Dimorphism Matters – Garry Smith and Jayne Wharf

Jayne Wharf and Garry Smith are editors of Conflict Manager magazine and directors of the Conflict Research Group International. We are both senior instructors in Ju Jitsu, Jayne is currently training in preparation for the 3rd dan grading and Garry his 4th Dan. We both teach realistic self defence but from very different positions, literally.

Jayne stands 5’2½” tall and Garry is 5’9”, she weighs 8st, he just under 15st. We regularly grapple, spar, brawl and ground-fight together and with others, it is what we like to do, but mostly we train and teach together. Difference in size due to dimorphism matters, we need to take it into account when we train. Sexual dimorphism is the condition where the two sexes of the same species exhibit different characteristics beyond the differences in their sexual organs. Size, muscle mass etc. Both of which will influence the outcome of a violent conflict.

Recently we have see certain ground-fighting techniques, pretty technical ones, being promoted as good self defence for women. They are not, they are unrealistic, easy to counter and will not work against a committed attacker who knows what they are doing. We know, we train this all the time. When we were doing a demo for our juniors last week, I thought we were just showing a few moves nice and steady, so it was a big surprise when Jayne came at me like a hell-cat. It took me a good minute but I eventually got on top of her and pinned her. We were both red faced and puffing and panting. We did it again a few days later for a different group of juniors, similar outcome but this time she got her guard in so tight on my ribs I involuntary farted, I quickly tried to blame Jayne but the kids knew it was me. Red faced again.

So in light of seeing BS techniques peddled as good SD, and what we do when we train, we decided to have the following conversation.

In our training session last Monday we had a short, but intense, ground-fight on the mat. The purpose was, if I remember rightly, for you to show the juniors that you need to fight aggressively against a bigger stronger opponent, not that you warned me. We have trained together for some time now, given the imbalance in size and weight why do you keep doing this?

JW: You’d like me to say it’s because I like it … haha. The purpose on Monday was as you say to show the juniors that no matter if you’re the underdog (in particular the girls) you still have a chance if you have heart. Your brain may well be telling you you can’t win, but you have to push that aside and at least try, don’t give in before it all kicks off.

Why do I keep doing it? For me personally it’s extremely rewarding. I get an opportunity to test what does & doesn’t work on someone who is bigger, stronger (dare I say it without offending you?) heavier than I am. I’m taking about the ‘cheats’ here because there is no way I would win if I played ‘fair’, so I don’t. I have to use my whole body to create the tiniest amount of movement, but with every small adjustment I may be gaining a long term advantage. I can promise you by the end I am absolutely exhausted, but this is the second reward, with each bout I not only gain information I also improve in fitness and strength.  

GS: As I said earlier I am almost twice your weight, No offence at all, it is as it is. OK so each fight allows you to ‘probe’ more is that fair?


JW: Yes, no two bouts are the same. I always have to push aside the ‘I’m going to lose mentality at the start. I pretty much take it a stage at a time pulling on what worked last time where I can. I don’t forget the stuff that didn’t work, I will have thought about ‘why’ these didn’t work probably on a dog walk. If I have a possible ‘solution’ I may try that. I can’t plan ahead as such but I can prepare. Sometimes I have ‘something’ in mind that I want to try & I will attempt to manoeuvrer my way into it. I do listen to my mentors & will always try out their suggestions even if initially I think it’s not appropriate for me; I’ve been proven wrong many times…so again another lesson – don’t assume you know better…that’s good coming from someone who as you know knows everything … hahaha.

GS: OK so what is it like fighting as a small woman against a nasty violent bigger man?

JW: I don’t know what that’s like now. Fighting against you is extremely awkward, but I know

you, you’re not the ‘nasty violent bigger man’. I met the nasty violent bigger man years gone by & I promise you I would annihilate the chap I have in mind if I were to meet him today. So for me all the training over the past few years is working for me. Fighting against you & the other fellas in the club is rewarding….smelly, sweaty, exhausting, but rewarding.

GS:that is good to know. The thing is we know we train within safe parameters. We cannot bite, gouge etc. We do dirty fighting drills but I struggle as a man who would just go brute punching, to use such tactics, how can we do these things, should we?

JW: I personally have no desire to inflict injury on others or myself in the name of self defence, so I would say ‘no, we shouldn’t’. As a club we already go way further many other as you know & I am happy with that level. If you want to encourage women to learn (as I think we should) then that’s not the way to go, we don’t want to frighten them away before they even try. I have also seen that for those who want to go that extra mile likewise we will make it happen; I’m thinking of you & Johnny here.

GS: Well you surprise me a little here, You are quite aggressive in your application of technique in Ju Jitsu and very aggressive in our Self Defence training to the extent that I am incredibly proud of you if that is not patronising.  For the reader Johnny and I have both had more than a few street/pub fights (with others) and we like to go for it a bit when we glove up.

JW: What can I say is I like to show heart. I’m in training for my 3rd Dan and know that I need to exhibit the techniques above the expected standard…that and perhaps I just like to occasionally inflict some pain on yourself & Lee, John…well all of your really.

GS: I think you do that and achieve a gold standard, to be honest there are times your face looks like you want to kill. Now do not play that down. Most women cannot do that. Sometimes I look up after you throw me and you are raining in punches and knees etc., all pulled of course, and it is scary. What are you thinking when you do this?

JW: Honestly? Not much other than … it’s hard to put into words. There’s a mixture of as a trained Ju Jitsuka wanting to show a fantastic ‘finish’, as a coach wanting the students to see how ‘we’ want them to exhibit a technique and then …this is where I go dark…. What I want to do to past & any potential attackers.  

GS: That is interesting, as instructors we demonstrate technique after technique, Recently we have been showing people full mount, side mount etc. as part of our ground work.  When we demo fights it is fun and you come at me full on. As you said I think that is excellent for the kids, especially the girls to see. WE want them to cheat, how do you feel about videos that show complicated technical chokes?

JW: First things first, I ain’t full on (haha) I go the extra mile but I have more in the tank trust me. Videos showing complicated technical chokes…it depends on who’s showing them, also the accessibility and target audience. These should not be out in the general public domain. They need governance.

GS: LOL so that is typical of you, not full on, well that will be sorted where you can go full on, I love fighting Johnny, I love fighting anyone in sporting fashion or for real, I love fighting you because you really go for it, so full on next time then. Thing is when we talked the other night you mentioned lack of feedback which I think was a fair criticism. Please explain to the reader what would help. For example whilst ground fighting the other night you used your knuckles in my left ribs, just digging them in on the blind-side. I can tolerate that but if you did it harder maybe it would shift me.  

JW: Yes, so I guess the point is just that. If I ‘try’ something I am always (I know you don’t believe this) conscious of not going over the top. Look I grew up with two hairy arsed brothers who took great delight on one hand being my protectors (and still do) then on the other tormenting me & hanging my upside down by one leg over the bannisters. So I’m heavy handed. What is helpful to me is to work out when & how I do need to push a bit further, make my response / counter stronger to have an effect on someone who is heavier, stronger, more stubborn etc etc. That said I still appreciate someone who is adrenalised who will not necessarily respond in the same way.

GS: OK you know how much I respect you as one of my senior instructors, my favourite training partner and dog walking companion. One last question, do you think you can take me?

JW: My brain says ‘no’. This is not just based on a feel, this is based on the fact you are in my opinion a fighting machine, trained & condition over many years. I may well be a tom–boy, but I’m not to that ‘gold’ standard. What I can say is it would be messy. I may not win, but I’d go down fighting.

GS: I think that is why I hold you in the deepest respect. I think you would  extract a great deal out of me so it would be a poor victory if we fought for real. We need to now explore how we can push the boundaries. You may be little but you always punch well above your weight. I think with the right circumstances and conditions you could wipe the floor with anyone, me included.

So, for once, I think you are wrong, you have the attitude, the aggression and the ability. I know, I have the ability to drop bigger, better guys, been there and done it many times. That is why I know you, given the window of opportunity, can cream me if you get that sweet shot in. You may be little but you are determined.

