The Science of the Martial Arts Fantasy


Do such martial arts like Aikido, Systema, Akijujutsu and even Reality Based Self defense Systems Like Krav Maga and TFT actually work in the real world?

Who doesn’t want to be a “kung fu master”? Regrettably you can only become one in the dojo and the movies.

The answer may SHOCK you. In fact there’s a simple scientific, physiological FACT that renders ALL martial arts and self defense systems irrelevant and useless when you are attacked for real in the street.

Now please understand that I have all the respect in the world for the true Martial Artists of the world. But it doesn’t matter how believable, how nice, or how tough your instructor may be. I get it and I don’t think they would lie to you intentionally, but in this post I’m going to tell you something that they obviously don’t know or don’t care to share with you because it may have an adverse effect on their business.

There are specific changes that happen in your body when you are in a REAL fight and you have no control over them…

And all the breathing and meditation in the world will not change that – it is hardwired into your system and there is no way around it. It’s called the SNS (Sympathetic Nervous System) and it’s what takes control of your body when you are in a fight or flight situation.

The Reality Behind Why Martial Arts Don’t Work In This Situation

Real fights are brutal, messy and barbaric and deep inside you, you are engineered to deal with them. It is part of your inbred survival instinct. That is what makes our training system here at the SELF DEFENSE COMPANY of GREATER BOSTON superior to any other so called self-defense system out there.

As you study any form of martial art, you can practice and practice until your beyond exhaustion – but just because your system works in the dojo, it does not mean it will work in the street. The vast majority of skills and defenses taught by literally every self defense system can not work in the street because of SNS activation, and {there’s|there is} NOTHING you can do to change that fact.

The SNS and its activation is unavoidable and uncontrollable. It is a reflex triggered by the mere perception of a real threat. Once initiated, the SNS will dominate all voluntary and involuntary body functions until the perceived threat has been {eliminated|therefore eliminated} or escaped. Once you feel you’re safe, the PNS (Parasympathetic Nervous System) activates to reestablish homeostasis.

The Parasympathetic Nervous System is what you use the majority of the time in a relaxed and non-threatened state.The real problem with conventional martial arts training is that you train in the PNS mindset when you have complete control over your faculties. You may of course get tired, you may even get stressed, but know that these conditions are nothing like the SNS activation you would experience in a true fight or flight situation.This is why most self defense systems are incorrect because they project the same functionality when you are under attack.

The solution is you need to train in skills and tactics that will be there under SNS activation or in the gross motor skills. This is the type of training you can expect at the SELF DEFENSE COMPANY of GREATER BOSTON.

When the SNS is activated there is an immediate {discharge|release} in your body of stress hormones. This immediate release is designed to prepare your body for the fight or flight situation you find yourself facing. Some of the changes your body experiences might be an increase in blood pressure, heart rate and blood flow to large muscle mass (resulting in increased strength and enhanced complex and gross motor skills). This causes vasoconstriction of minor blood vessels at the end of your appendages (which serves to reduce bleeding from wounds) – this also eliminates the possibilities of finite or the complex motor skills. You may also experience pupil dilation, shut down of the digestive processes and muscle tremors.

Your SNS is there to get you hyper-focused and ready for battle, preparing you to kill or be killed allowing you to flick the switch from the socially acceptable you to the true self-defense warrior that resides deep within every one of us.

In the SNS activation you will only be able to concentrate on what is immediately in front of you. And if you are not trained the right way, your body will literally shut down because the effects of SNS activation can be debilitating. This reality has been recognized for centuries. You may experience tunnel vision (peripheral vision is shut off), auditory exclusion (hearing is shut off), as well as the loss of complex motor skills or control, irrational behavior, and the inability to think clearly. These are all symptomatic and all have been observed as byproducts of SNS activation. Stories of soldiers “losing their minds” in battle is not uncommon and prolonged SNS activation will lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

What exactly happens to your Body during SNS Activation

The following information is a description of what will happen to you in the face of real danger when your SNS is activated.
Heart rate is used because it is a variable that can be easily measured. Not like the increase in heart rate from physical exertion it is a lot different than the involuntary heart rate increase you experience caused by hormones when your SNS is activated.

So, let’s take a look as the 3 classifications of movement that are critical to understanding the effects of SNS activation on your ability to perform from a self-defense perspective. These 3 classifications are Finite Motor Skills, Complex Motor Skills and Gross Motor Skills.

