Knives, Accepted Wisdom, and Dueling – Terry Trahan

One of the greatest things about the internet and social media is the ability to see commonalities in thought, different peoples opinions, and where certain people and communities are coming from. Conversely, one of the worst things about the internet and social media is the same.

If you spend any amount of time cruising the “knife” pages on social media, you start to see a lot of assumptions, conclusions, and statements that are echoed without a lot of thought. This is not just confined to the knife world, martial arts, politics, and arts and crafts seem to suffer from the same thing, but since I’m a ‘knife guy’, I particularly see it in that area.

One of the assumptions and statements that seems to get repeated ad nauseam is the uselessness, or non-existence, of dueling in real world fights and knife encounters. We have even developed scientific sounding names for it. Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical Engagement. Symmetrical is when both parties in the conflict are armed, usually equally, say with two butcher knives, but can also mean simply that both parties are armed, period. For example, I have witnessed or participated in fights where it was knife vs. hammer, shop rag vs. knife, chair vs. gun, baseball bat vs. knife, and several others in that vein.

Now, obviously, if our goal is to survive, we would like every fight to be asymmetrical in our favor. But, the great British sage Sir Mick of Jagger said it best, you can’t always get what you want. We have to deal with violence and reality as it is, not what we wish it to be. And this is where training in “useless” dueling can be very beneficial.

First, if you still don’t believe it is necessary, or that dueling really does not happen in real life, let me share a very unpleasant experience I had that shows reality is what it is, and doesn’t care if you believe it or not.

So, there I am sitting around the table in the bar, with the General Manager and two DJ’s, I was the Bouncer. Things had been tense, and getting worse, and this little meeting was called to try to air things out, and see if it could be calmed down. Some details. I never worked in fern bars or meet markets. I usually worked at topless bars, biker bars, or topless bars that were owned and run by bikers (1%ers, not RUBS) such as this bar. Meaning, some times negotiation really was at the pointy end. Violence was always considered a fair bargaining tactic, and it was getting very close to that in these discussions. So, as I said, the four of us were sitting there, and it is going past tense, to threatening. All the sudden, someone made a comment about the other ones Mom’s choice of species for a sexual partner. Not wise for negotiating, but prime Monkey Dance scripting. In response, before thinking could occur, we were all up, chairs knocked over, table shoved aside, and all four of us had our knives out, and taking sides. Sure sounds like a symmetrical, equal arms fight to me, how about you?

And if you’re curious, calmer heads prevailed, and nobody got hurt. Unfortunately, at the time, the calmer head wasn’t mine, wisdom would come much later.

Now, on the other side, it is very unusual in a criminal encounter (stick up, mugging, attempted kidnapping) to be able to draw your weapon in time, and this is where working and fighting to the draw, awareness, and all the rest comes into play.

But the point is, in a real fight, weird shit happens, and we need to, if we’re smart, plan for and train as much as we can, to address the variables that can occur.

Another aspect of training in a dueling capacity. In reality, what you are doing is training timing, perceptual speed, positioning, movement, and avoidance. You are also training to take a symmetrical engagement and flip it to an asymmetrical engagement in your favor. It is all in the way you categorize and conceptualize the training you are doing in your own head. If you don’t see the tools you are developing, you won’t know how or where to use them.

Violence is bigger than all of us, and it comes in a variety of flavors. Address as many aspects as you can in training, so you will be able to improvise in real life if you ever have to be in that situation. Don’t limit yourself to any one persons interpretation of violence. He has a piece of it, and so does she. As well, I have my own piece, as does that other guy. Try to learn from as many of them as possible, while making it your own, and researching the problem to be as realistic as possible.

One of the worst things about this line of thinking, especially considering we are dealing with life and death, and the possible death of you, is to use this kind of arguing and back and forth as a marketing tool. I’m sure you’ve seen it…”We only train in what works, there is no need to go out and train that other non-realistic crap, we have all the answers”… In a word, bullshit, you only have the answers to the questions you know. Nobody knows everything, and nobody can know everything. Don’t believe it. You can train in totally different things, you don’t have to limit yourself to one Poobahs way of doing things. In fact, I would advise against it. There is no place in life and death subject matter for cultish behavior or hero worship of a teacher. By doing that, you short change yourself, and are not learning a full picture.

The thing to watch for is how the training is presented and conducted. Skills must be taught in an isolated manner in order to learn them, but then that isolated skill needs to be integrated into a whole. And then that whole needs to be trained in a free range manner, and then pressure tested. All of these steps are necessary in order to make it fight worthy. If the training you are looking at does not have this progression, that is the problem, not the material.

