Sunday, January 22, 2012


Catharina Blomberg is an academic that was (or is) with the University of Uppsala (Northern Sweden). I accompanied Jan de Jong and taught with him in Uppsala. (1) A big hello to the wonderful people I met in Uppsala. (2) I'd appreciate it if anyone can inform me as to Blomberg's current whereabouts.

Blomberg wrote: The Heart of the Warrior: Origins and Religious Background of the Samurai System in Feudal Japan. We need to encourage professional academics like Blomberg, Karl Friday, Cameron Hurst III, and Paul Varley to study and write about warrior traditions, Japanese and other countries/cultures. We have enough poorly (or nil) researched texts dealing with various aspects of the martial arts.

Blomberg describes fudoshin as 'immobility of heart', and explains:
The warrior stood in special need of an unperturbable mind which could remain calm and collected regardless of his surroundings and circumstances or the pressure of events, and fudoshin became a central tenet of swordsmanship.
Referring to the writings of Miyamoto Musashi and Yagyu Tajima no Kami Munenori, both celebrated Japanese swordsmen of the 1600s, Blomberg explains that 'technical skill without the correct mental attitude was a waste of time.' You can hear this sentiment echoed in the commentary of the Australian Open (tennis) being played now. Emotion is the thing that wins and loses matches; emotion is the thing that wins and loses violent encounters. When you become attuned to emotion words, the aforementioned commentary is very often focusing on the emotional state and its effect on performance. Is this suggestive of what to focus on when preparing someone to survive a violent encounter?

Technical skill is about biomechanics. Mental attitude is about emotion. Most people involved in preparing a person to survive a violent encounter know a great deal about technical skill. What do they know about emotion?

Fumon Tanaka, in Samurai Fighting Arts: The Spirit and the Practice, explains that the essence of fudoshin (unmovable heart) is having no fear. That is to say, that no matter the circumstances (stimuli), the appraisal of that stimuli does not elicit the emotion of fear.

Emotion is a process. A stimuli is appraised, and if that stimuli is appraised as being harmful, threatening, or beneficial, it elicits a subjective feeling, physiological reaction, and an impulse to act which may or may not result in a behavioural response which is intended to deal with the initiating stimuli. Fudoshin training is targeting the appraisal process in the emotion process. Modern fudoshin training is termed stress training, stress inoculation training, or stress exposure training.

Gavin De Becker's (author of The Gift of Fear) organisation offers Combat Fear Inoculation training. 'Stress' is such a nebulous concept. It does not explicitly identify the emotion it focuses on, fear, and its close cousin, anxiety. Becker gets to the heart of the matter. He also highlights the fact that the stress discipline and emotion discipline are studying the same survival process, but the stress discipline does so in a limited way. As Lazarus suggests when arguing for the integration of the two disciplines, stress should be considered a subset of emotion.

Lawrence Kane and Loren Christensen are two well known authorities on use of force training, with a particular emphasis on law enforcement in the latter case. In Surviving Armed Assaults: A Martial Artist's to Weapons, Street Violence, and Counterveiling Force, they discuss 'combat mindset necessary to carry you through a battle.' They suggest there is a concept called 'the fearlessness of no fear' which is 'the quintessential martial mindset.' They provide a Japanese tale which they suggest is 'an example of what the Japanese call fudoshin or indominable spirit.' In the same 'breathe', they advise:
When your life is on the line, fight not only for yourself but also about those who care about and depend upon you - your children, your spouse, your family, and your friends.
Firstly, this is not an example of fudoshin. Fudoshin is instrumental violence which is violence involving no emotion. Kane and Christensen's advice concerns turning fear into anger. One emotion into another emotion, but emotion-based violence nonetheless.

In violence and aggression literature, violence and aggression are often categorised into affective or instrumental violence or aggression. Affective violence or aggression involves motivating emotions, hence why it's also called emotional violence or aggression; instrumental (also referred to as predatory) violence or aggression involves no emotion, and the violence or aggression is instrumental in realising a non-violent goal, e.g. economic reward, food.

Secondly, why turn fear into anger, IF, fight is a behaviour associated with fear? Read Siddle. Grossman, and others who refer to the fight-or-flight concept, and academics who refer to evolved mammalian defence strategies, and the fight response is associated with fear. Why change the emotion? The action tendency of fear is flight, but the aforementioned authorities are suggesting fight is also associated with fear. The more serious authorities refer to a sequence where fight is only undertaken when flight is frustrated. So, why not advise to think that you cannot escape and you are going to die? That should, in theory, turn flight into fight without having to generate a new emotion, i.e. turn fear into anger.

