The Threat of Violence: That Isn’t Really a Threat …,, Part I – Marc MacYoung

Part of the Derailing Social Justice Bullies series

There’s a new breed of bully out there.

The best summation is he or she is a religious fanatic, but over secular not theological ideologies. Whether you call them crusades or jihads, many of these folks are on an attack campaign to spread their beliefs. These true believers are going to force others to convert to the zealot’s superior ideals, morality, beliefs, and dogmas—or be dominated by them. Theirs is a righteous cause, a new morality, a utopia of compassion, tolerance, and equality. You will conform to these ideals. I’ll show you not only how they use violence, but the threat of violence to intimidate and bully you.

Just so you know although their ‘official enemy’ are those who think differently, their favorite target are those who think like them—but are not orthodox enough. (Google the term, “struggle session.”) Just because you might share some of the same ideas doesn’t mean you won’t be bullied by these tactics.

While verbal and emotional abuse are their most common behavior committing physical violence in the name of their righteous cause isn’t off the table. But here’s a modern twist: A common tactic of these secular fanatics is to physically attack while either screaming they are ‘the victim’ or denying that they are attacking. More than that if you react to their violence—you are the bad guy.

This is a series of articles about how to handle their preferred tactics, starting with threatening you with violence. In case you don’t know, I am a U.S. court-recognized expert in violence reconstruction. In this article, I’m going to share with you part of the process I use to analyze what happened in a case—specifically the threat of and lead up to physical violence. (You’re getting tricks of the trade here, Buckaroo.)

Here’s a homework assignment: Go watch videos of violent confrontations—but with this process in place. Since this is an election year (in the U.S.), the headlines are screaming about peaceful protestors being attacked and victimized. One of my favorites is the poor innocent fifteen-year-old who was sexually assaulted and then pepper sprayed while peacefully protesting at a political rally. There are a lot of people who are really angry about this innocent child being abused this way. But is that what really what happened? We can actually check it against video. In doing so, we can practice the analysis process I’m about to show you.

Step one in this process find the longest, uncut, raw video you can of the incident itself. Often shorter versions have undergone creative editing (to support steps two and three). But also know two thirty-second videos can—through editing—emphasize different things. There’s a common ten seconds, but this one has the twenty seconds before and that one has twenty seconds after.

Going to the MSNBC Web page, the version they present of the pepper spray incident is twenty-five seconds. While the raw footage doesn’t support the allegation of sexual assault, it makes it look like the spraying came out of nowhere. (The poor innocent child!)

Here are two longer versions (and extra angles):

This is thirty seconds and focuses less on the aftermath and more on what happened before incident—like her getting in people’s faces and striking someone before being pepper sprayed.


Has thirty-second and twenty-second videos. Both with extra emphasis on the aftermath of her tearfully walking away.

When it comes to video, longer and uncut is better. But you can piece together a more overall knowledge by looking at different edits and versions. It’s like reading about the same incident from several different—and diverse—news sources. You get a better overview.

Steps two and three of the process are critical for several reasons. The biggest is because the way our brains work words and vision are closely linked in what we perceive. (That’s why TV and movies are so powerful.) This word and image combination literally creates our ‘reality.’ We are very susceptible to words influencing what we can see. I would say perception, but words ‘blind us’ to what we can see. It’s part of what is called selective attention.

Here’s a little test you can take…

(Or Google: Selective attention, basketball, video—and take the test) Go ahead, do it before you read on. G’head, g’head.

If you took that test, you’ll now understand why steps two and three are critical.

Step two is skip the headlines, taglines, titles, pundits, and reading the article before you watch the video. Go straight to the video. You want raw, unedited video before words. This is important because often these other sources—especially headlines—support the narrative they want you to believe and that the video is edited toward. That’s a very powerful combo, influencing not just what you think you saw, but your ability to later change your mind in the presence of new information. (It’s possible, but it’s hard.) The headline of the Think Progressive article spins ‘a child is sexually assaulted then further victimized’ narrative as the set up for the rest of a ‘what evil, violent, rat bastards those guys are’ article. Once that idea is planted, it’s hard to see what really happens on the video.

Step three is the must do. In fact, it’s so important, I’m going to make it a stand alone paragraph …

Watch the video for first time (or maybe the first few times) with the sound off!

The reasons for this are legion. One of which—especially in these days of cell phone videos—is often the cameraman provides a running commentary (assuming that the cameraman isn’t screaming, “Kick his ass!”) He’s telling you what you are seeing and where to look. Way too often this commentary keeps you from seeing the gorilla. (If you took the selective attention test, you’ll understand.)

Two is even without narration, the screaming, yellin,’ and bellerin’ will distract you from the physical actions of the participants. Remember, emotions are contagious. If you hear someone screaming in anger—even on video—you’re going to get excited and miss important visual details. More than that, we tend to look at the face of the person we’re listening to. So you tend to focus on the screamer’s face not the physical actions of that person or others. Again, it’s that damned gorilla you don’t notice.

Three, is mute helps prevent you from rooting for one side over the other.

Those are just some of the reasons why ‘no sound the first time’ is critical. Focus on the physical action. Do it without being emotionally invested, judgmental, or biased.

Step four is watch it again with the sound on (or read the article). I should warn you—odds are you’re going to experience cognitive dissonance.

You’ve seen the video. What we’ve done at this point is immunized ourselves from being told what we saw. (As opposed to being told what you’re about to see or are seeing.) We’ve broken that operant conditioning and selective attention trick. Way too often you’re going to read the article, comments, etc., and wonder “how the hell can someone get that version” out of what you just saw.

Using that video of the pepper spraying as the example, which version tracks better with what you saw:

1.)”After being sexually assaulted at a rally, a fifteen-year-old girl was pepper sprayed by a supporter” or…

2.) “She was aggressing against people, her friends were trying to hold her back, she punched someone and got sprayed, then she walked away.”?

We’ve seen things that cannot be unseen. We’ve kept words from establishing a bias or narrative. Then again, you’ll usually end up watching it again to try to find the basis of the words. (“She was groped.”) Where the hell is that supposed to have happened? You’ve also seen things that are going to be a whole lot harder to explain away—like her hitting someone before being sprayed. (“Well the reason she hit was she was groped.” “That’s not what I saw happen.”) More than that, you’ll be able to articulate what you did see—especially if you take the next step.

Step five—especially if you’ll be arguing with people about it (remember I deal with lawyers)—is break the video into five-second chunks and watch them a few times.

What is happening in that five-second chunk? Not what is going to happen. Look closely at what is happening. You analyze what actions and circumstances you see in that particular chunk. As you watch these chunks over and over put your attention on different things. (One time watch his right hand, next time his left. Now do the same with the other person.) Watch for what is there just as much as what is not there.

