There is only so much time, as self defense students, that we can or will commit to training. We have job deadlines, families, and other goals. We have funky knees or lumbar vertebrae that complain, especially the next morning after class.
That reality demands, in class, a focus on essentials with an eye on the results. Here’s how it goes…
WE ARE SOCIALIZED, PEACEFUL HUMANS.
WE AVOID CONFLICT. WE ABHOR VIOLENCE.
AT OUR VERY CORE THERE IS A DISINCLINATION
TO REACT, NOT TO MENTION ATTACK. WE JUST
WANT THE BAD MAN TO GO AWAY. UNDERSTANDABLE,
BUT DANGEROUS IN THE MOMENT OF CHAOS.
But that comforting observation is not a psalm for all:
“Violence is a leading cause of death, disability and health care use in the Unite States.” (Dr. Debra Houry, Emory University)
Really? Not cancer? Not accidents? Nope: Humans hurting other humans.
Skip the gloomy statistics. They relate only to others, those unlucky folks somewhere out in the ether. Never us.
But draw near. Below — a few true ones — case summaries of brave individuals caught in the meat grinder of violence:
— SHE WAS BEATEN AT WORK BY A DISGRUNTLED JOB APPLICANT — IN A GOVERNMENT BUILDING — SECURITY ON DUTY.
— HE AND HIS FAMILY WERE STABBED AND BEATEN AT A CAMPGROUND; THE FAMILY BARELY SURVIVED; HE WAS A CALIFORNIA SWAT COP ON VACATION.
— SHE WAS BEATEN AND THROWN DOWN THE STAIRS OF HER UPSCALE SUBURBAN HOME BY AN UNKNOWN ASSAILANT,.. 7:30A.M. — COFFEE TIME.
— HE WAS ROBBED IN CENTRAL BRUSSELS, GETTING OFF THE MORNING AIRPORT SHUTTLE; HE NEVER SAW THE SECOND GUY EASE IN FROM BEHIND.
— SHE WAS MURDERED WHILE HIKING WITH HER DOG ON THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL; HE SEEMED TO BE A PLEASANT ELDERLY MAN; SHE WAS A MARTIAL ARTS STUDENT.
In some cases, the chaos unfolded slowly. For others, the predator sprung an ambush. Regardless of preparation or bravado, when it hits, violence explodes with unimaginable speed and fury.
Here’s the too-often, dreadful reckoning from victims of violence:
“I JUST DIDNT KNOW WHAT TO DO!”
“I FROZE IN DISBELIEF.”
“I HESITATED… WAITED TOO LONG.”
So, what to do? Self defense training (SDT) can do what — matched against such mayhem?
CONSIDER THIS PHILOSOPHY:
“IT IS BETTER TO AVOID THAN TO RUN.
IT IS BETTER TO RUN THAN TO DE-ESCALATE.
IT IS BETTER TO DE-ESCALATE THAN TO FIGHT.
IT IS BETTER TO FIGHT THAN TO DIE.” (Rory Miller)
This is an invaluable cascade to embrace. Rightfully, it suggests that SDT is a composite endeavor – it is as much mental as physical.
On the one hand, students get only limited value from sanitized chalk talk and stats, if their instruction addresses only awareness and prevention.
On the other, some students may become falsely empowered by their combat skills (or weapons). In the moment of chaos, they discover… THEY CAN’T PULL THE TRIGGER…. they can’t do cruel to save their life or a loved one. This reluctance can be deadly.
In broad strokes, SDT IS:
— EXAMINING/VALIDATING ONE’S SELF RESPECT: GIVING PERMISSION TO SELF TO PURSUE LIFE WITHOUT VICTIMIZATION.
— HEATING UP OUR MOST BASIC SURVEILLANCE INSTINCTS OFTEN NUMBED DOWN BY OUR SOCIALIZATION.
— ROLE PLAYING THE DEMANDS OF DE-ESCALATION; SUBMITTING THE EGO.
— PEERING INTO THE PREDATOR PSYCHOSIS, PAST THE DECEITFUL SMILE OF THE RAPTOR.
SELF DEFENSE TRAINING HELPS MITIGATE:
Helps you see it coming (In class you role played this beach rape.)
Helps break the freeze. (You’re injured, like screwed, but you can still think and move.)
SELF DEFENSE TRAINING HELPS YOU WIN:
— to exceed… exceed the attacker’s violence.
— to injure the attacker, immediately! Perhaps you are trapped if not injured.
— to hardwire a short list of strikes to specific targets — eyes, neck, groin, to mention a few.
The goal: incapacitate the assailant, “To make cripples or corpses.” (Rory Miller)
SUCH INTENTIONAL VIOLENCE IS AN ETHICAL LEAP — NOT FOR THE PSYCHOPATH, BUT CERTAINLY FOR THE REST OF US.
To win in the midst of ruthlessness is to survive.
That “win” may not be pretty. Nothing as slick as Hollywood. It’s just that you were able to drive your finger(fingers) deep into his eye socket, he reflexively grabbed his wound, his brutality felled by shock and surprise. Now you control his brain! You can injure him more… or escape.
That’s really how it works. Messy. Cruel. You’ll have regrets, nightmares — even accusations. Point is, you’re still alive to address the aftermath and just maybe, years later, to understand.
Good citizens of WNC: Do dedicate some essential personal time to longevity.
Dedicated to: Irene and John Bryant, Cheryl Dunlap, Meredith Emerson