Thirdly, note that the abovementioned advice is about providing your own mental stimuli in order to elicit an emotional response, which, if you recall, includes a behavioural tendency. Fudoshin is concerned with the appraisal process within the emotional process, and not with the stimuli that initiates the process. Emotion is about personal meaning; change the meaning, change the emotion, or even the very elicitation of an emotion. The 'dramatic plot' of fear is a 'concrete and sudden danger to our physical well-being' (Lazarus). If you embrace the Zen philosophy that life and death are one and the same, the appraisal of a threat to your well-being is to deny any personal meaning to that stimuli, and therefore, no fear is experienced.

Fourthly, Kane and Christensen's advice echoes the advice I've heard and read relating to women's self defence. Turn fear into anger. Anger's action tendency is fight; and the fight response is supported by a physiological response designed to mobilise our body to fight. However, does not suggesting a person think about the worst thing the attacker can do run the risk of turning fear into terror rather than anger? If you believe that people, males and/or females, will always fight to protect their love ones, you are naive. 'Always' does not exist in the real world when dealing with human behaviour. We need to know more about anger. What is the 'dramatic plot' (Lazarus) of anger? Most involved in activities that prepare a person to survive a violent encounter know something about fear, and focus on fear, but what do they know about anger? Stress training, by whatever description including scenario or reality training, focuses on fear. What do they know about any other emotion, including no emotion? Very little, I'd suggest. They know where they don't want to be, but do they know anything about where they want to be?

Fifthly, what is the cost of fudoshin, or instrumental violence? Everything has a cost. What is the cost of none emotional violence? Fear and anger have a physiological reaction which results in a 'cascade of hormones' that are designed to help us fight or flee when threatened. That includes shunting blood to the muscles associated with the behaviour in order to increase our fight or flight capabilities. It includes adrenalin to help us become stronger and faster. It includes hormones that increase our pain tolerance so we are not distracted if injured when we are fighting or fleeing. Blood is shunted away from the periphery so that limited bleeding is experienced while fighting or fleeing. No emotional experience means all these evolutionarily designed advantages in fighting and fleeing are not received. That is the cost. Nobody mentions that cost - do they understand that there is even a cost to fudoshin/instrumental violence?

Lastly, we have emotionally-motivated violence and fudoshin/instrumental/no emotion violence. It is suggested that fear can produce 'defensive violence' - that proposition is under investigation. Women's Self Defence teaches to turn fear into anger; anger having an action tendency of fight which is supported by a physiological response. We can experience the evolved defence emotion that is designed to help us survive; or we can manipulate our evolved defence emotion turning fear into anger; we can control the intensity of the emotion, and while feeling fearful, our training can use will to fight instead of flee; or we can train to achieve fudoshin. Are there any other options? Yes there is. One which tends to go against all the conceived wisdom. One which has been successfully used by warriors from different cultures for millennia. What is that approach, that tradition?

That is the topic of the next blog.

PS: Rafael Nadal was just asked what he thought about Australia's Bernard Tomic. His very first comment concerned his emotions. He ended the interview with a comment linking emotions with champions.

Do you really want to neglect emotions in your training? You study technical skills, you may even study biomechanics to understand technical skills better; do you study emotion? Stress looks at fear and anxiety, but this is what you don't want; do you know anything about what you do want?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Shock and other comments on my research - reply to a comment