When you do this, three things happen. One, you will usually find what happened is way different than the story of what happened. If the story is true certain things will be on the video. If not, question the story. For example, that she was ‘groped’ before she was pepper sprayed. Really? You know what? There are certain common reactions a woman has when she’s groped—especially when her reaction involves hitting someone. They happen fast and without thought. Watch any of those videos for the reactions and timing you think would be there.

Two, you’ll see even more details about the situation that you didn’t see before. For example, the expression on her face combined with the body movement that indicates she was hitting someone. What’s interesting about that is we unconsciously clench our jaws when we physically attack. If we expect a counter attack (or are being attacked), we drop our jaw to protect our throats. If we don’t, we thrust our chins out as if to bite. Look at where her jaw is.

Three is how often the supposed ‘victim’ was using the threat of violence to bully, intimidate, and coerce—and it backfired. Or that the so-called ‘victim’ was physically violent first. Not defense, the person attacked first.

“Uhhhh. Wait a minute … what?” Yeah. This is a biggie. The reason I used this protest video as an example is this is exactly what happens. She was aggressing, threatening, and physically attacked first—yet she’s being presented as the victim.

(As a follow up, I’ve since seen a longer clip. One that starts earlier. She does accuse someone [“You”] of groping her. But there is a five to ten second delay before she throws the punch. This delay takes it out of the realm of immediate defensive action—self-defense— and makes it a deliberate and separate attack.)

Self-Defense Failure Zone – Rory Miller

Rory Writes: This was just going to be an example for the last article on reframing, but it grew into an article of it’s own.

One aspect of self-defense that is rarely addressed are low level predators and creeping victimizations. The low-level predators are the ones who keep their victims uncomfortable, but never cross the line into overt, concrete, actionable behaviors. The constant innuendos that never rise to the level of sexual harassment. The colleague who seems to enjoy violating personal space but doesn’t touch, or touches but only “accidentally” and deniably.  

Creeping victimization ranges from the charming predator who romances a lonely victim, slowly acquiring access to the victim’s car and house and bank account. They victim may never even believe it was fraud. Or the cult that asks for one tiny favor until it seems normal and ups the level of the favor until a member is living with people he or she was assigned to live with, signing over their paychecks to the cult and getting an allowance…and it happened so gradually it seems normal. See Campfire Tales From Hell Create Space (2012)

Low level predators and creeping victimization are difficult problems to solve from the self-defense mindset. The self-defense mindset too often teaches from a passive beginning, in a reactionary mode and with the assumption the problem is simple.

Passive beginning: “There you are, minding your own business and suddenly the office creep is standing right behind you, setting it up so that you touch him when you turn…”

Reactionary mode: “… so what should you do?” Passive/reactionary puts the bad guy in control. He has the power, he calls the shots, and you are constantly playing catch-up when he is acting, and you are prey to be studied the rest of the time. There is no agency in this.

Simple solutions. “Set clear boundaries.” Excellent advice, but this happens in the real world. When you do set clear boundaries, when you are assertive, there will be a price to pay. Bad guys are very good at punishing good guys for taking a stand. Maybe starting a gossip campaign at work, or using social media to try to get you fired or counter-accusations that you are the one being aggressive.

The self-defense mindset is inefficient for complex problems. For that matter, it’s not that efficient even fro self-defense situations. In the real world, most attacks have antecedents and will have after-effects, win or lose. They happen in a complex world of social interaction ranging from the reaction of your friends to the response of law enforcement. And passive beginnings or reactive timing makes it very difficult to recover and succeed.

The conflict management mindset, on the other hand takes advantage of each aspect.

An active mindset and an active beginning. You are part of this game from before the start. Dealing with low level creepers in the office you learn who they are and how they operate. You create your support system and gather allies from the beginning. In the self-defense mindset you call the police after the fact. In the conflict management mindset, you have been making friendships and alliances from day one and realize that those friendships are part of the world that the creeper must navigate.

Even dealing with the very rare stranger attack, the conflict manager trains beforehand, not out of fear but because life is better when you are stronger and more skilled. You are alert beforehand not out of paranoia but because people are interesting to watch.

Participatory mode. Reacting lets the threat dictate the game and the rules. You are not a pawn. This is your game too. You act, and that forces the threat to react. You have the power to take control of the initiative, the power to change the game and dictate your own set of rules.

In the creeper scenario this is the ability to choose to see the relationship as something other than low-level predator vs. toy. You might also be co-workers. Have a network of friends or business relationships in common. You can even close to be the predator in the relationship.

I hesitate to write that. The simple fact is that your mind and how you see a situation has immense power in how you act and how you are perceived. In the ecology of violence, the low-level creepers are the scavengers. Rats scurry away from lions. I find people are very uncomfortable experimenting with their mental power to change. They either fear they will damage their identity or that it is unnatural.

As to identity, your “self” is a wisp of smoke. Are you the same person before and after your morning coffee? After two days with our sleep? If your “self” was solid enough to be threatened, you wouldn’t have moods. You are not protecting yourself, but your ego.

Unnatural? Then why do all children play at this constantly? How much of your childhood did you spend being a great explorer or a soldier, playing cops and robbers and cowboys and indians? “Let’s pretend” is a universal game among children, and I believe that kids are forced out of it because the ability to go chameleon at that level will make them too powerful for their parents and society to predict and control.

Changing who you choose to be has immense power, if you have the courage to embrace it. Just sayin’.

In the stranger self-defense scenario, participation allows the justified pre-emptive strike. It allows and encourages you to verbally control the situation before the threat does. It gives you active protection from the threat’s use of psychological control.

Complexity. Recognizing that situations happen in an immense network of social interaction, in a physical environment that is cluttered and messy, in a complex swirl of emotion, cognition and social conditioning is a superpower. It may seem complicated, but it is only acknowledging that the level of complexity you know in every other part of your life exists here as well. This is something you deal with every day. You are good at it. Unless you let the other person set the rules of the game.

Each level of that complication is something you can use. You can use the interactions between the levels as well. When you see the world this way the victor in an encounter is rarely the strongest or the most evil. This worldview works for the creative and the smart. And you are smarter and more creative than most creepers, right?

That is why it is so critical to bad guys to keep you in the reactive, self-defense mindset. They control your mind so that you limit your own options.

In stranger self-defense, understanding complexity allows one to recognize when other resources can be used to prevent the danger, like screaming for help before the threat gets you to an isolated place. It encourages one to use verbal skills and physical skills simultaneously both to give a psychological edge over the threat and to groom witnesses. It changes that cluttered and chaotic environment from a set of hazards to a set of tools.

