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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is an interesting topic. Combat Stress. The situation that one faces when another human being is right there, intent on smashing your face into a pile of red oatmeal. Stressful? If you miss, or fail to stop him, you die! This is the sort of stress that causes knees to knock and shots to go astray.

How is it controlled? Waddayathink??

Gabe Suarez
Suarez International, Inc.
http://www.gabesuarez.com

"He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze"

2 Samuels 22:35
 

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Gabe,
"Interesting topic"-- there's an understatement! I believe an entire book could be written about this subject. Here are some random thoughts on the matter, in no particular order.
First, prior preparation is absolutely vital. Many people buy a handgun, and even carry it, without giving any thought whatsoever to the fact that one night they may have to actually use it. Mentally rehearsing various scenarios and developing a strong set of personal rules of engagement go a long way toward helping to avoid panic and paralysis at the moment of truth.
Practice, practice, practice! Practice builds skill. Skill builds confidence. Confidence in one's ability leads to calmness in battle.
Be committed to something that is important to you, personally. For some it is "the mission". For others, their buddies or their families.
Accept the fact that we are all going to die. The only thing we can control is the manner of our death. We can go out whimpering and afraid, or with dignity and grace.
In stressful situations that develop over time, as opposed to a sudden attack, autogenic breathing can help keep your heart rate and blood pressure down. This enhances physical self control and decreases the "fight or flight" physiological responses that detract from fighting ability.
There's much more, but this ought to get the discussion started.
 

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Having never fired a shot from a gun at another human, I cannot relate to the stress of that. Luckily, the confrontations I have been in have not escalated, or lasted, to that point. Knife, yes. Gun, no.

Two scenarios, both touched on by Tom. The fight you know you are getting into, or realized you may be put in, and the fight that comes without warning.

The only way I can explain the feelings of the fight that comes without warning, or at least without realized warning, is, frankly, akin to detachment. It is happening, and you are moving and doing, but fear had no real time to get in your guts...yet. When these fights end, it is a massive emotional dump. THEN come the weak knees, the fear, heck, even sickness.

The situation where you understand that a fight is inevitable...that can be very stressful. Breathing can get away from you, all systems are in overdrive, and the adren comes in waves that can get the hands trembling, the mouth dry, etc.

Training is the key to both, I think. In the first scenario training makes you move, makes you respond, makes the muscles do what hopefully they have been trained to do...all without the gas tank going empty, hopefully. The second scenario, I find far more difficult, personally. Being conscious of what is happening, time slows down, all the physical and physio changes come...all while telling yourself to calm down.

Man, I typed this but I am afraid it makes no sense.
 

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I have a very modest comment/question to submit to this: It is my view that we train so that hopefully when we are later overtaken by events that our bodies will already know what to do and require less conscious thought on our parts; this helps to stack the deck in our favor before the event. That's how I see it. Now, here is my comment/question - The way I see it the inclusion of "condition black" is a terrible idea into any defensive mindset. The way I understand the concept is condition black means "the battle has been engaged and I will now have tunnel vision and poor motor skills, my knees will shake and I will hyper-ventilate; I will certainly be less effective than I normally am". Okay, that is all probably true, my problem with it is this: By teaching ourselves this we almost ensure it to happen. My concern here is that at the moment of truth my subconscious is going to be telling me "Hey, Jake, don't forget to get tunnel vision and hyperventilate and shoot poorly, this is condition black, remember?" I certainly do think combat stress is a very real factor, but personally, I think that the important thing is to remember to keep thinking and try not to let the experience blow all your circuits so I become a spectator and no longer a participant.

I apologize for interjecting my own take on this, as I believe it is somewhat different from the intended question, but I am here as a student and I don't want to miss this opportunity for guidance more skilled than my own knowledge.

So, what should we be telling ourselves BEFORE the actual event so that our minds will be as effective as they can be. My simple plan is that I want to be proactive, I want the badguy to have to react to what I am doing and not the other way around.
Comments? Flames? Bring it on.
Thanks, Jake
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Jake,

You wrote: "It is my view that we train so that hopefully when we are later overtaken by events that our bodies will already know what to do and require less conscious thought on our parts"

Exactly!!

Further, you wrote:" Now,here is my comment/question - The way I see it the inclusion of "condition black" is a terrible idea into any defensive mindset. I will now have tunnel vision and poor motor skills, my knees will shake and I will hyper-ventilate....."

These things MAY happen, but most assuredly it is wrong to think they will ALWAYS HAPPEN TO EVERYONE. But you are correct in assuming that if you expect (menatlly) to act a certain way, that you will act that way.

Rather than program the Condition Black Effect, it is better to program thoughts that will not allow you to fall victim to that.
This gets into a realm that has not been studied much, but that perhaps we should. The mindset of Man the Predator.

