Friday, March 6, 2015
Being involved in a physical confrontation can entail more than just the physical impacts that are exchanged. What is commonly ignored (by the majority of training methods) are the mental requirements necessary for the student to effectively complete their defensive applications.
In addition to being able to complete the practiced (physical) motions, the student will often be required to “mentally” be able to apply those technique's. Though often ignored, the ability to deal with causing injury to another human being is something that can cause great mental distress to those that are not experienced with those circumstances. It's one thing to “go through the motions”, and another to (actually) see the physical repercussions of dislocating a wrist, elbow or shoulder (even when it's that of a person who has attempted a physical assault upon you).
It's rare that a system will address this aspect of being involved in a confrontation. Beyond the legal implications (which can be comparatively simplistic), the mental effects can be as debilitating to one's defense as an aggressor with a higher skill level would be.
Unless a student has the ability to deal with those reactions, they may find themselves hesitating, or even ceasing to complete any of the necessary actions required to insure their physical defense. Depending upon one's experience and/or previous training there are numerous ways that an individual will react to the effects from the implementation of these types of applications.
As the student becomes more proficient with the application of their practiced techniques and begin working on submission methods, they should begin considering how well they can respond to the effects that their applications will cause (upon their aggressor). As well as being able to react and continue any necessary actions beyond any initial injury inflicted, it may be necessary to restrain someone beyond what one would normally presume to be adequate.
It isn't a matter of “getting Mad” (as many instructor's attempt to instill in their students). Anger, displaces reason and thought. There are particular mental traits that one should be comfortable with. They aren't necessarily the one's that students consider, but they are important none the less.
What I present in the following pages are considerations that should be evaluated by every student prior to being involved with a physical confrontation. Each will apply in every encounter to varying degrees. The student should be aware of, and should have considered each before they are involved in a physical confrontation.
As with anything, there first needs to be established a foundation set of guidelines/priority's for determining a motions acceptance (of/for use).
The Mental Aspects of Personal Defense
These traits (or principles) are presented to make the new student aware of what will be required of them (mentally) in the event that they are attacked and/or placed in a position of concern for their own or others physical safety, if not life. Though not all encompassing, these descriptions will allow the student to consider the mental implications of being in a Life protection situation (and to consider any possible repercussions of any actions taken during that altercation).
Living in the atmosphere of modern society, it should seem that one should be free of concern for unwarranted aggression being perpetrated against them. If this were a perfect world, then that would perhaps be true, but that is not the case. The world and society is nether fair, nor just. It is made up of people who are both good, and bad. That distinction is often a blurred line. Every Situations circumstances will dictate what constitutes the divide between what is recognized as being “right” and “wrong”.
The world is populated by human beings, and those human beings are in no way perfect, or even agreeable in most circumstances. Though commonly being raised to believe that physical altercations are viewed as being (socially) Bad. An individual can often become involved in/with one with no direct intent of doing so.
Not if, but when one becomes involved in a physical altercation, it is always in that individual's best interest to have the ability to prove victorious in that situation. It needs to be understood that victorious, equates to being alive. This vital fact is often ignored by many of the popularly taught methodologies.
To accomplish this outcome, there are certain recognized mental traits that are followed for a victorious outcome to be achieved. Though often appearing obvious, these traits require recognition, and acknowledgment for them to become a component of one's defensive attitude during their training.
Much of the following text, are my own interpretations of author “Jeff Cooper's” book (Principles of Personal Defense). His text deals (both directly, and indirectly) with the mindset of a Shootist (wielder of a handgun). I have edited those passages that dealt (specifically) with pistol-craft and have included my own thoughts regarding the responses to a physical confrontation. Though his text was valid (in it's own limited context) IMO, distinctions were required when being applied to unarmed confrontations.
Though a Life Protection class will be focusing upon the serious application of techniques that can cause/create physical damage/injury to an aggressor, there will often be included (some) lighthearted banter and kidding between fellow attendee's. Excessive strictness can create (unnecessary) stress for attendee's. Class attendance should be looked forward to, not dreaded. One of the most important principles taught to us by Oyata, was to relax. By being relaxed, you will be faster and will not suffer (physically) as much if/when you are struck during your training (as well as during an actual altercation).
