The fight-or-flight concept is often used to explain our natural response to a threat. Many who refer to fight-or-flight for that purpose often explain that fear motivates instinctive fight or flight behaviours which an automatic physiological reaction prepares the body to enact.
If fear motivates instinctive fight behaviour, why do 'Fight Activities' such as martial arts, self-defence, combat sports, security, law enforcement, and the military, teach ways and means to overcome fear in order to fight?
Those who refer to the fight-or-flight concept to explain our natural response to a threat ought to at least refer to the title of Walter Cannon's book published in 1915 where he introduced the concept of fight-or-flight. The title is: Bodily Changes in Pain, Hunger, Fear and Rage, first published in 1915.
Cannon is referring to two emotions - fear and anger. He associated fear with flight and anger with fight.
An accurate understanding of the fight-or-flight concept already suggests a 'strategic use of emotion to counter fear in war' - turn fear into anger in order to turn flight into fight.
Sun Tzu adopts this strategy in The Art of War. He states that rousing anger in your soldiers is necessary in order to get them to fight. This is recognised in the US military in a manual where anger is described as being the emotion of courage.
Cannon explains nature's strategic use of emotion to survive:
The cornering of an animal when in the headlong flight of fear may suddenly turn the fury and the flight to a fighting in which all strength of desperation is displayed. (1915, 275)The initial natural response to a threat is flight and the 'risky business' of fighting is only engaged in if flight is obstructed - flee when you can, fight if you must.
A stimulus is appraised as a threat which elicits a subjective feeling we call 'fear' that motivates instinctive flight behaviour which an automatic physiological reaction prepares the body to enact. If flight is obstructed, the subjective feeling turns to anger which motivates instinctive fight behaviour that an automatic physiological reaction prepares the body to enact. In both cases, as in all cases with emotion, the emotion is being experienced in pursuit of a goal. In this case the goal of fear and anger is survival.
There is a duality associated with 'fear as a weapon' that Sun Tzu recognised in The Art of War. He advises to always provide your enemy with an honourable exit otherwise they will fight to the death. On the other hand, he advises to take away all means of retreat for you soldiers so that they will fight.
How do you turn fear into anger in order to turn flight into fight? That becomes the question when emotion is used strategically in order to counter fear in war and turn flight into fight.