So, like always, train for the reality you know, seek out others that can teach the reality you don’t know, but don’t accept advertising slogans or biases as the ultimate truth. Be broad based in your search, and be your own final authority.

If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.


Personalizing Broken Windows Theory – Mark Hatmaker

Today let’s have a look at a partially-discredited theory of crime-prevention that was proposed to work on the large-scale [cities, etc.]

We’ll discuss the aspects that did and do, indeed, work.

We’ll briefly ponder the unintended consequences of following “broken windows” to the extreme.

Then we’ll wind this whole thing down discussing how the “broken windows theory” can work in your life, both in self-protection and the mundane aspects with none of the negative unintended consequences, unless you dig randomly stopping and searching yourself, then it’s a win-win.

Let’s start with, what exactly is the “broken windows theory”?

In 1982, social scientists James Wilson and George Kelling start the ball rolling with a paper titled “Broken Windows: Police and Neighborhood Safety.”

In precis, Wilson and Keller postulated that by increasing focus, or policing of small crimes [vandalism, public intoxication, toll-jumping, and the like] there would be a decrease not only in these petty crimes but also in major crimes.

The “broken windows” of their research paper’s title points to the fact that neighborhoods with high incidences of broken windows and other such vandalism are also signals of higher crime areas. This is a no-brainer as this is basic signaling 101.

We are not surprised by such observations, and lest anyone is skeptical that broken windows may or may not signal something I offer the following thought experiment.

You are alone in an unfamiliar city, walking back to your hotel. You are confronted with a choice of routes.

One shows neatly parked cars, freshly painted building fronts, well-maintained landscape, bright tasteful curtains in unbroken windows.

On the other route, we see a car on blocks with broken windows, graffiti on walls, and an over-turned trashcan.

Which route back to the hotel do you choose?


Now, at this point we simply see confirmation of broken windows as a signal to something, but what? Why would we assume the evidence of vandalism is also evidence of crimes a bit beyond.

Wilson and Kelling demonstrated an interesting linkage between petty crime [and I hate using that word, as to the property owner “petty” still means loss of time, money, and peace of mind] and more egregious crimes.

It seems that habitual petty crime committers are following Pareto’s Principle, that is 80% of ALL crimes are being committed by 20% of the “lawbreakers.” In other words, most of the damage in the world is done by some very busy perpetrators. Those with no compunction about randomly damaging property or toll-jumping also showed a higher likelihood of committing other crimes.

Keep in mind the link is not 100% causal, meaning that every kid with a spray paint can caught tagging a building is not necessarily destined to commit a major crime but…it does mean that that petty-crime signaler does show a far far higher likelihood of something more dire or damaging in the future than the kid we see pushing the broom in the supermarket.

Broken Windows Theory found that greater vigilance on the small reaped large-scale rewards.

Now, where this went awry had nothing to do with Wilson or Kelling, it was more a case of overreach or prior restraint. Some police departments moved from cracking down on petty criminals to attempting to stop petty crimes before they occurred—and prevention is always a great idea, but the distasteful tactics of stop and frisk and, in some cases, overzealous profiling took a solidly researched idea and moved it to something akin to the “precrime” storyline of the film “Minority Report” based on the Phillip K. Dick story.

Lest, any of my brothers in blue think I have simplified, and I have, I’m on your side—bad guys should be stopped—thank you. But, also, the constitution is pretty sweet, too.

Let’s take this to an area where we can probably all agree, and extract some personal utility out of the “broken windows” theory.

I’ve been doing this martial arts, self-protection thing for years upon years and I don’t think my estimation is off-base when I say most every self-defense class I’ve witnessed, self-protection tome I’ve slogged through, “How to be Safe & Kick-Ass” article I’ve ever read begins in SHTF territory.

There is indeed a place for SHTF tactics, but jumping to there from the beginning and perhaps, too often, gives far too little weight to all the wee tactics and observations we could be making along the way. Tactics and observations that might render all this SHTF side of things a bit less than useless [if we’re lucky, that is.]

I think we can all agree that locking doors, a worthy alarm system, well-lighted entrances on a home in a “good” area are all more useful than being slack in these areas and spending all your time on working dry fire “Clear the home” drills each weekend.

Locking doors, good lighting, using the wisdom of real estate agents everywhere of “Location, location, location” is essentially exercising “Broken Windows” strategy.

Take care of the small things and the large will often take care of themselves.