I received a comment to my previous blog that I thought would be better replied to in a dedicated blog.
Thanks John for the great posts on this subject recently, its certainly provided plenty of food for thought and discussion.
Thank you for your kind words and support. I do aim to provide 'food for thought and discussion', as well as to inform.
I was having a discussion with a couple of training partners just the other day with regards to your work in this area [(Fight and Defence)] and we came to a couple of interesting questions where your expertise would be very welcome:
'Expertise'? Hmmm. False humility has never been an attribute that has been often associated with me, but I confess to being a little uncomfortable with the label 'expert' - at this point in time. I do consider myself a bit of a pioneer, as I am attempting to shine a light on physical violence (defensive and offensive) which has traditionally been left to 'masters' or 'instructors', who have no real study of the theories and concepts they espouse. I gain confidence that I'm moving in the right direction, authoritatively wise, because my contact with experts in the various academic fields has been met with a collegial reception. For instance, a biomechanics professor and author invited me to co-author a book with him, even though I have absolutely no biomechanical formal training or qualifications. I've been invited to submit a paper, any paper, to be presented at an predominantly biomechanically-based academic seminar for judo. I've been invited to submit an article, any article, to a semi-academic journal dedicated to the martial arts. A US military organisation has expressed an interest in the work I'm doing on 'stress training' for Beyond Fight-or-Flight. Etc.
The first was the condition of shock - shock is obviously a debilitating reaction, sometimes even deadly, and has physiological effects on people that are wide ranging - where do you fit shock into your understanding of responses people have when 'the sh@t hits the fan'?
Socrates said: 'The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.' Always, always, challenge 'terms' when they are imbued with some special meaning. What do you mean by the word 'shock'? ONLY to respond to this comment, I've referenced an unauthoritive source to progress the discussion - an approach that is definitely NOT representative of my work.
The most important distinction to make between the different forms of shock, is between psychological (or mental) shock and physiological (or circulatory) shock:
•Psychological shock can occur after a physically or emotionally traumatic experience but it effects your state of mind (although this can give you symptoms such as palpitations and feeling faint, it doesn’t usually lead to serious physical collapse).
•Physiological shock is a dramatic reduction in blood flow that, if left untreated, can lead to collapse, coma and even death.
My focus goes immediately to the 'emotional' reference. Emotion is considered more than subjective feeling. It is a process which involves an appraisal that may or may not elicit a subjective feeling and associated physiological response and action tendency, that may or may not result in a behavioural response. Emotions are evolved mechanisms designed to help us survive and reproduce. The behavioural response (and emotional expression) are designed to deal/affect the initiating stimuli of the process. The first question is, 'What emotion are we talking about?'

Stress training, stress inoculation training, stress exposure training - it has to be understood that the underlying assumption in these training methods is experiencing the emotion of fear. The training and theory tells us where we don't want to be, fear, it doesn't inform us at all about where we want to be. It is the blindman feeling the ear of an elephant and suggesting an elephant is like a fan (see previous posts re blindmen and the elephant analogy).

The 'shock' you are referring to might be, and I could be mistaken, the evolved tonic immobility (TI) strategy in the 'defence cascade' (see previous couple of posts). TI is an evolved fear response which is an involuntary catatonic state when fight (associated with anger and not fear?) has unsuccessful provided the option to flee.

How do you combat TI? Unbeknown to most women's self defence (WSD) course developers, they have built in a training method to reduce the risks of experiencing TI when threatened. How? By teaching their students to turn fear into anger; or to at least experience anger along with fear. TI is not associated with anger, only extreme fear. So, in addition to the many other aspects of the adaptive emotion of anger, and its strategic use by these WSD courses, manipulating our emotions to experience anger reduces the risk of experiencing TI. (By the way, anger is a fascinating subject - more on that later)
This leads once again to the question of training methods - will your work once it has outlined a model for what may be / is happening to people at these critical times go on to use this to improve the outcome for people at these times - do you see value in any singular or combination of training methods that can improve peoples ability to deal with things?
My work was intended to provide the knowledge to understand what and why the various methods taught by those activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter teach. It obviously provides the information to expose the charlatans, the ignorant, the misinformed or uninformed. And yes, it can be applied to either support or improve training methods and combat techniques. And as I will outline in future blogs, even at this embryonic stage, I'm finding my work is helping people to deal with aggressive situations, and post-aggressive situations. Stay tuned.
Lastly, and reflecting on the stories and statistics you recount in your last few blogs, and especially WSD, people obviously react in different ways - do you think an individual is prone to act in the same way? What I mean by this is for instance, if someone freezes at a critical point, will they usually freeze or is the response a lottery - are responses a bit like allergies - should you test for your predisposition to certain response types and modify your training accordingly? And at what stage do you think these are programmed - is it a wiring issue we a born with, do we settle on a response type in childhood etc - these questions could have a lot of ramifications in terms of targeted training, and depending on how these responses are programmed, identify critical early training times for children / young adults.
Firstly, great question. Secondly, regarding WSD. Often, my work leads me in very, very interesting directions. I'm now very attracted to the subject of WSD. Even for the simple reason it puts my theories into sharp relief. As life would have it, for me, circumstances have conspired to fuel my interest. I was tackling the problem of the associating with the evolved fight response with the evolved fear response. As I explained in a previous blog, I witnessed a normally pleasant, intelligent, 7 1/2yo girl attack an adult surrogate uncle in a fit of jealous rage. This provided the opportunity of applying my knowledge, theories and concepts, to analyse and understand the situation, and examine proposed methods of dealing with the issue. Then, as (morbid) luck would have it, I was contacted by an acquaintance who had just emerged from a decade plus long abusive relationship. Again, opportunities of applying my knowledge, theories and concepts, and one which provided food for further research. Research that is leading to unique explanations - more on that later.