Passive, reactionary and simple mindsets limit your ability to respond. Embracing the complexity and your role as an active participant increases your agency. If you see the world as a fascinating complex game, you can become a master at that game.


Look Around You – Terry Trahan

Since the late 1980’s and the publication of Marc MacYoung’s book, Cheap Shots, Ambushes, and Other Lessons, one of the go-to buzzwords in the self defense world has been awareness.

Be aware, stay aware, head on a swivel. It is great advice, but unfortunately, this is as far as it goes. Nobody really explains it, nobody tells you what you need to be aware of. They just throw it out there. There really is a difference between awareness and paranoia, but without being knowledgeable about it, it is very easy to slide into paranoia.

The first thing you need to establish in order to have an awareness is what is the baseline for your area, both neighbourhood and workplace.

I make this difference because every place has a different normal, and not paying attention to these differences causes a lot of people to make mistakes, and possibly overreact.

I like to start closer to home, so that is where we will start here.

What is the baseline in your residence, especially in an apartment complex or condo. Noise level, timings of the common comings and goings, delivery people, festivals in the area. You need to look at it a little further out and include your block and neighbourhood area. For instance;

  • Is there a homeless population?
  • If so, what is their “schedule” of travel and ingress/egress from the area?
  • Are there businesses or bars/restaurants?
  • If so who are the patrons and what sort of hours do they open?

All these things go into establishing the norm for the area. If you get used to this, the sounds, sights, smells and vibe of the place, anything outside of that trips your trigger as being different, therefore something you need to pay more attention to. Then do the same in your workplace and locale around your business.

The next step is to pay attention to your internal environment, what is in your head, what distracts you, what assumptions you have that masks or obscures the reality in your perception.

This establishes what I would call environmental awareness. You are confident and comfortable with the ebb and flow of your area, and any anomalies stand out. Environmental awareness is the base and core of everything else, without it, you can’t develop any other kind of awareness.

The next stage of awareness would be developing what is termed Situational awareness, and this is what most people are talking about when they tell you to be aware.

Situational awareness is when the things in your environment are disturbed to the point you notice something is amiss, and you need to pay attention to identify it, and then you get to choose the proper reaction and respond.

As you can see, environmental awareness is the foundation for all the different forms awareness takes. If you can’t spot the differences in your norm, it blinds you to what is happening, and what options are available and open to you.

Situational awareness also leads to the ability to see the different options available, what tools are around to be used, and if there are any escape routes handy. Without this kind of awareness, you are operating blind, and cannot make good decisions.

Work to develop both kinds of awareness, and your ability to get along in the world will increase.


What the Pro’s know – Mr. Brassy McKnuckles

When you need a job done, do you go with the cheapest and least experienced contractor? I mean hey money is always an issue and if you can save a buck why not. Because when you hire a professional you are paying for knowledge and experience and he or she is going to cost you a lot more than the guy you hire out by the local giant home supply store.  Sure it’s cheaper but you are paying for what you get and all the headaches that go along with it. Think I am kidding, go talk to people that use a public defender to represent them in a court of law and you will begin to see what a professional you are paying can do for you. One of my favorite things to tell a potential client is that you think it’s expensive to hire a pro then go ahead and hire an amateur and see just how costly it gets.

So now that I have that shit out of the way I am going to tell you why there is a huge fucking difference between Professional Violence and Self-defense or Amateur night fighting. When I was a kid I read one of my dad’s westerns and one scene has stuck with me throughout my entire life. A punk kid is drinking in a bar when an old timer walks in for a drink. He is one of the old mountain men and the kind of man that other hard men walk clear of. The kid is trying to make a name for himself and despite the warnings of some of the hard cases drinking with him he begins to prod and push the old man. Calling him names and making fun of the way he is dressed. The old man ignores him and the kid gets madder and madder, till he calls the old man something that he can’t take back.  He braces himself and tells the old man to draw at which the mountain man shoots him in the chest with a big .50 Hawkins he’s been holding in his hand while drinking.  This one scene has stuck with me for my entire life. When it’s time for violence then it’s time to do it right

I watch these videos on the computer and laugh my ass off not only at the time some of these guys take to finish a fight but the amount that people comment on the fight and say things that show just how ignorant they are of real world violence, one of my favorites is the keyboard warrior that goes off on a rant about how if the cops were so fucking tough then why did it take 4 or 5 of them. Listen up dickhead the cops are pros and use the amount of force necessary to get the job done, and that is the difference between amateurs and professional level violence. Cops, the Military, bouncers, hired thugs whatever the need there is a professional to fit it.  

I was trying to explain to another contributor to the magazine just what pro level violence was and I used this purely fictional explanation.

My crew and I were hired to collect a large amount of money for a local sports enthusiast that had wagered on the outcome of certain events. One of the other parties in the wager had decided not to pay what he owed for his lack of foresight into the outcome of the event. I gathered up the gang and we made our way over to a local drinking establishment to explain why his course of actions were purely unacceptable for our employer.

 Three of my cohorts and myself went to where the gentleman was enjoying a nice frothy beverage and sat down with him, me in the front and my friends to either side of him. I asked him if he knew why we were there. He said yes, and I explained to him the course of action we were going to be forced to take if the money he owed was not paid. He agreed that he had made a very poor choice and that if I would be so kind as to take a message to my employer that he would be paid in full the very next day. I told him that it would just thrill me plum to death to do so but I needed to be paid for my services with gas prices being so high that I needed a little something to make it worth my time to do so. I admired his watch and he had almost $200.00 cash on him. So I took both as payment for delivering his message and asked him to please be prompt in his payment of my employer. Then I asked him if he ever got that big old tree stump out of his front yard. He said no he had not and then after a few seconds asked me how I knew where he lived. I just smiled at him and the four of us walked away I told him I expected payment in full after the bank opened in the morning or that stump would be the least of his worries.

This is an example of what I like to call Verbal Violence, simple explanation backed by sufficient threat of what will occur if the demands of the situation are not met. The key to this type of violence is to make sure you are able to back up the threat in a way that insures the problem will not happen again.

Now let’s take this to the next level or what is called disciplinary violence. Rory Miller terms it an educational beat down and for most folks that is as good a term as any.  So the guy doesn’t come across with his end of our arrangement, and me being a man of my word, I go to take care of business. I gather up the crew and we begin hunting the gentleman, because we don’t get paid till the employer gets paid. We go stake out his work, home and hangouts and as soon as one of us spots him we converge. Now don’t get me wrong, I would have much rather he had paid his bill and never to have seen him again. It doesn’t take long and he shows up at one of the bars that he frequents. We go over and one of the guys goes in to scout out the situation. He is alone and the scout waits till he goes to the restroom to signal us. We go in and make a B line for the restroom. One of the crew stops at the restroom door to prevent interference and the other five go in. We surround him and with no fanfare two of the guys begin beating him.

