Posts Tagged ‘mind’

intuition1

Everyone is equipped with a unique early warning radar deep inside of them that has been described many different ways. Some call it a “gut feeling,” others call it, “instinct,” or a “sixth sense.” Regardless of the name you assign it, and for the purposes of this article I will call it your Intuition, we all have it. How credible your Intuition is and whether or not you trust or ignore this is a result of your conscious mind overriding your subconscious. Let’s take a few minutes and talk about what this “sixth sense,” is and how it works.

We have to start with what experts call the baseline. The day to day world you live and interact within has several objects, people, locations etc. Each of these has a proper place and a pre-defined role in the social and spatial order. Humans in particular have a series of universal behaviors that are common across every culture. Each culture however has its own unique baseline, so what you define as “normal,” in your neighborhood, school or work life is very abnormal to someone who lives in another country. Imagine for a second that you were whisked away to Japan… There would be a host of unusual sights, signals, customs, and people that are very abnormal to an American. You would stick out, and be very uncomfortable in this diverse and unusual setting until you lived and worked there for a while and developed a new baseline of behaviors you would consider to be the norm.

Living in your baseline allows you to recognize mostly unconsciously things that are abnormal or out of place. These objects or people stick out and you notice them because they are an anomaly to you. Think about how many things you do daily and do not even notice. Have you ever driven your car to work and not remembered how you got there? Chances are this is because your baseline environment was intact and nothing spoiled it, so you didn’t notice it. Have you ever had a favorite store or restaurant you frequent and one day you walk in and it’s under new ownership. Suddenly the people are different, the service, the décor and the menu are all anomalies.

Living in your baseline environment and interacting with people who follow the social norms in your baseline allow us to live basically on autopilot as long as nothing abnormal or unexpected occurs. These variances are called anomalies. An anomaly is something that is or is not happening or someone or something that should be or should not be present. When you detect a behavioral anomaly your mind begins looking at the universal human behaviors like subterfuge, aggression, dishonesty, passivism, submission, etc. People in your baseline life give off body language cues you do not even know you are detecting and based on what you are subconsciously perceiving, you are conducting a threat analysis.

Over the recent series of articles we have looked at the brain and how it scans for threats and functions under stress. Before you initiate a stress induced response (before the fight) you scan your environment and interact with it. Each and every thing or person you see gets processed through your Amygdala. Based on your prior experiences in life living in your baseline environment your brain decides if who or what you are looking at is a threat. If something is a threat a series of chemical and physiological things occur and your programming takes over.

If you see something or someone that does not appear to be dangerous or threatening but based on your subconscious ability to analyze human behavior your mind will initiate another physiological response. Rather than an adrenaline dump, accelerated heart rate or fight/flight/freeze response, your subconscious will turn the data over to your conscious mind for further processing. As the more advanced parts of your brain try to interpret the signals you will begin to feel discomfort. This can be in the form of an ominous or wary feeling, as itchy or hypersensitive skin, or pressure in your abdomen. You begin to get those “gut feelings,” or an Intuition about a person, area or object.

Intuition is your early warning radar that tells you what you are seeing, or who you are talking to has danger potential that is not immediately obvious. It could be that lone stranger that comes in just before closing at night when you are alone in the store, or the unfamiliar group of teenagers hanging out you’ve never seen before. It could be the overly friendly stranger who wants to help you too much or is just a bit too charming. Each of those examples above are in and of themselves nothing unusual. The guy who comes in at the last minute before closing could be there to buy a last minute gift or he could be plotting to follow you for nefarious reasons. The group of teens could be a youth group from a local church or a gang looking for easy prey. The charming strange who offers to carry your bag to your door could be a Good Samaritan or he could be trying to get you alone.

What separates the good and bad intentions is the subtle but detectable cues they display. When their intentions are honest you will perceive it and you will be trusting and open. Humans are terrible at lying and honesty is a virtue that is readily recognized. The bad or evil intentions can be masked, but your subconscious will kick in and recognize these hidden intentions and activate your intuition. While your higher brain processes the intuitive feelings, you stand at the threshold of decision.