Finite Motor Skill

These are movements that use the fingers, wrists and small subtle movements that involve a great deal of timing, skill and “feel”. Suck instances may include things like wrist locks, finger locks, trapping, complex joint manipulation, different hand and fist configurations.

Complex Motor Skills

These are comprised of the large joint movements of the hip, shoulder, elbow and knee, firing a weapon, stabbing and swinging a bat are also complex motor skills. On the high end would even be strangling or more specifically squeezing and constricting as well as gouging and biting. There is a good reason that punch turns into a “hay-maker” in the street.

Gross Motor Skill

Running to your enemy (charging) or running away (escaping).

A note on terminology here:
*You may see that I refer to gross motor skills throughout many of my writings. The reason for that is simple. In reality , complex motor skills range from the extremely simple (Edge of Hand Strike or Heel of Hand Strike) to the less simple (Hand Yoke or Combat Strangle). During the initial surge of SNS Activation, which I’ll explain next, you will only be able to do the simple movements, but as you come down and the threat lessons, more complex skills become available.

Now let’s talk about heart rate.

At 60 to 80 BPM (beats per minute) – Normal resting heart rate.

At 115 BPM -You get ready for battle

This happens the second you realize you’re in real danger and at the same time your Finite Motor Skills Deteriorate
Vasoconstriction occurs driving blood from your extremities to control bleeding from wounds. The blood goes into your vital organs and large muscle groups to prepare you for battle. It is at this point you can say good bye to small circle anything, wrist and finger locks, fancy hand gestures, complicated holds and moves.

At 115 to 155 BPM – You have entered the “Combat Zone”

This is the optimal heart rate for battle. Maximization of complex motor skills like the SDTS Edge of hand, chin jab, hand yoke and dozens of other base techniques. You can still use a firearm, club or edged weapon with simple and powerful maneuvers. Your visual reaction time is maximized, your cognitive reaction time is maximized. While in this range your hyper-focused and with the right training, you will operate with maximum effectiveness. But the key here is proper training.

At 155 BPM -This is the beginning of the end

At this point your Complex Motor Skills begin to break down, your skill set and your bodily functions start a fast spiral out of control.

At 175 BPM and above – You’re Toast

Your brain and body literally shutdown. Experiencing a loss of cognitive processing (rational thinking), a loss of peripheral vision, a loss of depth perception and near vision, auditory exclusion, irrational fighting or fleeing, freezing possibly even submissive behavior. Voiding of bladder and bowels (yep – you could literally shit yourself), and your Gross Motor skills (running, charging) at highest performance level.

In this stage you are all but useless. You can wither run towards the enemy or away from him. Eventually you will black out or suffer cardiac arrest. The terms “scared to death” and “scared shitless” have real meaning.

Yes, once activated, the SNS causes immediate physiological changes, those of which the most noticeable and easily monitored is increased heart rate. SNS activation can and will drive the heart rate from an average of 70 beats per minute (BPM) to more than 200 BPM in less than a second. And as combat stresses increase, the heart rate and respiration will increase until catastrophic failure or until the parasympathetic nervous system is triggered (you will black out).

We must realize that as humans have three primary survival systems: vision, cognitive processing, and motor skill performance. Under stress, each and every one of them break down.

The Warrior Inside You

The price of Martial Arts Fantasies


Do you think a “pressure point” would have worked on them? Because of SNS Activation you can become a “Super Soldier” of sorts.

There is of course a positive by product of SNS activation and that is that it increases your strength and your pain threshold increases. It is even possible that you could be shot and stabbed without even feeling it. The fact is that the majority of the time people who actually die from a gunshot or a knife wound do so due to a blood loss. After all this is real life and not the movies, you don’t immediately fall down when you get shot or stabbed unless the impact is enough to knock you down.

But, with that being considered you must also keep in mind that the same holds true for the enemy. do you think a “pressure point” would have even fazed them? With all that being said in a confrontation your best option is to attack major nerve centers and the respiratory functions of your opponent.

Is it possible that you can possibly control SNS activation to make sure you are in the combat zone?

Yes you can. Low-level SNS activation may result from the anticipation of an attack. This situation is especially common with police officers or soldiers just minutes before they make a tactical assault into a potential deadly force environment. Under these conditions combatants will generally experience an increase in their heart rate and respiration, muscle tremors, and a sense of anxiety. And that is completely normal.