Gabe Suarez
Suarez International, Inc.
http://www.gabesuarez.com

"He teaches my hands to make war so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze".

2 Samuels 22:35
 

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On 2001-08-07 19:00, Gabe Suarez wrote:
Stressful? If you miss, or fail to stop him, you die! This is the sort of stress that causes knees to knock and shots to go astray.
Good points by all. I think that the statement Gabe made above assumes that one will have time to actually make concious, sequential thought processes. It has been my experience that when SHTF, you really do not think with the type of mindset that says "if I fail to stop him I die." You simply do as mentioned above, and react as your training has conditioned you to.

If you have the time to start rationalizing a potentially deadly encounter, you probably have lost the fight already.

Again, as mentioned by Bruce, the time for reflection will occur after you have done what your training has told you to do.
 

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Jake...I can only speak for myself, but what to tell ourselves before the fight? Tom touched on this, I think. Before the fight I want to know that a) I have no other option, and b) whoever started what is happening brought his shit to my door, not the other way around.

Lessons can be learned from the animal kingdom, of which we are a part. Take a dog off his property and yes, he can be made to fight. But enter the area that dog "owns", at home, and he fights as if possessed. Same is true of the big cats...watch how they fight when defending their territory, as opposed to moving through another cat's territory. At home, they fight willing to die. Away, they fight to save their own hide. This is in keeping with having a *reason* to fight.

Just my perspective on a pretty deep topic.
 

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I agree with Gabe in that trained and ingrained responses are what will carry you through in a fast-breaking situation.

If the situation plays out in such a manner that there is time for nervousness, stress, or fear to build, I think there is much merit to Cooper's suggestion to make an effort to counteract this with controlled ANGER. Thoughts of FLIGHT rather than FIGHT are counterproductive if flight is not an option. When you read or hear an account of someone having been victimized by predatory scum, does it make you fearful or does it make you ANGRY? If you find yourself the object of their foul intentions and there is time for any pre-action contemplation, get angry!

Rosco
 

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This is a good subject that is many times over looked.
My father was head of special security teams for planes, embassies and personal back in the 70's and his biggest issue was to train under physical extremes and having the guys do drills after long workout and under stress. Running, sparing, weights, jumping rope and having tennis balls thrown at you while you do the drill are just a couple of things. A good way to make the knees shake is to put a chair against the wall and have the shooter go up and down for a few minutes until he can barely stand, then push him into the drill. A couple of slaps to the head work well to J
You can be a very good shot when training and competing but the real life Combat even for veteran warriors is a rush. Knees shaking, hands shaking and even hard to breath. One way I have shown is to spar against 2 guys for 60 seconds and then do a surprise drill. You would be surprised at the results, some people do even better then in a relaxed mode.

Regards,
Shay
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Shane,

Either way. When the fight is there. Either by surprise, with that sudden realization in the gut "THIS IS IT!!", Or the gradual - "we're gonna be in shooting in the next few minutes". I think you will perform physically, what you've programmed mentally. The only difference is that with the later, the stress build up will be gradual and you run the risk of running out of psychological gas.

I've had both sudden and gradual. In sudden fights, you act and win (or die:)). The effects of stress come later. I remember standing over a guy I'd just sent to judgement and noticed my legs shaking with "juice". I remember thinking, "hey adrenaline! cool!".

Other times, we'd be sitting in a car waiting for someone to come home. Someone who had killed a few people and whom we would probably return the favor to out of necessity. That's long term stress.

After a while, you just kinda accept it and don't worry about it much. Its there and you can work around it. But the mind helps or hurts. You can either think "Oh no, they're coming to eat me" and panic, or you can think "Ah, dinners ready" and get out the silverware.

Gabe Suarez
Suarez International, Inc.
http://www.suarezinternational.com

"He teaches my hands to make war so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze".
2 Samuels 22:35
 

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On 2001-08-08 12:06, Gabe Suarez wrote:

The only difference is that with the later, the stress build up will be gradual and you run the risk of running out of psychological gas.
Agreed. I think you can only play out potential scenarios in your head a few times before the mental stress literally becomes a physical impairment. If you have trained well and often, you simply must stop the rationalization and KNOW that your conditioning and muscle memory will make everything happen the way it should.

Too MUCH thought process under duress is just as much a liability as too LITTLE training, in some situations.



<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Shane Kropf on 2001-08-08 12:17 ]</font>
 

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I've been in a few situations that were a tad stressful (car wrecks, 360 degree spins on a wet interstate, very loud conflict outside my house that I had to investigate, bar exam). What struck me as strange is when things suddenly developed, time seemed to slow down and I could actually think about what was happening and try to act accordingly. The plan didn't always work but I still was able to make a plan. Weird. But, I'm not counting on that for the future. That's why I'm seeking more training.

