by Andrea Shank
On the night of July 14th, after Japan beat Sweden in the semi-finals of Women’s World Cup 2011, I was roofied. I remember sitting at the bar down the street, playing a game of Uno with some friendly folks on the right, when a hipster guy sat to my left. We exchanged nice enough words, and I danced in my chair, as I do, then black. I vaguely remember his face, but not so much that as his person, being too close to me. I “came to” in full sprint down the stairs, through the base level of my apt, out the back door, across the porch, and into the private alley. I was completely consumed with an inexplicable fear. I tried the neighbor’s gate, but finding it locked, moved on the next. When the latch opened, I crawled into the overgrown yard, crouched near the fence, and waited. And waited. And waited. Until I couldn’t hear a sound, and then I waited longer still. In that time I was shaking, unable to understand how I came to be so overwhelmingly wracked with terror, yet frozen in my hiding place. Eventually I came out of hiding to find my roommate, who I clung to for another long while, and eventually started looking for my phone. I had left it at the bar with a tab I walked out on, neither of which is normal behavior. I settled up and retrieved my phone. Still very flustered, I sat up in bed texting a friend, trying to calm down, when I dipped out of consciousness again. Three hours I sat, on the edge of my lofted bed, phone in hand. I resuscitated, typed something incoherent, vomited into the toilet, and went to sleep. The next day I was ill when awake, and fitful when asleep, until late in the afternoon. The rest of that day I fought a splitting headache and a terrible body-ache. I pieced together events with both roommates to deduce what had happened.
24 hours after being out of control:
As I sit here, meditating on how I feel, I can sense my confidence returning. As a martial artist, I feel almost ashamed that I did not physically defend myself. I have trained my entire adult life for the most terrifying moment, but I did nothing but run and hide. I’m conflicted: what I did was instinct, and it saved me. I have to wonder if this isn’t what I train for: the ability to trust in myself, to gain a sense of the world and my place in it. I may not have hurt my attacker, but maybe that would’ve only provoked him. Maybe I truly assessed my situation and, given my altered and vulnerable state, acted decisively and accurately. Is this merely a dangerous pride I’ve seen some in my home dojo fall prey to? Should I not be thankful I escaped, and not worry about defending my honor? To be sure, I had better never see that man’s face. For all the peace I am trying to find I would restrain no part of my wrath… I feel there’s a larger lesson here. One of how I cope with the hard things. One of how I see myself. One of how I feel about where I am in life. So I was truly in danger: I faced my fear and reacted to it accordingly. If this isn’t something I have practiced to show strength in, then my senseis would be amiss. Perhaps, in that moment, I was a master martial artist.
The more time that passes, the more I know that my martial arts training saved me from that man’s intentions, and perhaps even my life. Despite being drugged, I was able to read the situation and spring to action quickly, using the fight-or-flight response as fuel to gain enough consciousness to “get out of the way,” as it were. This is where belt testing is more than just a new color and rank: being able to experience that rush of adrenaline and still maintain your head, especially when the test is a surprise. I no longer doubt my actions, or wish I had used the skills in fighting I have developed. Instead I take stock in my ability to get out of harm’s reach. I am more wary, but I do not hesitate to walk down my street anymore. I plan on returning to the bar to continue watching “footy on the telly” as they are known for. So though I experienced a more crippling fear than ever before in my life, I am able to move on. I know I will continue to deal with this experience for some time, and will takes steps to return to a calm centered state. I strive to take the energy that comes at me, and to redirect it, leaving only the slightest residue on my core.
Andrea Shank is a budding… well, that is yet to be seen. She has a Bachelor’s degree from University of Miami in Visual Communication, specializing in Photojournalism, as well as International Studies, with a minor in Marine Science. She has been practicing martial arts for seven years, studying Karate, Aikido, and Jeet Kune Do so far. She has circumnavigated the globe and shows no signs of stopping travel anytime soon. She began writing in her early years as a coping skill through journaling, but now explores her talent for words through various blogs, including the prestigious BB Publications.Posted in Self Defense | Leave a comment 14 October 2011
“Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter light, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light.”
