Book Recommendations

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Book Recommendations

Postby Rick Wilson » Sat Aug 29, 2020 4:23 pm

Book Recommendations Part 1: A Solid Foundation of Knowledge on the realities of Self Defence

I thought I might talk about books.

I thought I would start with the books I think should be read by those studying martial arts and self defence. I believe that all martial arts were developed for some form of self defence – could be military or personal.

As time has moved on things may have gotten shaky in a couple of ways. One way to stay on track is to take a good hard look at your training.

So, the first two books I will recommend will address issues that could develop.

My first book, and this posts focus is by my favourite author and one of my most favourite people, Rory Miller. Rory has written a number of great books and I recommend all of them, but I recommend his first book “Meditations on Violence: A comparison of martial Arts Training & Real World Violence.”

If you read the reviews some people have missed what Rory is saying and personally, I think some are written because he hits far too close to home.

This book compares the unicorn of violence that can infect a martial art and the shocking reality when those practitioners run into the rhinoceros that is reality. Note Rory is not bashing traditional martial arts – he has a great deal of traditional training – he is just making sure the view of the world being prepared for is real.

If you want to keep your training on a good solid realistic track then this is the right book.

Tons of valuable information in this book – I highly recommend it.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Rick Wilson » Sat Aug 29, 2020 4:24 pm

Book Recommendations Part 2: Need to Know – What the Plea of Self Defence Really Means

The second book I am recommending prepares you for what may happen AFTER a violent encounter – when you are claiming you acted in self defence.

There are two ends of the “Plea of Self Defence” spectrum. You go from something very clear – you are the good guy and the other person is a known criminal TO having to convince a lot of people you acted in self defence so you do not go to prison or face bankruptcy.

The book I recommend to get the best handle on that is Marc MacYoung’s “In the Name of Self-Defense:: What it costs. When it’s worth”

This book is written by a man who is an expert witness when it comes to having acted in self defence. Having seen good people in a lot of trouble there is the approach that if you do not know all you can then you may just be off to prison.

While we may never face that problem, I found the information invaluable and a need to know.

I taught martial arts for many years and through some of them I wish I had this information, all instructors should so they can evaluate what they teach and how they are preparing their students. This knowledge should influence everything you teach in self defence.

There is nothing wrong with training a traditional or cultural martial art that may have come from the battlefield, but you do have to put it through the filter of our legal system today. What may be a great threat ending move in battle may not be legally acceptable here and now.

Knowing all you can about how what you do and say may be seen by those in the legal system (criminal and civil) is just smart and can help you articulate why you had to resort to violence.

I recommend this book because it will give you what you need to save yourself after things went very wrong.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Rick Wilson » Sat Aug 29, 2020 4:25 pm

Book Recommendations Part 3: The Only Safe Violent Encounter is the One that Never Happens – Avoiding Conflict

The next two books I am going to recommend deal with the related topic of avoiding the conflict so that you never have to defend yourself physically.

The first book is a quick easy read and relates to encounters that have the potential to go violent. “Disarm Daily Conflict: Your Life Depends On It” by Chris Roberts.

This book is written in a nice conversational tone and I think it gives some solid sound ways to recognize when a conflict is going off the rails and how to prevent that from getting to a violent encounter.

I think it is straight to the point in dealing with this particular slice of conflict communication.

It covers a practical definition of conflict, defining your goal, language clues, physical clues what not to do and what to do.

I think this is a practical book and recommend it for everyone but in particular for those who haven’t looked at why conflicts get to violence.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Rick Wilson » Sat Aug 29, 2020 4:25 pm

Book Recommendations Part 4: More on Conflict Communication, getting through life easier and getting home safe.

As a manager in the government for many years I did a multitude of course on Conflict Resolution but none of those courses came close to the quality and applicability as Rory’s ComCon.

Rory’s book is definitely applicable to avoiding a violent encounter just as Chris Robert’s book but I feel Rory’s book applies to pretty much any conflict communication be that in the home or the office or anywhere.

Rory builds a solid foundation of conflict and goes deeply into how we get caught up in certain responses (scripts.) He provides solid information as to why we end up in conflicts and how to get off that script.

I know I have used his work and even once when being called to testify I found both sides of the issue in a conflict with the Adjudicator because they didn’t recognize that in that room all the power lay with the Adjudicator. They were all caught up in trying to gain control and blaming the Adjudicator for being biased against them and that was both sides which rationally can’t be. I thought the Adjudicator was being fair and that is how I handled the communication which meant I had no conflicts – well at least with the Adjudicator. This just shows how far reaching into life this book can be of great value.

For me this is an absolute must read if you want to learn about conflict communication.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Van Canna » Sun Aug 30, 2020 5:26 pm

Hi Rick,

This is a great thread, thank you, it has been a while since your great and informative postings on the site.