Let’s run a brief and admittedly incomplete checklist of personal “Broken Windows” tactics and see how many we adhere to:

  • Eyes up and off phones, aware of surroundings when in public.
  • Ear buds out, taking in the sounds of what’s around when out and about.
  • Scanning each new environment for alternate exits and less than savory types.
  • Paying attention to gut feelings and leaving locations before your gut has a chance to be right or wrong.
  • Realizing that never losing your keys, always having your personal items squared away and good to go is just as important, if not more, than that emergency weapon you’ve got tucked away somewhere.

You get the idea, policing ourselves for the small habits will prepare us for greater vigilance if ever needed. Always jumping to SHTF is akin to skipping the purchase of the small kitchen fire extinguisher for a chance grease fire, and rather opting for your own fire truck if the house should ever goes up in a blaze.

Take care of your leaky faucets, your creaky doors, your broken windows before they bring the whole house down.


Political Violence and the Hive Mentality Part III- Garry Smith

I agree with Hoffer on a second point that the individual’s existence is based on their feelings of dissatisfaction with themselves so the surrender their individual will to the freedom of being told what to do, who to love, who to hate, and this hate spreads through the mob when it forms. Once one member of the mob triggers the others then the hive mentality takes over and the desire to sting infects all. But it’s happening here too, we are not that far behind.

As I watch these groups ‘protest’ their behavours continue to amaze me, do these people ever see themselves afterwards?  People act but do not think, their emotionally driven violent outbursts are experienced outside of our ‘normal’ frames of reference, my wife Karen Moxon Smith wrote in an article for Conflict Manager magazine “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”.

When individuals lose control, and I have been there, they will commit acts they would be shocked at any other time, appalled even. I have been in mobs that once a victim goes down then the kicking starts and it goes on long after they are unconscious. Football violence is fuelled by many things, the desire of young men to fight, the consumption of alcohol, the intense tribal emotions and an othered enemy who are going to attack us. I have swarmed, I have attacked and I have hurt people and just because the supported a different team. Not politics or religion or race, football.

So I understand this from a subjective perspective as well as an objective one, I may be wrong, feel free to disagree, I welcome that but I have been there and done that. To non participants the shock of the hive attacking can be as frightening as for those actually attacked, especially when lives are being taken now. Once you upset the hive and the bees come out it is almost impossible to get them back in.

We are, post event, and from the comfort of our armchairs, unable to comprehend this behavour when we see it and one coping mechanism is to other those involved. They are not human, they cannot be, and from there it is one small step to de-humanising them, whoever they are. We, whoever we are, need to stop these people; we can only do so by banding together against them.

Can anyone hear a small buzzing sound or is it just me?

The thing I have not discussed and that really bothers me is that hives are really easily triggered. Social media today allows not just one hive to be triggered but multiple hives in multiple locations. Chaos can erupt real fast now and infection can be global in seconds. The massive threat is hate groups manipulating social media to trigger their own hives and this triggering the hives of opposing hate groups. They feed of one another. They feed of truths as much as they feed off lies and often nobody knows what is truth or lie.

The social infection can go viral incredibly quickly and there are many who, as Haidt shows very clearly, act instantaneously on emotion and then proceed to rationalise the emotion. As they say the first victim when war breaks out is the truth, for me the first victim when emotion breaks out is rationality.

Over here in the UK the electorate defied all the major political parties, all the major institutions, interfering foreign leaders and all the celebrities they wheeled out to tell us our future was better in the European Union, and we won. Brexit should become a reality in the next few years, those who supported Brexit were attacked mercilessly as bigots, little Englanders, ignorant, stupid and racist, and we were the undesirables. The hive mentality was triggered and the stinging went on for weeks led by a fearful political class and the comfortable middle classes, it is still going on now.

I mentioned hate groups from minorities earlier, well the biggest hate group is those who have the most invested in the system, the socio-economically comfortable and the people who do their bidding, they will drop their veneer of rationality and reasonableness when threatened and they will swarm. The hive mentality has a wider reach than we thought.

Does this remind anyone of Nazi Germany or Communist Russia or even the horrors of Pol Pot and the Khymer Rouge with their year zero and killing fields? You see people love a charismatic leader and they in turn only love their true believers.

Remember that in his novel 1984, Orwell described that “the two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought.”

Welcome to our brave new world where freedom of thought and expression are feared and those of us who value that freedom have a fight on our hands. The virtue signalling identity politicos are  now fighting one another as allies who have even minor differences are transformed into enemies. Thought crime is now real and punishable by death, white men are terrorists and should be eliminated according to some.

In London a couple of weeks ago there was a political attack on a group of radical feminists at speakers corner, they were not attacked by chauvinistic men but transgender supporters and one very angry and possibly mentally unstable transgender person who had posted his intent to harm someone on social media earlier that day.

