Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Edges

This is just about edges.  Maybe someday I'll be ready to write about lines.

There is only so much your body can do.  But you can never tell, I can never tell, at least, when the edge is psychological and when it is truly the physical edge.  Take getting strangled unconscious.  The progression, for me, is a rushing noise in my ears.  Then my vision starts to tunnel, collapsing from the side, sometimes with a red rim, sometimes black.  Not sure why.  Then I hear a single high-pitched note.  Then I pass out.

I'm pretty sure that's a real, physical threshold... but I've heard of people going unconscious in as little as three seconds.  And that may not be physically possible.  I read once that during the French revolutions one of the scientists timed how long the head tried to talk after a decapitation and got something like 5-10 seconds. I can't believe any strangle would be more efficient than a beheading.  And I once saw a guy I barely tapped swear he was KO'd... but he always came up with some excuse to get out of any physical training.  I think it was ego defense, not unconsciousness.

We used to do a drill called the "Chinese Chair." The first time I did it only two of us finished a whole minute and neither of us could walk afterwards.  Our coach said of the people that collapsed that if they could walk afterwards, their minds gave out, not their legs.

So, edges.  That edge when you've been concussed and you know you need to finish things now before you pass out.  I assume it's like the edge where you are bleeding out, but I've never lost that much blood.

Total muscle failure in your fingers, but you are 80 feet or more up a cliff and can't go down.  You must finish.  And that was conditioned by, of all things, milking cows.  You don't stop with muscle failure.  You stop only when the cow is done or she will develop mastitis.

The edge where you haven't slept in 30 hours and you get the page.  No way out.  Another eight hours of focused... it's not alertness.  Part of your brain is dead.  But it is a focused determination.  Zombie stuff.

Joe, with blisters popped, exhausted, thirty miles into a mountain hike.  Locked on to the edge, one foot forward, other foot forward.  The whole world just focused pain and repetition.

Belaying as hypothermia sets in.  So cold the shivers can only be called convulsions.  Whole body spasms but the grip has to be tight.

Is pain a mental edge or a physical edge?  Taser felt pretty absolute... But people have learned to function.  Not well or doing anything complex, maybe.  And I've seen two people with the same physical injury, and one was completely incapacitated and the other just got to work.

You find edges, they change.  And they change when you avoid them too.

16 comments:

Todd Skipton said...

What is the Chinese Chair drill, please?

Josh K. said...

Tod, if it is what I think it is, it is were you squat down with your knees bent at 90 dergrees with your back aganst a wall. looks like you are sitting in an invisible chair.

shugyosha said...

WRT unconsciousness, how would you classify brain shot-down safeties? C sudden loss of blood pressure will shut your brain off, not because you can't work but because your brain has a "scram" red button for these cases.

Take care. Enjoy & welcome back.

Scott said...

Practice improves me. In bjj first time I feel a new sub it works great on me. Tenth or hundred time the triangle or armbar still works, of course, but I can handle more pain, last longer. New lifts hurt more the first time than the tenth time. PRs hurt more than really heavy singles. Shin conditioning was a real eye opener....

Old Bull Lee said...

Josh K - in the Egoscue physical therapy program there is an exercise that is what you describe, I think it's called Air Bench.

It is hard and painful the first few times you do it, but if your muscles and joints are aligned properly (other exercises in the program are supposed to help achieve this) you can work your way up to well over 2 minutes. I have and I'm not that tough.

Anonymous said...

It is mental. Look at the men that complete Hell Week to become Navy SEALs. It is their mental toughness that kept them from giving up while physically superior men throw in the towel.

Jake said...

My Muay Thai instructor has often warned our fighters that they should never be the ass that comes back to the locker room after losing and throws a temper tantrum. If you've got the energy to throw your gloves and punch holes in walls after a fight, you weren't fighting hard enough.

Learning how to push your limits is a whole other skill though. Not everyone learns it. Not everyone can teach it either.

Chester said...

Todd had the same question as I did. My guess was similar to Josh's but without the use of the wall. Something like a deep horse stance with legs and feet closer together. Maybe?

Anonymous said...

Part of the difference with a strangle (compared to blood loss or decapitation) could be red-out?

Anonymous said...

Pain is individual, largely based on psychological factors and conditioning. Performance in sports is often intensity and a desire to win over obvious skills. That is a constant in a lot of life.

Absolutes are hard to come by in when any particular intangible/flexible mind is the driver behind a completely individual body. Is amazing what we can do, and just as amazing what a lot of us don't do based on all these factors.

What we think we can do, and then actually try is where we can push out on our edges. And, you might find most of your edges are actually fuzzy if you push at them, depending I imagine on how much knowledge you have at your disposal in managing personal variables.

Must be the end of the day Friday that gives me the urge to daydream and pontificate here. Thanks again for a reason to get away with that.

-Billy G.

nry said...

Chinese chair...oh the memories come flooding back! We had to do this with our arms outstretched forward, belt over our hands...I'm sure it taught us something useful, or at least that's what they told us at the time, along with channeling chi through our outstretched arms so nobody could bend them. Magical stuff ;)

The Strongest Karate said...

Closest I ever came to the edge was on my first day of Kyokushin training.

It was July. Florida. No A/C. No fans.

90 minutes of intense training. Tunnel vision. Hearing muffled. Fingers numb. Legs shake. Tongue tingled.

Made it through. Barely.

Gwynn said...

This post reminds me of the last motorcycle accident I had (it was almost 20 years ago). It was my fault, and I had my girlfriend on the back. I felt the hit and then I was down in the intersection (a really really busy one). I started to pass out, but not because I was hurt. I was in denial. I had done something really bad, and thought if I could just sleep it would all go away. I had absolutely no injuries (my girlfriend had a sore back afterwards), but the paramedics insisted I must be bleeding internally, because of my behavior. Guilt, shame, and that African river.

Gwynn said...

This post reminds me of the last motorcycle accident I had (it was almost 20 years ago). It was my fault, and I had my girlfriend on the back. I felt the hit and then I was down in the intersection (a really really busy one). I started to pass out, but not because I was hurt. I was in denial. I had done something really bad, and thought if I could just sleep it would all go away. I had absolutely no injuries (my girlfriend had a sore back afterwards), but the paramedics insisted I must be bleeding internally, because of my behavior. Guilt, shame, and that African river.

Flinthart said...

Physiological shock is interesting. I cut my foot very badly once, to the point where the people around me kind of panicked. I kept my head. Cleared the wound. Organised a makeshift bandage. Found someone to offer me a lift to a nearby hospital.

Only after I reached the hospital proper and tried to walk into the lobby did things go grey around the edges. Then I got dizzy, and they had to put me in a wheelchair.

It wasn't bloodloss. It was shock: bodily reaction to trauma. But for some reason, until I was safely on hospital territory, it simply did not happen.

On the other hand, I once had to carry a friend out to his car because he got a greenstick fracture in his hand after badly handling an incoming kick. The break was very minor, but the shock response put him on the floor. Every time he tried to stand up, he passed out.

Lisa said...

I think I've been avoiding edges.

Hmm.