Eventually you will come to a point where you will have to act based on what you see, hear, sense and recognize. You have the option of listening to your intuition or suppressing it. I have met dozens of people who have said to me, ‘If only I’d listened to my guts, then _____ would not have happened.” I see this often in the police culture I live and work within. Veteran cops know that when they contact a suspect and get a “bad feeling,” there is a good reason why. Usually they know this because early in their career they ignored, suppressed or overrode that phantom feeling and ended up getting in a fight, hurt, injured or worse.

People who listen to their intuition usually do not regret it. I’ve never met anyone that said, I had this feeling it would turn out badly and I’m glad I got screwed over. Listening to your intuition gives you a chance to extricate yourself from an area, confront or challenge the intentions of a person or begin to transition to your defensive plan. When you suppress or ignore your minds subconscious defensive mechanisms, be prepared for the consequences.

There is one major problem with intuition, and that is too is developed based on life experience. Kids who grow up in dangerous areas or with abusive families usually have a more developed “threat database,” to draw from. They have “Thick File Folders,” from having spent a lot of time in their lives in a fight/flight/freeze cycle. Being able to glean underlying intent for violence early on helped them survive or escape. Just like building schema or behavioral threat recognition patterns, sharpening your intuition can be done.

The key thing to remember is to trust yourself. You have the world’s most amazing super computer between your ears and it is feeding you self-preservation data constantly. Make good use of that data and stay safe!

Train hard and remember: Your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool!

Stay safe, Godspeed

Scott S

www.oneweaponanytool.com

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File-cabinet

The ability to respond to threats quickly and effectively is based on pattern recognition or schemas. A schema is a “scenario,” or a pattern of events your brain recognizes based on training, experience or pre-programmed mental rehearsals. Having a host of these developed patterns or schemas gives you a thick file folder to draw from. The more experience, training, or mental role-playing you do, the more patterns you will be able to recognize.

Have a lot of schemas stored in your brain is important because your mind and body recognize these patterns and develop sub routines or responses based on how much experience, training or mental rehearsals you have developed. If your brain is a large file cabinet, you have a drawer in the cabinet that stores information about threats to your safety. In that drawer there are dozens of folders each containing specific information about a threat event and the instructions, or rather the exact sequences of neurons that need to fire and the chemicals and hormones necessary to create an effective response to the threat stimulus.

What is intriguing is that a lot of these schema or folders cross reference each other. A human body articulates in certain ways and even when using a tool as a part of the threat sequence (gun, knife, etc.) it does not change how the human body articulates when attacking. These patterns of movement are also information you store in your schema file folders. The way a person moves also triggers responses, for example, when you see someone cock their fist back to throw a punch, your brain fires the necessary sequences to initiate a subconscious startle / flinch response and you throw your hands up to protect yourself… how you respond after that depends on your training.

There is a branch study here of human behavior and body language that I’m not going to touch on in this article. I bring it up to point out to you that facial expressions, movements, and overall behavior in life can reinforce and “thicken” the data in your folder. I will be doing some articles on behavior and body language soon, so keep following the One Weapon Any Tool & Home Defense Gun Blogs.

One of the best ways to build schema is to go through training scenarios that imbed the proper pattern recognition and response sequences into your subconscious mind. The military and police forces are a great example of how this works. During a police academy or a military boot camp, you are shown visual, audible and physical cues of how an enemy soldier or suspect is going to attack you. You open a new folder in your file drawer and your mind starts recording this information for later use. You are then taught how to respond to the threat pattern or behavior and that information also gets recorded and stored in the file.

A common explanation of this is when an infantryman is taught to respond to an ambush by an enemy. They are given a briefing about counter-ambush tactics, they assemble and go practice their responses by going through the motions of how they should respond, followed by dry runs carrying all of their equipment and weapons in a patrol formation. Finally after the instructors are satisfied the infantrymen are proficient they simulate an ambush attack (apply stressors like gun fire, smoke, simulated explosives and chaos) and allow the men to respond effectively.

They placed data into their files during the briefing, added in muscle routines, created neural connections, strengthened those connections via repetition and then applied the learning under stress to flesh out a complete file. While this is a generalization of a training scenario, you can see the steps used to create a schema for the soldiers. Should they ever encounter an actual ambush, their brain (file cabinet) will go to the threat section (file drawer) and open the ambush (file folder) and respond. The key takeaway from training, those who take training and those who conduct it, is to make sure they curriculum you teach will build a schema your student can create a mental folder around and that your training fills that folder with good information and responses. Bad training can create neural pathways as well and a bad information in your folder can get you killed. Vet the training you take!

