The Self-Defense Hand, Part II – Marc MacYoung

The difference between theory and practice is in theory, there is no difference —

An anonymous joker

Last time I talked about how a lot of so-called self-defense training is like an airplane with crack in the wings you can’t see. While you’re parked safely on the ground (in the classroom) these potentially fatal flaws won’t reveal themselves. They’ll come to your attention when you’re a few thousand feet in the air.

Something I want to re-stress is: If nobody has ever shown you how complicated self-defense is, how are you supposed to know?

You’re not. That’s why we’re about to cover what’s next. At the same time, this problem has never revealed itself if you’ve never had to use your training. Or if you have used it without negative effects, you lucked out. I say this because these days I work in the damage control field of when your self-defense does work.

What I’m going to give you a check list for self-defense training. These are subjects that you MUST consider (or better yet have looked into) before you try to use your training. They will help you to be able to ‘tell where you are’ in the ocean of variables. That is what will allow you to scale your responses, adjust to different circumstances, and hopefully, help you get out of a situation before it goes violent.

More than that, if your training didn’t cover these, what you were sold is something else mislabeled as self-defense. Or, as is so often the case, it is only one aspect of many, but that has been over-emphasized to the exclusion of the others. These are the issues you need to fill in the gaps in order for you to be safe and stay out of prison.

Hold up your hand.

First off your palm is “Who is being taught?”  

There is no one-size-fits-all or one-stop-shopping when it comes to self-defense training. The needs of an older woman are different than that of a young man who is being bullied at school. Now for more depth, reread the last sentence, but replace ‘needs’ with ‘physical abilities.’ It does a small woman no good to be taught techniques that rely on strength and physical conditioning.  Another consideration is people from different backgrounds and environments. A person from the inner city is going to be facing different challenges than someone from suburbia. A police officer has different rules of engagement than a civilian, the ability to walk away (no duty to act) is a big factor in what that person needs to learn. So the question is, is what being taught appropriate (or useful) for that person? Personalizing this, the question is, “Who are you and what are your needs?” Not what you are afraid of, but what you need. This is especially means, ‘what kind of circumstances are you most likely to end up in?’

Like in real life, the palm serves as the basis for everything the hand can do. Also to further the analogy, the fingers work together with each other and the palm. Without this cooperation, much less the presence of these  multiple components, a finger is, by itself, useless.

The palm sets the needs, abilities and capabilities of the person. The information must be scaled to and appropriate for the person. For example, don’t try to teach a 110 pound woman to box and call it ‘self-defense.’ A larger, stronger man will pick her up and throw her like a dart. Does she need to know how to effectively hit? Yes. But only as small part of a larger, more effective strategy.

The thumb: People skills, communication/articulation

Simple truth, most violence can be avoided by good people skills. While there are folks out there who will rob you, there are a lot more people who will physically attack you for pissing them off.  The people who get into the most violence and conflicts tend to fall short in this skill set. Often in the form of giving their emotions priority. Seriously I’ve seen people flip others off and then squeal they were attacked for ‘no reason.’ And they sincerely believed it too.

Knowing not how to provoke people is a skill. A skill based on understanding how people work and not doing certain things — no matter how justified you feel, how much you want something, how emotional you are or how much of a hurry you are in.

Here’s an example, most violence comes with instructions on how to avoid it. It’s a pretty simple contract, do or stop doing ‘this’ and violence will not occur. In a super majority of the time these instructions are legitimate. “Shut up or I’ll kick your ass” is pretty straight forward contract. However, many people personalize it with “How dare you try to tell me what to do” and instead of shutting up, proceed to comment about the guy’s testicles on his mother’s chin. Then they blame the other person for being unpredictable and not living up to the contract. No, a serious lack of understanding human nature — including your own — is what got your nose broken in those circumstances.

A big advantage of — and why it’s the thumb — people skills is how useful they are. Not only will they help you keep from having to use your self-defense training, they’ll help you get through life, relationships, and job much easier. This wide application takes it outside the realm of just self-defense and makes it a life skill.

Another life skill is communication. Communication is really important for people skills, but it’s also important to let someone know they’re crossing lines. Articulation is a subset of communication, but it’s what is going to keep you out of prison when it comes to explaining to the authorities why what you did was self-defense and not illegal violence. (We’ll come back to this.)

