Friday, February 3, 2017

Cry Baby Part 2 - What are you going to do about it?

Previously on Budo Blog...

We discussed:

That I was a huge crybaby, but necessity has caused me to become emotionally hardened.

Emotions are just how we label what the chemical cocktail dumped into out bloodstream in response to fight or flight stimulus makes us feel

Emotions are natural and you can not be devoid of them, so we have to learn to use emotion to our advantage.

Which leads us to...What are you going to do about it



A baby step, or temporary work around is to turn feeling debilitating negative emotions into feeling more useful negative emotions.

Huh? follow me if you will...

If emotions are just how we label what the chemical cocktail dumped into out bloodstream is making us feel, we can relabel those feelings while we are experiencing them.

Like Ralphie in the clip above.

Ralphie is hurt, sad, scared, embarrassed then....."Deep in the recesses of my mind a tiny little flame began to grow"

Those debilitating emotions turned to anger.  Anger is also a negative emotion but a lot more useful to Ralphie in the circumstances he was in.


Fear and pain can be turned to anger and aggression.  Anger and aggression feel a lot better than fear.

Aggression feels good, aggression feels like winning.



Aggression is encouraged



Remember these feelings caused by adrenalin are a survival mechanism.
Meaning we are still here as a species today, because of these feelings.

If that is true, how come so much self defense training derides adrenalin.

"Under adrenalin you will be be a heaping pile, quivering in the corner, shitting yourself, incapable of doing anything".

If that was true we would not exist as a species today much less be the apex predator on the planet.

Adrenalin gets a bad rap



Adrenalin can give you super powers
Adrenalin can make you:

  • Stronger
  • Faster
  • Bleed less
  • Hyper focused




Fighting angry is better than fighting scared.

However, fighting angry too often leads to fighting stupid.

(Gaining control of your emotions is a useful skill to anyone, even folks that never find themselves in a physical altercation.  For the purpose of this blog fighting and performing can be used as interchangeable terms.  There are different ways to fight.)

The next step is learning how to fight cold.

Learning to fight cold, learning to control your emotions under stress is very similar to learning how to break a freeze.

1) Recognize the symptoms of adrenalization


  • Sweaty palms
  • Face flush - blushing
  • Butterflies in your stomach
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Voice Squeaks
Slim Shady gets it



"His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti
He's nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready"
- EMINEM "Lose Yourself"

2) Breathe
This might sound like martial arts Jedi bullshit.  However, there is a reason this exists still today in the martial arts.  There is a reason snipers practice this as part of their craft.
  • In through your nose, as much as you can, fill your chest
  • Hold it for a count or two
  • Let it out slowly through your mouth.

This oxygenates your blood and helps you to think more clearly during a time when you are experiencing diminished mental capacity.

3) Move - Do something that effects the world around you.

This one was huge for me.  This helped me turn from a cry baby and start winning some matches.

Both my older brothers were excellent wrestlers.  I allowed that to put a lot of undue pressure on me. I put a lot of undue pressure a lot of unrealistic expectations on myself.



That is my brother Kurt sitting behind Minnesota State High School Hall of Fame Wrestling coach Luverne Klar  


Not unlike what Helen Maroulis wrote - I was afraid...Afraid of not being enough. Afraid of my fear. Afraid of your impression of me.

I was afraid I'd never be as good as them, I was afraid that I was a disappointment, I was afraid of what people thought of me, I was afraid to lose.  Being afraid to lose doesn't make winning easier, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.  

To cut through all that bullshit in my head I started focusing on just one thing.
Get a double leg.  Just focus on shooting a technically perfect double leg take down.

Once I got a double leg I was up 2 nothing.  I was winning.  Winning is fun.  Now I'm not afraid, now I'm not trying not to cry.  Now I'm just wrestling.  Just wrestling is easy.


I started racking up some wins, until...
I dislocated my knee again.  Then I was done (for a while)

The kid I beat easily every week for varsity try outs took 3rd in state that year.
Am I bitter?



I'm not that guy.  If I had won state that year, I'd probably never have wrestled again. I most likely never would have started training in martial arts.  If I never started in martial arts I wouldn't have gone down this career path, nor would I be writing this blog.  I wouldn't be writing anything. 

What happened, needed to happen for me to learn these lessons. 



Now at 42 one way or another I wrestle 3-4 times a week and I love it.
Now I'm not afraid, now I'm not trying not to cry.  Now I'm just wrestling.  Just wrestling is easy.



What happened, needed to happen for me to learn these lessons. I know this method can be used for controlling emotions outside of fighting, because I have used these methods to control emotions outside of fighting.

After I dislocated my knee and was back at school, one of my best friends asked me, "are you sad that you will never be able to wrestle again"

Well I wasn't until you phrased it like that....
1) Recognize the symptoms of adrenalization




  • Sweaty palms
  • Face flush - blushing
  • Butterflies in your stomach
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Voice Squeaks
Fuck I'm starting to cry
 Heat rushed to my cheeks. I felt my eyes well up. My friend knew it. She saw it in me. 

2) Breathe
  • In through your nose, as much as you can fill your chest
  • Hold it for a count or two
  • Let it out slowly through your mouth.

3) Do something that effects the world around you.

I made a joke (weird humor as a defense mechanism - turning negative emotion into a more useful emotion)

"I wasn't until you rubbed it in my face like that, jeez thanks do you want me to cry in front of all the girls in home room"

Now I'm laughing, now I'm not trying not to cry.

