On Aggression – Rory Miller and Terry Trahan

Authors’ note: This is deep water stuff. Mimir’s Well stuff. We have done our best to make it understandable to people who may not have had certain experiences, but odds are some words have come to mean different things to us.

One example: For almost everyone, “smart” implies your ability to retain and apply information. For us, “smart” means your ability to recognize the situation and adapt to it. And that usually involves rejecting irrelevant information. In the normal world, a “smart” fighter will know a thousand techniques and the nuances of self-defense law. In our world a “smart” fighter forgets all but the handful of techniques he or she needs in the moment and understands that under SD law your options are either none, graded, or unfettered, and knows where those thresholds are. In the common world, a smart fighter is expected to be cognitively engaged. In our world a smart fighter is expected to reject that. Sort of.

“You have to be aggressive.”

“You have to tap into your rage.”

“The winning mindset is righteous indignation.”

We’ve all heard variants of this theme. To a professional, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Aggression is an emotion, and emotional fighters make mistakes. Aggressive people get into unnecessary conflicts. They walk into set-ups. When they do fight and prevail, they often continue– aggressive fighters can easily turn a legitimate use of force into assault.

Within a very limited scope, aggression makes sense. For novices at violence one of the big problems, maybe the biggest, is getting them to act at all. Despite years of training, in the first encounter, the hindbrain knows that training is unreal, and wants to use tactics that have evolved over millennia, like freezing. Also, the trained knowledge that one must act with force runs head-on into the social conditioning that ‘force is wrong’ and one ‘should be polite.’ In the brain, conditioning trumps training.

Encouraging and tapping into emotion is one way to bridge this gap. People will do things for “feelz” that they won’t do under objective need.

Here’s a potential language problem, because what professionals use can look an awful lot like aggression and is frequently even called aggression, but it is a different thing. It is decisiveness.

Decisiveness encompasses explosive motion, violence of action, speed of perception, processing and execution, all working towards a goal. The difference between decisiveness and aggression is that decisiveness is aimed at an objective, professional goal: to escape or to disable or to handcuff or to… Aggression is aimed at an internal goal. An emotional goal. Usually to assuage fear. As a rule, novices use force because they are afraid, they use as much force as their fear dictates and they continue to use force until the fear dissipates.

In a word, aggression makes you stupid, not decisive.

And this goes into language again, because being stupid is generally safer and more effective than being passive. And if you equate stupid with uncivilized, well, most civilized people don’t fight very well.

People (talking students here) tend to be very out-of-touch with the emotional intensity of physical conflict. Because of that, most people misread their own emotional intensity. For example, the person who was insulted and felt such a huge rage that years later he talks about the darkness within him, and never grasped that he didn’t actually do a damn thing. Or the common advice that if you want a student to be assertive, you usually have to instruct that student to be aggressive.

On that level, “Be aggressive” might be excellent advice.

For students.

When you are aggressive, you will use the highest force option available* to you and you will use it a lot. As a rule you will also use it inefficiently. When you are using an emotion as the basis and motivator for your action, it becomes entirely too easy to go overboard, perceive things as dangerous that aren’t, and not know when it is time to stop. A force professional must be in control during every step—the initiation of action, the scale of force used and when the forces ceases. Often, when to stop is the hardest call, especially when emotions take over. Violence is a tool to achieve an end, whether keeping peace in a jail, safeguarding people, or throwing drunks out, it is a tool to do a job. When you are based in emotion, that stopping point is not as obvious.

Our experience is that lower levels of force applied decisively are more effective than higher levels of force applied emotionally. Aggression is a very easy trip to the land of excessive force and decisiveness is not. When you decide, you are in control, when you react with emotion, you are riding a train that is not driven by your rational mind.

Essentially, decisiveness may not be accessible to novices and so there is some utility in emphasizing aggressiveness and rage. However, it is only a doorway to reach the ability to be decisive. Decisiveness gives you all of the benefits of aggression without the pitfalls.

*Available both physically and emotionally. When an armed officer goes into a feeding frenzy with a baton, his firearm was available physically, but not emotionally.