If you ever study or talk to anyone who is a part of the Special Operations community they will tell you about a nearly constant cycle of training. From basic, to advance, to specialized, to combat workup and then onto combat, they come home for very brief time frames before they begin training again. They are constantly training in every arena available so when they encounter a threat and their brain opens the file folder it is stuffed full of data that is acted on, unconsciously and near instantaneously without taking the long road through the brain called conscious thought.

The other way to build a thick folder is to have experience. They say that experience is the best teacher but getting experience isn’t easy. Most of the things we learn in life are taught to us by experience. We all learned not to touch a hot stove cause we were told not to, got close and discovered that for ourselves, or we just touched it. Experience can breed self-correcting behavior usually because of the negative consequences associated with it. Not all experience is negative. In a life threatening encounter that you survive is one way you build and learn from positive experiences. Doing something well and right is rewarding especially when reinforced with positive affirmation.

When recognizing threats or danger the more experience you have is better. Police officers who grew up in rougher neighborhoods start off with a much higher recognition of threats and danger signs than those who did not. Not to say they are better officers than the ones raised more affluent areas, it is just the rougher neighborhoods taught them at an early age to be wary of certain people, times and places.

Survival becomes more important at an earlier age to some people and as a result their folders get created and filled with data faster. Later in life they have more schemas to draw from and can respond faster and more effectively.

Mental rehearsal is the third way you can add data to your file folders. Research has found that running through scenarios in your mind or mental practice can be up to 80% effective when applied under stress. Mental rehearsal alone will never make you 100% proficient, but it does help and work. Here is how: By imagining a scenario in your mind and going step by step in detail through the events and your actions/responses causes neural connections to form and fire sequences/networks of the neurons necessary to perform the actual actions.

When I studied martial arts and was learning to perfect a kata, I would spend time visualizing each move, hand position, foot position and I would imagine the strike or block I was performing as actually hitting or stopping a blow. Going over and over the images and motions in my mind really helped me when it came time to perform. The moves, strikes, blocks, etc. were much sharper and more defined. Daniel Coyle talks about the importance of mental rehearsal in his book The Talent Code. Top talent from all over the world in sports and music use the mental training to hone their skills. It is no different and can be used effectively in personal protection as well.

The reason creating schema is important is to make sure you are prepared to respond appropriately to a threat stimulus. If you are placed into a stressful, potentially life threatening situation and there is no schema for you to draw information from, (if you open the drawer and there is no folder) then you will freeze and your brain will begin running through the Fractional Response Pattern trying to develop a plan using data from dozens of other drawers in your file cabinet. While your brain compiles this information you are essentially frozen in place for seven to ten seconds.

While that does not sound like a lot of time, imagine standing perfectly still and defenseless while someone punches you for seven to ten seconds and you are not allowed to respond. Now give an attacker a knife… how many times can you be cut in seven to ten seconds? Now give the bad guy a handgun and imagine how many rounds he can fire in seven to ten seconds? I’m pretty sure I can empty at least two full magazines in that time frame including a mag change, if not more.

The bottom line is you need to have a plan. You need to have a schema or a folder full of information for the threats you are most likely to encounter. Train hard, train accordingly!

Be safe and remember – Your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool!

Scott S – Founder of One Weapon Any Tool Firearms Training.

www.oneweaponanytool.com

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HARD-WORK

Training is Insulation

I’m constantly fascinated by how delicately intricate, yet powerful the human brain is. When I began my journey of becoming a teacher / trainer I never expected to find myself studying neurology. While becoming a brain surgeon is very low on my priority list, we can learn a lot from that field of research, particularly how to get the most out of our training sessions and how to develop a skill faster. One of the recent resources I have come across was a book called The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. I’ve taken a few of the concepts he discusses in his book and applied them to firearms training in this article.

