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Mental States

1. High emotional state: All participants in a confrontation will be in a heightened emotional state (generally more so than if participating in a sporting competition). This could range from being anxious, fearful or even panicked on the one hand or agitated, angry or enraged on the other. These emotional states will impair the individual’s ability to think clearly and perform complicated actions particularly requiring fine motor control. If not controlled such heightened emotional states will also detract from an individual’s ability to co-ordinate even their gross motor movements causing a loss of muscular power.

2. Mental confusion: It is common for the ‘victim’ of an attack to experience a state of mental confusion as they try to make sense of the situation and decide how to respond. Because a confrontation, especially a violent one is so out of the norm for the majority of the people and the emotional state is high the primitive survival responses of the person’s mind usually assume control. That is unless they are highly and appropriately trained (strongest habit wins).

3. Alcohol: Alcohol plays a significant part in aggressive behaviour in specific situations, notably where there are groups of male strangers, excessive drinking, low comfort and high boredom (Tomson, Homel and Tommeny 1989). In this study of violence at licensed premises, both the victim and offender had consumed a significant amount of alcohol prior to an assault. Drugs are also a factor but are nowhere as common as alcohol induced violence.

4. Intentions and abilities unknown: Unlike martial arts sparring, those involved in a confrontation may have little to no idea of what their opponent’s (ultimate) intentions are, what they are capable of or how they intend to conduct themselves [1]. Parties to the confrontation could well be operating by a different set of ‘rules’, with differing abilities, motivations and intended outcomes. This heightens anxiety and the mental confusion.

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