The correct application of violence is to use enough force to achieve the goal without going over the limit. After just a few seconds “Mr. Idonthavetopay” begins crying and explaining that he had the money and would take it to my employer right away. I tell him that he should give me the money and I would take it to my employer. He complained that I would just steal the money and that’s when I hit him in the mouth. I then explained to him that we are professionals and that kind of thing was a sure way to end us getting another job.  We took the money to our employer and got our pay. This type of thing is good for business. No he wouldn’t call the police because even if all of us were arrested he knew that at some point in time on of our brothers would be waiting for him and he didn’t want to pay the bill for that on. This is one of the truths about the majority of people that live on the outskirts of society. They are subject to a different style of taxation for doing business and subject to punishments that don’t involve prison.

Now we are going to look at the third type of Professional Violence, the hard job. Say a crew moves in and begins selling illegal products in an area that has in the past been controlled by someone that we do business with on a regular bases. He or she might call us and ask for assistance in remedying this situation and after negotiation over price we would go to work.  Intelligence gathering, recon, watching members of the new business venture. Form a plan and then implement it. Begin taking out members of the other crew if feasible and if not target the leadership. Cost them money, rob their members, interfer with their money train. Don’t give them a break. Use the police as a secondary strike team by giving them as much information as needed to break up the new business. Do whatever it takes to accomplish the job. If it comes down to it take out the leadership through active intervention.

This could go many different ways but I will only focus on one of them right now. We as a full crew would find and where the leader like to hang out, and most of the time this type of person wants to be seen and known as a player in the game. That’s one of the big differences between small time hoodrats and the really big dangerous players. Big players stay in the shadows and control things for behind many layers of protection. Getting to those types of individuals is far beyond a small crews reach and better left alone. Know your limitations and operate within your parameters. Overreaching can and will get you killed.

After watching and being patient Mr. X’s habits become known. Where he like to go, his preference in women, cars, drugs, everything is valuable as a possible edge. There are two ways to handle this situation. One is Hard Work the other is an Easy Job.  I am going to concentrate on the Hard Work to show you how Professional Violence works. Mr. X leaves the bar that he like to show off in. He may have an escort or he may not. For this scenario we will say that he is overconfident and not afraid of possible threats against him. We as a crew will be waiting outside. As soon as we can, we will surround him, hit him with pepper spray then tazer him. When he is down, out come the hammers and Mr. X’s legs and hands get broken in many different places.

I would then explain to him that his choice of business location need to change or the next time he will not even hear what hits him. Overwhelming force applied correctly can and will often stop the need for things to escalate any farther. If Mr. X does not listen to reason the next step is called easy work and I won’t talk about it.  I hope that this short article helps you understand the difference between how Violence Professionals view the use of force versus how two guys getting into an argument and fighting in a parking lot. Or how self-defense situations are completely different than getting on the wrong side of hard people.

The Importance of Awareness in Self Defence – Darren Norton

What if it was possible that all Violent people looked the same as each other?
If that was true, and we knew what it was that gave them away, would that reduce the chances of ever falling victim to their attacks?


But in reality Muggers, Rapists and other violent criminals rarely look any different than normal people.

However! There is good news; violent criminals can be recognised by their behaviour.

If you are aware of your environment, you will be able to recognise a problem as it unfolds and stay one step ahead of a potentially bad situation. That is the importance of Situational Awareness.

Communication is Predominantly Non Verbal

when we communicate; we show our intent in three ways. 7% of your ability to interpret that intent is based on our words, 38% through our tone of voice, and 55% is projected through our body language.

So why is this important you ask yourself!

Well a large aspect of Self Defence involves the communication process. Human predators don’t just jump on the first person that walks by. There is always an evaluation process or what is known as the interview that occurs where they deliberately or unconsciously assess the “victim potential” of a target.

In carrying out the victim evaluation or Interview, they will project their intentions by watching, following and even testing you as a potential victim. Their body language may show signs of nervousness, intoxication, looking around for witnesses, perhaps indicators of accomplices or even a concealed weapon.  If you know the relevant cues to watch for, you can spot the intent before an assault happens.

Situational Awareness is the ability to read people and situations and anticipate the probability of violence before it happens. Through knowledge and awareness you will know what to look for and disciplining yourself to pay attention to what is happening around you.
Awareness is not about being fearful or paranoid. On the contrary, it should be reassuring and build confidence. 

Awareness is a relaxed state of alertness that can be strengthened and improved with practice. It is the ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, thoughts, emotions, or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of something. In biological psychology, awareness is defined as a human’s or an animal’s perception and cognitive reaction to a condition or event.

You don’t have to go through life constantly scanning every shadow and corner, but the level of awareness should be appropriate to the circumstances you are in.
Some circumstances call for a greater degree of vigilance than others. Obviously, you would want to be more aware when walking alone to your car at night than out with friends in broad daylight.

What is Successful Self Defence?

The importance of awareness has a lot to do with how you define success in Self Defence.  That definition determines the strategies you implement to achieve it.

Many people confuse the ability to defend themselves with their ability to fight. Physical skills are important but those skills are only a small piece of the puzzle.

Broken down it equates to 60% Psychological – 25% Emotional and only 15% Physical.

If your idea of successful Self Defence is fighting off an attacker then your solution will be directed at learning physical techniques only, but you would be missing the point.
Success in Self Defence is not just about winning the fight (although that is important if it gets to the physical) but more importantly avoiding or defusing it.  The ultimate success in self-defence is when nothing happens!
If that’s not possible, consider this general rule of thumb:

If you can’t prevent it, then avoid it. If you can’t avoid it, defuse it. If you can’t defuse it, escape. If you can’t escape, then fight. If you do have to fight your way out of a bad situation, it should be as a last resort, not your first.
The sooner you recognise a potential threat, the more options you have to respond to it.

Imagine a time line spanning between the time a predator first forms the intent to commit a violent crime and the moment he begins to carry it out.
The time it takes you to detect, recognize and respond, determines your options and how successful your actions are likely to be. The sooner you act the more flexible and deliberate you can be in avoiding, escaping or responding to the situation.

Awareness strategies focus primarily on the pre incident phase of the encounter; to the cues and signals you can detect and recognise that will allow you to anticipate the event before it occurs.