One of this classes biggest priority's, is to emphasize the student's understanding of how, and why we perform the techniques and actions in the manner that we do. Many student's will only focus on the how (of performing a technique/motion). It is our goal to (additionally) emphasize the why. This will allow the student to expand their learning/study beyond what is shown to them through regular class time instruction.
The following traits are presented for the students consideration for utilization. Being subjected to an unprovoked attack can be an unnerving situation. If the student has not (seriously) considered all of the Previous, Current and Post encounter details of a confrontation, it can be an overwhelming experience.
It's an easy thing for friends and/or family to label someone as being paranoid for even considering their beginning to train in (any form) of Life Protection method, but doing so is no different than wearing a seat belt when driving a car, or a helmet when riding a motorcycle. Both are preventative measures to possible circumstances (yet training in Life Protection is considered to be Paranoid ?).
The physical aspect of performing the practiced motions is only a portion of the student's defensive profile. The mental aspect of implementing these motions/techniques upon another human being, and dealing with the physical results (upon the recipient) after having done so, can cause mental repercussions (for the student who utilizes them).
It is not sufficient to only acknowledge them. These repercussions need to be expected, and accepted. Just as the physical motions being taught need to be practiced, the mental aspects of dealing with a confrontation, as well as the possible and probable results from that confrontation, need to be reviewed before being involved with a life threatening, physical confrontation.
The following traits are those subjects that one will be forced to invoke, or reject when placed in a defensive situation. There will be NO time to consciously consider each (or any) of them when that situation should occur. Each should be evaluated/considered before any confrontation ever occurs.
These are the commonly encountered (though not always recognized) traits that require recognition and consideration before and during any physical confrontation.
“The individual may be forgiven for having been defeated, but never for having been surprised”
Being aware, is a trait that has commonly been pushed aside for concern over being viewed as “paranoid”. There are differences between the two. Being aware, is the acceptance that you could be struck by a car, and you attempt to avoid it. Being paranoid, is believing that you will be struck by a car, and there's nothing you can do to prevent it.
Awareness, also equates to alertness. To some extent (regardless of how you choose to define/refer to it) awareness is an inherent personality trait. But it can be learned, practiced and improved upon. Once it is accepted that our familiar and presumably safe environment and surroundings are in fact perilous, we will automatically begin sharpening our senses to recognize those threats that may encroach upon our lives.
The majority of crimes are those of opportunity, through being “aware” you can reduce those opportunity's (that a criminal can exploit to their advantage).
Two rules should be immediately evident:
Always know what's behind you, and Pay particular attention to anything appearing to be out of place.
It is axiomatic that the most likely direction of an attack is going to be from behind you. But the most common verbal confrontation (that may, or may not escalate to a physical confrontation) will be directly in front of you (and is commonly within arm's reach). Though being two completely different situations, those threats that begin from the rear, should (initially) be treated as having a greater threat potential.
The majority of victims of violent crimes, were (initially) approached from their rearward side (and without warning). This fact should emphasize the need to always be aware of one's surroundings.
The individual that anticipates that action, will tend to prevail (if attacked). Those that don't, will commonly not.
Cats are perfect examples of personal awareness. It is extremely difficult to sneak-up or surprise a cat. They are keenly aware of their surroundings. They are instantly aware of any sound or action that occurs around them. Whether sleeping or batting a ball of yarn around, any sudden or out of place sound or action places them immediately on the defense and aware of any further actions that occur around them. A cat's personal defense takes priority over any other action that they may make. It's a lesson worth paying attention to.
Countless examples could be listed, but what I usually tell student's to consider, is the 6-year old girl example. If the same circumstances involved a 6-year old child who was alone, what would you recommend that child do? Then do so yourself. Be Aware, Be Ready, Be Alert.
“Defensive decisions that will work, are made before an attack occurs”
It is often awkward (if not difficult, LOL), for the average individual to respond to an instantaneous physical threat, being made from another individual. It is also not uncommon for the defender to attempt to understand what the reason for the attack is. It's important (if not vital) that the student understand and accept that criminals do not operate out of logic! (that's part of the reason that they are criminals). Attempting to assign “logic” to a criminals actions, is an exercise in futility.
In regards to Life Protection, decisiveness is similar to awareness. It also can be exercised, and developed. To be decisive, means to make choices, to make choices, requires options. Class is to develop those options. Class is where options are provided, and practiced. With the experience gained from practice, the student is more able to make productive choices (decisions).
