Fighting is like Performing

The possibility of freezing in a fight, particularly during a surprise attack, is real.  Even for experienced fighters.  Even if we don't freeze, there is a high likelihood that we will experience some distortion of time.  This can be anything from an inability to remember anything that happened, to seeing the event play out in slow motion with very particular details.  The same is true for our perception of space.  We may feel anything from a total narrowing of perception, as if we were looking down a tunnel, to a sense that we are safely floating above the action observing the entire scene.

If I didn't hear  dismissive comments all the time like, "My martial art isn't pretty, but it works!"  I probably wouldn't harp on this point so much.  Folks, if it doesn't apply aesthetic considerations, it ain't martial arts.

As every experienced performer will tell you, freezing during a performance is a real possibility.  It's called stage fright and it feels like your whole body is wrapped up in plastic wrap.  Performers also sometimes have the feeling that they just stepped on the stage, and now they are stepping off--an hour performance can feel as if only a second or two has passed.  A performer can have the feeling that they can just languish in the time they have to take the next action, as if time were standing still.  Likewise, a performer can go through an entire show with out remembering or even noticing that there is an audience out there.  Or they may find themselves stepping out of the performance and watching it from above.

And just to beat a dead horse, Sgt.  Rory Miller has made a big deal of how important it is to give yourself permission in advance to brake social norms, like being nice or polite.  If you have to defend yourself, you have to utterly discard being nice.  The stage is a social environment where we can safely be horrible to each other.

Performance and Martial Arts are one tradition, not two.