We need to work on some drills that take us further. You need to help me shape them.

By the way we have a no holds barred fight owing 😉 Let’s see what you have. Soon.

JW: Hummm now you mention it I did drop Lee (technical knockout apparently), doubled Pete over & made Bill see stars! I have made some great friends and learnt many things, not all self defence related, during the years spent training. I think a lot of women would benefit from just experiencing a tiny piece of what I/we as a club have experienced. There’s a lot they can learn and fun to be had alongside the calorie burning they desire.   

Stop Using Fear Based Marketing – Randy King and Erik Kondo

Erik: Randy, you wrote a great blog piece on why reality based martial arts instructors should stop using fear marketing to attract students. I think it makes great points and I have included it below:

Randy’s Post:

Reality-based martial artists, stop it. Stop using fear-based marketing, you’re a bunch of asses. I cannot stand people using fear as a motivator to make people buy things from them. Why – why do you feel the need to frighten people all the time about violence when, statistically speaking, they’re probably never gonna see it? Why are you putting up reports from your local newspapers all over your advertising listing all the bad things that have happened, out of context?

So many things in there happen to people whose jobs put them in the line of danger, or those who exist in a world where violence is very common. It’s not “local housewife walks down to store and gets attacked” – which happens rarely, stranger danger being the least common thing yet the most commonly marketed method to get people into self defense gyms. It’s always “man stabbed three times by girlfriend” – yeah, that happened, but what was the context of it?  Taking something from one tiny little statistic and then using that to blitz a marketing campaign on social media, or on flyers, or in schools is low, and it makes all of us look bad.

If you’re not a good enough instructor to bring students in and retain them on your merits, if you have to scare the hell out of them to make them stay out of fear that when they leave your gym they will be attacked by random ninjas and vigilantes and rapists all the time … stop teaching!  Just stop – you’re not doing anybody any favors. If you need to keep people in by making sure they leave terrified, or you bring them in by making them terrified – it’s ridiculous.

There’s a difference between fear-based marketing and awareness campaigns for what is happening. We, for example put up things that are happening in Edmonton, where we’re based, but we put up the context of it, we put up the whole news story – not a sound bite. Stop jumping into sound bite Fox news lifestyle where it’s all about propagating fear and making everybody suspicious of everybody else.

(Stop hitting the panic button! Students who you bring in with fear campaigns will not stay!)

Yes – violence does happen. Usually it happens from people that you know, usually with that violence – to quote Marc MacYoung – it has instructions on how to stop it. “Shut the fuck up and leave” – you shut the fuck up and leave, you’re good. Usually, bad things happen to people in bad situations – they go to places they shouldn’t go, they don’t know the rules, they’re in the wrong spot. Rory Miller has a whole bunch of things listed in his book, Facing violence about this. But to use bad things to profit your own business to me is probably one of the dirtiest, most shameful things you can possibly do.

Erik: Some Reality Based Martial Arts instructors are just one category of what I call the Merchants of Fear. The Merchants profit when people are afraid. Sometimes the Merchants are motivated only by profit. Other times, they may be promoting a worthwhile social cause (stopping violence against women for example). But the end result is still the creation of a culture of fear.

One primary audience for the Merchants of Fear are middle class women who are either in college or young working professionals. This audience typically has the disposable income to buy products. They are coveted by media advertisers. They have the time and passion to support their cause of choice.

The Merchants benefit when it’s audience:

  • Buys their personal safety products.
  • Attends their self-defense training programs.
  • Watch and read their crime centric sensational news stories.
  • Demand their greater police visibility and presence.
  • Support their Anti-Rape and Anti-Violence Organizations.

Some of the Merchants send out varying messages that evolve around the same general theme. All women are likely victims. All women are constantly being assaulted in one form or another. All women need this type of weapon, special training, or society to protect them. Scary statistics such as 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted are prominently quoted.

Suggestions that women have the natural resources/ability to defend themselves from assault in certain situations are sometimes denigrated as “victim blaming”. Some of the Merchants of Fear depend upon their target audience’s sense of victimization to further their respective businesses and causes.

The Merchants gain from its audience’s reduced Peace of Mind. Certain social causes pit the needs of the Individual against the needs of the Cause. The greater the victimization that appears to be occurring, the greater the support for the Cause. Society loses by increased feelings of helpless and fear, but the Cause wins more support.

Political candidates are increasing using the tactics of the Merchants of Fear to attract supporters.

Erik: Randy is there anything else you would like to add?

Randy: I have always found that there are two types of clients. Proactive and curative. The second group are training because something bad had happened to them. If you use fear based marketing, you not only rub their experience in their face for “not training sooner” (which is a giant pile of bullshit and you should know that!) you also run a huge risk of re-traumatizing them through your program.

The first group which thankfully is far larger, if you recruit them through fear, the only way to keep them is through the same method. You have to keep them scared, to pay your bills. If creating victims to scared to leave their home so that you get rich is how you roll…I hope that we never meet.

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.


The Dangers of Killer Instinct, Part I – Rodney King

The vast consumption of reality based self defence programs are not by military, law enforcement, or occupations that deal with interpersonal violence on a regular basis but rather civilians. Civilians by their very nature, and at least in the relative safety of the Western world have very little experience with interpersonal violence, outside of Hollywoods depiction of it. Added to this, there is an uneasy truth that is often not spoken openly about in the world of self-defence marketing’  — that very few of these civilians will ever have to deal with an interpersonal violent confrontation in their lifetime, at least not one that would be considered life or death.

Yet with the onslaught of media that seem to focus exclusively on a world that is seen as wholly unsafe, it is no wonder then that civilians especially those who live in the cushy, relative safety of upper class suburbia feel it necessary to seek out methods to secure their safety. The way the media portrays it, no matter where you live in the world, there is a bad guy around every street corner (who knows even your butler might be out to get you).

The methods of teaching often employed in many of these reality based self defence schools seek to unlock the killer instinct within an audience which as suggested earlier are not acquainted with acts of violence on a daily basis. Bringing out the animal nature in civilians is proposed as the type of traits necessary for them to defend against a violent, deranged, attacker. This approach in my view, far from being productive, and of course constructive in giving someone the necessary fortitude to take on a violent assailant, is to a large degree setting them up for failure. Before I suggest why this may be the case, I want to set the grounding for what I term self preservation, as opposed to self defence and an ego fight.

Getting Clear on Self Preservation

At least from my perspective, self defence has always held a reactionary meaning. For example, one finds oneself in a bad situation, you are attacked and you deploy your self defence skills (often, as pointed out earlier with intensity and ferocity, i.e., with that killer instinct).

Self preservation on the other hand, at least as I am defining it, is preemptive in nature. From this perspective self preservation doesnt begin when someone attacks you, but starts that morning, a day, a month, and even a year earlier. The reality is that statistically a person living in the suburbs is more likely to be seriously injured, even killed in a motor vehicle accident especially when not wearing a safety belt than being mugged. Statistically speaking a person is more likely to have a heart attack and die because of bad nutritional choices in the Western world, than being attacked by another human being. If we are then seriously talking self-preservation, which is the preservation of the self (i.e., to live), it then implies that safetyof oneself is not just when someone attacks you, but rather ensuring self preservation in the things that WILL happen, and are more likely to kill you on an average day. For instance if you really valued your life, then you should make sure you put your safety belt on when you get into your motor vehicle or not eating cholesterol rich food that will clog up your arteries and cause you to have a heart attack.

When one then takes this further self preservation implies being astute and aware of ones surroundings (take note, I said aware not paranoid). Why go down to that nightclub when you know its a hot spot for violence? If you do find yourself in a nightclub, and a bunch of guys are giving you the evil eye, and you sense that it may escalate, leave the club and go home. If you are out at night and you have to park your car on the curb, then choose a spot that is well lit, and frequented by many people, and not the one around the corner near that alleyway with no visible lighting. If you bump into someone in a bar, and he spills your drink, your default setting shouldnt be to turn around in a rage which then changes a situation that could have been deescalated to now one that could result in potential personal harm. This more importantly is not self preservation, it’s ego defence. If you walking in a bar, and you bump someone and he spills his drink all over you, your first reaction shouldn’t be to throw profanities at that person, but rather to apologise, see it as an accident (which it more than likely was) and use verbal jiu jitsu tactics to politely ask if you can buy them another drink. This is self preservation, more over it is being a mature, sensible human being.

