Psychology of a day dreamer

Supra Vijai

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I'm not sure if this deserves a thread of it's own as I may just be rambling but it stems from another thread that was recently posted 'Knife Fighting Lies'. Lie 3 to be exact:

Lie #3 "But what if I'm cornered?"
Common sense tells us that knife fighting is dangerous. And yet, like a dog circling a bear's den -- where a smarter part of it knows not to wake that sleeping bear, yet another, more instinctive part is urging it on -- many people who train in knife fight have the same torn desires. One of the biggest issues goading these people is Do they have what it takes?".
Unlike dogs, however, human beings have the ability for self-deception and rationalization. And one of the ways that we human fool ourselves is that we fantasize about situations where we would be able to give ourselves permission to find out if we "have it." Such people strongly resist the idea that knife fighting is a bad place to go. It is literally as though they are seeking to find an excuse.
One of the strongest indicator of this fantasy mindset is the reaction when they are told to flee instead of fighting with a knife, literally the next words out of their mouths will be "But what if I am cornered and can't run?" There are many such similar excuses that they can use and they all start with the word but: "but what if I am with old people or children and can't run?", "But what if I am out of shape (or infirm) and can't run?" In all cases, of the millions of possible options available they always seem to focus on the one that requires them to engage in a knife fight.
The truth is, it is incredibly difficult to "corner" someone who is determined to leave. Basically because he will use your face as traction or squirt through the smallest of holes. However, if the person's desire not to engage in physical violence is stronger than his desire to leave, it is very easy to corner someone. If you ask any experienced LEO, corrections officer or mental ward orderly which they would rather face, a person who wants to fight them, or someone who will climb over them to escape, to a man they will tell you the former. They know the latter will hurt them more and be harder to defeat. That's because that person is fully committed to a course of action. Whereas a person who has allowed themselves to be "cornered" will still be of a divided heart and therefore not able to fight at full capacity. And that is exactly what it will take in order to survive such a "no win" situation that they have put themselves into.
That is the true danger of this kind of thinking. Because part of you does want to know if you have what it takes and "can do it," you can unconsciously trick yourself into not taking appropriate precautions and ignoring danger signals. Your pride and ego will blind you about what you are doing until it is too late. Once there however, your life -- if it continues past that moment -- will be utterly destroyed.
Don't fantasize about being in a situation where you have to use your knife fighting skills, because you can end up tricking yourself into just such a situation by blinding yourself to possible escape routes.

I've bolded the parts that stood out most for me with the whole thing quoted to give context. According to this it says the people who 'fantasize' (I'm not sure if that's the word I'd choose) about situations with knife work are likely to seek out those situations or blind themselves to escape options.

Now I'm a day dreamer, it's one of my strengths especially when it comes to MA training. In class we are encouraged to visualize an opponent to try create an adrenaline surge and train our techs/responses based on those visualizations. How is that different to fantasizing? I know the words themselves have different connotations but in the context of MA, surely imagining an opponent and how they may attack is the same as fantasizing? I look at it as a way of exploring as many possible options as you can outside of the classroom environment. Not just visualisations either, when I get together with other students to train, we invariably do some free form drills to see if we could apply what we'd learnt and what works for us.

I for one can say for sure that I'm not interested in seeking out confrontations (armed or otherwise), I'm going to be relying primarily on my intuition, awareness, verbal deescalation skills or escape options unless there is an immediate threat to someone I care about. That being said, the whole point of training these skills is so that you CAN use them if you failed in all of the above mentioned aspects somehow right?

Little confused, some thoughts would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance
 

Chris Parker

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Okay, let's see how we go here.

Visualisations are increadibly powerful training tools, when used properly. They enable home training to be done with far greater efficiency and potency, and when you can't get the time to actually physically go through the exercises visualisation is the best option you have.

Fantasizing, on the other hand, is rather useless. As your unconscious mind can't tell the difference between the two, fantasizing does the same things that visualising does, but reinforces ideas and behaviours that are unrealistic at best, and dangerous at worst.

So the question then obviously is what is the actual difference between them? It primarily comes down to the purpose of the imagining itself. When visualising, you are creating a specific imagined reality for a specific purpose (creating an opponent mentally in order to generate an adrenaline surge, and then training through that adrenaline is one example, going over techniques in order to cement a "perfect" form, and so on), typically for a positive result. Fantasizing, on the other hand, is random, and without purpose. A common version (and what Marc was talking about above) is the whole "well, if they come at me, I'll do this, then that, and the bad guy will cower in terror", or "well, if they come at me, I have to use my martial art, and then I can do this, or that...." These methods are counter-productive to a martial artist.