The Day Chooses You – Terry Trahan

My wife is waiting on me, ready to head out the door. “I’m just about done, Baby” I tell her as I finish lacing up the steel toed Docs, and securing the ankle rig with tools in it. Stand up, arrange the clothes to eliminate any tells, check the tools one more time, and throw on the jacket. There, ready to go.

Every once in a while, she’ll ask why I always gear up before we leave, even just to the corner store, but after 20 years, she knows. I don’t get to choose when bad shit will happen, and I made a dedication to this lifestyle and my Family long ago, to be ready when it does happen. Because it will.

You don’t get to choose, the day chooses you. Think about it logically and it makes sense, but let’s spell it out. Do you think the people attending the Boston Marathon knew shit was going to happen, and ignored it. How about New York, Vegas, the church in Texas. Nope, they didn’t know, the day chose them.

Personal Protection is many things, but at its core, too me, it is a way of life, something that needs conscious consideration, everyday. So, everytime I leave the house, I go through the checklist…

Med kit, tourniquet, tools, weapons, comfort items. Just like making sure I wash my face. I’d say brushing my hair, but ya’ll who have seen me would laugh.

And this is what I teach my students, it is not a fad, or a pick and choose. It is something to take seriously. Don’t buy gear just because someone says you should. In order to support the mission of personal protection, you need to be picky, analyze your life, circumstances, and level of training, and pick your gear from there.

Why would you carry lock picks if you can’t pick a lock? Carrying and trying to apply a tourniquet on someone when you aren’t trained in it doesn’t make sense, and is potentially dangerous.

Everyone is different, our lives, our circumstances, and our talents are different also. And this should influence what choices you make. Play to your strengths, find ways to help with the weaknesses, whether that is gear or training, and then, the important part. Always realize that you are your own first responder, you are the first responder for the ones you are with also. And you never get to decide when something bad happens. You never get warning on what kind of bad stuff might occur. But being mature and thinking, you take the responsibility of being as prepared as possible, and flexible of mind enough to use your training to make up for the other circumstances the tools won’t cover.

But, in the interest of expanding your outlook on this, some of the things I carry, with the proper training, of course, are;

Medical kits: One BOK(BlowOut Kit) on my person, a fuller trauma kit in my bag

Weapons: At least one impact weapon, and a couple knives, strategically placed for access, and a few surprises

Tools: Leatherman tools, mini screwdrivers, pry bars, cutters, they come in handy

Escape tools: Maybe for another day

Flashlights: two, because light is our friend

Miscellaneous items based on comfort or need under specific circumstances

I carry these things because I have made the commitment to myself, my wife and my family to be as ready as I can to handle situations as they arise, whether a fight, a casualty incident, or a busted headlight.

Xavier Knox; Real Defensive Knives from South Africa – Terry Trahan

There are a lot of knife makers out there, and a lot of them say they are making fighting or defensive knives. And while some of them are, most are not. It takes a special blend of things to make a real, hard use, defensive knife package. If you look, you will see that most knives fall short in at least one of three areas. Sheath, ergonomics, or understanding of how the blade style should be used.

Xavier Knox hits on all of these. I became aware of him through Kelly McCann. Kelly is one of the top instructors in real world combatives, and when he chose Xavier to make a few of his designs, I had to take a look at what this guy was offering. The blades that Xavier makes for Kelly are the Canis, the Nasty Bastid, and the Gouge, and having had a chance to handle these models, I am really impressed, from the great design by Mr. McCann, but especially by Xaviers execution of them.

It has not been a secret that I favor Reverse Grip Edge In or Forward Grip Edge Up for my method of knife work, and as I was checking out Xaviers work, I saw that he made a few models in this manner. So, after some messages and talking, he was kind enough to send me one of his Slim Pik models. What impressed me, and made me see that Xavier understands knife combatives was the fact that he makes a trainer to match the knife, and, as important, a sheath for the trainer. This is so important for practicing every facet of knife combatives, but is more often than not, ignored by most in the community.

So, when the package arrived, which was a funny story in itself, I was immediately impressed, and that just grew over these months of carrying and testing this knife, and even more so with the trainer. The fit and finish is incredible. You can tell that the handle of the knife was given serious consideration, and tested.