The index finger: How crime and violence occur (academic)

Let me ask you some questions, where did you get your ‘knowledge’ about how crime happens? How about how situations escalate to physical violence? What is your baseline to identify the danger you’re supposedly training to protect yourself from? (Hint, odds are it’s more Hollywood based than you realize.) With those questions comes another. “How can you effectively defend against, much less avoid, a danger that you have no idea how it manifests?”

Violence and crime comes in many forms. Yet, entirely too many people think of violence in terms of what they’ve seen in the movies and going back to a high school fight. In fact, a lot of training prepares you to win that high school fight.  Still others are training to ‘win’ in the situation they perceive they ‘lost’ before. That skews one’s perspective. Knowing how both violence works and what developing crime looks like is a key element to assessing danger. Also being able to articulate why you ‘reasonably believed’ what you were doing was self-defense. (Remember I said the fingers work together?)

I’m also going to put something in the ‘academic’ category you need to not only understand, but be able to apply out in the field. That is to ask: What threat assessment model do you know? I really don’t care if it’s Ability, Opportunity, Jeopardy (AOJ), Intent, Means, Opportunity, Preclusion (IMOP), Jeopardy, Ability Means, (JAM), The Five Stages (Intent/Interview/Position/Attack/Reaction) or Ability, Opportunity, Intent (AOI). This is the kind of academic knowledge that can save you. It’s not just in the field, it’s during the aftermath (a.k.a. not being arrested and put into prison).

The middle finger is your physical skills.

This is both the finger that most people focus on giving to their attacker and –at the same time — it’s usually broken.

One of the ways it can be broken is you have to ask: Do the mechanics of what you’re doing actually work? For example, there’s a whole lot more to a punch than just sticking your arm out with a fist at the end. Unfortunately, the way most people are taught, they’re doing the latter and calling it punching. This isn’t the search for the mythical ‘right way to punch.’ I’m talking their punches do not have the mechanics to deliver power — this especially under the stress and whirling chaos of a conflict.  What should be a hard punch, loses enough power that it becomes basically a slap.

Another example, is do your blocks actually work? Or would a dedicated attack crash through them? Kind of an important question that. While we’re on the subject, can you hit the target that you’re shooting at — especially when you’re scared, moving and adrenalized? Remember kiddies, every bullet comes with a little lawyer attached and you’re still responsible for the damage any bullet you sent out that misses the intended target.

A second common ‘fracture’ is do you know when to use a move and when not to? For example, do you know when it’s safe to kick at a charging opponent and when it isn’t? (Hint, it depends on the kind of kick and where you’re standing.) Do you know when it’s time for empty hands and when you need to be going for a weapon instead? (This is the failing woefully I mentioned.) When it comes to physical application, every move you know has a time, place, strengths and weaknesses. Did they specifically teach you that? Just knowing a move doesn’t automatically mean you were taught these elements of application.

A third way you can have a broken finger is if you don’t know how to scale your force.  As I often tell people, when your mother tells you to “Go handle Drunken Uncle Albert” at a family reunion bone breaking techniques or fatal damage moves are a bit much. (Besides, Aunt Bessy would be pissed.) At the same time, submission techniques aren’t something you want to try when five guys are jumping you.

End Part II

Experience and Insight – Rory Miller

How did CRGI come to be? A few years ago, Garry Smith (the man who is now editor of Conflict Manager) asked, “If we were to do a full blown, accredited, bachelor’s degree program in self-defense instruction, what would be in the curriculum?”

I said I didn’t know exactly what would be in it, but I had some definite ideas who I would tap to help design the curriculum. That list, with Garry’s insight and experience, became the board of CRGI.

The members of the board are very different in some ways. Some were bad guys, some very bad. Some were good guys. Some are physical monsters, some were monsters in the day— and a few have physical concerns that affect every decision they make. One has been dead, and many have been close. Most are martial artists, but not all.

The biggest commonality in the group is that I respect their thinking. Every last one of them (except Jayne, I barely know her) at one time or another have told me that I was wrong. Usually the exact wording was “full of shit.” Every last one of them is strong enough to disagree to my face. Every last one of them, when they do disagree, present their facts dispassionately and concisely. Every last one of them can disagree with me and not fall into the trap of labeling someone who disagrees as an enemy. They can disagree honorably. And each and every one has made me better. A better teacher, a better fighter, a better friend and a better man. I love this crew.