Often times, what is passed off in the world of reality based self defence is akin more to ego defence, than true self preservation. If we are honestly talking self preservation, then it is about avoiding violence where ever possible, It is about being aware of potential threats and removing oneself before a potential problem arises. If faced with a threat, then the first choice should always be to talk that person down using verbal jiu-jitsu, and if no other choice is available and it requires that you need to go hands on then you do just enough to neutralise the threat and then immediately find the nearest exit. This is what it means to preserve the self.

I would argue that many people, especially those teaching reality based self defence would have a hard time with this definition. One only has to look to YouTube to see a myriad of self defencevideos, where the defender fends off an attack, only then to go ballistic on the opponent, stomping his head into the ground, even though and crucially (albeit it being a demonstration) the fight was actually won ten moves earlier. Lets not even talk here about the appropriate use of force applied to the situation at hand. I am surprised that not more of these instructors or their students are dealing with assault charges.

Additionally tons of self defencevideos can be found on YouTube that show situations where if someone gets in your face then you neutralise him with a barrage of vicious attacks. But when one looks closer at many of these situations, especially contextually how these situations are dealt with, even set up, are more often than not about the ego, not self preservation.

The reality is, if you truly talking or teaching self preservation then the number one thing you want to teach someone is to avoid conflict at all costs (of course the ego doesnt like this approach, but that should be a self defencelesson too). This understanding seems to be a no brainer for wild animals, who would much rather posture than fight. They know all to well that even if they fought  and one of them won, whilst the other died the injuries sustained by the victor could mean that they both die in the end albeit a week or so later.  

Revisiting Killer Instinct

Coming back to the notion of teaching civilians killer instinct. There is several glaring problems with this approach. Firstly, it is wholly out of context to how people typically live. Most people, unless they find themselves in a profession that encounter interpersonal violence on a regular basis, the most they have to deal with is an occasional road rage incident on the way to drop the kids off at school. In most incidents that the average person may have to deal with, in which it could potentially become interpersonal aggression the use of awareness, verbal jiu-jitsu skills, and a sensible, mature attitude to a given situation is more often than not the best form of self defence.

When civilians are taught to focus on killer instinct as the master strategy, and they do find themselves having to deal with a potential physical threat, it sets the stage for the hammer and the nail syndrome. If all you ever have is a hammer (killer instinct)  then that is what you will likely default to using for all potential aggressive encounters (the nails). As they say, you rise to the level of your training. People trained to deal with potential violent encounters with killer instinct will default to this as their master strategy, because they would have never been taught that a battle is not always won, or needs to be won with fists. Coming back to my examples previously that implied what I meant by self preservation, if we are seriously talking about the defence of self (not an ego fight), then using verbal jiu jitsu to talk ones way out of a situation is far more prudent a strategy than risking ones safety by being physically injured. Lets be honest too, no one really wins in a fight, even if you win, you may still walk away from that with injuries that you may never recover from (physical, psychological or otherwise).   

Secondly, invoking killer instinct especially in those who are not exposed to violence on a regular basis will likely result in a hyped up berserk state that would create a lack of awareness on the part of the user. Training it in the confines of the gym, is not the same as using it on the street. The latter will be tied to a massive overdose of survival hormones that will alter both emotional and cognitive functions. The result then is a tendency in the midst of that berserk state, fuelled on by adrenaline etc al., to then centralise ones focus, thus losing touch with what else is happening around oneself. In other words you simply no longer have situational awareness. The result, you may not see that multiple assailants have surrounded you, or if  an opportunity for escape presents itself, you may miss it completely.

Thirdly killer instinct mismanaged, which it likely will be considering the civilian nature of the user, will result in an over reliance on the reptilian brain in that moment (the fight/flight/freeze response), thus shutting down the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for higher cognitive functions like planning, distinguishing right from wrong, determining what is socially appropriate behaviour, decision-making, and producing insights. The truth is, anyone who has worked with interpersonal violence will tell you, being hyped up and aggressive is often a poor performance state to be in. You want to instead be cool, calm and collected. This allows you to make decisive, focused choices leading to keeping yourself and those you love safe.

For example, during my military service I served in VIP Protection. As a body guarding unit we were tasked to protect various important members of the armed forces. We were taught early on, that when faced with a potential threat, say for example from another human being moving towards us, that we needed to have an open focus (situational awareness), breath and keep calm. Remembering always that to get hyped up, or aggressive on one target would lead to a centralisation of focus on that one threat, thus loosing track of potentially other threats not to mention forgetting about our primary mission which was to keep our Principle safe.

End Part I.


About the Author

Rodney King M.A., RSME is the creator of Crazy Monkey Defense, and its sister self-preservation program Combat Intelligent Athlete. He has taught army special forces and law enforcement teams how to survive a life and death encounter when all they have is their body to defend themselves with.  You can find out more about Rodney and his work at www.coachrodneyking.com or www.crazymonkeydefense.com

Social Conditioning: Women & Violence, Part I – Tammy Yard-McCracken, Pys.D.

An opening disclaimer is important: research, hard science, is difficult to find on this topic. Ethics as they are on human research prevents us from setting up attacks on a randomized sampling pool of unsuspecting, uninformed women. The ethical guidelines on human research are there for a reason. The result? What follows is based on anecdotal evidence, personal reports, my experiences and campfire stories passed along by people I respect. There will be bias in these words.

Setting the Context

A few years ago the news reported an 18-year-old woman fatally shooting a male intruder. She was at home with her infant when the home invasion began. She barricaded the door, called 911 and 20 minutes later, two assailants finally made entry. Just before they broke through her barricade, she asked the 911 Operator if it was okay if she shot them if they came through the door. Dispatch couldn’t “advise”, but when they made it inside her home, she fired and killed one. The other one took off (Gast, 2012).

Side Note: the dispatcher was not new on the job. She crafted her words carefully to avoid giving advice while telling the frightened woman to do what was necessary to protect “that baby”. Good on her.

A few weeks later a mom in her late thirties hid in a closet with her 9-year-old twins after calling her husband to say she thought someone was trying to break into the house. The intruder made entry, rummaged through personal belongings, and eventually opened the closet door. She fired. 5 times (Reese, 2013). As the events unfold the husband is calling 911 while he keeps his frightened spouse on the phone. He is recorded by the 911 Operator saying:

“She shot him. She’s shooting him, she’s shooting him…again.”

“I heard him pleading…He was screaming.”

These are examples of armed responses to violent action and imminent threat. Look past the use of a firearm and look at the behavior of these women. Retreat. Hide. Call for help. Wait. Ask for permission to act.

There is a decent correlation between the rate of adrenalization and gender. Women adrenalize more slowly than men as a whole, giving women time to plan before the higher level thinking skills go off line. Tobi Beck (Beck, 1992) gives credence to it in the book, The Armored Rose, and those anecdotal and personal experiences I was talking about back her up. If the correlation has a biological underpinning, it may partially explain the WHY both women delayed in using lethal force. It does not adequately explain the WHAT in their tactical choices. These women were armed and they chose to:

  • Barricade/buy time
  • Call someone for direction
  • Ask for permission to act
  • Retreat
  • Hide
  • Wait

Here are a few more.

Mother of two walking to her car. Sunday afternoon, sunny day, “good neighborhood”. Two men are in the area of her vehicle. One smiles, is this your car? Can I ask you a question about it? She smiles back, even though she doesn’t feel friendly and says she’s in a hurry but “what’s your question?”

Gun drawn, kidnapped and carjacked. Twelve hours later in a sudden stroke of something resembling a conscience one of them let’s her escape.

