Originally posted on July 19th, 2016 by Dustin B. Denson
5:00p.m., time to go home. Work is over for the day. Almost everyone else left thirty minutes ago; you stayed a little late to finish a report. After straightening your desk and gathering your things, you head towards the elevator that will take you to the parking garage. While the elevator is heading down, your thoughts turn to how tired you are, to getting home, and to relaxing. Ding! The elevator doors open and you start walking towards your car in the dimly lit, mostly empty parking garage. Where are your thoughts now? Will all of those combative skills reflexively surface if you are attacked? Will all of the time spent honing your combative skill set in the training environment kick in at the precise moment? Most of our time is not spent in a martial arts classroom. Practicing to have a combative mindset outside of this setting must be done actively, if you are to respond effectively and decisively in any situation requiring the protection of yourself, those you care about, or others.
Context determines your perceptual set. Your perceptual set is your wants, beliefs, desires, and expectations in any given situation. Context refers to the situation in which we find ourselves; that is, it is our environment and our surroundings. It refers to the places we go and the things we do; it could be anywhere. We find ourselves at work, at the store, on a vacation, in our car at a stoplight, taking a walk in the neighborhood, going to the movies or out to eat, or anywhere you can imagine. These are all different contexts. The context we find ourselves in may or may not change significantly throughout the course of a day. Most of our time is probably spent either at home or at our job, but this is not always the case. Sometimes the context we find ourselves in will be extremely familiar and other times not. Regardless of where we find ourselves, our perceptual set will differ from place to place, context to context, and in varying degrees. Consequently, your beliefs, desires, and expectations may be different, probably will be different, in any given context. This affects your psychological state, emotional state, and thought processes because your expectations and beliefs are context dependent. This could have a significant effect on how you respond or react to unexpected changes in a in any given context. This is how being surprised works. We are surprised when something doesn't meet our expectations or beliefs. For example, if you walk into a restaurant for dinner on any given day, you would not expect all seating to be on couches, your food served on the coffee table in front of it, and you eating while watching television; but, what does this have to do with martial arts training and cultivating a combative mind-set?
In the martial arts classroom, you are focused on learning, practicing, and training as realistically as possible. This is the context that determines your perceptual set. So, you probably will have a heightened sense of awareness; you expect to be attacked, have to attack back, and protect yourself. Your reflexes, coordination, and other physical attributes might even be different in this context. Your perceptual set is different; thus, you are different. So too your psychological state, emotional state, and thought processes. What are the training implications of this for outside the martial arts classroom?
You must actively train a combative mindset outside of your training environment. Outside of the training environment, your context changes regularly. It is imperative that you practice and cultivate a mental state of readiness. This does not simply mean moving from one threat level - white, yellow, orange, red - to another as potential threats are recognized and become imminent. It means actively visualizing what you do in the training environment outside of the training environment, in your everyday “comings and goings.” Even though you are not in the martial arts classroom you have to be prepared - in any context - for the possibility that you may have to utilize the skills learned, practiced, developed, and refined in class. You must practice being in the mindset that you should be in while in the training environment outside the training environment. Throughout the course of the day, visualize possible scenarios and visualize how to respond to them – while at work, at home, while shopping, while getting gas, etc.
Take the training environment and your combative mindset everywhere. Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is well suited for this. The training phases and process (Individual Execution and Training, Combat Drills, and Combat Sparring) provide the requisite attribute and mental development to engage in this active visualization process. Training a combative mindset in various contexts will improve your ability to react decisively and effectively in a variety of situations.