In the world of so-called Reality-Based-Self-Defense (so-called as in “Whose reality?”) there is a big divide between the BTDT (“Been There Done That”) crowd and the rest. “What, you’ve never been the member of an elite military force? Never shot a terrorist in the face? How dare you teach…”

Completely aside from the illogic— What does tactical shooting have to do with defensive shooting? What can a heavily armed and armored member of a military team teach about unarmed solo self-defense? What aspects of working a door apply to rape prevention, exactly? And that’s assuming they are even telling the truth about their histories.

Experience is important, no doubt. And the people I envisioned for the board have not just experience, but experience that differs from mine. That’s probably why it is so heavy on ex-criminals. I know enough cops and former cops already. I wanted the experience of the former football (soccer) hooligan and the former enforcer. The former hustler and the former somewhat shady bouncer.

But there are members with very little experience with violence. So why are they here? Because they supply insight. One of the hallmarks of the real BTDT crowd is a profound lack of arrogance. There’s no special threshold or secret initiation that makes you worthy to teach the experienced. I don’t want to die and I am happy to steal any bit of knowledge or refinement of body mechanics that will keep me alive. There are people on the CRGI board who have shot people, and people who have been shot, and one who teaches how to shoot. The person who teaches how to shoot has, as far as I know, neither been shot or shot anyone else… but her grip  is better than mine and her draw is smoother than mine and a few hours with her raised my survivability.

And that’s not all. That’s not even close. She is an amazing teacher, and watching how she handles a class has made my teaching better. And she disagrees on fundamental issues in such a way that I have to research and articulate very well just to hold my own. She makes me better. A better fighter, a better thinker and a better man.

Experience is important, absolutely. But insight is at least as important, and not all insight comes from experience.

Reality-based self defense? Screw that. CRGI represents knowledge forged by experience and tempered by insight. It’s an honor to be here.



Building Your Vocabulary

Where you strike is as important, or even more important, than how. There are many instances of people being stabbed up to 40 times and surviving, while once is enough to kill in another instance. The major difference here is the target.

In learning to survive a brutal encounter you must commit the softest and most vulnerable areas of the human body to memory. The best target is not only the one that will do the most damage or cause the most pain, it is the one you can reach from the position you are attacked in. If your instructor is particularly enamored of the groin as a kicking target and you are attacked at knifepoint while in your car, you may find yourself at a loss. Worse, your brain may glitch and you may not be able to think beyond how to kick the groin from your current seated position. You need a vocabulary with which to form answers to complex questions-A vocabulary made up of targets and attacks.

Consider these three things: The part of your body or the weapon you are using against your attacker, the part of his body you are attacking, and the many different positions you may find yourself in during an attack.

There is a certain amount of creativity involved here. Punching is not the only option. There are many strikes to be made with the back or side of the hand, with elbows, feet, knees, even the forearms and head. I know martial artists who only use a few of these. Keep an open mind.

Debilitation not just Pain

In order to retaliate physically in a way that protects you, you need to attack the most vulnerable part of his body with the strongest part of yours or something hard or sharp. Strongest does not necessarily mean hardest, it means least breakable.

Buildings and bridges are made to bend in the wind,
to withstand the world that’s what it takes. All that steel and stone
is no match for the air, my friend. What doesn’t bend, breaks.”

~ Ani DiFranco from her song, Buildings and Bridges

When you practice or even think about self defense, ask yourself this: Is the target I have chosen vulnerable enough as to be debilitating? If it isn’t, don’t stake your life on it.

To state the obvious, the best target is one that, when you make contact, will cause the other guy more pain than it causes you. In movies people punch to the face. Because we see it so often it has become an instinctive response and part of the culture. The face is the center of personality and therefore what we as emotional humans seek to destroy first. It is, however, often, not the best target. Small bones in the hands break easily, unless highly trained (and the sad truth is that most hands highly trained enough to withstand punching to hard targets reap the reward of painful arthritis later in life).

It may actually require a conscious decision from you to attack something other than the face. And there may be no time for conscious decision, which is why we are preparing now. If the face is your only option, take it, but be aware that anything aimed at the face is briskly tracked by the eyes. Yet another reason the face is often not the best primary target.

