Reinberger wrote:In situations like that one - as a natural reaction, but reinforced by our kind of training, I guess - the senses tend to become incredibly sharp, providing us with (perceived) plenty of time to decide and react. Even if the incident, in reality, only may last a few seconds, or actually just fractions of a second. I've experienced that several times in my life. One time even especially intensive, when, in a really life-threatening situation, I got the impression, as if everything around me went down to some kind of slow-motion, whereas I was still able to operate at normal speed. Sometimes, I guess, such a thing simply happens too quick, to be explained as a pure effect of adrenalin production alone.johan smits wrote:... Looking back, I know it sounds funny, I got a feeling that it took a really long time before I hit the floor. ...
johan smits wrote:Hi Robert,
That is quite interesting what you write.
I for myself can not recall if I experienced the slow motion phenomenon of my surroundings. I do recall I focused on my daughter. Until now I usually compared my fall with those antics the parkour of freerunning people show. Jumping up in the air, or from a building and almost lazily turning in the air and landing on their feet.
But somehow and altered experience of time, that sounds very interesting.
Do you care to elaborate on that?
DougNZ wrote:A great book to read is On violence by Dave Grossman. The content is the findings resulting from interviews with hundreds of soldiers, policemen and security officers who have been in combat. It looks at arousal levels and how the senses are increasingly distorted as sympathetic nervous system arousal levels increase.
For the martial artist, there are two main take-home messages: employ tactics to manage and de-esculate arousal levels; and build an arsenal of simple techniques that rely on gross motor skills and avoid those requiring complex and/or fine motor skills. Beyond those, there are many, many good bits of information.
The book deals, amongst many other things, with distortion of time.
johan smits wrote:Doug, Many thanks for the tip. I will certainly get a copy of that.
Of course, Johan, I'll try to explain some of the situations I remember in detail. All of them happened some time ago, but nevertheless are burnt into my memory, as they were such unusual experiences.
I commenced my “Jiu-Jitsu” training in autumn of 1970. The first two incidents I want to describe happened within my first year of training, so any possible “mental effect” of budō training can be ruled out with easy conscience. We mainly had to concentrate on learning ukemi for about the first three months. After about one and a half, or two month we also started to learn ō soto gari and kesa gatame, and were allowed to gain our first randori-experiences with this two techniques alone, at the end of the training sessions. However, we also were taught, two or three times, to deal with an attacker throwing punches at us, and how to avoid and/or block them with our forearms. Naturally, when we did this using our fists, everybody took care not to really hit his partner, and the deflections were relatively easy to perform; but when we tried the attacks with open hands, and therefore a slap in the face was the worst thing to expect, we did it with full-speed and really tried to get through, and everybody received his fair amount of hits, when his reaction was too slow.
1. I had bought my first cassette-recorder (for 740 Austrian Shillings, which was quite a lot of money for me, back then) earlier that year, and went through a park holding it and playing music, together with my classmate, on our way to school for the afternoon classes. Suddenly, an older boy stood before me, demanding the cassette recorder to be handed over to him. We didn’t know each other personally, but I recognized him as a youngster that was feared in the whole neighbourhood, for his criminal energy as well as for his actions of violence. He claimed, that he just wanted to keep the recorder until we come back, and that I will get it back then. But I didn’t believe this, and therefore refused to give him that part. That reaction wasn’t one he had expected, or he was used to, and therefore he got very angry, and started to threaten me. The recorder itself seemed no longer to be of any interest for him, instead he wanted to punish me for my “bad behaviour”. Therefore, I gave the device to my classmate, told him to continue his way, and made ready for whatever might follow. I was scared. The bully started to attack me over and over again, with swings, with straight punches, with all kinds of blows, as I realized, that to me, his attacks seemed to be very slow, and – unlike in training – I had no difficulties at all, avoiding or blocking his full-speed blows. I clearly saw with which arm the next attack will be executed, which kind of attack it will be, and I had time enough to sidestep, retreat, and/or block, as I was taught only a short time ago. As he wasn’t able to land even a single blow, he got angrier and angrier, but finally he became tired, and ended his attacks. This was the moment when I simply walked away, following my colleague, and resumed my way to school.
Later I was told by other boys that knew this guy, that he had told that story over and over again, not understanding how it was possible that he couldn’t hit me even once. As he was told that the other boys know me, and that I was “somebody, who does Jiu-Jitsu”, he immediately sent his apologies, making the excuse that he had been drunk, something that clearly wasn’t true, not to an extent that I had been able to notice, at least.