18-year-old woman trying to untangle herself with polite smiles and excuses about being poor dating material gets pulled down on his knee. Unnecessarily strong grip holds her there. Sit here, be my good luck charm in the poker game, baby. Forcing a smile, she complies and then leaves as soon as she can do it without making a scene. Quietly tries to slip out of the party and gets to her car. He’s there too, asks for a ride home. She knows something isn’t right but he’s stranded, his buddy is passed out drunk and he’s gotta’ get up early for work.

Gives her directions to a remote neighborhood and rapes her.

One more (although there are thousands of these to be had). Pumping gas in her personal vehicle mid-morning after her run as an elementary school bus driver, a distressed woman approaches. The woman has a black eye and looks a little frantic. I’m so sorry, I know I look horrible. I’m running. My boyfriend beat me and I’m trying to get away. I have a bus ticket but can’t get to the station – I almost have enough for the cab. I need, like 5 bucks…can you help?

Suspicious, but doesn’t want to be one of those people who looks away. A sister needs help. Nods and reaches into the car for her purse. Something hard slams into the side of her face and knocks her to the ground. The forlorn female in distress grabs the purse and takes off.

How and Why It Matters

These three incidents share commonalities and together with the two home invasions, the five cases help to highlight social scripts and cultural rules that drive female behavior in most post-modern societies.

  • Defer
  • Wait
  • Be polite
  • Smile (when she doesn’t feel like it)
  • Appear cooperative
  • Be helpful and compassionate
  • Subjugate personal need and intuition to someone else when the two conflict

Bullet list #1 + Bullet list # 2 =

  • Physical/Violent Action requires permission from an outside authority
  • Deflect, defer, wait, buy time, retreat
  • Be polite even when it isn’t warranted
  • Smile (you’re so much prettier that way, anyway)
  • Be helpful
  • Be cooperative
  • Be compassionate
  • Be quiet (and hide)
  • Everyone else’s needs/expectations are more important

Welcome to the Cliff Notes review of How To Be Female in Western Society, 101.

Martially trained women, if you are reading this, a part of you may look at the above list and argue. “No, not me. I know better.” Intellectual awareness and physical training will not override a couple decades of social programming if you refuse to acknowledge it lives in your thinking. If you won’t consider it, if you are certain none of the bullet points could possibly apply to you, it is a dangerous blind spot.

Force professionals, you may be tempted look at these examples with an eye toward identifying all the places each of these women screwed up.  You are ticking off the behaviors that made her the perfect mark and the voice in your head may say, “she should have known better”.

And that’s the point. The behaviors and underlying beliefs that make a female an easy target are created by the social rules and expectations she has been marinating in from moment of her birth. This isn’t news and people like Gavin DeBecker have been writing about it for years (DeBecker, 1997).  

End Part I.


Beck, T. (1992). The armored rose, the physiology and psychology of women fighting in the SCA.  Beckenham Publications, Avon IN.

Brizendine, L. (2006) The female brain.  Morgan Publishing,

DeBecker, G. (1997). The gift of fear. Dell Publishing, NY, New York.

Gast, P. (2012) Oklahoma mom-calling 911 asks if shooting an intruder is allowed. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/04/justice/oklahoma-intruder-shooting/.

Reese. R. (2013). Georgia mom shoots home invader, hiding with her children. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/US/georgia-mom-hiding-kids-shoots-intruder/story?id=18164812.

Wong, Q. (2013). Gender and emotion in everyday event memory. Memory. 2013;21(4):503-11. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2012.743568. Epub 2012 Nov 28.


Real Self-Defence – Geoff Thompson

Punch ups, muggings and even fatalities are frighteningly common in a society that is bulging at the waist with unsolicited assaults. Due to astonishing growth-rate of violent crime in Britain, skills in self-defense are almost a pre-requisite if you want to get from the pub to the Indian and home again in one piece.

In an attack situation, options – from avoiding a confrontation with guile right through to swapping some leather – are useful; the choices are varied and subjective but when your adrenaline is racing and your legs are doing an involuntary bossanova the choice (as they say) will be entirely yours.

I’m sure you have already seen – and are tired of – the wristlocks and shoulder throws that garnish just about every article and video on self-defence. They only work in Bruce Lee films and on police self-defence courses so I’ll spare you the embarrassment of a photo-shoot-re-run. If you don’t mind I’ll stick to the stuff that works when the pavement is your arena, and there are no referees with whistles and bells to stop a point scoring match turning into a blood and snot debacle.

My premise is basic but empirical, and at some point it might prove life saving.

Whilst some situations actually start at a physical response (in which case you either fight like a demon or you get battered), most are preceded by some kind of pre-fight ritual and introductory dialogue; even if it is only the uninspiring ‘are you looking at my missus?’ The Real art of self-defence is not in bringing the affray to a messy conclusion with a practised right cross, rather it is in spotting the attack ritual in its early stages so that a physical encounter can be avoided.

Hard Target
As a man with a varied and brutal background I can tell you with sincerity and emphasis that violence is not the answer. Reflecting this my opening advice is to avoid violence whenever and where ever possible. Make yourself a hard target by giving volatile environments a wide birth. James Coburn was succinct when he advised us to ‘avoid arseholes and big egos, avoid places where arseholes and big egos hang out’. He could have added ‘don’t be an arsehole and don’t have a big ego yourself’. It helps. The inevitable consequences of toe-to-toe encounters are rarely favourable to either party so around-the-table negotiation should always be exhausted before sending in the troops.

The interview
Pre-fight management is vital if you want to survive an altercation intact; the winner is usually the one who controls the seconds before an affray. Most situations start at conversation range and with some kind of dialogue. If this is mismanaged the situation normally – and quickly – degenerates into a scuffle and then a scrap on the floor amidst chip wrappers and dog-ends. The current crop of defence innovators recommends the floor as the place to be when a fight goes live. In the No-Holds-Barred (NHB) one-on-one sports arena they’d probably be right, but outside the chippy where the terrain is less predictable and the enemy nearly always has allies in tow, taking the fight to the cobbles is suicidal. It leaves you open to (often fatal) secondary attacks, especially if you’re facing more than one opponent.

The fence
If you are approached and the dialogue starts (this is known as the interview), take up a small inconspicuous 45° stance and put up your fence : place your lead hand in that all-important space between you and your antagonist to maintain a safe gap. The fence gives you a degree of control without your aggressor knowing. Placed correctly, your lead hand and reverse hand will block the thoroughfare (without touching) of the attacker’s right and left hand. If he moves forward to butt/kick/punch, be prepared to shove him back and/or attack. Try not to touch the assailant with your fence unless you are forced to, as it can trigger aggression and possibly a physical attack.

If you want to keep your face in place, don’t let a potential attacker touch you at any time, even if he appears to be friendly. An experienced fighter will feign friendliness, even submission, to make an opening for his attack (pic). Another common ploy is for an attacker to offer a handshake and then head-butt/knife you as soon as the grip is taken (pic). If you fall prey to the verbal opener you will quickly become work experience for a student nurse at the ER, so use your fence to maintain a safe gap until the threat has gone.

Expect to be scared because, no matter how experienced you are, you will be. Fear is the natural precursor to confrontation. I’ve worked with some premier league players and privately they all tell the same story; at the point of contact they’d rather be any where in the world than where they are. So don’t let self-doubt enter the equation if you feel like crapping your Calvin’s because you’re not on your own, we all feel fear even if some of us pretend that we don’t. Shaking legs, trembling voice and feelings of cowardice are all natural by-products of the adrenal release.

Verbal dissuasion
If you find your self facing pro-magnum man and he starts to growl, try and talk the situation down. Again, the battle will be more with your own ego than it will be with your antagonist. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t want trouble and beat a hasty retreat. Better to follow the Judo adage and walk away with confidence than to end up in an affray that might change the course of your life for the worst.

If talking fails to make the grade (and you think it might work) you could try posturing (pic). I made it work for me as an 11 stone novice doorman so you don’t have to be big to be effective. Posturing entails making like a woolly mammoth in an attempt to psyche out your antagonist. Create a gap between you and your aggressor by shoving him hard on the chest. Once the gap has been secured go crazy; shout, salivate, spread your arms, bulge your eyes and drop into single syllables. This triggers the opponent’s flight response and often scares him into capitulation. As soon as he backs off beat a hasty retreat.