By a debilitating target I mean one that will force your assailant to discontinue his attack. Pain is very subjective and difficult to quantify. Someone on drugs or used to being disciplined by way of systematic beatings or torture can endure quite a bit more pain than you may even be able to imagine. You can be in agonizing pain and still manage to give birth to your child without passing out. A violent criminal may be able to take quite a hit and still continue to hurt you.

The amount of pain a criminal will be able to withstand generally corresponds with his level of determination. If he is looking for an easy target, a bit of fight from you may deter him. If he enjoys a fight, has invested time and energy searching for you or vetting you and is intent on his decision, a bit of fight will only galvanize him or entertain him. If he’s on drugs, he may not feel pain. He may not even respond to broken limbs. I know a martial artist who won a tournament with a broken collarbone. My friends have much crazier stories.

We are planning for something that can’t be planned. We are gathering information in the event we need it. Whether or not it comes to our aid is anyone’s guess. Everything you know about crime and about yourself along with every bit of knowledge you have gathered about this criminal will need to come into play in the moment. You will have some idea of his level of commitment to this crime based on his behavior. You may be able to tell if someone is on drugs. You must find a way to connect with your focus and your plan and commit to the job at hand which is to make sure he can’t keep hurting you or your child. If luck is not on your side and you are alone, you will at the very least need to create an opening so you can run away, presumably by hurting him enough to make him rethink his choice, taking his legs out from under him, knocking him out or running really fast. Barring the less gory options you will need blind or disable him in some way. Or kill him.

It seems it’s both easier and not as easy as you think the to end someone. What does that mean? In the many stories I’ve heard and books I’ve read, and conversation’s I’ve had on this subject, there is a dichotomy. Accidents happen that makes it seem easy to kill or die. But we can’t harness or control accidents. As it turns out quite a bit is involved in killing and at the top of the list is your determination to live and your ability to override your natural human aversion to end someone’s life forever. This is something good people do only in the name of survival. And because it doesn’t always come naturally, we need a proper vocabulary in order to understand our options.

To be Continued in:


Beware the Survival Response – Jordon Tabor

It’s dark. The area is secluded. No one can really see or hear you, but this is the quickest path home. If you’re lucky, the area will remain secluded. Not tonight. A man approaches. He asks the time. As you reach for your phone to check, he goes to snatch it. You struggle for it for a second, then recall your martial arts training. You take him down apply a chokehold. A chokehold can cut blood to the brain, cut off the air, or break the neck depending on intent, technique and circumstance. As anticipated, he begins to lose consciousness. So far so good, right?

Not so fast. In all living things, there is a deep, biologically programmed urge to survive. You may be intending to render your attacker unconscious and then escape, leaving both parties unharmed. Killing him may not even be on your radar. However, all the target of your use of force knows is that they can’t breathe. The fear or expectation of serious injury or death triggers what we call a survival response. The survival response is ugly, brutal, incredibly dangerous… and effective.

So, what exactly happens? Essentially, the adrenaline spikes and the body begins to generate extreme strength as the person begins to look for an avenue escape. If the person applying force has not provided an escape route, the escape may be through that person. At this point, the one on the receiving end of the force may do literally anything in the world to escape. If the person applying the force is unprepared for this response, he or she could easily be killed or injured. Depending on the mental state of the recipient, and whether or not he or she has any training or experience, the one using force could even face a survival response in the form of a tactically skillful defense instinctively brutal survival actions.

These facts make avoiding your opponent’s survival response essential to your successful application of force. Understanding what sort of methods may trigger this response is critical. Many self-defense and martial arts systems teach methods that can escalate the conflict into the realm of deadly force, without actually creating immediate incapacitation or death.

What is deadly force? According the US Marine Corps, deadly force is “That force which a person uses with the purpose of causing death or serious bodily harm or which a reasonable and prudent person would consider likely to create a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily harm.” This is where a cautious practitioner analyzes and categorizes his techniques. For example, should someone grab your wrist, a basic escape is not lethal force. Even a controlling wrist lock would not meet the definition. Poking them in the eye would. In fact, your arsenal of chokes, throws, tackles, punches and kicks, are likely all be considered the use of deadly force.