Retention, draw, and security in the hand are excellent, among the best I have experienced. And this is the most important aspect. The handle is the interface for the knife user, it is the part you are in contact with. It needs to inspire confidence in the fact that you won’t ride up on the blade during use, yet remain comfortable while using it.

The handle is a skeletonized tang that is cord wrapped, very grippy and rock solid in a good grip. A plus for me, is that it was a full sized handle. Since, as the name implies, this is a thin knife, the lack of bulk in the handle is made up for by the length, which gives added security and control while it is in use. The blade is a reverse edge design very much like the Disciple, but with a back grind that aids in penetration. The edge is great and precise, even though the knife is not designed as a slasher.

It goes to point for use in RGEI instinctually, and lines up with the natural angle of the wrist and hand for a very strong ‘pikal jab’. But to me, where this knife shines is in FGEU use, like the Clinch Pick or the Sakit that I reviewed previously.

This is a very up close style of knife use, point oriented, and this is the best use of the Slim Pik.  One of the reasons for it excelling at this style of use is the thought and design Xavier put into the sheath. Multi-positional with the included “Pull the Dot” loop, I find it basically disappears when worn at the 11:00 position just to the left of your center line angled slightly downward. From here, it is a smooth draw due to the nice work on the kydex, and ample length of the handle to aid in a full grip on the draw. The great news is that the trainer also has all of this excellent work, so it operates in exactly the same way, so training is seamless. I cannot recommend this package enough.

Xavier makes so many other models and kinds of knives and accessories, that you’re sure to find a lot to meet your fancy or needs. I am also fortunate enough to own One steel and one G-10 version of his Dragonscale grind Thumb Daggers, which are great hideaway last ditch defensive tools. Xavier also brought to reality the design of the Vixen, from my Brother, so his work is broad based, he listens to what the customer wants, and then makes it happen. So, I would recommend checking him out on Facebook at Echo.Delta.Charlie Knives & Tools, take a look, and if you want to enjoy some great edged tools, contact him. I am more than confident you will be happy with your choice.

Masters of Mayhem – Clint Overland and Terry Trahan

Here it is, the event page for the very first MoM seminar with Clint Overland, Terry Trahan, and possibly some surprise guests. This will be unlike any other seminar you may have attended. Clint and Terry have over 60 years combined experience with violence and the weirder side of life. You will learn something, and laugh a lot.

There will be a cap of 30 participants for this seminar.

Update: Price for the seminar is as follows;
Pre-registration: $225.00 in full before 15th January 2018
After 15th January 2018; $275.00

For full price attendees, a $100.00 deposit is acceptable, with balance paid before the seminar. All payments can be sent to: coverland1969@gmail.com

Accomodation: We have arranged a block of 15 discounted rooms at the hotel we are hosting the seminar at.

The MCM Elegant
801 AVE Q
Lubbock, TX 79401

Each room is Double Queen and the price is $102.83 includes tax.

On site there is a hot breakfast bar w/ made to order eggs and waffle station, bar and restaurant also on site. Free WiFi. Across the street there is a WalMart and other close by bars.

Inform the front desk you are with the Masters of Mayhem seminar when registering. Rooms will be held until 1st February 2018.

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.


Political Upheaval, Social Issues and Self Defense – Terry Trahan

If you live in the US, or if you have been watching the news, I’m sure you’ve seen all the footage of the rallies, riots, protests, and various vandalizing and unpleasantness that we are experiencing in the country right now.

I have seen much good advice written, and contributed some, about avoidance, ways to survive a rally turned riot, and all of those are good, I back them, but I’d like to add some different thoughts here.

Firstly, the best advice is to avoid them all together. For me, there is no good that can come from a gathering that has at its core, confrontation with passions running high. But, sometimes you must pass through the area, or the riot comes to you. I used to live smack dab in the middle of downtown Denver, two blocks from the park used for rallies, and 5 blocks from the State Capitol, we would, at times, get caught in the middle, so it is not always possible to avoid.