I'm not a huge fan of opinion, unless it can be demonstrated it is informed opinion. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, 'opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one'. That's kind of true, the difference being, very few people have informed opinions. I don't know the difference between an informed and uninformed a**ehole. I don't tend to give opinions unless they can be substantiated by verifiable fact.

There are definitely predispositions to act in a particular way. For instance, males fight or flee; females tend and befriend (see previous blogs). But they are only predispositions, tendencies. It was reported in Perth this week that a female passenger bashed a 70yo male bus driver because he wouldn't driver her to the city at the end of that buses route. Not what you'd call tend and befriend behaviour. An article I will be referring to is titled 'We Are Not Prisoners To Our Genes'. Anything involving human beings is complicated. Nature and nurture are involved to varying degrees to shape our responses to environmental stimuli. This then raises the question, how do you cope with this variety. Do you have a selection methodology? Where do you aim your training and technique selection methodology?

Bruce Siddle's proposal's in Sharpening the Warrior's Edge provide an interesting case study. He suggests that fear produces a physiological reaction that has detrimental cognitive and physical effects that negatively impact on combat performance. So, he advises (a) selecting techniques based on gross motor skills, and (b) to provide stress based training methods to better prepare the combatant to be effective in combat. Let's examine that. The underlying assumption is the experience of a high level of fear. Therefore, we use the 'lowest common denominator' principle; every one will experience a high level of fear so choose only techniques that are based on gross motor skills. However, the stress training is designed to manage, reduce, or change the emotional experience when in combat - effectively cancelling out the underlying assumption in the technique selection process.

Traits are different to emotions. They are long standing tendencies. People have traits. Then of course we have 'interventions' such as alcohol and drugs which affect the normal tendencies. Excited delirium syndrome is a fascinating subject that I looked into. It is postulated that the experience of this condition has increased due to the use of certain recreational drugs.

There are no easy answers to your question. Having said that, it is a very intriguing question. It goes to profiling and specialisation. Identify characteristics and develop more specialised programs. WSD, again, is a wonderful example. The female experience of, and response to, aggression and violence is different to men. WSD courses SHOULD, but often do not, reflect this specialised focus.
As always John keep up the great work, its so sorely needed - looking forward to buying these books one day!

Again, thank you for your encouragement and support. Believe me, this is a lonely, unrewarding 'job'. The economic, social, emotional, and physical costs are not insubstantial. But what else am I going to do, eh? Maybe this will be my legacy.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fear and Defence

I am not alone!

Recall from the last couple of blogs that I'm looking at whether or not our evolved fight response in Cannon's fight-or-flight is associated with fear. Cannon associated fight with anger, but those activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter (e.g. military CQC, law enforcement physical methods, martial arts, self-defence, and in particular women's self defence) who refer to fight-or-flight tend only to refer to fear. This should not be surprising given they are referencing the work of the stress discipline to inform their understanding. Stress is associated with anxiety (a close cousin of fear) and fear, either as a stimuli or a response, or as a stimuli, part of the stress process, or the output of the stress process.

While researching today, I came across a book review by Dr. Sergio Pellis, Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. He reviewed FEAR AND DEFENSE, edited by Paul F. Brain, Stefano Parmigiani, Robert Blanchard, and Danillo Mainardi. London: Hawood Academic Publishers, 1990.

Blanchard distinguishes between two types of attack behaviours: defensive attack and offensive attack. Defensive attack is associated with high levels of fear, while offensive attack is associated with anger.
Where does fear fit into this schema? Clearly, the implication in the title of this book is that 'fear' and defense go together and that such systems should be differentiated from aggression. ... But do you really have to be afraid in order to defend yourself? This question is rarely asked and is never adequately addressed.
This question is precisely the question I'm asking now. I would have to agree with Pellis though, it is a question that appears to never be adequately addressed.
Nonetheless, the question of whether it is necessary to be afraid in order to defend yourself remains unanswered.
Yes it does remain unanswered, however, at the very least I'm researching the question and bringing the issue to the attention of those who use fight-or-flight in a practical way - to better prepare a person to survive a violent encounter.