Let us look at a real world example, one of some infamy; the case of George Zimmerman vs Trayvon Martin. At the time Trayvon was shot, he was on top of Zimmerman, punching him in the head. Regardless of the cause of the conflict, this was an error. Why? Because Trayvon was using enough force to injure or kill Zimmerman (eventually) and also cutting off his escape route, but without using enough force to injure or kill him quickly. This triggered Zimmerman’s survival response and the rest is history.

Using deadly force without the ability to quickly and effectively incapacitate the target of your use of force is the equivalent of attempting to defend yourself from a gunman with a BB gun. Yes, you could hurt HIM with that. Yes, it is a weapon. Yes, it will also provoke a lethal force response, just as if you had a real gun. No, you will not win the ensuing gunfight.

What does this mean for self-defense? It means that force should be applied in extremes. You want to use either as little force as possible, so that the situation can be de-escalated OR DETERRED, or overwhelming force thereby incapacitating the attacker immediately. Escalating to lethal force levels without actually being immediately and effectively lethal or incapacitating is a grave tactical error.

How does this error of use of force happen? Why does this idea get perpetuated through the martial arts and through self-defense instruction? There are two common instructional mistakes. One is to not teach overwhelming force out of a sense of societal responsibility. Thus, students and clients are left without this ability, while still provided with deadly force techniques. This is dangerous and irresponsible. While teaching them the ability to overwhelm could indeed allow them to harm others, teaching them half-measures may lead to their harm. The use of force should either be gentle enough to de-escalate/deter or overwhelming enough to allow for no counter attack.

The second mistake is sanitizing the matter of violence, taking out the human element and looking at violence from a purely tactical perspective. In this case, martial artists tend to have acquired many techniques and multiple responses to both common and uncommon situations without considering the effects of actually using these methods on an actual human being. Even when sparring is used in training this does not capture the realities of doing real violence to a person, and it does not take into account his or her various responses. Dan

Ultimately, there is simply no such thing as the casual use of violence. There are real consequences, real pain and real fear. The responsible use of force takes into account both the initial act and its repercussions. Ignoring the effects of the survival response is both irresponsible and dangerous for teacher and student alike.



I think Jordan brings up an interest point about how the use of force is many times marketed, particularly to women, as relatively “gently” knocking someone out with either a choke or some type of a clean head shot. I think this type of marketing appeals to people who want to “teach the Bad Guy a lesson“. But they don’t really want to “hurt” him or experience the brutality of violence.

I call “using as little force as possible” a means of communication, which is an important aspect of boundary setting and conflict deterrence. And the use of overwhelming force to be the physical enforcement required after communication has or is likely to fail.

The use of half measures/ineffective deadly force Jordan discourages seems be predicated on the belief that the attacker is either lowly motivated and will flee at the first sign of resistance, or he will be easily subdued and his survival response will not be activated. While these situations may occur, it is a risky gamble to take.


Editors note; Karen is Garry’s wife and an experienced criminal lawyer and senior partner at Norrie, Waite and Slater solicitors in Sheffield, UK. Whilst these tips are from her experience in the UK the advice is pretty good for most juridstictions.

This is intended to be a practical and realistic approach, it does not constitute legal advice. These tips are a guide for those unused to dealing with law enforcement but who, having defended themselves successfully, find themselves facing arrest by the police whilst they determine what actually happened.

  1.      If you are approached by the police, situations can quickly get out of hand which will rarely be to your advantage. For instance, if you start shouting others can get involved and then the police have to take action to take charge of the situation. The easiest option might be to remove you! Sometimes the police just want to move people along. Sometimes they genuinely want to ask what is happening. 

  1.      Even if you believe you are in the right,  listen and cooperate. Give your details, be aware of your demeanour. You can be arrested for not giving your details.  

  2.      The officer may have to quickly assess the situation. Don’t make yourself a nuisance. The loudest person always stands out. It is so easy to find yourself in the back of a van. 

  3.      This is not the time to tell the officer what your rights are and how s/he should do their job. Whatever your views about the police, they are under resourced and do a dangerous job. Nobody likes a smart Arse !  I have represented more than one law student who has tried to explain his or her rights. It’s not like the text books. I am afraid a later complaint for a minor breach of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) is unlikely to get off the ground. 

  4.      Be aware there might be CCTV. I have seen grown men cry when the CCTV shows them repeatedly kicking someone in the head when they honestly thought they had only acted lawfully. I have seen CCTV showing the accused cross the street and follow someone 100 yards when they truly believed the person approached them. 

