STAYING IN CONTROL IN LIFE-DEATH
martial art's emotional-control discipline transferrable in life
threatening or fatal situations?
discourse looks at the behaviour of high anxious state during a
life threatening situation and a fatal incident. It is a most curious
thought- trying to see if martial art discipline of 'emotional-control'
has a profound effect when martial artists are under life-threat.
have been two significant incidents of Master Wai-Po Tang's direct
involvement in two rescue attempts. One resulted in 4 deaths, and
the other incident resulted in hospital intensive care.
the 18th April 1992 approximately midnight, a fire was blazing
inside a block of flats and a group of partygoers were trapped on
the top floor. By coincidence Wai-Po passed by, and heard the screams
from a group of people above. Thick smoke was pouring through the
windows, and the sounds of screams were so chilling (Wai-Po recalls).
It was at this particular moment when natural flight-fight responses
believed that the consistent exposure of emotional control during
some high-anxiety martial art training drills allowed him to compose
his mental state more readily and willingly. Hence, Wai-Po was able
to make decisive actions immediately. He forced a passing-by taxi
to stop and requested an emergency radio message to the fire brigade,
then kicked open the front communal doorway of the block of burning
big mistake but a lucky escape. Unknowingly, the fire actually
spread from ground floor, this meant a quick duck onto floor from
a massive ball of flame. The question is simply, what goes on in
a person's mind when he just escape a life threatening situation.
This fireball threat was shocking but did not render mental immobilisation.
Wai-Po then ran to the side of the building, and climbed onto an
adjoining building. During the climb, 3 people jumped and splattered
onto the pavement, fence railing and one into the stairway of the
basement flat. 'The sound of collision impact was really horrific'
Wai-Po deeply recalls. Also, one other victim gave up survival,
curled up in the corner of a room and died in the horrific fire.
consecutive fireball shock and the traumatic moment of people fallen
to death must have had a detrimental effect on correct action. At
this particular moment in time when people are dying in front of
you, maintaining emotional control was paramount. Question to
the readers, "What do you do next. Do you attend to the fallen
victims below or help the others? Well, Wai-Po believed he acted
correctly by attending to the rest of survivors, helping approximately
8 people down to safety, but painfully regretted the deaths of the
3 - a moral dilemma that has haunted him occasionally.
above true life story tells of several highly anxious moments of
a deadly incident, each moment was shocking to Wai-Po, but how was
it repeatedly challenged consecutively. The emotional dynamics of
multiple cognitive restructuring under high anxiety states was evident.
The ability to overcome fear and suppress fear maybe innate but
Wai-Po strongly believes that martial art discipline drills may
have strongly influenced this behaviour.
parallel emotional-control state occurred in 1993, when Wai-Po
was attacked approximately 4-5 times by a group of mindless thugs
- an evening that almost cost Wai-Po and his friend their lives.
The incident arose when Wai-Po saw a friend repeatedly beaten to
the ground by a gang of 15-20 thugs in an unprovoked attack. Again,
this was an extremely difficult decision to make under this very
high threat situation. Question for the reader, "Do you
run away to call for the police or do you intervene?" The
dilemma was if you go to call the police, the friend might die,
and if you intervene, it was quite probable you would sustain serious
injuries or death or possibly saving a friend's life.
an easy one, this was a not Hollywood movie where the good guy kick
butts at a blink of an eye. No matter what level of martial skills
- when there are multiple assailants it is a very serious threat
to life. That's the reality.
such insecurity of the moment, Wai-Po decided to intervene alone.
Having intercepted what he believed was an assailant with a concealed
weapon; Wai-Po knocked him out with a single punch to the chin.
Thereafter, the whole gang stopped kicking his be-downed friend,
and converged around Wai-Po. At this precise moment, what goes through
a person's mind under this high threat situation?
recalls he was extremely fearful because he was alone; there were
no assistance from anyone because the onlookers were too afraid
of this gang. But emotional-control of fight-flight determined what
happened next. Wai-Po decided if he was going die, he was going
to take some with him. During the violent engagement of which there
were approximately 4-5 attacks, one of the assailants struck a 6-inch
knife into Wai-Po's lower back regional area during the second/third
attack, this fully penetrated into rear body missing all vital organs.
crashed to floor, and he remembered it was like being kicked incredibly
hard and it took the breathe out of him. The attack did not stop
after the stabbing, and blows continued to rain in. Wai-Po analogises,
"I felt like I was in the middle of a deep blue." And
continued, "I gritted my teeth, and focussed my strength, and
got up to fight the rest of them." According to an eyewitness,
Wai-Po knocked out 3 more assailants in the next 3 onslaughts. The
gang ran off when police cars were at close proximity.
friend was admitted to intensive care for two weeks, death was close
if it was not for the intervention. Wai-Po was very lucky only to
have sustained one stab wound and a couple of minor scratches on
the face. Wai-Po said, "There was no doubt that the martial
art discipline instilled willpower, and the skills of riding impact
force were major factors that minimised injury to myself, and ability
to fight against the mindless thugs."
conclusion to the notion of transferable emotional skills learned
in martial art class to that of application in the streets- the
testimonial from Master Tang was graphic and insightful. It is difficult
to know whether his behaviour was natured or nurtured, and whether
the model-theory of emotional control can be replicated among the
general mass. There are certainly plenty of evidences that suggest
repeated mental visualisation, and repeated physical actions do
produce or enhance the desire effective behaviour. Well, maybe
it is the combination of natural instincts and nurture behaviour
that resulted decisive actions under high-threat situations.