Make no illusions, there is no shortcut to success. Even in firearms training, to be successful at a fast draw time, accurate rapid shots, smoother reloads and weapon transitions, you will have to put in the work. You will have to work hard, and repeat these motions thousands of times. You will struggle, you will fail and you will achieve small successes, which are the stepping stones to the next success. As you practice and train do not let your current achievement become a plateau for you.

The good news about the above paragraph is that ANYONE can excel at almost any skill if you are willing to work at it. The more I study people, coaches, and training methods I’m convinced that natural talent does not exist. No one is born with an overwhelming skill set that makes them good at something. We are all unique and we all gravitate towards what interests us. Our interest turns into a desire to study, work, practice and develop a skill. That ongoing hard work and desire to be the best in the field we are immersed in, mixed with guidance will breed overwhelming success that people call, “talent.”

One example I want to point to is a young lady named Jessica Simpson. At 16 years old she hit the world stage with an amazing singing voice the media credited to her years in the church choir. I’ve seen a lot of good choirs, but none of those singers landed a multi-million dollar recording contract. What most people do not know is that Jessica who had a good voice, spent over five years from the age of 11 to 16 working with a voice coach, struggling, training, practicing and disciplining her voice. No one ever heard the flat notes, or the wavering vibrato behind the scenes, we only saw the smashing success and stunning talent that appeared, “out of nowhere,” that made Jessica an overnight success. Those years spent with her voice coach insulated the neural connections in her brain turning the microscopic threads into superhighways.

When you learn a new skill you make a connection between multiple neurons. In my article, “Training to Fight… Neurologically Speaking,” (oneweaponanytool.wordpress.com) we talked about learning how to ride a bike for the first time, how your brain made connections as you practiced and how it relegated tasks that required focus and conscious thought to your sub-conscious so you didn’t have to think anymore, you just hopped on and rode away.

While I touched on the concept before I want to expand on it now. Keep this in mind as we discuss training and talent: Your conscious brain can process about 40 tasks, your subconscious brain can process 11 million. What that means, is that while you are learning, you are using your conscious mind to grasp, struggle and work through a new skill set. Whether it be a good consistent trigger press, or a crisp drive from one target to another, the first few hundred times you try this… you had to think about it and slowly do it. Over time and through repetition, you can now perform this skill without having to put conscious thought into it.

This became a reality for me one night as a young deputy working a patrol beat. I was in a vehicle pursuit with a domestic violence suspect (who was also intoxicated). The pursuit ended when he crashed into a fence trying to get onto the freeway. I do not have any conscious memory of the following sequence of events: I stopped the car, put it in park, opened the door, took off my seat belt, and drew my firearm. All of those things happened automatically, because I had done all of them a thousand times. When I realized I was holding my handgun it stuck out to me, because I realized that my training kicked in when I needed it. The gun seemed to magically appear in my hand and I did not have to devote any conscious attention or split my focus to achieve that. It happened because I have a super highway, or a densely insulated neural connection in my brain that enabled that sequence of actions to occur.

This insulation is called Myelin. Myelin wraps itself around the nerves and aids in the accurate and precise transmission of electrical signals between the interconnected webs of neurons. The more myelin you have around a particular set of neurons, the more precise the movement and the faster it can occur. The way you build myelin is to practice, struggle, and training- pushing yourself to excel when you reach a plateau. You build myelin through hard work.

Before I give you delusions of grandeur about the astronomical capabilities you are capable of, there are two more key elements necessary to breed “talent.” The first is coaching or masterful guidance and the last is dedication through immersion.
Michael Phelps holds 14 gold medals (18 total) throughout the course of his Olympic career in the 2004 & 2008 summer games. While he stands at the top of the world in his sport, he didn’t get there on his own. There was one man who stood behind him as his primary coach and an assistant coach to the US Team, and I doubt most of you have ever heard the name of Bob Bowman. Bowman began his coaching career around 1986. It wasn’t until nearly a decade later that he met a young Michael Phelps at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club.

During his tenure in Baltimore, Bowman helped to produce 3 individual national champions, 10 national finalists and 5 USA National Team members. In recognition of his accomplishments, Bowman was named the USA’s Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2003. He was also named Developmental Coach of the Year in 2002.