If escape, dissuasion and posturing crack at the spine and if you have honest belief that you are about to be attacked you are left with two choices; hit or be hit. As a self-defence adviser my duty is not to tell you which to choose, only to offer you the options, and allow you to select for your self.

The pre-emptive strike
If your choice is a physical response, my advice is to be pre-emptive and strike first – very hard – preferably on the jaw (it’s a direct link to the brain). The concept of defence at the point of contact is not only unsound it is dangerous and extremely naive. Waiting for someone to attack you is strategic madness because blocks don’t work! The Kwai-Chang-Cain theory of block and counter-attack is even more absurd, especially if you are facing more than one opponent. There is no finesse about fighting multiple opponents, they do not line up and attack you one at a time they strike like a swarm of bees and luck is the only thing that’ll keep a beat in your heart.

If you honestly believe that you are about to become target practice for the hard of thinking, hit them before they can hit you. Once you have landed the first strike, run. Many defence gurus advocate a second strike, a finisher. I advise not. Your first strike buys you vital getaway time. If you’re dealing with a determined attacker (many are very experienced in the art of maim) and you don’t leg it after the first strike, chances are he’ll grab you and snap you like a twiglette.

Self-defence is about doing the minimum a situation will allow to ensure your own survival. It’s not about defending a corpulent ego or misguided honour.
Having been involved in thousands of live encounters the pre-emptive attack was the only consistently effective technique I could find.

My advice is to hit as hard as you can, using your fists (or your head). These are (usually) the closest naturally available weapons to the target (your opponents jaw), and offer the safest and most direct route. At this point it would be a great advantage to have a background in a punching art – preferably western boxing. Most people think they can throw a good punch. From my experience – and certainly under pressure – few can. A great way to learn is to go to a boxing club or do a little focus pad work with a friend to develop the skills (pic).

If you do employ the pre-emptive attack make sure you know your legal rights (a little more on this later) or you might be in for a double jeopardy when you have to defend them against the second enemy – the law.

You dictate reasonable force; although you may have to defend your interpretation of reasonable in a court of law. If you are so frightened by an assailant that you have to hit him with everything but the girl on your arm, then that is reasonable force. If, however, you knock someone to the ground and then do the fifty-six-move kata on their head, you might well be stretching your luck.
I can’t guarantee that you won’t end up in the dock, but I feel that it’s better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.

Armed assailants.
Forget the films where the good guy – using empty hands – prevails over the knife-wielding psychopath without ruffling his own hair or popping a shirt button, because on celluloid is the only place it’s going to happen. Someone once asked me at a self-defence seminar ‘what could you do against a knife?’

‘About 50 miles an hour’, I replied.

I’ve faced a few blades and I’ve been stabbed some in my time (but enough about my ex-wife!) and on every occasion I filled my nappy. If your antagonist is carrying, take the advice of Forrest Gump and run like the wind blows. Even with 40 years of martial arts training under my belt, it was providence and not skill that kept me off the cold slab.

If you are facing a knife, the best-case scenario is that you don’t die. If a knife is pulled and running away is not on the option list, throw anything that isn’t nailed to the floor at the attacker, and then run. If projection range is lost your only other option is to blitz the attacker with head strikes until he is unable to continue his attack.

The rule of thumb here is that stabbers don’t usually show the blade, they just sneak up and insert it when you’re not aware. If they do show you the knife they are usually just posturing. Always check the hands of your antagonist – if you can’t see the palms, or a hand is concealed, you have to presume they are carrying (pic).

If the attacker does have a weapon and doesn’t respond to your verbal dissuasion, your options are two-fold: give them what they ask for (and just hope it’s not oral sex) or be prepared to get cut in the affray.

Self-defence and the law.
As important as the law may be, contemplating the legal implications of defending your self in the face of ensuing attack would be unwise. It can cause indecision, which usually leads to defeat.

I call the law the second enemy: this is not meant disparagingly, but, having been on the wrong side of it a few times I feel duty bound to highlight the inherent dangers of dealing with – what can be – a sticky judicial system, post-assault.
Many people are convicted for what they say and not what they do. This means you could legally defend yourself and yet still be convicted and sent to jail (do not pass go…) if you don’t claim self-defence (correctly) when giving a statement to the police. Many of my friends ended up in prison because they didn’t understand the law. Paradoxically many known criminals have avoided prison because they (or certainly their solicitors) did. So, if self-defence is your aim, then an appreciation of this judicial grey area has to be an imperative.

Post-assault, you’ll probably be suffering from what is known as adrenal-induced Tachypsychia. This can cause time distortion, time loss, memory distortion and memory loss. You may also feel the innate urge to talk, if only to justify your actions (Logorrhoea). All of the latter affect your ability to make an objective statement if the police become involved. When/if you do make a statement it is hardly likely to be accurate considering these facts. Six months down the line when you end up in court to defend your right to self-defence, everything will hang on your statement. So make sure you’re clear about your rights. If you’re not clear, insist on waiting until the next day before making a statement or ask to see a duty solicitor (or your own). It’s your right. Don’t put pen to paper otherwise. A police cell can be a very lonely place when you’re not used to it, and the police can often be guilty of rushing, even pressuring you for a quick statement. This pressure can be subtle but effective; being left alone for long periods of time, being told that you might be sent to prison, even the good cop-bad cop routine (yes, honestly). Many a tough guy has turned from hard to lard after a few hours surrounded by those four grey walls. Under these circumstances it’s very easy to say things you really don’t want to say, just so that you can go home.

If you have to defend your self and you damage your assailant my advice is not to hang around after the dirty deed has been done. This minimises the risk of legal (or other) repercussions. Attack victims (especially those who successfully defended them selves) often feel compelled to stay at the scene of crime post assault. Do your self a favour; make like Houdini and vanish? Your life and your liberty might be at stake. Better still don’t be there in the first place, that way you won’t have to worry about long months waiting for the court case and the possibility of suffering from a sever loss of liberty.

In conclusion
Self-defence has been sold and sold to death. There are a million how-to books on the subject and experts are coming out of the martial woodwork. They all mean well but good advice is rare and bad advice can be get you killed. I can save you a lot of reading and a lot of pain by giving you my tried-and-tested learned-in-the-field system for physical self-defence. It’s only five words long (and one of them is an expletive) – Learn to hit f****** hard.

How to get your ass kicked in any conflict situation… – Schalk Holloway

I was lucky enough to finish school with a full academic bursary. I could basically pick any tertiary institution in our country and enroll for any graduate course that my final marks allowed for. Long story short I proceeded to enroll in Tswhane University of Technology in Pretoria, South Africa. It was part of their first year student culture – especially if you stayed in one of the University’s hostels – to undergo a lengthy hazing process. This included not being able to leave the hostel for any social reason until a bit later in the year.

This anecdote plays off on the very first night I was allowed off campus with my senior hostel members. I was 18 years old. Comfortable with getting in trouble, but still very naive about violence and especially predators as I grew up in quite a small and relaxed town on our country’s north coast.

As we left one of the clubs I saw a group of guys approaching one of our seniors. One of that group’s members initiated a dumbass argument with him and subsequently it turned into a fight. My senior was quite a big boy and I thought him able to handle himself in most situations.

As the two of them were going at it (now on the floor) one of the other group’s guys moved to jump in on my senior. I judge he was about 15 – 20 years older than me, smaller but with a lean and capable look to him. Still, I was confident in myself. I put my hand out against his chest and told him to leave the two of them to sort it out. He looked at me with a huge smile on his face, gave me a playful tap on the shoulder and said something like, “yeah buddy, you know what, you’re right, let’s leave them.”

As I turned back to the two guys on the floor that dirty old bastard hit me as hard as he could behind the head. I immediately retaliated but I effectively had my ass handed to me for the following five minutes.

