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FIGHT - What are the unique aspects of the five survival stress tools?

Updated: Nov 3, 2022



‘Getting to know and confront fear has long been my mission.’

- Matt Soule, author of Fight, Freeze, Fast, F^ck, Breathe - Mastering the Stress Response


Each survival stress tool offers a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional benefits, when trained and applied correctly.

This week we will cover the Fight tool. In this section, we will learn what it is and why it is unique…

The Fight tool refers to specific types of martial arts training. Though this tool certainly involves solo practice, it is predicated on partner-centered practice. This is what makes it a relational acute stress tool and helps to ensure that it serves as an irreplaceable facet to master the stress response. In my book, Fight, Freeze, Fast, F^ck, Breathe, Mastering the Stress Response, I go into great detail to help readers best assess if the martial art chosen 1) qualifies as a survival stress tool and 2) optimizes the risks inherent in training.

For now, let’s learn more about the tool itself.

“This tool taps into and helps us overcome fear of conflict, fear of pain or injury, fear of helplessness, fear of harm to both self and others, and fear of death. Fight teaches us critical facets of adaptability and how to find peace in chaos.

The Fight tool endows us with an incredible array of both gross and refined motor skills. Physically, it augments our optic capacity to better see what is happening, at different speeds, by improving our understanding of distance and timing. It refines our ability to detect and respond to various types of pressure, helps us to reinterpret pain, and makes us stronger, better balanced, and more aware of proper alignment.

It trains us to identify situations more accurately and to greater advantage. It helps us practice when and how to fight, to discern when resistance is useful and when it will undermine our objectives. It teaches us the power of momentum and the need to squash a problem when it is small, lest it become overwhelming. It improves our sensory perceptions on all levels so that the quality of information received and the speed at which we assess it let us hold fast to our center and resist being easily disoriented.

Physically, but also mentally and emotionally, we learn critical facets of adaptability through the Fight tool. It helps us discern the difference between competition and cooperation and the usefulness of each. It teaches us to resolve various kinds of conflict to ensure the best training practices. It informs how we contribute to and participate in relationships. It demands that we listen with our whole body to achieve desired outcomes. It teaches us to be assertive. It shows us how to build and foster trust and trains us to better judge a person’s character.

This training tool improves creativity as well as the speed and quality with which we make decisions. It teaches us how to reduce variables to improve our decision-making process for better outcomes. It teaches us focus and the consequences of distraction. It teaches us to judge situations, intent, and body language nuances. It teaches us the value of confidence and being decisive. It shows us what and when to avoid as well as how and when to engage. It teaches us that full commitment produces fruit, while half measures invariably lead to catastrophe. It teaches us how much energy is required and when to cut our losses.

While we should learn humility, discipline, and any number of other invaluable skills and traits, the central goal in martial arts is to understand advantage: All skills directly and indirectly seek to serve this end. This is both its power and its limitation.

Specific types of martial arts training accomplish something more. This kind of training allows us to confront our primal fears around personal safety and harm and to others. As we confront these fears and develop exceptional physical, mental, and emotional control, we find that there can be peace even in the chaos…” Excerpt taken from - Fight, Freeze, Fast, F^ck, Breathe, Mastering the Stress Response by Matt Soule

For this week, the takeaway is to follow these three steps:

Step 1 Become familiar with survival stress tools. Today we covered the Fight tool.

We learned many aspects of the Fight tool. Though plentiful and essential, the benefits of training in this tool exist well beyond the physical preparedness offered. The fight tool helps us to engage in life’s myriad grey situations and be assertive without being unnecessarily confrontational. The result is that we learn to approach difficult situations with calm rather than knee-jerk reactions. We no longer fear showing up to discuss difficult matters; we do so readily while exhibiting confidence, peace and security. This is extremely liberating.

Next week, we will cover the Freeze tool. Want more now?

Step 2 Take action. By taking action and implementing these tools in our lives, the information = empowerment! The result will be a tremendously positive influence on bettering our lives. Start today by checking out some of the upcoming training opportunities.

Check out opportunities at mattsoule.com/workshop

Step 3 Maintain the balance. High-threshold tools are powerful, which means that when wielded correctly— that is using them consistently but in short durations— they will serve us. Overuse them and you will pay the price which often leads to burnout, injury or worse. We are all at different starting places so respect the power of the tool as you calibrate your personal training regimen. If you are unsure about a particular tool, routine or anything around your training, submit your question and I will do my best to answer it.

Ask a Question

Do you have a specific question that you would like answered to help you with your training? Send me an email at contact@mattsoule.com or connect with me on Instagram @soulemd and I will include your question and answer in a future blog post or newsletter.

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