But best understood the high-level SNS activation occurs when you are confronted with an unanticipated deadly force threat and the time to respond is minimal. This is literally EVERY self defense situation you prepare for and it is important that you understand this fact, because this is why All methods of Self Defense in real life situations in the street FAIL miserably.

In every self defense system on the planet they train you to react to the unanticipated attack. You are expected to respond instantly and precisely, just like choreographed in the movies.

But such attacks we must remember are unanticipated attacks and lead to a high-level SNS activation. High SNS activation will cause catastrophic failure of the visual, cognitive, and motor control systems.

In conventional martial arts we are taught to react to the attack, every teaching system you might study begins with the attack. Whether the guy grabs you by the throat, he bear hugs you out of nowhere, or even worse he sticks a gun in your face at which point you are expected to recall something finite and complicated when you get that awesome rush of adrenaline and hormones from SNS activation. Sorry to say that simply is not possible.

What about before the attack?

In most cases, 99% of the time as a matter of fact you will be stalked before someone decides that you have what they want and that they can get it from you. Predators will often even make contact with you to size you up. The three things that a criminal fears most are 1- Getting Caught; 2-Being Identified; or 3- Getting Their Ass Handed to Them During the Attack. Remember that criminals and they don’t want to have a hard time so they will choose marks they feel are worth it and will do everything that they can in order to stack the odds in their favor.

The truth of the matter is that you must focus your training on before the attack, before that first punch, grab or stab. Before it all goes down. If you wait to be attacked it’s simply too late.

The Self Defense Training System as taught by our instructors worldwide concentrates on what happens BEFORE the attack. The key element of that is your situational awareness, and then we move rapidly into understanding and implementing the key factors of position and distance. Then you react using techniques and tactics designed to work in that “Combat Zone”. No matter how hard you try you can’t replicate SNS activation in the dojo and it sure as hell doesn’t happen in the ring so you must stick to techniques and tactics that qualify.

That means moves that are “simple” large movements that attack the major nerve, circulatory and respiratory areas of the body. You need to forget all about the cute little parlor trick pressure points- they are simply no good. Because if your enemy is in SNS Activation, high, drunk or insane, they won’t work and most likely will result in you getting your face beat in.

There are certain variables that you must consider when considering the impact of the level of SNS activation:

The degree of malicious, human intent behind the threat
Does that person want to injure or even worse kill you? Are they capable?
The perceived level of threat, ranging from risk of injury to the potential for death
Are they pointing just a finger or even worse a gun in your face?
The time you have available to respond
Are they in your face, are they a few steps away or sending you a threatening email?
You need to be aware of the level of confidence in your personal skills and training
Are you 100% confident that you are prepared to protect yourself?
The level of experience you have in dealing with the specific threat
Have you done with this before, are you a seasoned street fighter?
The degree of physical fatigue that is combined with the anxiety
Do you have enough energy to protect yourself?
The obvious solution is replicating SNS activation in training but it is simply impossible to do.

Most self defense systems just ignore the facts.

The self defense you know assumes:

  1. You will be able to “think” under pressure.
  2. You can use finite and complicated blocks, traps, locks holds and strikes
  3. You will be able to react in time with precision and accuracy.

At the Self Defense Company we embrace SNS activation.

We use inoperative conditioning based on position and distance and practice at 100% force on your target.

You start training in the “gray area” the place BEFORE the fight starts.

You understand what someone does before an attack and you know how to turn the tables on him and take the fight to him – all 100% legal, all 100% justified in an attempt to defend yourself.

SNS activation makes you hyper-focused, strong and fearless. Fear is something that activates the SNS – in such conflicts it’s going to happen, so you might as well just accept it. This is why you need to train with in the confines of the SNS activation and base your training on methods that have been proven to work under real stress.

At the end of the day if any other system on the planet, Krav Maga, Akijujutsu, MMA, boxing, wrestling, Judo, BJJ, Systema, Sambo or anything worked I would attach my name to it. Nothing would stop me from calling this system Welliver Krav Maga. In fact it might have made my life easier!

But they simply do not work and doing so would be delivering to you my students a great disservice.

I have studied and taught this system and I’m proud to tell you about it.

The only thing that matters to me is Survival, and that is what we teach at the SELF DEFENSE COMPANY of GREATER BOSTON.

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