The Wild Mind
Kevin Cyr – First Degree Black Belt – Central Academy of Martial Arts
I was in a car accident. I’m one hundred percent safe. This post isn’t all going to be about the accident, it’s a vehicle to explain an important part of the martial arts: the wild mind.
1. The incident:
I was driving home from a family friend’s house. My parents and I took two separate cars. I was with my sister in my car and my parents were in the other. We luckily decided to leave at the same time and take the same route home. My parents were fifty feet behind us when it happened. A bad moment, that went perfectly well.
The other car was turning left in the intersection. I was going straight. I thought he saw me, but he didn’t. He inched into the intersection, whether he was distracted, not paying attention or not looking, who knows, but he thought, “he could make it through.” He couldn’t, “make it through.”
I saw him inching and automatically thought he’d stop. That’s what cars do ninety-nine percent of the time. This car did not. He kept coming. I saw him and swerved to the right, away from his car.
There was a silence before we collided, almost an acceptance of the impact to come, then the jolt of his car hitting mine and the dusty release of the airbags. His front driver’s corner struck the driver’s side tire and slid over my door.
The very first thing I did was turn to Natasha and ask if she was okay. She was, and she asked me the same thing. The airbag dust was suffocating at this point. I tried opening my door, I couldn’t. I squinted through the dust. “Can you open your door?” I asked. Her door opened easily.
2. Wild mind:
This is where mental strength has the potential to shine. The martial arts talk about, to go after goals and achieve promotions, grades, etc. We also stress the ability to focus in chaos.
This is why it’s crucial when training, that if you get hit, slapped, or struck in anyway, YOU KEEP GOING. When you get winded, YOU KEEP GOING. I remember the first time I was winded; I thought I would never breathe again. I crumpled, fell to the ground and took my time getting up.
You can be the most skilled fighter in the world, have the sharpest technique, be the quickest and strongest, but if you get rattled it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how fast and skilled and strong you are, all these things go out the window when you are struck. Mental solidness surpasses physical solidness. Most physically skilled people are strong until they get rattled; once they get rattled they become incoherent, disoriented and lose their technique. I’ve see this countless times while teaching. They’ll be a very good student, always calm, always focused, but when they are pushed, all the practice they’ve done falls apart and reveals how they’d truly act in a real physical situation.
This part of the brain can either be called the instinctive mind or the wild mind. It’s only accessed when something shocking happens, either a car accident or getting punched. There’s no hiding behind false toughness, which people often do; you are stripped of all defences and left with you, just you, and you get to see what lies behind the your walls. If your strength is only part of a facade around you, it is stripped away. If your strength is something weaved into you, then you are left with it.
The wild mind is not something that can be trained easily like a punch, but is situational and you must seize the opportunity:
A couple weeks back I was grappling on a Tuesday night. It was against another Black Belt, someone I’m familiar with, someone who’s familiar with me. He’d gone a couple rounds of a “King of the Hill” type of game. As we fought, he ducked as I brought my knee up. My knee struck his nose with a crunch.
I released him immediately and he sat up. We looked at each other for a moment. He fell to his back again and signalled for me to keep fighting. Now, I didn’t jump back in eager to take advantage of him, I jumped back in because I didn’t want to rob him of the chance to practice his wild mind. He’d been hit and there was a silent understanding between us. I knew why he wanted to keep going. So we kept fighting and once we were done he checked his nose.
In this specific scenario he was building a habit: if he got hit, he would keep going. He was prepping his wild mind for when he really needed it.
3. The Transfer:
The officer told me I had given her the most coherent statement she had ever received. She also told me I was one of the calmest and collected car accident victim she’d dealt with. My mind had been trained that once shocked, once rattled, to hunker down, to strap myself in and streamline myself, whether physically or mentally to what needed to be done.
Having a strong wild mind is not restricted to physical situations. If someone calls you out at the office, do you get rattled, or do you hunker down. The wild mind works on a physical and mental level.
Most train martial arts to learn how defend themselves physically and believe the wild mind is a side effect. No. Training with the goal of becoming unbreakable, unshatterable should be every students drive. Physical efficiency is the result of striving to have a strong wild mind.