Flow State

Posted: November 17, 2008 in Fighting, Mental health
Last week I talked about how my mind and body went and hung out in different places a couple of times.  I’ve been doing some thinking about that, as I promised I would.  What I came up with: I didn’t dissociate.  Although I have been under a bit of stress lately, even collectively it hasn’t been bad enough that my mind would have checked out.  One of the incidents was a mild panic attack, and the circumstances of it aren’t things I wish to discuss right now.  The first one, which happened during my fight with Li at Coronation, is the cool one.

I’ve felt the feeling before.  It just took me time to recognize it.  The aftermath of it came with the knowledge that for the duration of the fights, my art was as perfect as I was capable of.  The last memorable one was a fairly spectacular (for me) fight against Count (at the time) Alrik.  I was exhausted, and presumably he was too, but we had a fight worthy of recognition in court at Glory.  I was able to recall enough of it that I didn’t think about the fact that something was different.  Mostly I attributed it to my weariness and some fortuitous timing.  Next, it happened in my fight with Li.  This time, I was in and out as the match progressed, and when he bested me I was satisfied that the fight was good but I couldn’t bring enough of the bout back into my head for my satisfaction.  I worried that I had dissociated myself from the fight.  Most recently, I was at a fighter practice wherein we were doing melees (team battles) (pronounced may-layz).  Our side was defending the gate, and teams were about even, with ranks growing thin on both sides.  I charged their line, which consisted of two polearms, and 4 shields.  The account of what happened is as near as I can reconstruct without seeing video.  I crashed through the front rank, killed someone in the second, turned, killed the man I had just plowed through, stepped, and controlled a man to perform a death from behind while defending myself from the polearm next to him, then finished off the polearm.  The whole thing took about as long as it takes to read the description.

About the fourth time I thought through that last little overkill,  I figured it out.  I had been slipping into what is called a flow-state.  I had exited the place that I normally occupy, where conscious thought and decision making slow one’s speed of movement.  This also applies to other activities.  Slipping into a flow state gifts one with the ability to be incredibly productive.  The person (which I’m going to call the Flow-rider) is able to accomplish a great deal as long as they can remain undisturbed.  Things like bathroom breaks and food exit the rider’s consciousness.

There is only one problem.  The SCA tournament format, and indeed most of my life, is not conducive to entering the flow state.  I have to figure out how to trigger it without the normal methods.


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