Let us, for a minute imagine this scenario.

You plan to drive from home to your friend’s house which is miles away.  At the beginning of your journey, you have a variety of options available to you on how you are going to go get there.  You can choose from a variety of routes and make provisions for unexpected car trouble, delays and detours.  You have options.
The closer you get to your friends house, the more limited you are with your options and the flexibility of your travel plans.  On the threshold of arriving you only have two options, they are pull up and stop or don’t.

Self Defence is like that.  The sooner you detect and recognise a situation unfolding, the more options you have to respond to it.  The longer those cues go undetected, the more limited you are about what you can do to influence the situation in your favour.  If your first recognition of an assault is the physical attack, then you’re dangerously limited to reacting.

Tribalism – Garry Smith

There are may definitions of what constitutes tribalism out there and I chose the Cambridge Dictionaries Online one for its simplicity and clarity. I needed something workable, not overcomplicated, as a lens to look at the martial arts/self defence world through So here is the definition from CDO.

1 The state of existing as a tribe, or a very strong feeling of loyalty to your tribe.

2 A very strong feeling of loyalty to a political or social group, so that you support them whatever they do.

Recently I have had a few long chats with fellow school owners in other pats of the UK about the extent of tribalism that seems endemic in the industry. They, like I, continually try to stay away from getting sucked into it. The strap line of this magazine, truth not tribalism, guides my thinking. I know of many people who are involved in disputes and feuds with other practitioners on all sorts of issues, very public ones too and they all too often degenerate into ya boo name calling. Friends join in, tribes form, the othering starts and off we go.

Just look at America tearing itself apart as righteous indignation fuelled by emotions that  ignites conflict between Republican and Democrat, and we are still in the primaries. In the UK we have a referendum soon on our membership of the EU and it will get messy here too soon. No surprises here, as explained in ‘The Righteous Mind’, (Heidt 2012), we find it hard to get along with ‘others’ who think differently than us because our minds are designed to be moral. Not only that, we are hard-wired to be moralistic, judgemental and self-righteous, we are right, you are wrong. It is a carry over from the millions of years of living in tribes, starting with small family groups of hominids, and growing into larger and larger groups over millennia.

In his book Sapiens, (Harari 2011/14), argues it is the innate and uniquely human ability to create imagined realities that then manifest themselves in norms and values that underpins our tendency towards tribalism. Nothing is real, not in the sense that all aspects of all societies are social constructs. As societies and cultures evolved overtime even peoples living in similar ecological conditions  created very different imagined realities that manifested themselves in different norms and values.

Take this alongside our biological evolution as sapiens spread throughout the world, staying one species, but through a mixture of natural selection, mutation and adaptation we gradually grew to look different too, we then had ‘races’ adding to the mix, lets throw in class and gender or it will just get too big. The  combination of biological and cultural evolution is much debated in anthropology but if we stay with the general view that each fed off the other it helps us see how throughout the growth of human populations, however they were socially organised, hunter gatherers, agricultural, industrial and post industrial, we have remained tribal. We still have our shamans, totems and talismen today they just take on different forms, so it should not surprise us that we find it easy to form tribal views with the accompanying feelings of loyalty and belonging whatever the tribe does.

If we fast forward today as societies fragment into ever smaller social groups we see a resurgence, I would argue, in tribalism. The great isms of the last century caused the loss of hundreds of millions of lives as people rallied to their totems and fought for the rights that their tribe supported, all imagined realities.

In with fascism, communism and capitalism we can include the ‘great’ religions and when one overlays the other it becomes an intricate ideological web. We are all there somewhere in that web, I have a joke I share with my Catholic friends, I remind them that whilst I am an atheist, I am a protestant atheist. My background, my past, my experiences are influenced by my past including the choices I have made influencing the choices I have to make. The culture I grew up in, that I have inculcated, plays its part through the strength of attachment each of us feels through our shared values and norms. Of course the shared subscription to our imagined realities, invisible to most people is what makes this possible, these are incredibly powerful forces.

This meme from the internet links what we do with one imagined reality, I use this one as most of my heritage is more than likely Anglo Saxon, any other would do along with the whatever selective creation myth we may or not subscribe to.


I wrote in January’s CM about the interaction of past,present and future. They are inextricably linked and our awareness of who we are, where we are going, who with, why etc. will develop if we acknowledge this. A web of fate is as good a description as any other for now.

Most people do not like the above as it is too abstract a thought, the world does not just exist of subjective meaning devoid of objective reality. Of course there are objective realities, I sit on a chair at a desk typing on a laptop inside a house, I can see and feel them, they are real objects and I am surrounded by tens of thousands of other objects, they are real. Well this is no problem for us, objective realities are related to imagined realities. It reminds me of my studies in sociology when we looked at Marx’s base v superstructure model.



Marx was interested in the interaction between the base and superstructure in order to analyse the structure of a given society and the social structures that proliferate from that structure.

“Superstructure, quite simply and expansively, refers to all other aspects of society. It includes culture, ideology (world views, ideas, values, and beliefs), norms and expectations, identities that people inhabit, social institutions (education, religion, media, family, among others), the political structure, and the state (the political apparatus that governs society). Marx argued that the superstructure grows out of the base, and reflects the interests of the ruling class that controls the base. As such, it justifies how the base operates, and the power of the ruling class.

From a sociological standpoint, it’s important to recognize that neither the base nor the superstructure are naturally occurring, nor are they static.

They are both social creations (created by people in a society), and both are the accumulation of social processes and interactions between people that are constantly playing out, shifting, and evolving.”

I use it simply to demonstrate the complex relationships that do exist but I err towards the dominance of thought over matter, I think Marx got it partly right, I think the evidence that has emerged since he constructed his model would expand what he was claiming and whatever the structure, human thought was the root not the thinking and ideology of one class..

That the base and superstructure influence  one another is accepted but the origins of ideas in primitive societies, beginning with the emergence of animism, but before that with the emergence of consciousness itself is not part of the model. Vast improvements in scientific methods, the codification of the human genome and other recent rapid advances have brought biological explanations for human behaviour back to the fore.

As the genus Homo experienced significant changes in brain size, architecture, as our environment changed and different forms of social organisations and diet change they all combined to accelerate the process of evolution to eventually produce, via natural selection “a new kind of animal. It transformed into an animal who sets arbitrary standards of behaviour on what is considered to be right and wrong.” (Leakey 1994). Sapiens.

It has been a long journey of discovery to get us to this point but my meanderings above are necessary to help me get a handle on the behaviour of my peers. What causes, grown men, mostly, to indulge in spiteful name calling, in public via social media for instance? My system is better than your system, my style better than yours, your rank meaningless whilst my lineage is pure…..