The books you suggest are indeed a must have for all martial arts practitioners, because almost none of the things they contain , is really ever addressed in Dojo classroom format anywhere. I feel that such knowledge should be 'sprinkled' in every class along with the physical.

One of the critiques we read of martial arts teachers is, that they love to present their macho attitude and supposed 'deadly techniques' which the majority of students really cannot perform saddled by physical/emotional inadequacies.

I often bring up the real problem of the emotional high/jack that destroys logical reasoning and decision making.

So I believe that a good addition to those wonderful books you outline we may want to add several books by Daniel Goleman ...'Emotional Intelligence' / 'Working with emotional intelligence'

Goleman writes about the emotional high/jack:

The amygdala is the brain’s radar for threat.

Our brain was designed as a
tool for survival. In the brain’s blueprint the amygdala holds a privileged
position. If the amygdala detects a threat, in an instant it can take over the
rest of the brain – particularly the prefrontal cortex – and we have what’s
called an amygdala hijack.

The hijack captures our attention, beaming it in on the threat at hand. If
you’re at work when you have an amygdala hijack, you can't focus on what
your job demands – you can only think about what’s troubling you.

Our
memory shuffles, too, so that we remember most readily what’s relevant to
the threat – but can't remember other things so well. During a hijack, we
can't learn, and we rely on over-learned habits, ways we’ve behaved time
and time again. We can't innovate or be flexible during a hijack.

Neural imaging when someone is really upset shows that the right
amygdala in particular is highly active, along with the right prefrontal
cortex.
The amygdala has captured this prefrontal area, driving it in terms of
the imperatives of dealing with the perceived danger at hand.
When this
alarm system triggers, we get the classic fight-flight-or-freeze response,
which from a brain point of view means that the amygdala has set off the
HPA axis (the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis) and the body gets a
flood of stress hormones, mainly cortisol and adrenaline.

There’s one big problem with all this: the amygdala often makes
mistakes. The reason is that while the amygdala gets its data on what we see
and hear in a single neuron from the eye and ear – that’s super-fast in brain
time – it only receives a small fraction of the signals those senses receive.

The vast majority goes to other parts of the brain that take longer to analyze
these inputs – and get a more accurate reading.

The amygdala, in contrast,
gets a sloppy picture and has to react instantly.

It often makes mistakes,
particularly in modern life, where the “dangers” are symbolic, not physical
threats. So we overreact in ways we often regret later.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Van Canna » Sun Aug 30, 2020 5:29 pm

Goleman
How can we minimize hijacks? First of all, pay attention. If you don't notice that you're in the midst of an amygdala hijack and stay carried away
by it, you haven't a chance of getting back to emotional equilibrium and left
prefrontal dominance until you let the hijack run its course.

Better to realize
what’s going on and disengage. The steps to ending or short-circuiting a
hijack start with monitoring what’s going on in your own mind and brain,
and noticing, “I'm really over-reacting,” or “I'm really upset now,” or “I’m
starting to get upset.”

It’s much better if you can notice familiar feelings
that a hijack is beginning – like butterflies in your stomach, or whatever
signals that might reveal you're about to have an episode.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Van Canna » Sun Aug 30, 2020 5:36 pm

Goleman
Best is to head it
off at the bare beginning of a coming hijack.
What can you do if you are caught in the grip of an amygdala hijack?

First, you have to realize you're in it at all. Hijacks can last for seconds or
minutes or hours or days or weeks. For some people it may seem their
“normal” – people who have gotten used to always being angry or always
being fearful.

This shades over into clinical conditions like anxiety
disorders or depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder, which is an
unfortunate disease of the amygdala induced by a traumatic experience
where the amygdala shifts into a hair-trigger mode of instant, extreme
hijack.


When I was investigating the many cases of emotional injury claims under the worker's compensation statute...the examining psychologists would determine almost always the emotional high/jack as the main trigger factor for emotional injury and or terrible workplace violence.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Van Canna » Sun Aug 30, 2020 5:41 pm

There are lots of ways to get out of a hijack if we first can realize we’re
caught, and also have the intention to cool down.

One is a cognitive
approach: talk yourself out of the hijack. Reason with yourself, and
challenge what you are telling yourself in the hijack –This guy isn't always
an S.O.B. I can remember times when he was actually very thoughtful and
even kind, and maybe I should give him another chance.