So what can we learn about conflict management from this episode? Quite a bit actually but let’s try and glean three important insights. Let’s break it down into where I went wrong, or, to link back to the article title, let’s look at how to get your ass kicked in any conflict situation:

1. Assuming your opponent is playing by your rules.
I got into a lot of fights and trouble growing up in my hometown. However, most of these were cases of me getting into trouble individually. Even in terms of physical fights it was almost always a one on one situation. I can remember ONLY ONE occasion in my first 18 years which was a serious group effort, but that’s it. So basically I was molded into this idea of guys sorting each other out one on one. Then I took that assumption into the big city and projected it onto my opponent. Ha ha ha, as you saw, big mistake! (But good lesson.)

This dynamic can only be solved with one of two tactics. First, is to try and understand who you’re dealing with. What type of animal are you in the cage or about to get into the cage with. As seen above however these lessons mostly come through experience. However, regardless of what type of conflict situation you’re in – whether relational argument, marriage issue, business deal, legal matter or physical fight – understanding what makes the other party tick gives you an immense advantage in successfully resolving or prevailing in the conflict. The second tactic, and this is especially relevant when there is no time, basis or need for a proper character evaluation, is to just go at your opponent as if they are the worst, dirtiest and hardest opponent you’ll ever face. Get in, get the job done, get out. All business.

The sneaky old street fighter immediately made an accurate judgement on me based on my request to let them sort it out one on one. He then used this accurate judgment against me by playing into my naivety and disarming me with his big smile, friendly tap on the shoulder and agreeing words. Clever guy. 😉

2. Giving away initiative.
I saw the dirty old streetfighter go in long before he saw me. He had initiative on my senior but I had initiative on him. I essentially gave this superior position away by using the wrong tactics ie. I should have just climbed into him. However, this was not possible due to the wrong assumptions I held about him.

One of the best advantages of having and maintaining initiative is that it creates different types of stress for your opponent. One of these types of stress that I personally have a lot of love for is disorientation. As your opponent has to constantly deal with new incoming stimulus (whether verbal judo, physical attack or even revealing new information) it becomes a struggle for him to orient and compose himself to the situation. Still dealing with stimulus A and then suddenly being hit by stimulus B becomes highly taxing on his resources – and eventually he starts to fall behind.

The moment that guy started climbing into me he just kept going. Doesn’t matter what I did or how I did it, he just kept going. He was always one step ahead of me and I really never caught up.

3. Losing heart.
A couple of minutes into the fight he spear tackled me onto a car’s bonnet. I was quite desperate by this stage and still playing catchup. I lifted myself up, went into a controlled fall and drove my elbow down as hard as I could aiming for the back of his neck. I really put a lot of effort into that strike. I missed though. Immediately after this effort he straightened out and stood up. I gave him quite a solid right cross in the face. Then he chuckled at me and said “you’re hitting me but I’m not feeling anything.”

I have to be honest but at this stage I stopped fighting and started retreating. Missing that critical strike (remember I was playing catchup and desperately needed something to regain initiative) and hearing those words completely broke my will. I lost confidence started to seriously doubt whether I was going to survive this encounter without serious injury. I started playing a defensive game and he just kept on coming at me. Suffice it to say, to this day I have never had a worse beating than on that night.

After this beating I learned a lot about causing others to lose heart. I have used the tactic to gain the upper hand in many conflict situations. But here’s a secret – sometimes I was the one about to lose heart and then I used the tactic as a last ditch effort to gain or keep my advantage in the conflict. Ie, just before I felt I’m going to throw in the towel I made an effective last play at intimidation, power projection etc. and it worked.

Which begs the question: What is the chance that ol’ streetfighter was about to quit himself? The possibility is there (ha ha ha, however I don’t think it was with him) but in reality I’ll never know. What if I didn’t give up and kept on fighting? Was I possibly one step away from regaining the upper hand and then I gave up? I’ll never know.

But on the other hand, maybe I did keep on going and I got killed. And I guess that’s the problem with conflict. We need to be sure why we’re getting involved in the first place. It’s only when we understand the stakes that we can decide on our commitment.

Anger, Belief, Moral Framework, and Conflict, Part I – Marc MacYoung

In his Anger Workbook, Dr. Les Cater identified three fundamental sources of anger:

1) Preservation of essential needs
2) Preservation of self-worth

3) Preservation of core beliefs.

Using this three-category model, you can analyze and dissect the motivation behind anger—both in others and yourself.

Let’s start with the difference between a basic and a fundamental. While in many respects they are synonymous, there comes a point where they split. That is where a basic is an introduction to a subject while a fundamental is a premise upon which a system is based and from which it rises. That’s why looking at these categories as fundamentals is important. When you look past the details of a specific incident, you can see these sources—and recognize where the anger comes from. Understanding why, you can do something about it.

Moving onto a fast explanation of the three categories:

Essential needs are those things necessary for our survival and to maintain our lifestyles. When they’re threatened, we respond with anger—after the fear. (Think of your reaction when someone almost hits your car. You need a working car, and the money it would cost to fix it.)

Self-worth isn’t just self-esteem, it’s also self-respect, pride, social status, and how others see us. Although the last is a bit of a self-eating watermelon because what we tend to give more weight to—and will become both violent and self-destructive over—is what we think others think of us. Meanwhile, we’ll blithely continue self-serving behavior that actually negatively influences others’ opinions of us.

Two points about that last. First is why. Man isn’t as much a rational animal as a rationalizing one. There’s a perceived profit in the behavior, so we rationalize doing it. Second is a warning. People who behave this way the most are the ones most tetchy about perceived slights. How dare you call them a ___ (fill in the blank) for being a ____ (fill in the blank).

Core beliefs  . . .   

Well, short version is core beliefs are how we organize the universe and our place in it. We’re seriously married to these ideas, and we will ferociously protect them—regardless of how much or little sense they make or how true they are. They are our TRUTHS™. They not only create, but maintain our individual reality. They literally create and maintain the whole of our universe.

Another way of looking at it is we need our beliefs to simplify life enough so we can get through the day. We function within boxes of our own—if not making—choosing. See, infinity is an awfully big place. Beliefs are the mental walls we build to protect ourselves from seeing how big. Such a view would leave most of us curled up and cowering in a corner. Our beliefs create a model of life and the universe that is small enough for us to grasp. So while “yay for beliefs,” they can also keep us inside our own mental and emotional prisons. But it’s a prison we want to be inside because outside is too big and scary. Anger is a fast and easy way to keep those walls intact.

We’ll come back to protecting beliefs because it’s a big part of anger and conflict—including how and why we get there.

Where things become interesting is when we realize how much overlap there is in these three categories and, at the same time how much of our self-identify is wrapped up in them. But let’s stick just with overlap for a second.

Even with these fundamentals, anger isn’t exactly a single cause issue. For example when a core belief is perceived to be challenged, it’s commonly interpreted as an attack on our self-worth, as well. It’s not about the idea anymore, it’s a personal insult. It’s not a question regarding our beliefs, it’s an attack. (If the belief is wrong—what does that say about our intelligence?) This is a big part of why people get so hostile and angry when their beliefs are questioned.

Before we go on, finish this sentence, “I’m a ______ (fill in the blank).”

First things first: Do you take pride from that identity? Your recognition of that emotional investment is important. Not because you have it, but other people do, too. Ignoring or forgetting said investment is a fast track to conflict, triggering belligerence in others and your own aggression.

Now ask yourself: How many of your beliefs are attached to that identification? What do you have to do, believe, and think to qualify as whatever that is? How does that self-identification influence how you look at the world and your expectations of how you’ll be treated? How does it influence your obligations to others (what they can expect from you)?

These simple questions show the connection between what we believe, our self-identities, and how we approach the world. They show where our reactions come from when our self-worth and beliefs are challenged. Think back to your last “you don’t treat me like that” reaction. What beliefs were violated?

In fact, let’s use that as a side track. I’m going to give you good way to remain both calm and nonemotionally reactive in a situation that could devolve into conflict. When you start to feel angry, ask yourself which of the three categories do you think is threatened? This assessment gives you a momentary pause, instead of following the—and I very specifically use this word—habit of reacting in anger. This allows another part of your mind to come up with a different response that isn’t habitual, anger driven, and likely to cause more problems.