People fight over the value of awards ceremonies, politics abound and in the end the sum result is we are all the lesser for it happening.

The best thing is most of those involved adhere to warrior codes that are better than those of their foes, they claim to be rising above the argument whilst sinking deeper into the mire, they gather sycophant supporters who all reassure one another they are all wonderful people whilst but the other side are not. It is tribalism writ large.

Yes we all see obvious fakes, the proponents of empty force for instance, the con merchants. We see people with numerous dan grades, some they earned others awarded by mates, or worse still bought. We all know this happens. Does it stop us doing what we do?

The answer should be no, the answer should be well actually it makes me redouble my efforts to become the best I can so that I can better help others become better than me. Getting bogged down in tribalism, sticking to the tribal view whatever the tribe does, is a destructive process. It is a downhill struggle as rather than concentrating on what you are doing, possibly within your own tribe, interacting with others and seeking knew knowledge, you sink into the trap of defining yourself by what your enemy does not do rather than what you do.

The focus shifts from developing a clear and coherent training experience underpinned with principles based teaching, to a we are better that them offer. Your tribe members will support you, like you on FB, cheer you to the echo but this has no value outside your tribe. Emotions get triggered all the way through this and as I see the feuds develop, and sometimes spread, you can see emotions fanning the flames, Just like the fire triangle with heat, fuel, oxygen on 3 sides, replace this with emotion, social media and tribalism and you can smell conflict in the air before you see the flames.

Everything you are arguing about has no objective reality they are ideas. They are ideas that have originated in our unique ability to create imagined realities, your imagined realities are based on your past and your present and an infinite number of potential variables including the  long evolutionary journey of your ancestors and all their thoughts, experiences and choices made. When tribalism dominates the mindset of a social group, whatever the group does then we have a form of group-think and individuals get lost  and the process controls the tribe instead of the other way round.

I will say for the record tribes are cool, I belong to many and some overlap. I have tried to show that this need to belong is so deeply rooted in us that it is practically undeniable.

But tribalism is a problem, in my opinion, tribes exist only by comparison to other tribes who are different. If what you do is all fine and dandy and the best there can be, then those different tribes out there must be getting something wrong. Ignore them, it will have no baring on what you do, better still, talk to them and if you can share some things do so, if not part in peace. If you do see yourself as a warrior, I do not for the record, if you claim to have a code of conduct, I do not for the record, then follow it. Try not to become a massive cockwomble in public because your emotions pour out all over social media and expose your tribalism.






Youth – Jeffrey Johnson

Before getting too deep into this second part on crisis intervention with youth, I want to remind the reader that this is far from an exhaustive treatment of things to know. I’m sure one point I make here could easily be dedicated to a full chapter in a book on the subject. This is really basic, and I would encourage anyone reading this to study for themselves and, more importantly, align themselves with the nearest veteran staff member working in your program/unit/facility/school. The perspective of a veteran staff with a rep for doing good work is invaluable and more often than not the ideal example to follow.

Read this scenario. This is a textbook example of how a crisis might start in your setting.

Danny, can you take a seat?”


Why not?”

Don’t fuckin talk to me.”

Ok, but you can’t stand in the middle of the classroom while I teach math.”
FUCK this CLASS.” (Pushes books off of your desk)

I want you to re-read that and really imagine it. I want you to note how the situation made you feel and what you thought. This is what will inform your decisions, and your decisions can make this easier or way more difficult. I want you to think about whether you imagined “Danny” as white, black, latino, Asian, or any other background. I want you to note whether or not you imagined this young person as big or small, athletic, skinny, or fat. I need you to consider all of this because your expectations will alter your choices.

I also want you to note whether you took it personal. If you take it personal, you will not be effective.

To be truly effective you have to have a lot of background knowledge. I said in part one that you should already know the objectives and guidelines of the organization you work for, what the rules and expectations of the classroom/unit are, what the enforceable consequences are and what qualifies in your organization as aggressive behavior. You should know the case history of the young person if that is possible. You should have some familiarity with family and community issues. The more you know, the better chance you have at making decisions that don’t blow up in your face. Even knowing how the weather might be affecting your clients is valuable. Our clients got restless around winter and the holiday season. The times that are stressful for the rest of us can impact youth with emotional problems much more significantly.

In a public school, a teenager sweeping the books off of a teacher’s desk in a threatening manner would be a huge deal. It was a huge deal in the schools I worked in, but for us, detention, suspension, and expulsion were not options. We had to deal with  these situations and attempt long-term strategies to change the behaviors so that this young person might become a functional adult. In the program I worked in, we were also authorized to use physical restraint-a “last resort” decision that sometimes was the only option when things went south badly.

Time and Space

If you are too angry to be rational, do you want to have conversation with a manager at work that is always enforcing rules and checking up on you to make sure you are doing your job? The answer is obvious.  These clients often have a difficult time trusting adults because the adults have failed them. In some cases, adults have severely abused them physically, sexually, or through neglect. They have been made promises that have ended up broken. They have learned that authority figures like teachers, case managers, police officers, magistrates and judges are only present to crack down on them.

Giving a young person time to calm down (note: do not EVER use the phrase “calm down.” It comes off as condescending and only makes people more aggravated) and space away from you or others can start to de-escalate the situation. There must be boundaries to this, however. For example the young person can stay in THIS room with me and one other staff member. When he calms down enough, we’ll ask if he wants some water just to feel out how he is responding. We issue directions only with the goal in mind of helping the young person to get calm and collected. If there is no need to touch him, DO NOT touch him. If talking to him about your expectations will agitate him, don’t. Just have the plan in mind. But be ready to change the plan if necessary. Holding on to a plan concretely can cause some problems.

In the above situation, I might start with asking “Danny” if he would please just leave the room so that the rest of the clients could have math class. Obviously, this doesn’t always work, especially if you haven’t caught on to the problem in time (there are a lot of distractions in a classroom). Next I might have other staff escort the remaining clients out of the space to take away the audience. If the client doesn’t want a major situation, then he will stay in the classroom alone. If he makes a move for the door (which you and at least one other staff member should be standing at, ready, anyway), then obviously you have to physically intervene (remember to ask yourself if this is allowable in your organization. Don’t put yourself in a bad legal situation or in the unemployment line because you didn’t think things through.) He may amp up as soon as I start making directions, and depending on what he is doing we may have to move in and limit his space. We need to send a message that this isn’t ok and we won’t stand for it, but we’re not just moving right into using force. And if he starts getting physical, then your restraint training will be necessary. Be keenly aware of the rules for this and the physical safety of the client and others around you.

