the syllabus fairly simple and also placing a lot of similarities in the techniques, it is easier to instill the muscle memory in students thus making a fine motor skill more of a gross motor skill.


In summary, we all need to be aware that some techniques especially in self defence, will not come off as easy when pressure tested. Everything you train, once mastered should be pressure tested to ensure you can conduct them when the adrenaline kicks in and your Heart rate is through the roof. Again another positive of Krav Maga is that everything you practice will be pressure tested!


Be aware of what you can do on the Mats with a “compliant” opponent may completely change when faced with adrenaline and an ‘uncompliant” opponent.


For the ‘Principles of Self Defence’ Click Here


Sam Brown

MKM Instructor