Or you can apply some empathy, and imagine yourself in that person’s
position. This might work in those very common instances where the hijack
trigger was something someone else did or said to us.
You might have an
empathic thought: Maybe he treated me that way because he is under such
great pressure.
Goleman

Most of us end up in trouble with the law and empty pockets because of this very insidious influence upon the mind...the martial artist in particular more so because the training and his beliefs he can fight anyone...push him into confrontations whereas the non trained person is more apt to back off.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Van Canna » Sun Aug 30, 2020 5:44 pm

Davidson has also done research on what he calls “emotional styles” –
which are really brain styles.

One brain style tracks how readily we become
upset: where we are on the spectrum from a hair-trigger amygdala – people
who easily become upset, frustrated or angered – versus people who are
unflappable.

A second style looks at how quickly we recover from our distress. Some
people recover quickly once they get upset, while others are very slow.

At
the extreme of slowness to recover are people who continually ruminate or
worry about things – in effect, who suffer from ongoing low-grade
amygdala hijacks.

Chronic worry keeps the amygdala primed, so you
remain in a distress state as long as you ruminate.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Van Canna » Sun Aug 30, 2020 5:46 pm

When we're pitched into an amygdala hijack, whether intense or low
level but ongoing, we're in sympathetic nervous system arousal. As a
chronic condition that’s not a good state.

While we’re hijacked, the alarm
circuits trigger the fight-flight-or-freeze response that pumps stress
hormones into the body with a range of negative results, such as lowering
the effectiveness of our immune response.

The opposite state,
parasympathetic arousal, occurs when we're relaxed. Biologically and
neurologically this is the mode of restoration and recovery, and it is
associated with left prefrontal arousal.

If you want to cultivate greater strength of activity in the left prefrontal
areas that generate positive emotions, you can try a few strategies.

One is to
take regular time off from a hectic, hassled routine to rest and restore.
Schedule time to “do nothing”: walk your dog, take a long shower,
whatever allows you to let go of leaning forward into the next thing in your
on-the-go state.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Van Canna » Sun Aug 30, 2020 5:54 pm

More recent research reveals how the biological effects of such bad
stress endanger our health in many ways
There's an increase in abdominal
fat, and insulin resistance goes up. The body becomes more prone to
diabetes, heart disease, and artery blockages.

The effectiveness of the
immune system plummets. Cortisol degrades the myelin sheath that coats
nerve pathways, impairing the transmission of signals from one brain area
to another.

In short, the neural, cognitive and biological effects of extreme
stress are even worse than had been thought.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Van Canna » Sun Aug 30, 2020 6:00 pm

Now we realize that the human brain is peppered with
mirror neurons and they activate in us exactly what we see in the other
person: Their emotions, their movements, and even their intentions
23.
This discovery may explain why emotions are contagious.

We had
known about this contagion in psychology for decades because of
experiments in which you have two strangers come into a lab, and fill out a
mood checklist.

Then they sit in silence, looking at each other for two
minutes. Afterward, they fill out the same checklist. The person in that pair
who’s most expressive emotionally will transmit his or her emotions to the
other person in two silent minutes.


This alone can be what will work for or against us in a confrontation.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Van Canna » Sun Aug 30, 2020 6:01 pm

This means that essentially we are constantly impacting the brain states
in other people. In my EI model, “Managing relationships” means, at this
level, that we're responsible for how we shape the feelings of those we
interact with – for better or for worse. In this sense, relationship skills have
to do with managing brain states in other people.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Van Canna » Sun Aug 30, 2020 6:03 pm

Such emotional contagion happens whenever people interact, whether in
a pair, a group, or an organization. It’s most obvious at a sporting event or
theatrical performance, where the entire crowd goes through the identical
emotion at the same time.

This contagion can happen because of our social
brain, through circuitry like the mirror neuron system. Person-to-person
emotional contagion operates automatically, instantly, unconsciously and
out of our intentional control.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Rick Wilson » Sun Aug 30, 2020 6:12 pm

Excellent recommendation Van.

Book Recommendations Part 5: Humans have a survival instinct so don’t let being civil get you killed.

The next book in my recommendations is “The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence” By Gavin DeBecker.

Gavin DeBecker is a threat analysis specialist and, in this book, he takes a strong look at the natural warning signs often ignored in a civilized society.

I always recommend this book when I teach women’s self defence, but it applies to all self defence. There is so much in this book but let me give you an example. We can say that person is charming. But that person isn’t charming that person is using charm to get something they want. Charm is not a characteristic it is a tool. Now most of the time that charm is being used to get something harmless, but it can also be used to get past our instinctive self defence barriers. He has a great section on the tools used to get past those protective barriers.

DeBecker talks a lot about fear being a natural warning signal and how we should always pay attention to it. Not to let fear rule our lives with unrealistic fears but to make sure we do not brush away something our instinct is shouting at us to pay attention to.

I find this book an essential part of self defence reading because it reminds us of why humans have survived this long.
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