-Plato, the Republic
Starting in November of this year, ASSERT Empowerment and Self Defense will begin teaching its Empowerment and Life Skills curriculum to a very special group of young women and men. Casa Valentina, a non-profit organization that addresses the unique, gender-specific needs of young women transitioning from foster care to independent living, has invited ASSERT to join them in their efforts of preparing their young ladies and gentlemen transition from Foster Care, getting them ready to go out into the world and find success.
“We are extremely honored and excited to participate in Casa Valentina’s work. Our empowerment curriculum is a perfect fit to the needs of the Residents at Casa Valentina, and its sister organization Emmaus Place,” ASSERT’s Chief Instructor and co-creator, Cat Fitzgerald, explains.
To find out more about Casa Valentina/ Emmaus Place and their work, volunteer, or offer support, you can visit their website: http://www.casavalentina.org.Posted in News, News - Florida, News - Miami, News - United States | Leave a comment 18 July 2011
ASSERT stands for Adrenaline Stress Strategic Emergency Response Training, or, in other words, training designed to help you respond quickly, effectively and easily in an emergency situation while under the effects of Adrenaline. So the question is, do you know what Adrenaline really is and how it affects your ability to function?
Let’s start by talking about what Adrenaline is. The website Medicine.net defines it as:
A substance produced by the medulla (inside) of the adrenal gland, adrenaline (the official name in the British Pharmacopoeia) is synonymous with epinephrine. Technically speaking, adrenaline is a sympathomimetic catecholamine. It causes quickening of the heart beat, strengthens the force of the heart’s contraction, opens up the bronchioles in the lungs and has numerous other effects. The secretion of adrenaline by the adrenal is part of the “fight-or-flight” reaction that we have in response to being frightened.
While Epinephrine is used for medical purposes, including during cardiac arrest, anaphylaxis, Croup, and in various anesthetics, our concern is the natural production within the body.
Epinephrine is a hormone, acting on all of the body’s tissues, and is released during times of severe stress, such as when we are frightened or even angry. As the quote above mentions, it is also an integral part of our Fight or Flight instinct (face the threat or run from it). Under the effects of adrenaline, people have been known to demonstrate seemingly superhuman strength and speed, things that under normal circumstances the person could never have done. By the same token, Adrenaline can also incite the Freeze (inability to act) or Acquiesce (give in or negotiate) response, two additional options recently added to the Fight or Flight instinct.
A sudden fright or threat can immediately create an adrenaline dump within your body in preparation for the coming actions. In so doing, your body does the following:
- Increases your Heart Rate
- Increases your Rate of Respiration
- Triggers Lipolysis for Increased Energy
- Decreases Blood-flow to Non-Essential Systems (those not necessary for immediate action)
- Increases Blood-flow to Muscles
- Dilates Pupils
- Elevates Blood Sugar
- Suppresses the Immune System
- Slows or Stops Digestion
- Loss of Finite Motor Skills (Varying degrees of inability to perform detailed movements, motor skills, or finite tasks)
- Auditory Exclusion (Varying degrees of hearing loss)
- Tunnel Vision (Varying degrees of loss of peripheral vision)
- and a Dis-inhibition of Spinal Reflexes.
There are additional perceptual and Psychological effects:
- Distorted Time Perception
- Loss of Memory
- Loss of Rational or Critical Thinking.
Your body prepares for action; however, your body goes through the very same preparation whether you are startled by a friend playing a practical joke or face a situation that represents clear and present danger to yourself, your family, or your loved ones. The question then becomes, what do you do next? If you are ready to find out, check out one of the ASSERT classes near you.Posted in Anxiety, Fear, Quick Facts, Self Defense | Leave a comment ← Older posts