Members of Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists had gathered at Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park, central London ahead of a talk on gender issues. They moved the discussion from another venue in London after threats were made by rivals Trans Activists. But the protesters discovered the 50 TERFs were meeting in Hyde Park and confronted them.

“Members of Action for Trans Health (ATH) have issued a series of incendiary statements on social media since its supporters were involved in an attack on a 60-year-old woman in London’s Hyde Park on September 13.

The victim, Maria MacLachlan, suffered bruising after being punched by an activist widely identified on social media as Tara Flik Wood, 28, a courier who lives in London. MacLachlan was with a group of feminists who were planning to hold a meeting about gender identity.

Unlike MacLachlan and her group, ATH believes that anyone who self-identifies as a woman — without having undergone transition surgery — should be allowed to use women-only spaces such as changing rooms. The ATH extremists refer to MacLachlan and women who hold similar views as “trans-exclusionary radical feminists”, or Terfs.”

So who are these evil TERF’s? We according to Action for Trans Health Terf’s are, yes you guessed it, NAZIS.

“After the attack ATH’s Edinburgh branch sent out a series of tweets defending the use of violence: “punching Terfs is the same as punching Nazis. Fascism must be smashed with the greatest violence to ensure our collective liberation from it”, and “violence against Terfs is always self defense”.

Yes you read it correctly attacking a Terf is always self defence. What disgraceful crime were these Terf’s committing, well they were peacefully standing around at Speakers Corner whilst one of them sang a little song she had written, the ATH activists arrive and begin chanting, “when Terf’s attack we fight back’ on and on until Tara Flik Wood actually attacked a woman taking pictures.

Nobody was attacking anybody, it was a group of women enjoying their democratic right to spot their views, I have been to speakers corner a few times, I have heckled good naturedly, I have heard things I agreed with and things I did not agree with. Somebody saying things you do not like is not an attack, at least not in the physical sense. The hysterical ATH, BLM, Alr-Right activists do not understand this, once the hive mentality is triggered its time to use violence against words.

The Terf’s said things ATH did not like, they deserve to die, let’s build the camps now. Fuck me sideways but once again we have people using Nazi tactics claiming their victims are Nazis because they hold a different opinion.

I am off to colour my hair purple, chop off my manhood and put on my jackboots, there must be a human face somewhere that needs stamping on, forever.


Fed Up With the Way Women are Treated? – Randy King

So, on the Randy King North American Tour 2015 summer edition, we had a couple of women’s self-defense seminars that we taught. We teach two versions of our women’s self-defense seminar, number one is a three hour course pretty much making you aware of danger, what to look for, how to avoid it, and then there’s our two day course which has some physical techniques. One of my courses was done on a reserve. The questions that were asked of me at that seminar blew my mind. It made me realize that I don’t understand the plight of women in situations like that. So many answers I thought would work wouldn’t work, so many questions were so specific, about the specific attacker that they had, like “when my attacker does this”, not “what if my attacker is this big”. It made me re-think self-defense for women.

Number one, education is way more important than technique, there’s no way around that. There is no way a three hour course of kicking a man in a bullet suit in the groin that you’re going to become good at defending yourself against anybody. You might be able to run away from a predator, it’s not going to stop an uncle or a cousin from beating on you, it is not going to stop that guy at work. Women need to have more education on what they can and cannot do, and men need more education on treating women not like animals.

We have a link to this as well on our Facebook page if you follow us on Facebook. We put up an article about a girl who was talking about her version of what men do to women, and how her day was every day. It blew my mind, and it was so foreign to me, the concept of what was happening to this woman, that I almost didn’t believe it. So, I put it out to the ladies of KPC, and I asked them, “ladies, is this true, is this lady crazy, what’s going on?”  From a lot of women that I trust and respect, I got a lot of answers that made me sick to my stomach.

Guys, what the fuck are you doing out there?

This is not every person out there, there’s a lot of nice guys out there that are doing stuff, but man there’s a lot of you wrecking it for all of us. I don’t understand your ability, your thought process, that you think you own somebody, that you can stop somebody. Or you can get mad at somebody for not wanting to have sex with you.

I saw a really funny meme on the Internet and it said, “Why is the friend zone not a thing? Because women are not fucking vending machines that you put tokens into then receive sex.”

Women’s self-defense is a joke in a lot of places because a) the people teaching don’t understand the problem, and  b) what they are teaching is a physical response that works against male-to-male violence, they don’t understand the female social-asocial thing. There’s a movement to say that it’s better to teach boys not to rape – everybody wants a universal reason for why things are happening. People want to blame it on porn or the way men are raised or religion or whatever. Everyone wants the big bad wolf in the woods, that is going to be able get shot once and all our problems will go away. This inequality and un-safety issue with women is across the board, everybody’s fucking this up. Men are fucking it up, government agencies are fucking it up, the women are fucking it up. People are taking unnecessary risks on the order of “this shouldn’t happen to me”.

There has to be a way to fix this. The only person who is in charge of your safety is you. I say this so much we have a meme about it. You cannot wait and think that there’s going to be a knight in shining armor or a person’s going to save you when you are in trouble. When seconds count, police are minutes away.

I know this rant is going longer than normal but this is really pissing me off. Reading this blog, reading the woman’s response, knowing that people I give a shit about and care about are scared out of their minds to go anywhere and it’s an act of bravery to go to the grocery store is not fucking acceptable.

Women, we can’t fix the system right now, it’s on your onus. Get as much education as possible, learn the laws, learn what tools are good, learn the bad people in the neighborhood, do everything you can to keep yourself safe because it looks like nobody else is out there to help you.

Looking for more resources on how to up your game in the reality based training world? well sign up now for the CRGI Digital Dojo.


The Sixth and Seventh Rules – Teja Van Wicklen

Here are episodes 6 and 7 from Teja Van Wicklen as she takes us through her Mommy and Me Self Defense course.

We will be putting 2 downloads a week here  so subscribers can collect the set for FREE, it is available on amazon for $13.98.

The Sixth Rule

The Seventh Rule


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Political Violence and the Hive Mentality Part II – Garry Smith

Traditionally the political left accuses the political right of doing this and vice versa, but the centrist parties do it too, in fact all the political class do it and all religions have been doing it far longer.

In his book ‘The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt revives the work of several theorists who were also sacrificed at the stake of political correctness and shows how resulting evidence almost conclusively provides the evidence they lacked which allowed the ‘PC mob to grab their pitchforks and light their torches.

I am not claiming that much for Le Bon but he sure saw something the others did not want to see. 
There is another parallel I want to draw with Haidt’s work that also prompted me to go back to Le Bon, Le Bon was here first and Haidt never heard of him, or if he did he never recognised him. 
Maybe because Le Bon was lost in some pseudo academic backwater is what I would think, forgotten and unloved. However, I suggest you go get your free copy from Kindle now, read it, read it in the full and tell me that it does not describe how the world is today.

As I reread it I saw all the arguments, and candidates, in the recent presidential election in the USA, the BREXIT vote and our recent snap election in the UK, it frames the rise of Islamic State, I will not prime you too much but this is a really interesting read. There are bits that lack intellectual rigour, it is more polemic than analysis and his biases are obvious, BUT, that is not a reason to ignore it. Go get a copy and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

“Man is not a rational animal, man is a rationalizing animal”, Marc MacYoung.

We know people make decisions with the emotional part of the brain first then rationalise those decisions. In the introduction to his classic book ‘Emotional Intelligence’, Daniel Golemen states.

“Our journey begins in part one with new discoveries about the brain’s emotional architecture that offer an explanation of those most baffling moments in our lives when feeling overwhelms all rationality. Understanding the interplay of brain structures that rule our moments of rage and fear – passion and joy – reveals much about how we learn the emotional habits that can undermine our best intentions, as well as what we can do to subdue our more destructive or self-defeating impulses.”

So back to 2016 and 120 years after Le Bon put forward his theory we saw mobs rampaging in the USA as the presidential election certainly divided good people, we saw racial tensions thrown into this mix too with black and white supremacists making capital from these divisions. We saw the Alt-Right on the streets and Antifa using the iconography and tactics of the fascists, WOW. Hate spewed forth as emotions ran incredibly high. Why are we surprised when the violence comes? Now in 2017 people are attacking statues, not just statues of Confederate soldiers but any old statue that triggers their ‘I am offended’ button. Just like the religious lunatics that are ISIS history can be attacked if it does not fit in with your righteous world view.

When Hitler and Stalin did this it was accompanied by industrial scale imprisonment, torture and murder of millions of people.

When manipulated by charismatic leaders groups of true believers form behind the new movement that promises a better future. Eric Hoffer describes these people and we can see them daily, our sweet Corbynistas and Britain First in the UK, the alt-right and Antifa in the USA.

First they join the group and gain acceptance, then they subscribe then ingest the groupthink 1984 style until their vision is all that matters, not whether it is rational, not whether it is possible, there is no consideration of a down side to the better future vision because it is incomprehensible that there could be one. So with fixed and totally ideologically armed warriors can pursue total control and the driving before them of their enemies and their eventual liquidation.

Their emotions are hijacked and emotional flooding is explained brilliantly by Goleman:

“The technical description of flooding is in terms of heart rate rise from calm levels. At rest, women’s heart rates are about 82 beats per minute, men’s about 72 (the specific heart rate varies according to a person’s body size. Flooding begins at about 10 beats a minute above a person’s resting rate; if the heart rate reaches 100 beats per minute (asit easily can do during moments of rage or tears), then the body is pumping adrenaline and other hormones that keep the distress high for some time. The moment of emotional hijacking is apparent from the heart rate: it can jump 10, 20 or even as many as 30 beats per minute within the space of a single heartbeat.”

Yes it is that quick, this all happens in a single heart beat, less than a second, makes the 2 minute hate in 1984 look quaint doesn’t it? The thing is this massive flood has rapid physiological effects as Goleman explains that when flooding happens:

“Muscles tense; it can seem hard to breathe. There is a swamp of toxic feelings, an unpleasant wash of fear and anger that seems inescapable and, subjectively, takes “forever” to get over. At this point – full hijacking – a person’s emotions are so intense, their perspective so narrow, and their thinking so confused that there is no hope of taking the other’s viewpoint or settling things in a reasonable way.”

Once incited when time for action comes the mob mentality takes over, here the work of Le Bon seems as good an explanation as any other. Actual attacks on communities, even suspected attacks, in the currently overcharged atmosphere cause people to swarm and to sting their real or perceived enemies.

The mob was feared by Le Bon, he was frightened of the mob and its riots, but those riots were underpinned by revolutionary ideas that threatened the existing order. He was frightened by social change and in a time where execution by guillotine was in overdrive who can blame him.

I think we now have a phenomena worse than the mob as there appears to be little rationale behind most of these hate groups other than fear, misconceptions and misunderstandings, be they the KKK, Westborough Baptists, Islamists throwing gays off roofs or Black Lives Matter screaming for the slaughter of white babies, my observation from the much calmer side of the pond, is that they had rhetoric, now they are mostly spewing out hate and some of it is vile.

Alpha Revisited – Marc MacYoung

Let me start that if there is one thing I am embarrassed about in my past works it is bringing the concept of alpha/beta into the self-defense world. At the time it was widely accepted science. But theory, like fame is fickle and fleeting. So let’s update this circle jerk.

I liken it to that because every wanna be tough guy is now claiming to be an alpha. Fact is, they’re behaving like the betas… and doing a bad job of that too. Mostly though they’re jerking off to fantasy.

Yes the original study was wrong. Way, way wrong. More modern research has proven wolfpack dynamics are far more complex and multi-roled for functionality and long term sustainability than people realize. It turns out participation is a much, much bigger and constant factor than hierarchy. But having said that, there is a great deal still to be understood by pack behavior– especially by looking at the actual role of the beta.

See what wannabe don’t realize is they aren’t aping alpha behavior, they’re aping beta behavior. There are several problems with this. First is they’re doing hash job of it. Second is not having what it takes even to be a beta. Third having absolutely NO idea about what leadership, power or even dominance is. Fourth, basically taking a sociopathic approach based on their complete misunderstanding of the third point and how things work in groups.

But let’s look at what they’re aping.

In a negative context, the beta is the thug. In a more positive context, the beta is the Sgt of arms for the group. In a positive spin, the beta protects the pack. In a more neutral perspective, the beta is both the muscle OF THE group and expendable. (While the role is not expendable, the individual is.)

I liken the beta to a spear. Something that is thrown at a target, but you don’t mind losing. Yes the beta is the biggest, strongest and most aggressive. It’s also the enforcer of the rules (but not the maker of the rules). The beta is out in front when taking down large prey and it is also running at danger to the pack. As such, the beta is the first to get injured or killed. When that happens (or the beta gets old), the role is taken over by another, often younger wolf.

In human terms, the beta is who I call Thongor the Learning Impaired. For the group’s survival he doesn’t do the ‘smart thing’ like everyone else — instead of running from danger, he runs towards it. Thing is if everyone did the smart thing we’d have died out as a species. Face it, men are bigger, stronger and faster than women. Women are bigger, stronger and faster than children. So if we all did the smart thing and ran from a predator the kids and women would die first. Yeah, that’s not a good species survival strategy.

The key point of this is that as the alpha leads the pack (because it has resources and abilities others don’t) that’s a different set of skill sets. The beta protects the pack and keeps other wolves in line. That’s where the misunderstanding of power and dominance really comes home to roost.

Many I’m-such-an-alpha-stud-look-at-how-big-of-a-dick-I-can-be -uhh-how -big-of-a-dick-I-have don’t get ‘it’s not about them.’ It’s about the group surviving and… if not thriving…then at least functioning on a day to day manner. In other words, it’s not about what they want or for their selfish benefit, it’s taking care of others. Yeah, there’s a selfish spin to it, but it’s one step removed. While it is true you get those bennies, it’s because of the services you provide to others. The role isn’t about the bennies, it’s about the work. The bennies are what you get for doing it. But far more important is the group and its shared resources keep your ass alive.

Now there is an interesting thing that tracks back to the difference between studying wolves in the zoo (which is where I heard Mech did the study) and wolves in the wild — it also tracks to dogs And in a round about way, humans. In the wild, if you have an out of control member of a pack, the pack will either abandon it or collectively drive it away. This seriously increases the chances of the ‘lone wolf’ dying. You can think of this as the pack voting with its feet. Or chasing you out with fang.

Consider this from the aggressive one’s perspective. First you’re screwing up by being too aggressive to your own pack. Screw up too much and you get abandoned and die. (Also, there’s always a danger to the bully of triggering a survival response while trying to chase an individual away and that individual injuring or crippling the bully.)

The option of leaving does not exist in captivity. That TOTALLY changes the dynamics and increases stress among the animals. This especially if the beta decides it’s alpha. Look at Caesar Millan’s ‘insecure alpha’ That’s what happens when you have a beta trying to be alpha in captivity. You end up with thuggish, aggressive behavior.

Oh and as an aside, in the wild the pack’s survival depends on the savvy and knowledge of the leaders. It’s not just wolf packs, it’s pretty much all animals that live in packs, herds and social groups. Leadership is about knowing where to find food, water, shelter, etc. This is a missing component in captivity where needs are provided. Simple concept, profound implications on behavior.

NOW, let’s add in some other stuff –starting with people. If people can’t ‘leave’ or vote the aggressor out you have some screwed up dynamics. This especially when you have a bigger stronger ‘overlord’ that isn’t looking out for them, but the overlords interest’s. An example of what I’m talking about bullying in schools. (Conversely, you end up with a different set of problems when leaving [and finding another group] is too easy. But that’s not the point of this.) But being trapped with a bully is a significant issue to this subject.

Oh and another issue with schools. In ye olde days, you had mixed age groups. (One room school house.) Not only did this allow for modeling of behaviors (this is how older kids act) but you also had the protection/limiting of abuse BY the older kids. Yeah, Joey may be the biggest baddest and terror of the ten year olds but the 17 year old who just leaned over and smacked him on the back of the head for being an asshole is bigger, stronger and not scared of Joey. Think of that as checks and balances to Joey’s ‘power.’ Now take those away — by age segregating and forcing the kids to be in the classroom.

As someone recently pointed out, it’s going to be the most aggressive and misbehaving kids who will become ‘dominant’ (at least in the way that people typically misuse the term) in those kinds of situations. This has significant influence on people mistaking beta ‘behavior’ for being alpha. Now here’s where you need to start being concerned. In the same way the abused typically grow up to become abusers, that’s what they think power and being an alpha is.

They’ve literally not seen true alpha behavior and are aping selfish and abusive behavior and calling it alpha. They are, in fact, serving neither the role or purpose of either an alpha or a beta. You basically end up with a pushy, selfish asshole who thinks being selfish is characteristic of being an alpha.

Now having said all this, like it or not the term ‘alpha’ is here to stay.

So as instructors we’re going to have to suck it up and deal with the fact that this is what people think they know. Yes, it’s a lie to children. No it’s not accurate. But it’s both a starting point and what people know. Now we have to guide them to a more fuller understanding of why what they think they know is a little more complicated than that.


Political Violence and the Hive Mentality – Garry Smith

This article in its subsequent parts is a complete redraft of a previous article but brought up to date after reflecting on the recent political violence particularly in the USA. I am a firm supporter of people having the right to speak freely, however obnoxious I feel their views are. I hope it touches on points others fear to write about or discuss in case they are screamed at and attacked. So here goes, feel free to comment at the end, I will take any comments that I have not already included and weave them into the article, so it could be our first interactive article.

Regards, Garry.

I will start with a confession. Sometime ago before we had Bertie, our cute little Puggle, we had a Border Collie cross called Guinness. He was a lovely dog too and like Bertie used to like his walks. On one nice sunny day we were walking along a path in the Mayfield Valley and I noticed a large number of wasps coming in and out of a cavity in a tree. I am not sure why but I threw a stone into the cavity hitting the nest, guess what happened? Yes, out came the wasps and I made a run for it. The problem was Guinness did not.