It was also during his work at NBAC that Bowman began coaching 18-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps. Under Bowman’s tutelage, Phelps won five World Championship gold medals and was named the American Swimmer of the Year in 2001 and 2003.
Bowman was named as an assistant coach on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team, serving as the primary coach for Phelps. At the 2004 Games, Bowman helped coach Phelps to eight medals, including six gold medals and two bronze. Four years later, at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he coached Phelps to achieve eight Olympic gold medals, which had never been done before in a single Olympics.

Without Bob Bowman, the world never would have heard of Michael Phelps. Without an experienced and dedicated coach, Michael Phelps might not have broken records and earned Olympic gold. Without a lot of hard work, under the watchful eye of an experienced instructor or teacher who pushed, prodded, encouraged, criticized, corrected and maintained the same amount of dedication as the pupil, Michael Phelps would never have made it to the World Championships, let alone the Olympic team.

Hard work and practice only go so far. You need a coach or a teacher to fine tune you towards success. When I started shooting, I thought I was pretty good. I grew up with guns and had spent a fair amount of my own money at shooting ranges throwing lead into paper targets. I found out during my police training that I was actually a terrible shooter with mediocre skills compared to the training staff who had over 150 years of combined experience. Over the next 80+ hours I was corrected, pushed, coached, guided, praised and criticized until I emerged near the top of my class and could consistently shoot in the 90th percentile. That training is ongoing and I’ve logged at least another 100+ hours since then just at work.

Over the last 14 years of continual training at work, on my own, and under the guidance of other top shooters in my area did I really start to achieve what I deemed success at the shooting sports. I could have never gotten to where I am today without top notch instructors helping me. Looking back I realize what I thought was good…was deplorable and I’m grateful for the energy and effort I was blessed to receive. Due to that time, I am now able to step into the role of teacher, counselor and coach for new and developing shooters.

When you seek to develop and become a good shooter it would behoove you to seek a competent trainer and coach. You don’t know what you don’t know and having an experienced eye to watch you, correct and encourage you will help you develop the skills you seek and build good myelin insulation.

Finally you will need to be motivated to succeed. I would be willing to bet that Jessica Simpson was less than enthusiastic about going to her voice coach every time she had a lesson scheduled. I bet Michael Phelps looked at his snooze button more than a few times before his early morning practice sessions… yet both found the motivation to succeed.

The best and easiest way to maintain your focus is by immersing yourself in your chosen sport/career/interest. As a shooter and firearms trainer I am immersed or surrounded by my interest. For example, I carry a gun daily which makes me constantly aware of concealment methods, belts and holsters. At every opportunity to dry practice or live fire practice, I do it. I read about firearms and attend trade shows so I can see what the market looks like and where the future of firearms is going. I read magazines, watch DVDs, and attend classes and try to stay up on trends, tactics and equipment. I buy tools and accessories and test and evaluate them to see if I should be doing something better or can a piece of kit help me do it better. My friends and assistant instructors share the same passions and we can debate endless hours about different firearms, accessories, training methods, techniques, ad nauseam.

I’m motivated to train because I’m surrounded by like-minded individuals who also challenge me, encourage me and hold my interest in my chosen lifestyle of personal protection and training.

There will be friction, there will be failure and success comes in tiny, sometimes almost imperceptible increments. Consider why there are only a handful of top performers in every sport or art worldwide. I truly believe it is because they pressed on even when they did not notice small successes. They pressed on when they mastered one skill and were pushed and guided by a coach or teacher to do better.

There are a lot of boxers with Golden Glove Titles… only a few with a world championship belt. The path to success is getting from one failure to the next. I call this friction, or things that grind against me or obstacles I have to push past to achieve my goals. Friction is hot, it hurts and is discouraging, but it can be overcome.

For more information on the study of myelin and how to develop talent, I encourage you to pick up a book called: The Talent Code written by: Daniel Coyle. The book was the primary inspiration for this article and he goes into much greater depth about all of the topics I’ve touched on above. Daniel Coyle does not discuss the shooting sports, but his chapters on golf, soccer and baseball have strong correlations.

You can do it, you will have to work at it… it’s not going to be easy, but with a good cadre and laser focus you can succeed. Never give up in training, or in a fight!

Be safe, God bless – Train on!
Scott S
Founder, One Weapon Any Tool http://www.oneweaponanytool.com or on Facebook!

Upcoming Classes:
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