Interestingly, Pellis is an aikidoka (aikido practitioner). I obviously have a background in martial arts. Does this background predispose us to apply the theoretical to the practical and ask: is our evolved fight behavioural response associated with fear as many, academics and non-academics, would suggest?
Again, in reference to martial arts, the vast amount of training is designed so that defensive movements become automatic responses, in that they can occur independently of autonomic reactions and thoughts characteristic of fear. That is, you can block a blow that comes to within a few centimeters of your nose without having your heart thumping like crazy. I can certainly imagine that no matter how effectively I defend myself from a street mugger, I would certainly experience 'fear'.
Certainly experience fear? Sergio, my Beyond Fight-of-Flight investigates the fight-or-flight concept based on my attempt to understand why I did not experience fear when I was attacked by a knife-wielding attacker on a train in the south of France. It investigates why I didn't experience fear, nor any of the physiological responses that, according to Siddle, would cause catastrophic deterioration of my motor and cognitive functions, which decrease my combat effectiveness. Do not immediately assume you will experience fear when involved in an aggressive or violent encounter. I had only 3-4 years training when I had my knife attack. Don't be so sure you would have experienced fear - trained or untrained.

Why bother? I can hear that question being asked by the very same people who will refer to this knowledge to provide support for their own methods. Grossman, in On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace, states that 'just as a fireman has to know all about fire, you have to know all about violence.'Agreed! But does focusing on fear-based responses allow you to know all about violence? Good God no. This fear-based understanding is obtained by one of the blindmen who are attempting to describe an elephant by touching just one part of the beast. That blindman is the stress discipline: Each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong, though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!In Beyond Fight-or-Flight, I'm trying to gather all the blindmen's observations and present a more complete picture of the violence/combat elephant.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fight or Flight - Did Walter Cannon Get It Wrong? - Revisited

I received the following comment in response to my original post questioning whether the founder of the fight-or-flight concept got it wrong:
It seems to me that John Coles has taken his research and conclusions along similar directions, and has defined what I had been thinking in better terms than I did. His work will make it much easier to get this across to serious students of martial arts.
Firstly, I thank you for those kind words and encouragement. Secondly, the aim of my work is to not only make it easier to get concepts across to serious students of any activity associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter, but also to clarify or correct the commonly held misconceptions.

Fight and flight are evolved behaviours to a threat and are often associated with fear. In Sharpening the Warrior's Edge, Siddle explains that 'fear initiates the sympathetic nervous system, which begins a catastrophic spiral in motor and cognitive functions' (1997: 9). This feeling and physiological response 'occurs resulting in a desperate irrational response: fight, flight, or freezing in place' (1997: 61).

When updating or expanding on Cannon's original fight or flight options, the common constant or the underlying assumption is the association with fear. To progress this discussion I'll refer to the defence cascade of Marx et el who identify: freeze (stop, look and listen), flight, fight, if fight is successful flight, if fight is unsuccessful tonic immobility (TI) - in that order. Some add faint after TI as an evolved response (see previous posts).

It has been found that different emotions have different physiological reactions. For instance, the blood is redirected to the muscles associated with the primary action tendency of fear - flight. The blood is redirected to the muscles associated with the action tendency of anger - fight. Blood is directed to the arms and hands when anger is experienced as they are used in fighting whereas they are not so used in fleeing. The physiological reaction supports the function of the emotion.

If fight is a behavioural response associated with the emotion of fear, it has to be an inferior version to that associated with anger, simply because of the physiological response which prepares the body for the principle action tendency of the eliciting emotion. Would an inferior version of fight be selected for when we need it the most? That is, would evolution provide us with an inferior version of fight when we are threatened and flight has been obstructed.

Cannon associated flight with fear and fight with anger. A fact that is little appreciated, if known, by those activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter who refer to fight-or-flight, or stress. But Cannon also suggested that the same physiological response is experienced with both fear and anger; a proposition that has since been disproven.

Is fight associated with fear?