As for the bar exam, totally different situation. I had to time to think so I panicked.
 

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I am on a six week deployment to Tashkent, Uzbekistan right now as a Russian linguist and my boss is here with me. He is a green beret (I am not anything like that by the way); we were discussing this topic about an hour ago at dinner and here is what he had to say "Training is great, but dependence on training can get you killed." That was an interesting statement so I asked for a little clarification, here is what he said, "A close action contact drill is great, you need to practice that as much as you can, that is a firearm thing were there is some distance involved, but if you take a knife fight for example, it is different. We had some CQB training with knives and they showed us some cute moves... fine, but what it really came down to is that they told us 'you can get scared or get angry, you should choose anger. If he is really close and you have to go for it then forget the moves and just close the distance and aggresively kill him. You are going to get cut, fine, don't worry about it while you are fighting him, just close the distance and kill him; when it's over you can worry about the cut on your arm. Use your anger to win, be primal'."

So, that was an interesting perspective for me to consider. He did state that if you have some distance and some time then you can use your tactics, but it was interesting for me to hear that if there was no distance and no time then one should close distance and attack with extreme prejudice. This is very different from what I read about opening distance from the threat. I don't know if I agree with him, but again, it is just fuel for the fire of this conversation.

Comments?

Jake
 

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On 2001-08-08 13:31, Jake Salyards wrote:
... but it was interesting for me to hear that if there was no distance and no time then one should close distance and attack with extreme prejudice. This is very different from what I read about opening distance from the threat. I don't know if I agree with him, but again, it is just fuel for the fire of this conversation.

Comments?
Well, military/wartime tactical actions are not really the same as law-abiding , CCW holding, civilian encounters (usually).

In most basic terms, a soldier's job is to kill the enemy. Use as much agression as possible to terminate the threat. A civilain CCW permit holder has an obligation to de-escalate situations when possible, including flight/retreat.

Fear is a good thing - as is anger. Both can keep you alive, but it is how you are trained to react when those emotions present themselves, that will determine who lives, and who dies. A soldier cannot show fear in the face of the enemy. Civilians have a little more grace with regard to that emotion. A civilian can be very scared, and run away if he so decides. A civilian must realize too, that if he has no where to run, he should have plan B ready and operational.
 

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Hello Sirs.

You can train one a once again your handling skills, your marksmanship, even your tactics, but it´s really very difficult if not almost impossible you can train to face the real combat stress. It´s true, if you pass through several similar situations and you are alive yet, probably can react faster and better, but I´m sure the first time the less you can suffer is the tunnel effect. It´s what I suffered one of the first times. Me and my colegue found a suspect exiting through a broken window at 4 a.m. I yelled: "Police don´t move", but the men catched something under his coat. I take cover and pointing him yelled again "get down". Finally he went down. He was telling me several times he was the security responsable checking the store had been stolen, but I couldn´t ear anything what he told me. He only went to show me his ID card.

I was lucky had trained hard and kept in my mind many of the tactical principles Í had learned of Gabe Suarez Books and others and had anticipate the tunnel effect, keeping my trigger-finger out of the trigger-guard.


Therefore, your best option I think is to know it can happen and telling it yourself continously (but not as a paranoid) and asumme if the effects arrive that they are "normal". When you know about these effects you can recognize them and not to be afraid about them because they are not anything new for you.

Best wishes and watch your back

German
 

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German, I am with you 100% on your comment about keeping in mind that it can happen. I think that is a great philosophy to have about the whole potential problem. I think it was Jeff Cooper who wrote along the lines of: "In a crisis there are two different kinds of people, the first kind is going to be telling themselves, 'I can't believe this is happening to me' and the second kind of person is going to be telling myself, 'I thought this might happen....'."

I think all the guns and gear and black combat boots and neck knifes in the world added together are about 5% of the equation. My favorite way of equating this analogy is this: Tactical tools are exactly as valuable as golf clubs. Meaning: Can a great golfer make use of better clubs? Yes, to a very minor degree. Can an unskilled golfer tell the difference? No, becasue he doesn't know how to use what he has. You give me the best golf clubs and the best golf shoes and the best tees and the best cart and then give Tiger Woods a piece of crap 5 iron and a junk putter and he is still going to beat my ass in a golf game. That is because he can use his tools up to their total ability to perform and I am just an idiot holding some nice gear.

I think its great that we are all working on our speed draw from concealment; but what I want to work on is my mindset. That's what's going to carry the day.

Jake
 
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On 2001-08-08 13:48, Shane Kropf wrote:

Fear is a good thing - as is anger. Both can keep you alive, but it is how you are trained to react when those emotions present themselves, that will determine who lives, and who dies. A soldier cannot show fear in the face of the enemy. Civilians have a little more grace with regard to that emotion. A civilian can be very scared, and run away if he so decides. A civilian must realize too, that if he has no where to run, he should have plan B ready and operational.
I would submit that planning is really training; failing to do either will kill you if your attacker has done his planning and training and luck is with him/her.