2. The second time happened some months later, during my one and (untypical for an Austrian) only week of skiing, and I think it isn’t worth to tell the story here. Neither a fall, nor a fight was included, the “mode” we are talking about here just allowed me to avoid the former, although in a very spectacular way.
3. The third time happened some years later. Still as a youth, I was attacked by an adult man with some sort of self-made blackjack built from iron wire. He wanted to get the coins I held in both of my hands. When he started his blows, my perception once again started to operate at a “higher speed”, and I had no problems to block every single swing of his armed hand, which was the only limb he used for his attacks, with jōdan age uke, retreating slowly. Only once, when I took a step backward, which was too big, I happened to block too high on his arm next time, and to close to my own fist, so that the whipping blackjack hit the back of my fist. It did hurt a bit, but that was the only “injury” I sustained. After some time my attacker again got tired, and I, pushing him back, was able to move backwards, out of his range, which made him stopping his attempts, and toddle off.
4. The occurrence that was the most impressive to me, happened in the late seventies. While it also didn’t have anything to do with fighting or falling, in the way we are discussing here, and it didn’t involve any technique, it nevertheless was the most dangerous incident of all. Additionally, and nevertheless, it was the first incident, in which my study of budō seem to have been crucial for my actions. I’m able to tell more about that, if anybody is interested in. It occurred during a car accident at about 100 km/h (~ 62 mph).
I had started training in Gojū ryū karatedō as a second art some years earlier, and we were just returning from a demonstration of this style, we had given at Tulln, a small town ca. 35 km northwest of Vienna. We were five persons in the car, with the driver and one passenger in the front seats, and three passengers at the rear bench seat, where I sat rightmost. At a drawn-out right hand bend, the driver lost control of his vehicle, and the rear started pulling to the left. While beforehand we hadn’t had opposing traffic, I now could see several oncoming cars. At that moment my altered perception begun, and the following events seemed to me to happen in slow motion.
- My first thought was: “Typical! Just now somebody has to go the opposite direction!”
- Next, I thought what I could do. I realized, that, despite the fact that it was a life-threatening situation, there was nothing I could do, other than staying very attentive, and trying to move at my limited space, as good as I can, according to the movements and possible deformations of the car.
- We hit the front of the oncoming car with the left side of our car's trunk compartment, which turned our car the other way around, and back to the right roadside,
- were we hit another obstacle, that catapulted us back to the left roadside,
- when I realized that some of the other vehicle occupants had started to yell in panic. That not only disturbed, but also annoyed me. “Aren’t we ‘fighters’?” I thought, and “How can somebody, who thinks he is a fighter, be so freaked out?” (yes, that were exactly the words and the way I was thinking back then, in German language, of course).
- Then, while we were just comrades, I ORDERED them to ”stop the hysterical screaming!” And they obeyed, something that is very astonishing for me, in retrospect.
- After that - our speed had substantial decreased in the meantime – the car approached the left roadside again. “Typical!” I thought again, “I bet, to top it all off, we will tumble down into the field now!
- And down we went, in the overturning vehicle, to the field which was located some meters underneath of the street-level.
- When the motion eventually came to an end, the car laid on its right side. “Typical!”, I thought for the third time. “We lay on my side, with both of my colleagues from the back seats pressing me in the slivered side window with all of their weight. “But I was lucky”, I imagined, when I saw a massive wheel bearing lying in the grass only 10 cm in front of my head.
- I thought, that danger was not over yet. I remembered too many movies, where a car had caught fire, after such an accident. Therefore I now got angry about the unsuccessful attempts of the driver, to open his door.
- “We have to leave this car immediately, but we have to do this in a controlled manner. You cannot open the door, but don’t you see, that there is no front shield anymore? Leave the car that way!"
- "No, first you have to open your belt! OK, now leave the car! Good! Now it’s your turn!”, I said to the front passenger.
- After that I had the uppermost of us three in the back crawl to the front and leave the car, than the guy lying directly on me, and finally I also was able to leave the car.
- It was only then, when I stood outside, somewhat away from the wreck, that my “mode” went back to “normal”.