The first thing I want to cover is your own mindset and internal awareness. If you are mad, passionate about an issue, or anything else that alters your normal mindset, you need to be aware of how that will affect you if things go down the crapper. You can’t make good decisions with a bad outlook.

It’s also easier for you to be manipulated into looking like the bad guy when you are not in control.

One of the best mindset sayings I have heard, and made a mantra of comes from my friend, author S.A. Bailey, and he uses it as an occasional tag line or autograph. It is as follows, and then I will break it down.

  • Zen Up
  • Carry a gun
  • Be Love

Until it’s time to shoot a motherfucker in the face

A little crude, perhaps, but easily understood, and addresses dealing with people caught up in our current social environment.

  1. Zen Up; Be calm, don’t get distracted, pay attention without becoming a part of the proceedings. Assess, judge and be present.
  2. Carry a gun; While this is great as a tool, it may not be feasible or acceptable to some, but the mindset would dictate that being armed in a possibly dangerous situation is a good idea. Be it knife, pepper spray, cane, baton, or gun. Be prepared, be safe, be dangerous if needed.
  3. Be love; Be calm, be nice, don’t get in arguments, don’t antagonize anyone. Even if you hate the subject or the people, no good comes from expressing your opinion when you are outnumbered by people who are willing to use violence.
  4. Until it’s time to shoot a motherfucker in the face; When it is time for action, it is time, you need to act now. No second guessing. Have your escape route planned beforehand, know that action is needed, and do it. Denial of pain and avoidance of needed violence can get you injured or killed. Be ruthless about your safety, and those with you.

When you are in the middle of a disturbance or riot, it is not the time to assert, or expect, your right to express your opinion to be honored. Swallow your pride, and just concentrate on the mission of getting home. Needless arguing gets all sorts of people in trouble, and the more your ego is invested, the more trouble you can get in.

In general, the only thing that is a threat is physical actions. Words do not injure you, rocks, sticks and cars do. But, in a rally or riot situation, you need to pay attention to the words around you, as they can trigger action against you. That doesn’t mean you can start blasting away because you felt threatened, it means you need to move your ass now.

Hive mentality/herd mentality is a real thing in a mob, and the guy you work with and joke with at lunch can turn on you and beat you to a pulp in a mob.

Hopefully you can see that it is important to avoid these gatherings, no matter how passionate you are about an issue. But if you won’t or can’t please keep these words in mind and stay safe.

Oh yeah, please,as always, I would highly recommend carrying some basic

First aid/trauma gear, and a charged up phone.


ASSUME, making an ASS out of U and ME – Terry Trahan

Wow, after three separate intense conversations a couple days ago, where it was soul draining, and at times intelligence straining, I took yesterday off. Spent the day with Jae, and also spent the time contemplating all that went down, and how disappointing the engagements were. Bad enough that for a little while, the best looking option was to say fuck it, and just ignore that kind of stuff from now on.Three totally separate and different topics, yet there was a common theme in the responses I was dealing with, and that really intrigued me. So much so that it inspired this post.

The first response is large assumptions not based in really wanting to understand the other position. I have noticed in these debates I’ve been engaged in for the last few months, at least half of the people involved don’t want to discuss, debate, or even try to address a problem. They simply want to be heard. Not even listened to, they just want to be heard, content doesn’t seem to matter. Due to this, all of their responses, insults, or questions are based off of assumptions made from a very narrow understanding of the topic at hand, or of the other participants. What is worse, when this is pointed out, the next response is to attack you for pointing that out.

The second thing thrown out is a demand for purity of thought, as long as it is their thoughts. No acknowledgement of differing world views, different possible meanings or understandings, or even different definitions of words. Nope, you must believe exactly as them, or you are the same as the enemy. This also leads to thinking that they are the smartest person in the room. Considering the circles I run in, that in and of itself is laughable, but yet, it always seems to happen. Something these kinds of people need to realize.

Sometimes the best you are going to get is someone that cares enough to listen, and try to fix things, even if they don’t believe the same as you, or even if they think you are wrong. Not everyone in the world even sees there is an issue, much less give a shit enough to attempt to address it with differing tribes of thought. But, keep on insulting those people, that is sure to make them want to keep working on it with you.