Why does this work?

Let's figure that out - WITH SCIENCE!!!!



In the time it takes to go through these steps your adrenalin has spiked and is dropping.


This chart is from "The Armored Rose" by Tobi Beck which you can purchase HERE

If you can ride that wave and come out on the other side things get easier to manage.

In order for an artificial chemical ( drug) to make us feel something it has to mimic the effects of natural chemicals  / hormones our bodies produce.

In that way adrenalin is much like a drug.  There is a reason there is the term "adrenalin junkie"

Like a drug you eventually build a tolerance for adrenalin.

"I used to do a little but a little wouldn't do it so a little got more and more.  Just kept trying to get a little better, said a little better than before"
"Mr. Brownstone" - Guns and Roses

Experience makes it easier ride the adrenalin spike, success makes it easier.

Ace fighter pilots are only recognized after 5 kills because the first 4 were mostly chance and learning to deal with emotion under extreme stress.  After that skill can be brought into play and you become a god of war.

You can fight cold.

Just like physical skills, you have to find what works for you.  Be the best version of you not a flawed imitation of anyone else.

Remember this from Part 1

Being around boys all of the time, I found myself trying to adopt their mentality. Don’t show emotion. Push through. Don’t expose weakness. I was studying men who won gold medals in wrestling. I tried to mimic their mental game. I couldn’t do it. I tried, but I just couldn’t.

- Helen Maroulis

There are exceptions, however, generally, men and women adrenalize differently.



For most women it takes nearly twice as long for that spike to hit.

That is not better or worse it is just different.  So clearly you will need different or modified strategies for dealing with the adrenalin spike.

This manifests itself with women in the martial arts as crying after a match.  To the uninformed there is an assumption that they must be recovering from some sort violent trauma that happened in their past and the fight triggered them.  Or they are just emotional women - so they cry for no reason.

This is usually the time when one of my daughters punches me for being a jerk.

They are crying after the match for the same reasons I used to cry before the match.  The timing is just different.

Again this is a survival mechanism.



If our tribe is attacked (stimulus causing fight or flight response) it makes sense for the men to get adrenalized...
  • Stronger
  • Faster
  • Bleed less
  • Hyper focused

 ...and go fight what ever attacked.

It also makes sense for women to keep a cool head and get the children somewhere safe.  If we didn't protect the next generation and give priority of life to women (the means to produce yet another generation) we wouldn't exists as a species today.

If that threat fought through the men, that is the time the adult women of the tribe need to be adrenalized...
  • Stronger
  • Faster
  • Bleed less
  • Hyper focused
By this time any men that survived are thinking more clearly and can plan how to deal with the threat.


When men and women work together there is always one who can think while the other is adrenalized.

Most people reading this outside of Law Enforcement and Military have not experienced this.
However, I am sure they have experienced the same phenomenon in reverse

Men and women working against each other.

Fellas, have you ever gotten in an argument with your special lady friend, got really mad, then a few minutes later wondered why you were ever mad in the first place and assumed the fight was over?

Was the fight over?



Most likely she was just starting to feel the effects of adrenalin.
Fellas, I'm sure at this time you attempted to resolve the issue with logic and reason.

Little did you know she was not in a place to work things out logically she was in a place to fight.
So you continued to fight until the adrenalin spike had passed both of you by then you apologized and every thing was cool.

Clearly that is a broad generalization, but I think a lot of readers will recognize that pattern.




The point is not every adrenalizes the same.

There are some men that adrenalize in the typical female pattern.  There is nothing wrong with that for either gender.  In fact once you recognize the symptoms of emotion you can actually start planning what you are going to do when you are mad.  That is a super power.

There are some women that adrenalize in the typical male pattern.

They are called redheads.


Flag on the play - gimmick infringement.  I straight up stole that joke from Randy King

There is nothing wrong with women adrenalizing like men either.

Know yourself and know the enemy...
Recognize how you adrenalize and find methods of riding the spike that work for you.

I have to remember that this was at least an 18 year old process for me to learn, and a lifetime to refine.

Telling someone (I don't know like maybe your 5 year old daughter) to stop crying, to man up, or to put on their big girl pants is not helpful.  Asking why the fuck are you crying is not helpful.

Teaching someone the means to control their emotions can be helpful.  Maybe not right at that moment they are experiencing them, but over time.

So, in conclusion:

Emotions are just how we label what the chemical cocktail dumped into out bloodstream in response to fight or flight stimulus makes us feel.

Emotions are natural and you can not be devoid of them, so we have to learn to use emotion to our advantage.

Step 1) Recognize the symptoms of  emotions (adrenalization)




  • Sweaty palms
  • Face flush - blushing
  • Butterflies in your stomach
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Voice Squeaks
  • Weak knees
  • Heavy limbs
Step 2) Breathe
  • In through your nose, as much as you can fill your chest
  • Hold it for a count or two
  • Let it out slowly through your mouth.
This oxygenates your blood and helps you to think more clearly during a time when you are experiencing diminished mental capacity.

Step 3) Do something that effects the world around you.
  • Focus on one simple thing you have the ability to accomplish
  • Then another
  • Then another until the adrenalin spike has passed

Step 4) Know yourself

  • Learn how you adrenalize
  • Develop coping mechanisms that work for you



Train hard, Train smart, Be safe


Slurp that tear back in your eye




2 comments:

  1. Good stuff. Never saw the gender adrenaline graphs before. Explains a lot! Just discovered your blog.

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