Using anger to preserve beliefs opens the flood gates to all kinds of aggressive and hostile behavior by us that elicits the same response from the other person. This is important because although we perceive all slights as intentional and malicious—often they aren’t. When you aggressively respond, even if you weren’t in a fight before, you’re in one now.

Back to core beliefs being threatened, some belief systems require a villain. If you accept this ideology, someone else automatically becomes your enemy, oppressor, or target. It’s part of the identity of being a _____ (fill in the blank). The very existence of those hated others is a threat to your core beliefs. Hence, you’re always mad at them. To the rational mind, this seems silly. But to another part holding the benefits of identity of being a ______(fill in the blank) far outweigh the inconvenience of having an enemy.

Worse is how easy it is to slip into perceiving anyone who doesn’t believe the same as ‘us’ (the right, good, and knowledgeable) is evil, stupid, and wrong. It’s no longer just an established enemy. Anyone who doesn’t follow the exact same orthodoxy becomes your enemy. When you are surrounded by enemies, you interpret one of ‘those people’ just opening his or her mouth as an attack. And since he is already attacking our cherished beliefs, whatever we do to him is acceptable—because he deserves it. Even if he didn’t do anything, he still deserves it just because he’s a _______ (fill in the blank).

That last bit is integral to  justifying much bad behavior after the fact and giving ourselves permission to act in the first place. We know what we’re doing is wrong, but because of the anger generated by the belief, it becomes okay to act.

(By the way, I just skimmed by something important. Chronic anger can also be used as a way to keep us from examining—much less changing—the very beliefs that cause us pain and anger. This isn’t just a Catch 22, it’s a weird perpetuation and constant seeking of external targets as a distraction from having to look at ourselves. The world is constantly showing us the belief is askew yet our anger prevents us from seeing the source of the problem—our own beliefs and how they affect our behavior. Such people are constantly on the look out for people to focus their anger on. Being targeted by them is often shocking because of the dragon’s flame’s intensity over a small, trivial thing. You can call such people rage-o-holics because they use explosions of anger like an alcoholic uses going on a bender. It’s a form of venting their rage, as well as self-soothing. This behavior allows them to get rid of their pain and anger, but not change the beliefs causing them.

This brings us to an important point. There’s a difference between facts and belief.

While we can—and often do—use cherry-picked facts to support our beliefs, a belief is not a fact. But we believe it is and that directs our behavior.

A few key points useful in spotting the difference: First, facts are pretty widely recognized. For example, the effects of what we call gravity are pretty much a fact. (Point of interest, your knowledge of this fact is what keeps you from stepping off the edge of a tall building in everyday life.) Second, there is much less emotional investment with facts than there is with beliefs. How emotionally invested in your knowledge of gravity are you? Beliefs need emotions to be sustained. Third, just because a lot of people believe something doesn’t make it true; it just makes it a popular belief.

Now you might be thinking I’ve been talking about religion. Well, that’s a part. Here is where things get . . . interesting . . . about beliefs. There are many people in our modern secular world who have countless beliefs—but won’t admit it. In fact, they show downright scorn for beliefs—especially other people’s. The reason they have such contempt for beliefs? In part, it’s because they look down on the beliefs of others as superstition, ignorance, and weakness. To a degree that’s because they pride themselves on how intelligent, enlightened, and sophisticated they are. And partly, they are absolutely convinced that theirs aren’t beliefs, but rational conclusions based on logic and facts. This gives their beliefs the same absolute authority—and even morality—as religious beliefs. But theirs are better . . . because they aren’t beliefs, but facts. (Yes, it’s a self-eating watermelon.)

Such people can certainly be as adamant and fanatical about their “non-beliefs” as any religious zealot. And they can be just as hostile, aggressive, abusive, and violent to preserve these core beliefs and force them on you. Knowing this, start looking at how ferocious someone can get to preserve deeply held philosophies. And more importantly, how ferocious you can get if you feel someone has violated one (or more) of your beliefs—whether that’s your faith, how you feel you should be treated, what the world owes you, what you owe others, how people should act, challenging your ideology, or daring to hold a different one.

If you can keep from falling into this trap, you can greatly reduce the conflict in your life.

It’s important to recognize when our self-worth and core beliefs are threatened, it’s very easy for us to react with anger. Anger is perceived power. It’s a rush. We feel emboldened to right wrongs. Anger also gives us permission to do things we know are wrong. It’s the pass we use to give ourselves permission to do all the things we claim we aren’t. “I’m a peaceful, open-minded person, you judgmental son-of-a-bitch!”

Wait . . . what?

A Roman named Horace once said, “Anger is a short madness (insanity).” I find that anger is often far more self-serving than that. Many people’s use of anger allows them to give themselves permission to behave in ways they recognize as wrong and know are hurtful, but are —most of all — self-soothing. In venting that anger, we feel relief. If something causes us emotional discomfort, the siren’s song of anger tells us, “Go ahead. Do something that will make you feel better.”

While it might not lure us to our doom, the truth is that giving into this impulse usually makes things worse. The momentary satisfaction of lashing out at someone—whether to punish them, share the pain, or preserve our beliefs or our concepts of self-worth—often provokes a negative response from those who can defend themselves and injures those who can’t. Or perhaps, instead of acting immediately, the angry person waits and seeks revenge through other means.

Two people (who have given themselves permission to self-sooth by acting out) create an ugly escalation where both parties are equally guilty of misconduct. Yet, both are convinced they are the victim in the situation—which gives them the moral high ground for their bad behavior. Often their blatant aggression is justified as, “I was just defending myself.” But more often, the excuse is simply, “I was angry.” In these modern times, there has been an emphasis on expressing feelings rather than controlling them. Many people have been conditioned to and have given themselves permission to be controlled by their emotions.

And why shouldn’t they? Given technology, social safety nets, plentiful resources, and a social abhorrence of physical violence, a life of letting oneself emotionally act out is sustainable. A person can emotionally fly off the handle and have little or no fear of physical repercussions. This tendency has been further accelerated through the Internet and texting where physical proximity is not an issue. People give themselves permission to go to any emotional, verbal, and behavioral extreme in order to win the situation. While physical violence is rare, you have individuals and groups with long-standing anger using a new tactic. If you confront them about their behavior, they first lash out at you and then run to authority (or the administration or human resources) to condemn you. This isn’t defensive action, it’s aggression. One way or the other, they’re going to ‘win.’ While we’re at it, large sections of the population have no fear of losing their low-paying jobs or going to jail because of their emotional outbursts.  Another perception of winning, is simply walking out of relationships.

I tell you this not as a condemnation of society or to scare you, but to give you an idea of what you are dealing with. Many people have weaponized their emotions, concepts of self-worth, and beliefs and have no hesitation about emotionally lashing out at you. There are still other people who are the equivalent of giant exposed nerves who are like undetected mines that explode when you step. Or, knowing about them, you become so overly concerned about handling them with kid gloves your stress level goes through the roof.

Oscar Wilde once notoriously quipped, “A true gentleman is one who is never unintentionally rude.” If you consider it, there’s a double message there. Yes, you should be careful about being unintentionally rude, hurting people’s feelings, or stepping on their concepts of self-worth or beliefs. And quite frankly, if you find you accidentally have do not hesitate to apologize—within reason. If someone snaps at you, check to see if you’ve somehow inadvertently stepped on their toes. If yes, it costs you nothing to apologize in order to keep the peace. Since acknowledgement is what most people seek, the situation is quickly and painlessly resolved, and everyone can go about their business.

Unfortunately, if feeling outraged over being attacked, you choose to snap back  . . .  

Having said this, there is a time and place to call people on their bullshit and bad behavior. But make it an informed and deliberate decision. This puts you first and foremost in control of yourself. In general that puts you ahead in the game. And that strongly influences how others will see you and judge your actions. Now instead seeing two screaming assholes, there’s a better chance the witnesses will align with you (because odds are they’re tired of his noise, too).