We all five had been very, very lucky, as nobody was injured, despite of my right shoulder and back bleeding, were they were pressed into the broken pieces of glass. But the slices were only skin-deep, and didn’t even hurt. The driver of the other car remained unharmed as well. A terrible accident fortunately had ended with just one heavy car body damage and one totalled car, but without fleshly harms. When the police later investigated the accident, they were hardly able to believe, that everybody was okay. "We are used to only find corpses, in a car looking like that one!" they said.
5. It was 1996 or 1997, my father already was very sick and weak, staying some time in the hospital, and some time at home, when one Sunday, as we were visiting him in his house, he felt so bad, that he thought it would be better to return to the hospital, but not bad enough to call an ambulance. But he was unable to go to the car himself. Therefore, I decided to carry him into the car. I took him from the side with both hands, and remember to have thought, that he may have carried me the same way, when I was a baby. I went down with him the few steps that led to the open door. When I was on the last stair, I felt, that I began to fall over. At that moment the altered perception began to take effect.
- "What shell I do?", I thought, "it's impossible for me to take ukemi, without letting go of my father, or hurting him anyway. I HAVE to regain my balance, at all costs.
- I reckoned the distance to the door framing, which was about one meter away, and decided, that to try to reach it, would be the best I could do.
- So I pushed my body with the left foot to the right side, where I stopped the movement of my upper body with the right hand, that was also holding my father at the same time, at the door framing,
- and with that I became able to put my right foot first, and then my left foot also, under my center of gravity again. With that, and the pain I now felt in my right hand due to the impact, my perception turned "back to normal". My father remained unharmed, I'm not even sure if he had noticed, what a close call that was.
6. The last example happened in the late nineties, when I was on holiday. I was in my mid-forties, but had decided to participate in every activity offered, this time; even at soccer, which I don't like very much, and therefore usually don't play. It was very hot, and I only wore shorts to my sports shoes, as my "team" was "marked" by not wearing T-shirts. The “soccer field" was on rough asphalt.
When we all were downfield on the right side, the ball was shot steeply upfield and to the left side. I was at a convenient location, and while I was the oldest player, it also happened that I was able to do the fastest sprints. Therefore I reached the ball first, and changed its direction for approaching the opposing party’s goal. As my soccer skills are very limited, I kicked the ball forward too far, and had to sprint again, to reach it before the other party’s goalie could. Suddenly I stumbled at full speed.
In that moment, the different perception of time began.
- Firstly, I evaluated if a fall was unavoidable. The result was yes, it's unavoidable, trying to recover balance would be useless.
- Then, I considered which ukemi would be the safest to apply in that situation. The result was, I should depend on Mae mawari ukemi, as that would ensure the least amount and grade of injuries.
- After that, I considered the effects of doing that roll more or less naked on that rough asphalt, and came to the conclusion, that, doing it correctly, would left me unharmed, despite of some possible abrasions, but I had to do the rolling without Ha uchi, and try to use the variant with using both feets in a way that the movement ends standing again, in Shizenhontai.
- Then, very aware and carefully, I started to perform this type of Mae mawari ukemi.
All that happened within half of a second at most.
- I did the rolling, and to me it seemed to be a rather slow roll. However, after I stood upright again, in Shizenhontai, the forward drive was still strong enough (remember, I had decided not to reduce the momentum by slapping on that concrete) to have me taking some small steps, before I was able to stop.
Now the different perception of time ended.
During that action, I did neither hurt myself, nor had I even contracted the expected abrasions. I was completely unharmed, and also didn't feel any pain at all. The appropriate animator seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, when I told him, that I was perfectly okay.
There were some more incidents, but I don’t remember them as well.
BTW, my body doesn’t go into that “mode” every time it would SEEM to be appropriate. I even remember some physical confrontations, “on duty” as a part-time doorman at a discotheque in the early eighties, were it didn’t happen. Apparently, what I think or “feel” about a situation plays a certain role, and obviously I instinctively hadn’t valued that situations “dangerous” enough, although in one incident even a firearm was involved, but it wasn’t used against me, not even to threaten me. Another time, where I didn’t change in the described “mode” (or didn’t realize it, because it was over so quickly), was a knife “attack” from a very close range, but it happened in a friendly environment, and the only sufferer was the unlucky “attacker”, a teammate, who unwisely had attempted to “test” me, which resulted in a knee-jerk, unbraked shutō uchi to his wrist-joint by me, and for him in a bandaged wrist for about two weeks.