Archive for the ‘Fear and Survival Skills Training (Laur)’ Category

This is a great article. Mr. Laur’s research takes us beyond Bruce Siddle’s research although he is still an expert in the field of Combat Survival or Survival Skills Training (SSR). Mr. Laur makes a number of very important points about the effect of combat stress on the body. One very important research fact on which he elaborates is that the body is hard-wired to respond in a specific way during startled response. The response can be molded but if your present shooting system is not compatible with the body’s hard-wiring, the body will over ride your training.

My thoughts are simple. Neither the Weaver nor the modern Isosceles shooting systems are compatible with the body’s hard-wire response. The Point-Shooting Continuum is.


The Anatomy Of Fear and

How It Relates To Survival

Skills Training

By Darren Laur (Copyrighted 2002)

Integrated Street Combatives


” Research is to see what everyone else has seen, and think what no one else has thought” — Albert Szent-Gyorgy (Nobelish 1927)

An officer assigned to jail duty conducts a prisoner bed check when he observes that a male, who was lodged in the drunk tank, was laying face down not breathing in a corner of the cell. The officer attempts to verbally arouse the prisoner, but these attempts fail. The officer now believing that the prisoner is dead, proceeds into the cell, bends over and grabs the prisoner by his left shoulder in an attempt to roll him over. At this point in time the prisoner, spontaneously and by complete surprise, quickly rolls towards the officer, and with his right hand, swings towards the officer’s face. The officer “instinctively” pulls both of his arms in to protect his head, and moves backwards. The suspect has now moved to his feet, and again lashes out towards the officer with what the officer “perceives” to be a big right hooking punch, at which time the officer again puts his hand up to cover his head, crouches and again moves backwards away from the threat. The officer only now realizes that he is bleeding profusely, but doesn’t know why. The prisoner now lunges at the officer a third time, with a straight liner punch, at which time the officer sees the shinning glimmer of a metal object in the prisoners right hand. As this third attack makes contact with the officer, he instinctually attempts to push the prisoners hands away from his body, but contact is made resulting in a puncture wound to the officer’s chest area. The officer now realizing that he is in an edged weapon encounter, and cut several times, disengages from the cell area to call for help.

 The above noted scenario happened to a police officer in my department in 1992. Although this officer had received training in edged weapon defence, and was one of the more officer safety conscious members of the department, he could not make his training work. Based upon the officers reaction to this spontaneous attack, I began to wonder if the “instinctual” physical reactions to this attack, which were totally different from the training he received up to that point in time, would be experienced by other officers as well, if placed into a spontaneous attack situation in which they had no idea that an attack was going to occur.

I’m a big believer in, “don’t tell me, show me” so in early 1992 I conducted an empirical video research study. I had 85 police officers participate in a scenario based training session where unknown to them, they would be attacked with a knife. The attacker, who was dressed in a combatives suit, was told that during mid contact, they were to pull a knife (that they had concealed), flash it directly at the officer, yell “I’m going to kill you pig,” and then engage the officer physically. The results were remarkable:

  • 3/85 saw the knife prior to contact
  • 10/85 realized that they were being stabbed repeatedly during the scenario
  • 72/85 did not realize that they were being assaulted with a knife until the scenario was over, and the officers were advised to look at their uniforms to see the simulated thrusts and slices left behind by the chalked training knives 

When I reviewed the many many hours of videotape of the above noted scenarios, I also made two very important and interesting observations in how the majority of officers reacted to the spontaneous attacks:

  • most flinched, bringing both hands up to protect their head while crouching at the same time, and attempted to disengage from the attacker by backing away from the threat. This usually resulted in the attacker closing the gap quite quickly with their victim 
  • Those officers that did engage the threat immediately, proceeded to effectively block the initial strike of the attacker and then immediately grappled with the attacker using elbows and knee strikes 

After making these observations, I asked myself why I was seeing these reactions. During this 1992 research project, I had the opportunity to read an article authored by Bruce Siddle and Dr. Hal Breedlove entitled, ” Survival Stress Reaction.” In this article Siddle and Breedlove stated:

“…research by numerous studies provide two clear messages why people will place themselves in bad tactical situations. The common phenomena of backing away under survival stress results from the visual systems deterioration of the peripheral field to attain more information regarding threat stimulus. Since the brain is demanding more information to deal with the threat, he officer will invariably retreat from the threat to widen the peripheral field. Secondly, the brains normal ability to process (analyze and evaluate) a wide range of information quickly is focused to specific items. Therefore, additional cues, which would normally be processed, are lost. This explains why people can not remember seeing or identifying specific facts which were relatively close to the threat.”

The research by Siddle and Breedlove not only confirmed my findings, but also answered why our officers were acting this way. It also explains why one officer, who had actually caught the attackers knife hand with both of his hands and was looking directly at the knife, stated “I didn’t see any knife.” It was not until I showed the video replay that he believed there was a knife.

In 1995, Bruce Siddle released his first book entitled, “Sharpening The Warrior’s Edge The Psychology and Science Of Training.” In my opinion, Siddles’s published works began to answer a lot of the questions that I asked during my experience with, and empirical research into combatives

The first real studies in the area of Survival Stress Reaction (SSR) as it related to combat performance, were conducted in the 1930’s. This study noted that soldiers, who were sending Morse code (fine/complex motor skill) during combat situations, had much more difficulty in doing so when compared to non-combat environments. The next real research in SSR came during the Vietnam War as it related to the location of buttons and switches in fighter cockpits. As a result of this research, cockpits were reconfigured to take SSR into affect, as it specifically related to eye/hand co-ordination during combat situations.

 Although much of the early research surrounding SSR was conducted by the military during times of war, recently (from about the mid-1960’s to present time) a lot of research has been conducted in SSR as it relates to athletic performance.

Siddle’s definition of SSR as it relates to combat is: “a state where a ‘perceived’ high threat stimulus automatically engages the sympathetic nervous system.” The sympathetic nervous system is an autonomic response process which, when activated, one has little control of.” Why is SSR so important when it comes to combat/self protection? Because when activated, SSR has both a psychological and physiological effect to the body which could affect one’s perception of threat in a negative way. So what are some of these effects according to Siddle’s research?