Tag Archives: Psychology vs. Skill

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 23 • Yin ☯ Yang of Instinct vs. Reason

The brain is the most powerful organ in the body. It makes us who we are and gives us the gift of sentience. The brain also controls our muscles. In a fight, an attack is observed by the eyes, ears, or other senses – then interpreted by the brain, which tells our muscles how to react and defend itself.

The natural instinct of humans is to close their eyes when being attacked. This reaction is due to fear.  But when a fighter’s eyes are closed their brain can’t make an informed decision. This instinctive reaction is counterproductive in the sense that the body can’t compensate for an attack if it can’t see it. A surprise attack, for example, is much more devastating than an anticipated one. When the body has a chance to react, then selected muscles can be called upon to react and protect itself. This is not to say that zero damage will occur. It just means that a fighter may need to choose between the lesser of two evils: “I will allow my arm to be broken to protect my head from a concussion.”

Our head, and specifically our brain needs to be protected at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing other parts of our body. The main dilemma in fighting (and sports that are prone to a concussion) is that the brain does not have any pain receptors. Injuries to the head are not immediately recognized by the victim as urgent. Often a third party is needed to recognize this urgency. For this reason, fighters and trainers need to be particularly careful with head strikes, that may lead to serious injury or even permanent brain damage.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°
• 15 • Yin Yang of Teachers vs. Students
• 16 • Yin Yang of Physics vs. Physiology
• 17 • Yin Yang of Vulnerability vs. Opportunity
• 18 • Yin Yang of Martial Arts vs. Combat
• 19 • Yin Yang of Sport vs. Violence
• 20 • Yin Yang of Rhythm vs. Random
• 21 • Yin Yang of Stability
• 22 • Yin Yang of Strategy vs. Tactics
• 23 • Yin Yang of Instinct vs. Reason
• 24 • Yin Yang of Unstoppable vs. Immovable

• Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve
• Fighting Science • Fighting Zones