Physical Conditioning for Mental Toughness in Self-Defense


My recent self-defense tip, titled Physical Conditioning for Mental Toughness in Self-Defense—Part II, may be of interest to athletes in combat sports so I post it here.

This tip continues the subject of tip number 54. In that tip a video shows conditioning drills for self-defense. Those conditioning drills are OK, but they could be made more effective for developing mental toughness for fighting, without taking much more energy or time.

All that needs to be added to them is a little pain, not a big pain—distracting but not destroying. So, a stinging belt slap is good, but a bruising, heavy hand slap is not. Such pain can be added to simple conditioning exercises, not just to the fighting-specific drills as seen in the movie. Remember: Injuries impair, not improve. The desired reaction to such pain is no reaction—no startle reflex, no change in movement, no grimace. On a deeper level this tool develops what in Japanese martial arts is called fudoshin—the immovable or imperturbable mind. Observe the fighters if you are an instructor, or observe your training partner if you are a fighter. If you see a wrong reaction, it means that this training tool is too strong for them at this time. Frequency of application also matters.

I have said enough. I have given enough of a hint for intelligent people to figure out how to apply the right kind of pain in combat conditioning.

Unbreakable Umbrella vs. Watermelon

3 Responses to “Physical Conditioning for Mental Toughness in Self-Defense”

  1. Tom,

    As usual another one of your excellent commentaries and recommendations. I learned from my studies in neuroscience and learning theory that this same basic technique can also be helpful in learning and especially in remembering some difficult material facts and/or correcting habitual mistakes in the learning process. For example, while in graduate school, I would use a snug rubber band around my wrist and would snap it hard producing a momentary Bee sting a few times to bring my brain to attention while concentrating on a fact I was trying to learn. It is also helpful to remember a mistake you made. Therefore, just as when getting slapped with a belt or getting hit when you make an error in judgement in a Martial Art it can be used as a tool in behavior modification learning with other material or to help implement some behavioral change. Just remember not to over do it on too many facts or behaviors because then it begins to lose value.

    Richard J. Vahl, M.Sc., D.C., Ph.D.

  2. Dr. Vahl,

    In this method the pain is inflicted *not* when the athlete or a student makes an error.

  3. Yes, I understand Tom. However, as I attempeted to point out, neurologically and based on considerable behavioral science research over the years it can be and has been used successfully either way. It helps to make and intrusion into the nervous system to alert the cognitive areas of the brain as to what is happening. The old time Segmental Neuropathy advocates used this method based on the work of A.E. Speransky who was Pavlov’s superior at the neuro research laboratory in Russia after the turn of the last century.

    Best Wishes!

    Dr. Vahl

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: