Idiots, Assholes and Pros – Rory Miller

This is aimed mostly at professionals.

There are three general kinds of people that will require force.  The three types don’t fight for the same reason or use the same tactics, and your skills may not work the same.

Honestly, most of the time, if you are in enforcement or corrections or especially bouncing, you are going to run into idiots.  The drunk college kid who squares off and lets you know he’s coming a mile away.  The entitled whiner who thinks he’s too special to go to jail just for driving drunk.  The martial artist who’s never been in a real fight but doesn’t believe there’s a difference.

It may just be the old man in me coming out, but it seems like idiots are on the rise.  Fewer people have been exposed to violence; more people have never had their behavior controlled.  That combination creates people who are both hot-house flowers incapable of taking care of themselves, but certain that anything they want is a right and anyone who disagrees is an oppressor.  It seems I see more and more of this pathetically weak but shrill and bullying dynamic. For whatever my opinion is worth.

Idiots are easy.  You see them coming and almost anything done decisively works.  The drunk steroid freak squares off and let’s you know he has a blackbelt in…

And you smile and toe kick him in the shin with your boot before he finishes the sentence and then drop him. Or beat past his arms and twist his spine.  Or, probably the classic:

Again, almost anything done decisively works.

Assholes are the second most common.  They like to fight and they have varying levels of, for want of a better word, professionalism.  The experienced know when they are outnumbered and tend to surrender.  The experienced assholes know when they are losing and give up.  Generally, even the experienced assholes don’t like going hands on on a cop or other professional– unless they sense any weakness.

They have varying levels of ‘professionalism’ in how far they are willing to go and incredibly varied skill levels.  An asshole who gets the drop on you is still dangerous even if he barely knows how to hit. To a large degree, fighting assholes is somewhat like fighting martial athletes.  A wide range of skill and commitment but generally, they like to fight and it will be a fight.  The fatal mistake is treating an asshole like an idiot.  When it comes time to bat his guard aside, the guard won’t be weak and it will likely trigger a counter-attack.  An idiot’s lack of confidence and/or lack of understanding of how the world really works are the reasons it is so easy to bat aside even their trained fists.  You won’t get this with assholes.

And saying they like to fight isn’t quite right either.  They don’t like the give and take of fighting, only the give.  They enjoy causing pain and beating people down but tend not to be so big on receiving pain. So most won’t engage if you act like a wary professional.  They won’t see the safe opening.

The pros are a different kettle of fish.  For the most part, you won’t get a lot of these.  Highest concentration is in prison, jails, or on elite teams.  Rarity makes them somewhat low risk.  Their own professionalism also makes them low risk.  It is very, very rare for this category to fight for ego.  If you have the drop on them and maintain control they will, generally, not resist.  If your handcuffing technique has a hole built into it or your approach is sloppy, they will use the Golden Rule of Combat: “Your most powerful weapon applied to your opponent’s most valuable point at his time of maximum imbalance.”  They will hit you hard, decisively, where and how it will do the most damage, and they will strike when you are least ready.

Assume most pros are skilled.  It’s not always true and it’s not a necessary factor, but growing into a pro mindset usually takes time and that kind of time doing those kinds of things develops skills.  That said, it doesn’t take a lot of skilled technique when you follow the Golden Rule.  No one has to be trained to hit a man in the head with a brick from behind.

And the skill may be something unusual.  In the debrief on Minnesota I mentioned that there were some high-percentage techniques that simply didn’t work on Kasey, Dillon or me.  Our grappling backgrounds made us instinctively structure in ways that idiots don’t think to and assholes are too arrogant for, even if they had trained the skills.

Taxonomy alert: Taxonomies are naming classifications.  This is a separate taxonomy from the social/asocial that I usually use.  An asocial threat can fight as either an asshole or a pro (as an idiot, too, but Darwin usually takes care of that combination early).  The asocial/social/maslow/triune is a better introduction for most everybody, but people who use force professionally might get something from this classification.


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