That said, I honestly feel that luck often plays a very large part in the equation, it does not take a skilled man to kill a very skilled man some times luck will prevail and ultimately that is the "scary" part.

As to mindset, for me in my youth I was cursed/blessed with an extremely strong will and powerful temper, training taught me to focus that temper and project it onto my enemies.

This helped tremendously as the first time I was involved in a lethal confrontation their was absolutely no doubt in my mind "They were going to die! I will destroy them, I am unstoppable!"

As to fear, I can only comment on what I have witnessed, in combat I have witnessed grown highly trained men that were terrified once after a series of explosions I looked over at a team member who had urinated in his pants, while he was shooting/returning fire and I remember one seasoned combat veteran in particular who screamed like a girl while he shot three soldiers dead at point blank range.

Personally, it is in my dreams that I have always been full of doubt and actually felt my fear.
For several years after the last incident it would replay in my head at night and would always turn on me and end badly.

In some dreams my trigger was so heavy I could not pull it and the BG would empty his gun into me, at other times he would shoot through my hard cover.

After some time they seem to fade away but often in quiet moments my daydreams and fear will return for a few moments as something will catch my eye or remind me of the incidents.


As to the stress, waiting for the "go" orders I believe is the most difficult and stressful part of the equation, hearing my own heart beating erratically, my own breath seemed so vivid and loud, my hands shaking, my voice was gone, as we sat very quietly waiting for the orders to engage the targets.

At times I can remember the smell of the foods, the colognes, and perfumes, the textures of the walls as I very slowly and quietly made my way, stalking into position.

I will say that when I rethink these events a sense of stress, or anxiety returns quickly, I do not feel guilt, just out of place. It is at these times that I wish I could go back and do something differently, have become a scientist or a lawyer.
I would prefer at times to have never learned these lessons and I realize how narrow the “gap” really is, it was close, very close.
Was I right? I believe so, at that time I followed orders and did my job.
Very different then defending myself from a criminal attacker as a civilian.
I have little doubt or morality issues but I do think about it each time I overhear a conversation by well meaning individuals or read a misguided “survival” article.

This for me causes stress.

During the confrontations the only thoughts in my mind were very direct, very hateful, and very much lacking any type of restraint, hating and destroying the target went hand in hand and training may or may not have helped I actually have little idea as I did what "came to me".

After being involved in a “civilian” or non-military shooting I can honestly say that I do not remember thinking about anything, no fear, no anger, just action and it was over.


I know that being inside someone else’s head is an odd place, but these are my thoughts on the issue.

I hope they help.
 

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David, I have the same dream, where the trigger is so heavy I can barely move it.

After reading Gabe's Tactical Pistol book, I run through the shapes/colors drill every week, and I constantly change and evolve it so that I stay "pumped up".

The more stress you encounter, the better your body deals with it. My life has been very low stress the last couple of years, and it really shows in training. Lots of work to do at the range :smile: ...
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Clay,
Don't feel bad about a low stress life. Sometimes I wish mine was like that.

David,
Great stuff brother!

German,
Como estas? Tu sitio de web se ve muy bueno!

Clay,
You wrote about the Green Beanie friend of yours. "He did state that if you have some distance and some time then you can use your tactics, but it was interesting for me to hear that if there was no distance and no time then one should close distance and attack with extreme prejudice. This is very different from what I read about opening distance from the threat. I don't know if I agree."

Sounds like your friend has been around. In a word, he's right. This is a little off topic, but if it begins to develop perhaps we'll re-thread.

A close quarters fight is the same no matter what you are armed with (or armed at all). The gun is not a short cut within arm's reach, and may actually become a liability. To be able to operate in this realm, you really need to have a killer instinct, be able to hurt people with your hands, and be willing to do so.

When the adversary is within arm's reach, or just beyond it, you will not be able to create any distance, 'cause he'll just follow you. You can't run backwards fast enough to avoid him.

Now that'ts not to say you smash his face into the deck, pummel him into submission and then choke him, and break his neck, and then...

You can do this to a point where you can tactically disengage without exposing yourself. At CQB intervals, you win by being more violent than the other guy. The capability for controlled violence is very important. Id rather face a technically perfect fighter with no violence in his heart than a sloppy gangster with a love of violence.

This brings up the issue, Is The Gun Enough? No, its not.

This stuff is great gents. Thanks for sharing!

Gabe Suarez
Suarez International,Inc.
http://www.gabesuarez.com

"He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze".
2 Samuels 22:35
 

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Gabe, it was Jake that gave the story about the SF friend.
You're getting sleepy...:smile:
 
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