Saturday, November 17, 2018


There are a number of different responses to a threatening situation...  I personally like the model of 4 reactions: fight, flight, freeze, or posture.  In brief -- fight and flight are well known.  Freeze -- I'll talk more in a minute.  Posture is a display response; getting big, showing off, sending a "don't mess with me!" signal. 

So... freezes...  This blog was prompted by this article:

The article describes how a sheriff's department captain on the scene of the Parkland shooting was ineffective, and seemed to be out of touch, in a dream like state.  That's a form of a freeze...

The most basic form of freezing is absolute motionlessness...  Think of the classic deer-in-the-headlights.  It's an instinctive level response, probably a result of the way predators tend to key on movement.  Your body and nervous system is essentially saying "maybe if I don't move, it won't see me and eat me."  Learning to break this sort of freeze is one of the great challenges in martial arts and self defense training.

But that's not the only form of a freeze.  Locking in and repeating ineffective motions or responses is another.  "It worked before -- let's just try again!"  I watched and experienced officer once try the same leg sweep takedown about 6 times without effect...  Or, in the Kyle Dinkheller video, you hear him repeating the same sequence of commands...  Another form of freezing is inappropriate detachment and indecisiveness...  like that captain seems to have experienced.

So... how do you know if you're in a freeze?  The deer-in-a-headlights freeze is easy; you start taking damage because you're not moving!  But what about some of the others? That's what the article reminded me of...  because one of the best indicators that you're in a freeze -- even if you're doing something and not frozen like a statue -- is that warm, floaty, detached feeling.  I remember one of the first real use of force situations I was involved in...  I got on scene, and if I had been asked at the moment, I was doing great.  But I was in slow motion, and what I was doing wasn't really effective.  I was in that nice floaty place...

OK -- now we know we're in a freeze...  what do we do?  Well... if you're taking damage -- ANYTHING to stop it.  Scream, yell, cover up, Rory Miller's Dracula's Cape technique...  Ideally, you've prepped this through appropriate training and conditioning.  In those less obvious freezes...  You have to recognize that you're in a form of freeze -- and then you need to get yourself in the game.


  1. I really like that the article explains how one reacts when under threatening situations.

  2. I really like that the article explains how one reacts when under threatening situations

  3. This is a tough situation; how does one practice getting out of a freeze situation or get practice in recognizing that state? This implies one needs some metacognitive awareness - perhaps the answer is to regularly assess one's mental status, versus specifically recognizing a freeze?