Sudden transitions (shifting quickly and unexpectedly from one situation to another) are challenging. Sometimes the brain gets stuck, not wanting to let go of what it was just focused on, even if the new situation is really important. If the change is unexpected enough, such as facing surprise violence when violence is something you only see on T.V., that ‘stuck’ can turn into a total ‘freeze’ and you find yourself incapable of making a decision at all.
Even good transitions that are sudden can be challenging. I see it all the time with dojo kids. A parent will tell me how surprised they are that their child, who normally loves the dojo, fought and argued because he or she didn’t want to go that night. Their child was doing x and didn’t want to stop. Of course, an in-tune parent that insists their kid honor the commitment and go to the dojo anyway finds their child has a blast once in class. (And more than once I’ve seen the same kid who argued and didn’t want to go to the dojo argue and not want to leave the dojo!)
Adults are (usually) much better at transitioning from one thing to another. But if the switch is because of something as unexpected as random violence, and especially if there is a high emotional content, then we can find our transitioning skills aren’t any better than a young child’s. Whether it’s going from a happy night out somewhere and suddenly facing violence, or the complete opposite of being engaged in violence (defending yourself) and needing to break away before you go too far (fight is over and more hits turns you from victim to criminal) it can be hard to shift gears under high emotion.
Fortunately we spend a lot of time in To-Shin Do looking at what happens on the inside as well as what happens on the outside. I’d go so far as to say what happens on the inside, what goes on in your mind, heart and spirit, is far more important in a self-defense situation than your physical techniques. I’ll be putting students through a few exercises at Festival to drill this idea of mental transitioning and hopefully give a deeper appreciation of how important this training is. See everyone there!