Chances are you've heard of the lady who lifted the car off her child out of sheer force of will. This limit-breaking ability is due to the flow of epinephrine, commonly known as adrenaline. Adrenaline release is a part of "fight or flight" response in humans, preparing us to either meet a threat head on or escape it in some way. The increase in strength or performance for humans during an "adrenaline rush" has not been entirely fleshed out. Needless to say, in some rare cases adrenaline has prompted human beings to perform feats just short of miraculous, but sometimes at the cost of their own well-being.
In this episode of Grappler Baki, we are introduced to a man taken to the absolute brink of death, his adrenaline pumping so hard that his hair falls out, but is saved by his comrades at the last second. In this extremely rare occasion, the soldier's body remembered the feeling of the adrenaline and, in dangerous situations, a second personality would take over, fueled by adrenaline, turning the man into a superman named Gaia.
Nomura, the soldier Baki easily defeated, unburies himself and rises to meet the young Hanma in one-on-one combat as this super soldier. Baki is generally outclassed by Gaia because the adrenaline has pushed his senses and reflexes to superhuman levels. This continues for a while, until Gaia decides to give Baki a little critique on the punishment he's been dishing out to his body through training. He tells Baki that his body will not listen to him because he has abused it using "unnatural" training methods for so long. Gaia says that training in such a fashion is not needed, because all he needs to do become stronger is to increase the flow of adrenaline in his body to meet the need. Baki is stunned, to say the least.
Baki's Body Answers
Once Baki stops thinking about how he is going to defeat Gaia, his body automatically begins to respond to Gaia's attacks. The techniques Baki has practiced thousands of times come to his aid without thought. Muscle memory allows a human being to perform an action not only more efficiently than someone who has never trained at that action, but also (if trained enough) to respond to a stimulus without thought. This is the reason why martial artists, athletes, and anyone who wants to be good at anything have to practice. Tens of thousands of punches and kicks, hours of drilling throws and submissions against live opponents-- without practicing the techniques, they do not become second nature and, in a fight or playing a sport, if you have to think about what you're going to do before you do it, it's probably already too late.
Gaia pulls out his trump card: Environmental Weapons. He claims that anything and everything in the environment is his weapon. As an example, he uses a blade of grass as a knife and then wraps a vine around Baki's neck, hanging him from a tree (with Gaia dangling off his back!). Baki's body answers again with the power to break the very branch the vine was curled around. Baki then says that while Gaia has been pampering his body with adrenaline and then resorting to weapons, he has crafted a body that has no need for such things and a mind that is full of ways to beat another human being in combat. To prove it as such, he simply walks up the shocked Gaia and places both his thumbs and forefingers on the veins in his neck, forcing him to pass out. When he awakes, he admits his defeat and the soldiers invite Baki to stay for dinner.
The majority of the episode was fighting, so there's not a whole lot of training, but I would like to pose a few tasks for you to try:
- Stand at least waist deep in an in-ground pool and try to jump onto the dry land. It's ridiculously hard. If you can do that, good job! Now try stomach deep. Chest deep? Neck deep? If you can do it from neck deep, you're a monster. It's not necessarily a workout, but you can supplement your normal training by practicing this feat once or twice a week for about twenty or thirty minutes. Believe me, you'll be tired enough after just that.
- Make a commitment to pick one technique that you know and practice it like wildfire for 1 week. Practice your other techniques too, but supplement your training with an extra 100 reps a day or so of a technique. Perhaps one you're having trouble with? Also, remember to do both the left and the right sides.
- If you've never sparred hard before, find a friend you trust or ask your martial arts instructor to have a hard sparring class. You need to know what that flood of adrenaline feels like and the things it will do to your body. Just reading about it isn't enough to prepare you for it. Some people just freeze up or pass out. You need to find out where you stand before it's a real "fight or flight" scenario.
That's all for this installment of the Grappler Baki Training Manual. Good luck and train hard!