  5.      The police also sometimes forget CCTV catches their actions. That might be useful for a later day but will not help you at the moment of arrest.  Unsurprisingly CCTV sometimes either goes missing or wasn’t working when the accused needs it. 

  6.      If you are to be arrested then do not resist. The officer will not change his/her mind just because you protest. You will be cuffed and remember they will decide how tight the cuffs go on. The police have set phrases that turn up in statements explaining why they had to take you to the floor, put their knee in your back and use leg restraints. ‘Reccognised Home Office Approved Methods’ turns up a lot in statements. It’s when your face is in the grit and a Bobby is on your back that you might feel the need to kick out and then you end up with an assault PC charge. 

  7.      When you arrive at the police station you will be presented to the Custody Sergeant. The officers will tell him/her why they want you detained. It is the custody sergeants decision but s/he is more than likely to agree to the detention. The custody sergeant might listen to you at this point. You will be asked if you want a solicitor, say yes it is FREE AND INDEPENDENT. If you have medical problems make sure they are noted. 

  8.      Prepare yourself for a wait of some hours. You should receive a phone call from the solicitor who will also be present when you are interviewed. 

  9.   You are NOT ENTITLED TO MAKE A PHONE CALL . Don’t believe everything you see on TV. I have had many an accused greet me with this complaint. Most custody sergeants will let you make a call at their convenience, and at their discretion. Do NOT piss the custody sergeant off. Do Not piss the detention staff off. You have absolutely NOTHING to gain by doing so. You are going nowhere until the Custody Sergeant says so. 

  10.   You are entitled to have someone notified of your arrest 

  11.   Sleep! Delays occur, the police are under resourced. Your detention will be reviewed regularly. It can be quite a few hours before anyone is available to interview you. The solicitor will arrive when notified that the police are ready to interview. Solicitors are not paid enough to pop down and have a chat. You should not be kept waiting for a solicitor. Be suspicious if you are told that the solicitor will be hours or it is suggested that you will be quicker without a solicitor.  

  12.   When the police are ready to interview then the solicitor will attend. You will have a private conversation with the solicitor who will advise you about the evidence the police have and advise you of your options in interview. It is likely that the police officers interviewing have only a handover package from the arresting officers and are not over familiar with the case. The solicitor will stay with you for the interview.
  13. Following the interview the officers report back to the Custody Sergeant. There might be obvious work that needs doing such as getting a statement, viewing CCTV or even searching your property. You are likely to be put back in your cell until this is done or you might be bailed to come back on a different date. 

  14. There can be lots of different outcomes. Often you will be released but warned that you will be reported on summons. This means you might receive a Requisition to attend court. The Requisition will be sent to the address the police have. If you move and miss the letter of Requisition then the court will issue a warrant for your arrest if you fail to attend court. You might only know about this say at the airport when they scan your passport!  I have had clients taken OFF the aircraft whilst sat with their families on the way to the Canaries. I have had a client met at East Midlands airport by armed police! 

  15. If the police think their investigation is as complete as it can be the papers will be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) They will decide if you are to be charged with an offence. They try and make that decision in 3 hours ( often whilst you are sat in the cell). If there is a charge you are formally charged and either given a court date or kept for the next available court. Don’t get charged mid Saturday morning otherwise you are there until Monday! 

  16. Unless you are a flight risk, at risk of committing further offences or interfering with witnesses, you ought to be bailed to a court date. Sometimes with conditions. Breach the condition, or if an officer thinks you have breached it or even going to breach it then you are arrested and kept for the next available court. It is only then that there is an argument about whether or not you have breached. There is not an enquiry in the police station. So if you are given a condition to keep away from your girlfriend/boyfriend all s/he has to do is pick up the phone and say you called! 

  17. There are other disposals, fixed penalty tickets, cautions a general ticking off and even No Further Action or Insufficient Evidence to Prosecute. All can have future consequences so make sure you have a solicitor from the start so you make informed decisions. Having a solicitor does not make you look guilty. The police have solicitors when they are in trouble. It doesn’t matter if you do not think you have done anything wrong, you might not have. If there is a chance you have, a solicitor will hopefully not let you make the situation worse than it is.