The thing that bothers me the most is substitution of emotion for intellect. Once this occurs, any rational problem solving, or even ability to learn goes out the window. I don’t care how much you care about an issue, the minute it becomes an overly emotional thing to you, the ability to actually solve the issue goes away.

The absolute worse part of this is the dismissal of people, ideas, and alternatives, if it doesn’t involve slavish submission to one group. This is insidious, and in my opinion, the poison that keeps these problems going.
Remember, in any discussion, there is responsibility. To the communicator to state his case the best he can, and to the listener, to honestly listen, extend the benefit of the doubt, and to seek clarification in the case of misunderstanding. That is not possible when the above factors are in effect.

CRGI Live #1 – Erik Kondo, Terry Trahan and Varg Freeborn

In this the first of a series of interviews Erik, Terry and Varg discuss violence addiction, the realities of violence, mindsets for dealing with violence and much much more.

This is dynamite stuff, this is learning by proxy.


EDC Considerations and Reality – Terry Trahan

Every Day Carry (EDC for short) is a big part of the preparedness and self defense mindset. If you don’t have the proper tools at hand, for the particular situation, it obviously can be difficult to come out on top. However, like everything else, once an idea becomes big enough, commercial interests take over, and at best, can make it difficult to determine what you really need, and at worst, will sell you some hinky, poorly designed crap that is worth less than nothing.

One of the biggest problems is the dividing line between collectors and users. This is most obvious in the custom knife community, when a maker becomes famous, the collectors take over, and all of the sudden, that really cool gear is no longer available for the users. Another issue is the things that get pushed into the field by collectors. My biggest pet peeve is the EDC pictures that get posted with expensive knives, titanium combs, Single or Double Finger knuckles that aren’t actually designed to use, and toys like titanium tops and spinners, but no usable, effective gear. No medical, no back up weapons that work, just expensive toys that exist to separate the fool from his money. It makes serious EDC users look like the same kind of fool, and judgement soon follows.

Now, if you are a collector, and honest about it, that’s cool, but why try to attach yourself to a different community that you don’t actually participate in.

So, to avoid this, and other downfalls, I have talked with others, and here is what we, from a users point of view, think the real considerations for EDC should be.

A knife is not a less lethal back-up weapon

A knife is considered just as much a lethal force tool as a gun, and when you pull one, even if your intent and mindset is ‘less lethal’, in the eyes of the law, you introduced a lethal weapon into a confrontation. If this confrontation did not rise to the level of a lethal force encounter, you have just committed a major felony. There are several options, which may or may not be legal in your locale, that cover the less (or less than) lethal back up. Collapsible batons, pocket sticks, knuckle dusters, saps, blackjacks, monkey fists, pens, pepper spray, among many others. These are the areas you should be looking into.

Carrying more than one firearm

This is controversial, and opinions really do vary, but from most peoples experience, a back up gun is usually not needed in any encounters. Especially if you carry a modern, high capacity pistol, with a few spare magazines. Even though we do live in a world with terrorism, violent protests, and gangs, you are still more likely to deal with a mugging or a robbery than having to play anti-terrorist in the mall.

Not carrying medical gear

If your goal is to truly be prepared for bad things happening, and you skip over carrying at least a Blow Out Kit, you are not preparing yourself for reality. Even in the event of a terrorist attack, you will more than likely have a better chance of helping save somebodies life with a tourniquet than gunning down the bad guys. Look at how many people were saved in the Boston bombing by people using tourniquets. And do yourself two favors, get good gear, not budget made in China counterfeits, and get training. There are several amazing people and companies offering good training in real, life saving med skills these days. That will contribute more to your survival than anything else.

Buying things just to have them, or belong to the club

Once again, there is nothing wrong with having things, and if you want to collect, awesome, but collect and buy what you want, not what your peer group says is cool. If you like cheaper knives, do it, be you, don’t think you need to have the latest $500 custom knife to fit in. If that is your social group, no matter how cool they seem, they are not cool. Conversely, if you buy stuff because the group says you need it to survive, check with other sources. The price of this stuff can add up pretty quickly, and most of it is bunk. You really don’t need that much. Save your money for other cool stuff, like a date with your better half.