Whenever you visualise, or imagine something, your unconscious mind can't tell the difference between that and something that actually happened, so it's close to the same internal reinforcement of actually physically going through the experience. So if the experience you design for yourself is productive, great. If not, it'll have the same power and effect on your internal processes, resulting in the same effect on your physical expressions. This is the same phenomena as with movies, games, and everything similar, by the way.
 
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Supra Vijai

Supra Vijai

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Ahh thank you, that was the distinction I was having issues with. As I said in the title of the thread and in the post itself I do tend to day dream a bit but usually it's far from violent. My mind sits there and works through ideas and concepts and designs etc. For the martial arty type stuff, it is definitely something I need to actively 'conjure' so to speak. Is it still counted as a visualization though if you work your way through a range of possible attacks and then do things like chain them together in random sequences and try keep up or does that get taken into the realm of fantasy?

Also with the "if they come at me I'll do this and this and this" type stuff, is it possible to have a general idea of some basics in your head for the visualization part for a range of possible attacks you've thought of and then test them physically under adrenaline on a resisting partner? That's where the 'see what works for us' bit I mentioned comes in for me I find. In my head I may be able to do a wrist lock or an arm bar perfectly but in reality with an opponent who is struggling and using strength it gets adapted to be a gross motor control of their arm with a few strikes thrown in before trying different styles of disengaging to see what comes out naturally and work on where I'm finding I fall short - for example, at the moment that's reversing positions when on the ground with them in my guard. I'm finding myself much more proficient at bridging off an opponent rather than scissoring the legs to take them over so that's something I'm trying to drill more.
 

Chris Parker

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Hmm, I'll see if I can give some more concrete examples of visualisation versus fantasizing here....

Visualisation: Imagining a realistic scenario, such as an attacker shoving you, then following up with a barage of round punches. You then imagine yourself "riding" the shove, jamming the punches, and when possible, catching one to pull the opponent in to a counter strike, then follow up with another, disengage and escape. A realistic, productive use of your imagination, and can be used to internally train the skill set.

Fantasy: Imagining an attacker shoves you, then follows up with a barage of round punches. The shove doesn't move you at all, and the punches glance off without any damage. The attacker stops, concerned and confused... you laugh, then proceed to pummel them into submission. His friends turn up, and you soundly take on all comers. While this is going on, the girl of your dreams is watching, and after you have destroyed the brutes, she is so impressed that she rushes into your arms.... This is what's refered to as a Martial Arts fantasy.

The fantasy side occurs because most people training in martial arts will never, or rarely see any real use of them outside of class, so they use these invented scenarios as an outlet, a little self-convincing "I'm really a bad-***, you all better watch out!" kinda thing. The other thing it comes from is a place of fear - "What if?" disease. If you are constantly coming up with "well, what if so-and-so happens? What if I can't do this? What if they have a weapon?" etc, that's the martial arts fantasy thing coming into it again, and there is no productive outcome.

So the question becomes, in your day-dreaming, it is the more productive side of things, or the less? That's your distinction, really.
 

Archangel M

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Excellent explanation. And this "fantasy" isn't restricted to the Martial Arts alone. You should frequent some of the tactical firearms forums...gun stores finance their future off of people who buy up every item they can to satisfy their fantasy needs.
 

Bruno@MT

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Excellent explanation. And this "fantasy" isn't restricted to the Martial Arts alone. You should frequent some of the tactical firearms forums...gun stores finance their future off of people who buy up every item they can to satisfy their fantasy needs.

Hey. It worked for Neo!

[yt]_dgutDMPIMU[/yt]
 
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Supra Vijai

Supra Vijai

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Fantasy: Imagining an attacker shoves you, then follows up with a barage of round punches. The shove doesn't move you at all, and the punches glance off without any damage. The attacker stops, concerned and confused... you laugh, then proceed to pummel them into submission. His friends turn up, and you soundly take on all comers. While this is going on, the girl of your dreams is watching, and after you have destroyed the brutes, she is so impressed that she rushes into your arms.... This is what's refered to as a Martial Arts fantasy.

As awesome as that would be I'd definitely tend to complicate things in my head by thinking about legal implications, potential civil law suits, property damage, checking for injuries etc to honestly take the time out for the girl so I'd say I'm in the visualization category then. I was just thrown by the way it was expressed by Marc as I didn't have the specific sort of distinction in mind and was associating his words with all forms of imagination.