I hope you are noticing how many different twists and turns this all takes. That’s why I say not to be bound to the plan. Being aware of multiple strategies, multiple possibilities, not taking it personally and keeping safety as the number one objective is all crucial. Otherwise, you are making your job impossible and creating dangerous circumstances for yourself and everyone working with you, as well as the clients you are serving.

Physical Intervention

There is a range of physical interventions that are appropriate for dealing with these kinds of situations. As I said before, if touching the client isn’t absolutely necessary, don’t. If you do touch him, then be ready to get really physical really fast. You are probably dealing with a trauma survivor. It’s possible that touch can trigger a traumatic  reenactment and push the client even further into aggressiveness and irrationality.

But you have boundaries and a right to protect them, for sure. It should ideally start with a verbal command and an assertion of what you feel your boundary is. The client should be made clear what he is allowed to do.

Danny, you have this whole room to use if you need, but I can’t let you in my space. You need to back up.” If the client is amped up, pacing, you are likely standing at this point anyway. If you are, you may want to position yourself in a way that makes it easier to respond to whatever happens next. You may want to take a step back with one foot, leaving one side of your body more forward than the other (my right side is dominant, but I always step back with the right as a habit of martial arts training. I feel more comfortable with my strong side “chambered,” even though I don’t intend to use any strikes at all). I don’t raise my hands to chest level unless the client is close, so if I can I keep my arms extended with my hands no higher than my belt-line. High hands can signal a desire to fight, or make an excuse for the client to become more aggressive. Stepping back as opposed to stepping forward implies that I don’t want a conflict, but I’m wary of what is happening and readying myself.

If the client has gotten too close, I may use my left forearm and open palm against his chest with a firm command “You need to get out of my space right now.” I don’t mention the restraint. That’s a challenge that leads to more physical aggression. I don’t have to make eye contact with him to see him. I may keep my eyes trained on his chest or at the wall or floor keeping him tracked in my peripheral vision. Meeting eyes is a challenge as well. Being mindful of all the non-verbal communication is really important, because you can set yourself up for an unnecessary altercation by looking through to the back of a client’s head because he just called you a bitch.

Often when we become frustrated we take in a deep breath and let out a heavy sigh. It’s just this kind of breathing we should practice in times of calm and use as soon as situations begin to get stressful. We’ll be more likely to maintain level-headedness despite the dump of adrenaline, which often leads to a dry mouth, spaghetti noodle knees, a shaky voice and even shakier hands. At least that’s what happens to me. These symptoms can be frustrating for someone used to that adrenaline dumb since they appear to be signs of fear. Looking fearful can be a button that an aggressive person uses to push and manipulate you. Breathing can still help to keep you rational enough not to make major errors in your tactical thinking. You will likely be getting called every name imaginable, threatened, and eventually even assaulted, and you can’t afford to let upset be the major motivating factor in how your intervention plays out.

In the program I worked for, we were trained in TCI-Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, which has it’s own approved restraint techniques. Make sure you know well what is trained in your program and do your best not to deviate from that training. I am often asked if I used my martial arts training in this kind of work. Aside from being physically more fit and acclimated to physical aggression, I always answer, emphatically, “no.” Obviously striking is 100% unacceptable. Joint locks could lead to major injuries, and throws on a concrete floor could kill a client. I think I reacted quickly because of the training I received, and could change what I was doing relatively easily in response to whatever the need was, but knowing how to hurt people was only useful in helping me know what NOT to do at work. Sensitivity training was useful though, because you could tell what someone was intending to do based on how they moved against you. It’s important to know the difference between an attempt to scratch an itch and an attempt to grab a handful of skin from your abdominal region.  

I won’t advise anymore on physical intervention because your organization will have it’s own rules regulating the use of physical intervention. Know them, follow them, and do what you can (within reason) to prevent needing to use them. But when you have to use them, don’t be hesitant. That can lead to injury for you or the client and make the situation more explosive.


In the aftermath of a physical intervention it’s important to debrief with a client, peers, and supervisors to review what worked, what didn’t work, and what everyone can do differently in the future to prevent the need for a physical intervention. The debrief with the client is separate from the one with coworkers, even if all of your co workers were present during the crisis and the debrief with the client.

Debriefing with the client might look like this:

Ok Danny, can you tell me what happened?”

I was mad about what Steven said to me in the bathroom so when I came to math I wanted to fight someone.”

Ok. What did Steven say to you that made you want to fight?” (This statement reflects that I heard what he has already said)

He said I looked gay in the shirt I’m wearing.”

Oh…that really bothered you, huh?”

Nah, not really, but when I tried to leave the bathroom he touched my arm and I told him don’t do no shit like that.”
Do you think you handled this the best way you could have?”

What could you have done differently?”

Asked you to let me sit in the hall until I calmed down.”
Do you feel comfortable telling me what’s going on before we have a problem?”


Can we try that next time?”

Ok. Now you know this situation was serious. You will have to deal with the consequences of what happened. I don’t want to hold this against you for long though, but we have to be fair.”
I know.”
Ok. So in the future what can you do?”

Tell you what’s going on and ask to leave the classroom til I calm down.”

That is really oversimplified, but essentially what a debrief with the client looks like. It is to ensure that all parties are on the same page, understanding what is expected going forward and united towards the same goals. It certainly doesn’t always go smoothly and depends a lot on rapport between client and staff.

Debriefing with colleagues looks similar. What happened? What can we do differently? How can we prevent this? Who else can help? What is our plan for tomorrow when Danny and Steven see each other? What other staff members need to be informed so they can be prepared as well? Are you okay? How can we help you next time? This is also a good time to own up to mistakes. This builds trust with colleagues and lets them know you are invested in what they are trying to accomplish with their clients.

Again, this is too brief to really do justice to the topic, but I think it provides the reader with a good place to start. Again, genuine care for the job and the clients, being aware of your organization’s  expectations, rules and policies, knowing when to talk, when to shut up, when to give space or limit it, and the appropriate physical interventions is all key to success working with young people who are severely emotionally disturbed.

The Green Zone, Red Zone, Grey Zone, and Blue Zone – Do You Train only for the Green Zone? – Erik Kondo

Four Zones

When most people think of martial arts based self-defense, they think of an athletic and skilled martial artist beating up an attacker. And most effective martial arts training does in fact, teach you how to win a fight. When you are in the process of winning, you are aggressive, confident, and performing well. You are damaging your opponent and he or she is not damaging you. You are in a strong position and your opponent is in a weak position. Whether you dispatch your opponent with karate, jujitsu, MMA or some other style, it doesn’t really matter. Assuming you have reasonable skill, whatever techniques you apply, they will most likely do the job. You are in the Green Zone.