In closing, problems always comes up when we both over think and over socialize on things. We always need to come back to the reason we are doing something, and the reality of what is needed to accomplish what we are trying to do. Seek out opinions from people that really do what you are trying to do, and listen. A little bit of good gear is much better than an overload of crap.


I CAN’T DO THAT! – Terry Trahan

One of the biggest problems in self protection and teaching is a practitioner either doubting themselves, or not giving themselves permission to do what is necessary to survive an incident. Some of this is to be expected, especially when you start training, and as you progress, you start shedding the doubts and other things that hold you back just through changing mindset due to familiarity.

However, sometimes these things remain, or are encouraged, by the instructor. It can be due to the training model, or done because of the ego of the teacher. This last one is particularly insidious, as it sets you up to be subservient to the instructor, and worse, to fail in a real life encounter.

I have a simple thing I think, and tell my students, to overcome this.

Simply put, I train and work at this to save my ass. I don’t need anybody’s permission other than my own to survive. I don’t care what other students, teachers,or anyone else thinks, this is about my survival, not about tradition, ego, nothing else. I give myself permission to do anything and everything I need to do in order to survive and win. This includes in my training. I will listen to the instructions, and perform them the best I can, but I will do it with my goal of survival in mind, take advantage of how my body works, even if it ‘violates’ the form or way being taught. You should do the same, if your goal is surviving a conflict, and not just perpetuating a system.

Sometimes this is a case of not being confident in the material being taught, and sometimes it is a case of your subconscious knowing that what you are learning is not effective for meeting your goals. This is a case where you have to personally look at it, and probably get outside input from people that know personal survival. We happen to have a wide base of knowledge here on CRGI, and across the rest of the internet, so this has become easier over the years, but it still requires being honest with yourself, and what your goal truly is with your training.

Another way this comes out is questions about morality or legality in an actual confrontation.

Firstly we will discuss morality. In a bone breaking, widow making, survival fight, there is no morality beyond surviving. If you have gone through all the pre fight steps, tried to de-escalate, E&E, negotiate, and all the rest, and it is still being brought to you, your only morality is being the one that goes home to your family or tribe. This is NOT carte blanche to go overboard and be a murder ape on the guy, but it is a form of permission to do what you need to do to be the survivor and “winner” of the fight. Unless you are a stone psycho, you already have a moral compass that you have been exercising since you were a child. You, more likely than not are a decent person. This doesn’t automatically get flushed down the toilet when the adrenaline ramps up. If I accept someone into our tribe and start training them, that means that person has met the standards for our group. That means that I have faith that this person has a good head on his shoulders, and can make proper decisions, and not go Ted Bundy on somebody just because a fight happens.

Secondly, it always seems to happen, a question comes up about legality, whether it is a technique, or if it is a tool used. First, everything is illegal somewhere, the more effective a tool is, the more likely it is to be either illegal or heavily regulated.

This is something that you are going to have to make your decision about ahead of time, give yourself the permission to either use something or not beforehand. If you wait til the time is at hand, you will needlessly double clutch yourself. As with all things related to fighting, in the middle of a fight is never the time to make a decision about fighting. Nobody else can answer this question for you, and you need to figure out what you are willing to do too make sure you make it home if that moment happens. My personal choice may or may not fit for you. As I have stated before, my number one rule is I don’t give a fuck, I’m going home. That should tell you where I fall down on the question of legality. I will do whatever I can to avoid, escape, de-escalate, negotiate, whatever it takes, but once that switch is flipped, I will be the one sleeping in my bed with my wife that night. No matter what, how, or with what.

That is my decision, I am comfortable with it, and I am not a lawyer or legal professional, so I am not offering any advice here, I am just opening your eyes to this, and encouraging you to study and make your own.

Just remember, this boils down to our desire to make it home. You are already a good decent person seeking more information to educate yourself better. You have permission to win and go home, and you have the wisdom to decide what you will do to affect that.

Think about it, figure it out, and then go on with life, and don’t worry about it.