The wasps caught up with Guinness, I tried swatting them off him with my hands but they, and there were a lot of them, began to crawl into his coat. I did what I could by getting him to a part of the nearby river that was deep enough and pushing him in. Hoping this would kill the wasps. They had already been on him for a couple of minutes and I had no clue as to whether they were stinging him. There were no signs that they were but he did slow down as we walked home.

I felt real guilt as my stupid actions had caused my dog possible suffering. The good part is after a nap on the lawn Guinness went about the rest of the day as normal.

The thing is I know about wasps, I know that like bees in a hive, they will swarm if they feel the hive is under attack let alone under actual attack. If you have seen bees swarm it is a pretty impressive sight and not something you want to provoke. Stings hurt and multiple stings hurt more. Insects, bees and wasps in this case, have no intellect, if attacked or if they think they are being attacked,

Swarming can also be the result of overcrowding in a successful hive so the hive splits and reproduces itself. This is different; these bees are looking for a new home. Our previous bees and wasps were looking to defend theirs, and for the insect mass attack is the best form of defence.

There are a number of different things that can trigger a swarm, overcrowding, lack of space, reducing pheromone levels in the queen, reducing pheromone levels in the population, increasing daylight are just a few, plus some species of bee are more prone to swarming than others.

Whatever signal that triggers the attack these insect will sacrifice themselves in the process. Take a look at this video.

Frightening stuff. The thing is people behave this way too. I am now going to reprint a book review I wrote for the February 2016 Conflict Manager on ‘The Crowd, A Study of the Popular Mind‘ by Gustav Le Bon 1896.

I first came across this book in my studies at the University of Warwick in a class called Social and Political Movements taught by Professor Jim Beckford. Jim was a great tutor and a really nice guy to boot; his classes were always looked forward to although his rigorous analysis of ideas may upset some of today’s precious petals.

The first class looked at the work of Le Bon and his study of the psychological nature of crowds. I remember liking it at the time but feeling that it was just too much guess work and overtly influenced by the authors experience of a turbulent and frightening, for him,  period of French history.

That was back in September 1990, much water has passed under the bridge since then, so why come back to it now?

Well it all comes back to a conversation I had with Rory Miller early in 2015 about ConCom and the triune brain when I mentioned Le Bon and his theory. Le Bon’s analysis is that once subsumed in a crowd an individual surrenders their individuality and a psychological mind is formed through contagion, emotions spread throughout the crowd and freed from individual responsibility the baser instincts take over. The individual ceases to think about the consequences of their actions as emotions take over and acts of both barbarity and heroism are possible.

Le Bon describes the ‘spinal cord’ as being in control and not the intellectually reasoning brain. 
 Ring any bells? Well it rang mine.

The thing is in the PC days of the 90’s this became a bit of an Aunt Sally, by the students that is, to be fair Jim used it in its historical context to begin a much wider and deeper exploration of the subject at hand. For the students, fresh out of some of the top schools in the UK, it was to be belittled, corny, out of date, lacking in evidence etc.

I was 31, I had been involved in a lot of crowd violence involving a full on riot with flaming barriers, thousands of people mobilised and hand to hand fighting with specially trained units of riot police, plus the occasional football riot, I thought differently.

Though written in a voice from a different age and though the criticisms raised were in part valid, it was not enough to write it off as a whole, I thought all along there was something of value here.

Like our friends the bees there are many different triggers that can cause the hive mind to kick in and for humans to swarm. Politics and religion are the big no go areas for most polite social intercourse because this is where families and friends can fall out. In a world where social media is helping people to inhabit their own echo chambers where the harmful and dangerous, people forget different, ideas, however horrible they are to you, cannot actually hurt you. Well the echo chamber is an increasing trend and it lends itself as an actual too to those who will benefit from influencing then manipulating others, the radicalisers.

Traditionally the political left accuses the political right of doing this and vice versa, but the centrist parties do it too, in fact all the political class do it, end of and religion have been doing it far longer..

Part II will follow next week.


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The Fourth and Fifth Rules – Teja Van Wicklen

Here are episodes 4 and 5 from Teja Van Wicklen as she takes us through her Mommy and Me Self Defense course.

We will be putting 2 downloads a week here  so subscribers can collect the set for FREE, it is available on amazon for $13.98.

The Fourth Rule

The Fifth Rule


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The Second and Third Rules – Teja Van Wicklen

Here are episodes 5 and 6 of 14 from Teja Van Wicklen as she takes us through her Mommy and Me Self Defense course.

We will be putting 2 downloads a week here for the next 6 weeks, so subscribers can collect the set for FREE, it is available on amazon for $13.98.

The Second Rule

The Third Rule