When you are in the Green Zone, you are performing at your optimum.  As long as you can stay in the Green Zone, you are likely to defeat or successfully disengage from your opponent. The problem is that in a true self-defense situation, your attacker doesn’t want to let you fight back in the Green Zone. He or she wants you to be the Red Zone. The Red Zone is where you are in the process of losing. You are being overwhelmed. You are fearful or frozen. You are unsure of how to respond. You are a psychological and physiological mess. You are taking damage and not damaging your assailant. You are in a weak position and he or she is in a strong position. You are NOT performing at an optimum level.

Most traditional martial arts training doesn’t teach you how to deal with the Red Zone. It teaches you how to fight when you are in the Green Zone. Realistic physical self-defense requires that you know how to get out of the Red Zone and into the Green Zone before it’s too late.

Prior to a physical conflict, you are in the Gray Zone. From the Gray Zone it is a quick transition to either losing in the Red Zone or winning in the Green Zone. Your assailant’s goal is to get you into the Red Zone as quickly and as easily as possible. He doesn’t want to risk having to deal with you in the Green Zone. Therefore, he uses tactics such as an ambush, deception, a weapon(s), superior numbers, etc. to overwhelm you. He uses the Golden Attack (See Rory Miller’s Golden Move). The goal of the Golden Attack is use overwhelming violence to:

  1. Damage you.
  2. Prevent damage to him.
  3. Worsen your position.
  4. Improve his position.

Once you are put into the Red Zone, you may never get out and apply your Green Zone skills. And that is exactly what your attacker intends to happen.

Conversely, if you find yourself starting off in the Green Zone, most likely it is because you are illegally fighting and not in a self-defense situation. In this case, dispatching your opponent with your martial arts skills may land you in jail or in civil court.

Some martial arts instructors have circumvented the reality of the Red Zone by advocating the use of a Pre-emptive Strike against the Bad Guy. In this case, it is you that launches the first attack. You initiate the transition from the Grey Zone into the Green Zone. For simplicity and ease of teaching, the instructor ignored/justifies the legal aspects of the Pre-emptive Strike with the use of Bad Guy labeling (opponent is a known murderer/rapist/etc.) But as a practical matter, you now are the one that has used the Golden Attack. And more than likely, you will need to articulate why you did what you did, to the police and possibly a judge and jury.

What happens after a violent incident is the Blue Zone. It is here that you will have to explain your actions to society as to why your response was legal self-defense. In order to do so, you need to know how the law applies to your situation. You need to articulate the reasoning for your actions beyond only stating that “you were afraid for your life”.

Golden Feed vs. Golden Attack

It is typical for martial arts techniques to be demonstrated and taught in response to a simulated “attack”. This attack is really a Golden Feed disguised as a Golden Attack. It is a Golden Feed when:

  • You are mentally and physically prepared to respond.
  • You are literally waiting for the “attack” to happen, which then acts as the trigger for your prepared response.
  • The “attack” doesn’t damage you, prevent damage to your opponent, weaken your position, strengthen your opponent’s position
  • You are not concerned with the negative consequences of your response, which means you have full conviction that your response is the “right” thing to do.
  • Your opponent’s attack was singular in nature. For example, he only tries to punch or grab you but then does nothing else. As a result, you are able to respond with multiple movements to his one movement.

To summarize, your opponent’s “attack” is actually a setup for you to launch your own Golden Attack. To the uninformed, it may look as if you are training from the Red Zone, but you are actually in the Green Zone.

Situational Awareness is only part of the Grey Zone

Most traditional self-defense instruction talks frequently about the importance of situational awareness. The basic premise is that by being aware of your surroundings you can avoid being assaulted and ending up in the Red Zone. The other aspect is that by demonstrating that you are an aware person, you can deter potential attackers. These are two important aspects of the Grey Zone, but there are more. Situational awareness is only a subset of the Grey Zone.

The Grey Zone is the series of events that occur before a potential or actual assault. Maybe you are assaulted, or maybe you are not. The Grey Zone is a place of uncertainty.

You might be aware of an impending threat, but that doesn’t mean you know how to deal with that particular threat. Or possibly, you are mentally aware of your surroundings, yet you don’t “see” the threat developing because you don’t recognize it as such. Realizing that you have problem doesn’t mean you know exactly what the problem is, or that you have the knowledge and means to fix it.

In the Grey Zone, your emotional Monkey Brain may influence you to act in a manner that you intellectually know is contrary to your best interests, but you do it anyway. Dealing with the Grey Zone requires not only situational awareness, but knowledge of criminal behavior, violence dynamics, environmental knowledge, understanding your own abilities and limitations, and above all good judgement and critical thinking.

No matter how proficient you are at fighting in the Green Zone, unless you have learned to avoid or survive the Red Zone, navigate the Grey Zone, and mitigate the Blue Zone, your self-defense training is deficient.

Clint Overland on the Red Zone

“I like being other people’s Red Zone. I start where most people have to build up to.

Say that you have made promises to either do something. Pay a debt or deliver a product at a certain price for a certain amount and you decided to welch on your word. And maybe you have the balls to back it up, and the ones you lied to don’t have the strength to discipline you for your indiscretions. But they have the money. That’s where a hard crew comes in. We enforce their will by starting at the Red Zone.

Now you as the Welcher may be a total bad ass. A walking Martial arts legend. Death on Two legs.

I am going to know this because I have researched you. This helps me formulate my plan of action. My crew and I will do it on you when you are least expecting it. First we, pepper spray you in the face, and then taze you while you’re screaming. Next, while you’re down, two of us take hammers to your legs and arms. Removing the threat to us. This is why pros work in Red Zones. Your best option is too stay out of them.”

Terry Trahan on the Red Zone

“The Red Zone is a paradox. You don’t want to be there by accident. But, it is the place you want to push your opponent to be as soon as physical conflict becomes your tool to end the situation.

Once that switch has been flipped, everything you do should have two purposes;

1) make sure you go home, and 2) overwhelm your opponent in order to end it quickly.

If you are being pre-emptive, you don’t initiate violence until everything is lined up in your favor: position, weapons, allies, whatever you have to tip the odds your way, and throw your opponent into his Red Zone.

If all of your situational and environmental awareness has failed, and you are in a reactive mode, you must force your attacker into his Red Zone as quickly as you can. Aggression, forward drive, environmental control and savageness until you can make your exit.

By overwhelming him, you put yourself in control, and keep him spiraling and falling into his Red Zone.”