Second, being in control of yourself, you can keep you from mirroring his behavior. This, too, keeps you from crossing lines that would lose you support or get you into trouble if called upon to answer for the conflict. (In this current climate, many people don’t lose gracefully. Plan on the loser running to an authority figure and claiming victimization.) Not allowing yourself to get angry keeps you thinking strategically and not reacting emotionally. It’s when we get angry about these perceived attacks on our self-worth and beliefs that we make mistakes and cross the line. This gives the loser’s claim of victimization credibility when you actually did say or do something in reaction.

Don’t give him that ammo to use against you.

End Part I.


Fishing for Witnesses – Clint Overland

Ok so you have got yourself into a situation that you either had to use your skillset and toolbox to put someone down hard. You have done what you were taught, and followed your training to a very hard ending for someone. You can even articulate the five W’s of your actions. Who you did it to. What you did. Why you did what you did. When you knew that you had no other option. (what you did) and where you find yourself now. You are going to court and actually have a lawyer that knows how to defend a legal self-defense case (and good luck on finding one of them, not as easy as it would seem).

Do you have anyone to corroborate your statements and if you don’t why not? This is one of the main points that people miss in preparing their court case. You need to have as many people to back up your story as possible. This is where priming the witness pool is an extremely important skill set to add into your toolbox. Now I cannot tell you how to how to do this exactly because each situation is completely unique in how the laws are written in the area and how that they are enforced. So what I am going to do is show you a scenario that I have experienced more times than I would ever care to remember to show you how to do this type of thing and let you research your local laws to fit it to your needs.

On a Saturday night I was working a gentleman decided that he would volunteer for me to get involved in his life. He would sit and drink and then go outside to “cool off” which is code for he went out to do a line of either coke or meth. He would come back in and get louder and louder, more amped up every time. I told him that he was cut off and started to escort him to the door. The waitress approached and handed him his debit card. He tried to head butt her as she handed the card to him. I grabbed him by the collar and jerked him back. Then proceeded to walk him out.

As we approached the door, the gentleman then jerked away and tried to punch the manager that had walked up to assist me. I tripped him into the door frame and he fell to the ground pulling me on top of him. He must have fallen very hard because his head bounced off the floor at least three times, poor man, all the time I was shouting “Please Stop! Don’t do this, you can just leave and no one will hurt you!” I picked him up and walked him out of the door. He then twisted away from me and tried to punch me and fell once again into the concrete post just outside the door, put there to stop people from running their cars into the building.

By this time several people had gathered as I escorted him off the property. He walked across the street to the apartments where he lived and fell onto the curb breaking several ribs in the process. I then proceeded back over the crowd and apologized for what went on. Several people standing there asked me what happened and I explained to them that the gentleman I escorted off the property was a former convict and we had had trouble with him before. He was high on either coke or meth and had tried to head-butt the waitress and punch the manager.

Several of the people standing there talking about the incident admitted to seeing the individual do these things. I again apologized for all the ruckus and I hated that they had to see everything that went on. One of the people that witnessed the events was a retired police officer and he agreed that I handled the situation correctly and he had seen worse things happen like the ones that occurred for 20 something years. I continued to talk to as many people as stayed around and still profusely apologized for them having to see this. As we all walked in I motioned to the head waitress to take several tables some free drinks and tell them again that we were sorry. I also told her to get ready to get those people back outside if the individual called the police. I went back outside to wait.

Sure enough 10 to 15 minutes later the police cars pulled up and a officer hollered at me to get over to the car and place my hands on the hood. I raised my hands and walked over placing my hands on the hood and calmly asked him what this was all about. He told me “Because we received a call about you stomping the shit out of a guy from next door!” I said no sir I did not, I made an individual leave because he was getting to rowdy and disturbing the other patrons. I then went on to tell him what happened and what had all occurred. I also offered to get him the witnesses and have him talk to them.

By this time the manager and the head waitress had walked out and I sent her in to gather up the ones I pointed out. The manager came over to talk to the officer and told him what he saw and the majority of the people came out to tell basically the same story. After everyone had went back into the bar I told the officer that it was not our policy to “tune up” anyone and that we tried to run a quiet and respectable bar. He looked at me and said that he thought something was funny because he had received no call to the place for a long time and figured I was the reason. He left and I finished my shift. As always I snuck out at the end of the night and walked around in the shadows looking for payback but that night there was none. That came later.

If you come back next month I will explain all the things that happened and how you can do the same type of thing. This gives you a bit of time to think about what you read and see what you think about next month’s article.


Are You Managing Conflict? – Toby Cowern

What does the word ’Conflict’ bring to your mind?

As I look across a large spectrum of books, magazines, forums, videos and articles it seems many people ‘preparing for conflict’ are addressing, what I would call, the ‘high impact, low likelihood’ scenarios. How to tackle an assailant with a gun. How to fend off a physical assault by multiple persons. How to defeat not one, but two, knife wielding robbers! While I do not want to dispute these situations can and do occur, it occurs to me a few minutes spent looking at the ‘bigger picture in smaller detail’ maybe well spent.

The definition of ‘Conflict’ is listed as 1. (noun) A serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one. (e.g. “the eternal conflict between the sexes”) 2. (Verb) Be incompatible or at variance; clash (e.g. “parents’ and children’s interests sometimes conflict”)

When we look in those terms, the ‘frenzied attack’ frequently trained for, is actually quite absent in the true meaning of ‘Conflict’. So we should be asking ourselves, what are the actual conflicts I am experiencing or likely to experience?  If I want to successfully manage ‘Conflict’, how should I prioritize where to invest my time and energy first?

Knowing that a number of the leading causes of stress1 easily fall into association with the ‘Conflict’ category and knowing that stress contribute to some of the primary causes of death2 we should definitely have a vested interest in exploring this idea more.

There is a plethora of ‘lists of top causes’ when it comes to stress, but common overlaps can be found in; Childhood trauma, Personal relationships (Including work related), Divorce, Economic Problems and Personal Health Issues. While it is certainly not my intention to turn this article into an ‘Advice Column’ I am going to encourage all of you readers to just think for a moment. Very often these conflict issues, especially concerning spouses and family, can become quite the ‘elephant in the room’ and actually the escapism offered by certain forms of training can be the coping mechanism to deal with the stress, or conflict, you are actually suffering from.

Let’s just re-phrase that: You are training to defend yourself from a potentially extremely violent altercation, in order to avoid dealing with a lower level altercation. If you accept this premise, you’ll realize this is quite the dichotomy, or at the very least realize there is a significant mis-prioritization occurring.

As I look back on some of my previous training priorities and segway it with my personal circumstances at the time, I can clearly see a number of occasions that this incorrect prioritization was present, to put it bluntly I was training for the potential altercation, in order to avoid the actual. So how am I seeing this now, but not then?

One of the biggest contributors to identifying and managing these personal conflicts was attending the ‘Conflict Communication’ training delivered by Rory Miller. With an understanding and recognition of how various ‘Scripts’ play out, it is far easier to see what is happening, more fully react to and successfully manage the conflict. This training course was one of those that you truly cannot believe how powerful it was until a few days after and you have had some time to reflect. I have had the fortune to attend this training three times now and would certainly encourage you to attend of possible. If you are unable then reading the book will be a good start point.

While Conflict Communications is a powerful tool, it is also more than within your capability to manage other aspects of Conflict that you maybe experiencing right now. All that is required to begin, is to take an objective look at your current circumstances, identify areas where conflicts currently exist and begin to strategize how best to deal with this. They key, quite simply, is to ensure you are prioritizing the Conflicts correctly. I strive to deal with the immediate, before training for the potential.

Maybe the technique for disarming two attackers armed with bats and knives can wait for another day, and a productive conversation with your significant other can happen instead? Instructors especially, if we cannot manage our own conflicts, how can we, in good faith, train others to manage theirs?

  1. http://www.livestrong.com/article/132015-top-10-causes-stress/
  2. http://psychcentral.com/lib/how-does-stress-affect-us/