Visualization/Proper Mindset For Self Defense
by Joey A.
Visualization is realization. A recent study at the national police academy in the Netherlands indicated that mental imagery improved the shooting accuracy of law enforcement officers. The study led researchers to recommend that officers use visualization in their spare time to improve their performance in possible life or death situations. Positive visualization practice, in conjunction with regular training and practice, has also been used in competitive sports to improve performance and anxiety issues. Scenarios can include any of the senses such as visual (imaging), kinesthetic (the physical feeling) or auditory (the roar of the crowd). As an example, as it applies to combat sports, Glory Kickboxing Welterweight Champion Joseph Valtellini was recently quoted as saying "visualization is one of my most important tactics. Before I get out there I go through the whole match in my mind up until the point that my hand is raised in victory. I do this multiple times a day for weeks on end. This gives me confidence and calmness so I can be my best."
The idea is that the brain responds almost identically to reality as it does to an imagined reality and with mental rehearsal, minds and bodies can become trained to actually perform the skill imagined. It becomes a conditioned response over time. However, students also need to be proactive and have a plan prior to an attack to improve their reaction and response time. In a reality based scenario, a student should train to obtain the ability to go from a compromising position to a position of dominance in a short amount of time. Essentially, you want to connect the right physical action to the appropriate stimulus, but the decision to act needs to be made before the actual attack or encounter.
But let's take a step back. Everyone involved in training, trains from the perspective of the attack already in motion (ie, how to defend against the punch, the kick, the tackle, the grab, etc.). An often overlooked aspect of personal protection is situational awareness applied to pre contact cues or pre violence indicators. This is also something a trainee should sharpen his/her mind to be cognizant of. If looked at closely, security camera footage, police dash board cams and videos taken from cell phones prior to an assault all show similar patterns. The attacker usually exhibits some type of pre contact cues such as "grooming" (putting their hand through their hair or adjusting their clothing), furtive glances (essentially looking for potential witnesses to the assault), shifting their weight from side to side, lowering their center of gravity imminent to the attack and in some cases actually clenching their fists. In cases such as these, it would be a tactical advantage to either create distance or close the distance and strike pre-emptively, depending on the circumstances. Using the concept of visualization, have a plan in mind should you be confronted with these pre violence indicators. Past cultures such as the Samurai, Spartans, knights, etc. understood the need for mental preparation for combat. It's something that should be incorporated into modern day training as well.
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