Blanchard and Blanchard distinguish between two types of attack behaviours: defensive attack and offensive attack. Defensive attack is associated with high levels of fear, directly motivated by danger of harm or death to the individual, and is directed at the source of the danger. Offensive attack is associated with anger, directly or indirectly motivated by resource control, and particularly elicited by challenge to such control. Violence and aggression is often classified in the literature into two broad categories: affective and instrumental. Affective involves emotions and instrumental does not. The emotion most often associated with affective aggression and violence is anger, although, Meloy refers to fear and/or anger. This is suggesting that fight behaviour might be associated with fear.

I've been discussing this issue with forensic psychologist, Jane Ireland, from the University of Central Lancashire in the UK (gratitude for her generous support). In her book concerning bullying in prisons, she refers to the fight-or-flight concept and acknowledges Cannon's original association of flight with fear and fight with anger. However, she suggests that in a prison setting that fight is also motivated by fear.

The answer to my question is not readily apparent, which is appreciated by Ireland: 'I think the problem is the lack of an integrated theory' - too true.

While researching and thinking about this issue, I witnessed a normally pleasant 7 1/2yo girl attack an adult surrogate uncle (SU) with a wooden sword used as an acting prop. A serious attack to the head, thankfully fended off, in a moment of rage. The provocation for the attack was the SU's expression that a recently arrived 6yo girl in our flats was more intelligent than the other young girl who, until then, had been the sole child in the flats. She is doted on by her mother, and by the other residents within the flats. So, jealousy reared its ugly head and was expressed in an uncharacteristic violent display.

When I thought about this experience (as is my analytical want), fight is not the action tendency of jealousy. Fight is the action tendency of anger. How did we get fight with jealousy; which is much the same question as how do we get fight with fear.

Without going through the myriad of theories associated with jealousy, I'll refer to Nesse and Ellsworth's goal pursuit explanation of emotions. They suggest emotions change depending on the progress towards the particular goal of the emotion. Based on this approach, you could suggest the 4F model above: freeze = anxiety, flight = fear, fight = anger, TI = terror. This emotional (which includes feelings, physiological reactions, action tendencies, and behaviours) flexibility might be supported in that it has been shown that freeze, flight, and fight are associated with sympathetic nervous system domination, while TI and fainting is associated with parasympathetic nervous system domination.

Is anger a part of jealousy? Some suggest that anger is a complex emotion involving anger, love, and fear. So, depending on the circumstances, one or the other emotion may become dominant. This would fit in with the goal pursuit explanation. But Plutchik suggests anger and fear are polar opposites and cannot be experienced together.

Is anger a way of coping with jealousy? That is to say, the output of the jealousy emotion process is anger, which then becomes its own emotion process.

Gilligan (not from Gilligan's Island) is a psychologist who works in prisons and prison hospitals. He explains:
These observations, and many others like them, convinced me that the basic psychological motive, or cause, of violent behaviour is the wish to ward off or eliminate the feeling of shame and humiliation – a feeling that is painful and can be intolerable and overwhelming – and replace it with its opposite, the feeling of pride.
He quotes Scheff and Retzinger: 'a particular sequence of emotions underlies all destructive aggression: shame is first evoked, which leads to rage and then violence.' Shame -> anger -> violence; fear -> anger -> violence.

The direct association of the emotion of anger with fight when threatened and with flight frustrated also fits in with the frustration-aggression hypothesis. It also makes sense when considering the optimal evolved fight response when we need it most.

I'm still researching this issue. I'm also still considering the implications of this issue. If the fear -> anger -> fight is the explanation for our evolved response when threatened, then all those activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter who refer to the fight-or-flight concept and only refer to fear are, at the very least, demonstrating a simplistic understanding of our evolved response to a threat.

If fear is associated with fight, then why turn fear into anger as many women self defence (WSD) courses teach (see previous blogs)? Instead of teaching methods for their students to get angry, why not teach them methods to become more fearful by appraising the situation as having no flight option. After all, they are already experiencing fear, all you're doing is ratcheting it up a notch. But if the evolved response to deal with a threat is to turn fear into anger, then the WSD courses are simply working with nature rather than against it. Using nature's strategy.

It's interesting to consider the same issue from a legal or even moral perspective. Self defence is often described in terms of fear-based violence, assault or manslaughter in terms of anger-based violence, and murder based on instrumental (no emotion) violence. If self defence, instinctive or trained, involves turning fear into anger, where does that leave self defence? A rhetorical, or philosophical, question.