If you are constantly coming up with "well, what if so-and-so happens? What if I can't do this? What if they have a weapon?" etc, that's the martial arts fantasy thing coming into it again, and there is no productive outcome.

I have to say guilty as charged at times although it's more a case of "I can't do this... or this... so what else can I use?" or "what if they have a weapon? my distancing and timing has to change to suit and can I get an equalizer of some sort?" and working off that and trying to explore that in a real sense during physical drills. I would like to say that it's more productive than not but given my aversion to actually testing it out in real life if I can help it, I'm just going to have to rely on my training partners to ramp it up the appropriate intensity and give me solid feedback I think.

Excellent explanation. And this "fantasy" isn't restricted to the Martial Arts alone. You should frequent some of the tactical firearms forums...

I was thinking that the other day. Not specifically about the firearms forums but all the various sections of the site. I tend to browse only the ones I have at least some understanding of which I guess is pretty limiting to my learning. It's just that I have nothing to contribute when it comes to firearms or CMA or whatever as I don't know the first thing about them.
 

Chris Parker

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Yeah, Marc's version there is more the "What if?" type of fantasy. Again, it's based around the fact that the skills will most likely never be used, so people come up with something that is an "idealised" use of their training... whether there's any actual basis in their training, or reality or not!

From the sounds of things, you're going more to the productive "visualisation" form, just be careful not to let it be dictated by a sense of fear, and therefore simply waste time by trying to cover every single eventuality. As I've been known to say a number of times (whenever I get one of these "What if?" questions at the end of class... the latest being this last Thursday, so you know), the answer is always the same: You use the tactics and methods of the art. Exactly how that will need to be applied will change depending on exactly what happens, but the answer will always be the same.
 

Aiki Lee

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As awesome as that would be I'd definitely tend to complicate things in my head by thinking about legal implications, potential civil law suits, property damage, checking for injuries etc to honestly take the time out for the girl so I'd say I'm in the visualization category then. I was just thrown by the way it was expressed by Marc as I didn't have the specific sort of distinction in mind and was associating his words with all forms of imagination.

.

The bolded statement is important to viualize so that you don't dwell on it when an actual situation arises. Nothing will get you beat up or maimed faster than thinking about the possible jail time and lawsuits you will face if you even manage to make it out relatively unharmed. That's why you should think about these things as part of your training as it will allow you to decide when you should fight and when it is a bad idea. If you aren't willing to go to jail or be sued for everything you got for the situation you are envisioning, then it wouldn't be worth it.
 

Balrog

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Okay, let's see how we go here.

Visualisations are increadibly powerful training tools, when used properly. They enable home training to be done with far greater efficiency and potency, and when you can't get the time to actually physically go through the exercises visualisation is the best option you have.

Fantasizing, on the other hand, is rather useless. As your unconscious mind can't tell the difference between the two, fantasizing does the same things that visualising does, but reinforces ideas and behaviours that are unrealistic at best, and dangerous at worst.
Excellent points.

Visualization is critical, but it has to be realistic and should always lead to a successful outcome in order to build confidence in the physical skills. Here are some examples:
In the 80s a study was conducted by the Soviets in their preparation for the Olympic Games that proved the mental side of sports can unlock your physical potential. Those who made the greatest strides spent the majority of their time (75 percent) on the mental aspects of sports. The least progress was achieved by the athletes who exclusively worked on the physical training. By dedicating time to mental training, you will be able to spend less time in your physical training and when you do work out on the practice field, youll be training smarter and more efficiently. In essence, youll be getting more out of less.
Here are just a few of the studies that have convinced us that when it comes to athletic achievement, mental training is as important as pumping iron.

  • Hunter College 72 players from eight college basketball teams participated in a study which they worked on the mental side of shooting free throws. One group began each days basketball practice with a relaxation technique, followed by visualization or mental rehearsal in which they imagined every detail of their foul shooting: they pictured preparing for the shot at the free throw line, bouncing the ball a few times, raising their shooting arm with the ball balanced in their palm, bending at the knees, and releasing the ball toward the basket. Using this technique, the shooting accuracy of these athletes improved by 7 percent a change so significant that coaches reported that the better shooting produced eight additional wins during the season. These athletes were hooked up to sensors that measured their neuromuscular activity during mental training. It showed that the same muscles used in free-throw shooting were activated during the practice of imagery. Thus, on a subtle level, the body itself was actually going through the motions of free-throw shooting.
http://humanperformancementors.com/whyhpm
 
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