Tunnel Vision

Avoiding “Tunnel Vision”

Summary: When fighters become too intense their blood pressure and adrenaline races.  They can lose peripheral vision, even hearing, resulting in lack of awareness of what is going on around them.  In this state they are easily blindsided by other opponents and are unaware of developing threats in the environment.

After fighters have been fighting for some time the subject of “Tunnel Vision” usually becomes a topic. Tunnel Vision is when a fighter loses perspective and awareness of the world surrounding them and instead is focusing solely on one object or objective. As a swordsman, the loss of perception of the world surrounding you can be a fatal flaw as you will be unable to adapt to the environment or see other opponents coming.  The worst part is fighters don’t realize it’s happening.

“Tunnel vision is the loss of peripheral vision with retention of central vision, resulting in a constricted circular tunnel-like field of vision.”


In the heat of conflict fighters often become hyper excited and unaware of sights and sounds surrounding them, so instead focus narrowly upon their one target, an objective or even an emotion or thought. This fixation often leads to defeat as a fighter becomes unable to adapt to the environment, the opponent or simply think “outside of the box”. They are afflicted with a very narrow field of vision and focus and end up often doing the same thing over and over hoping that it will work, often throwing the same shot over and over, swinging wildly with no reason or sometimes simply forgetting to defend themselves.

It is not just in the mind however. Tunnel Vision is not only a Mental state but a Physical one as well. Studies have shown that while in this state, brought on by higher blood pressure and adrenaline, your vision is actually narrowed, with the mind only processing the visual information in your focus, ignoring peripheral vision. Auditory perception is also drastically reduced as awareness of sound drops off dramatically. This is why you can often approach someone affected from the side and they do not see you coming nor hear you.

Mental Training.

To avoid falling into Tunnel Vision mentally, a fighter must practice remaining calm under fire, to perceive the fight, not “look” at it. The difference is letting your senses and mind become aware of everything instead of forcing your consciousness upon one target or aspect during the fight. It comes from mental and emotional discipline acquired over a lot of time spent practicing and fighting at full speed. It is when you force your consciousness to focus on a target or aspect of the fight that promotes Tunnel Vision.

Physical Training.

Physical training is also key to avoiding tunnel vision. You must train constantly so that fighting “becomes as breathing”. This is a state where you can remain calm and in control of your physical responses even while moving, blocking and striking. This is a calm state, where you are ready, but not tense or anxious.

There is another factor to be aware of that physically triggers tunnel vision. When you are moving in a sustained exertion or state, your body runs on it’s natural energy reserves of fat. When you trigger states of high exertion you trigger your body to start burning sugars in the bloodstream. If you over exert for long enough you begin burning close to all sugars. Not only do you seem to become exhausted faster, physiologically you begin to lose peripheral vision and hearing perception in high exertion states.

So the longer you stay above your thresh hold for exertion, in the sugar burning stage, the more explosive your power, but the quicker you will become exhausted and the greater the tunnel vision you will experience.


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