Failure to make a decision, is what causes delay (a.k.a. Hesitation). In the case of responding to a physical aggression, the maxim “he who hesitates, is lost” most definitely applies. It should be remembered, that the specific action taken, can also prove to be irrelevant. By simply doing something, one can disrupt an attacker's plan of action. Thieves, drunks and criminals of opportunity rarely deviate from their initial plan. When that plan is disrupted, they will often flee or be forced to reevaluate the situation (allowing for an escape or counter-attack).
The common manor of acquiring decisiveness, is through practicing optional responses to varying circumstances (commonly done in a classroom environment). Some individual's will argue that experience is the only real teacher, I would agree. What these individual's ignore, is that classroom practice is experience.
When practice with other student's isn't possible, an alternative is to hypothesize (the mental exercise of “what if?”). By thinking tactically in this manner, the student can explore various tactical options/solutions which they can (later) verify when another student is available.
It is decisiveness that is being practiced when student's are working together on technique application. When a student is placed in a (real) defensive situation, they must make tactical decisions based upon their experience from that practice (which is why it's important to attend as many classes as possible). When attacked, the defender has no time to debate or delay, they must immediately react. To do so, they must be decisive.
“Without intent, one's actions are pointless”
When the student is in class, it can be difficult to envision the necessary level of physical intent that one will need in order to persevere in a given situation. This level of physical intent, is commonly referred to as Aggressiveness. That term can be misleading. Very often it is associated with rage, and when carried out with vigor, it's referred to as being a blind rage. It's neither of these states that are preferred, or even desired. It is imperative that the student always maintain the ability to think, to consider and to evaluate. When one is experiencing a “blind rage”, none of these abilities are retained.
The more appropriate analogy, would be “the best defense, is a good offense”. We utilize this principle when striking an aggressor's limbs that are being used against us. Similar strikes are referred to as “blocks” (by other systems). Our desire is to cause injury to the aggressor's limbs (to lessen their desire or ability to repeat those attempted strikes upon us using them).
The ability to (instantly) create this level of intent (often referred to as “aggression”), requires practice just as with any technique or response does. The true measure of success, is to create this ability, and to maintain control over one's own limb's actions. The simple ability to bludgeon, can be acquired by a monkey. The ability to control those actions requires cognitive, directed, thought (something not available in a blind rage).
To develop a usable level of aggression, (the easiest way) one needs to first become angry. Anger will trigger a subconscious (chemical) adrenaline dump into the bloodstream. Student's are commonly told to direct their anger at the aggressor's limbs. Your not angry at the aggressor, your angry at their limbs (that are trying to hurt you). It initially sounds ridicules, but it retards any emotional connection to the individual.
When the student has learned to control this trait, it is not uncommon to be referred to as being “cold” (unemotional) during a confrontation (or even during practice). It isn't really a loss of emotion, it's a (momentary) disregard for it, in favor of concentrating on the task at hand.
Practice (as with most things, LOL) will make this ability easier to utilize. The ability to (both) generate, and dissipate one's emotional intent against an aggressor (even if only their limbs, LOL), is imperative to the ability to maintain control over your own (and therefor their) actions. When called for, generate, then dissipate emotion as needed. Be indigent, be focused, have intent.
“Overwhelming strength is useless, if it cannot be brought to bear”
Speed is determined by the rapidity of one's application (be it by the aggressor, or the defender). The speed of the defender's technique is determined (more so) by when the defender chooses to begin their defensive application, than by when an aggressor's attack begins.
There are numerous “warning” signs that a defender can use to aid in this determination. Increasing one's reaction time to a situation is directly related to when the threat is initially perceived.
Attempting to react to a specific type of a (quite probably unknown) threat is a difficult request to make of anyone. No two threats/aggression's are exactly the same. The best one can do is train to respond to common manor's of aggression, utilizing practical variations in order to provide a variety of scenario’s that will assist the student in responding to any similar situations.
Avoid confusing speed with power. Though related, they are two separate (physical) attributes. In the defensive sense, speed is how quickly ones defensive action(s) is utilized. That can be in how fast one enacts their (own) defensive action (including moving one's body), as well as how quickly one recognizes the threat initially.
The ideal defense is one that the aggression is nullified before the aggressor realizes it. When you are attacked, your defensive motion and/or counter-attack must be done as quickly as possible. Not surprisingly, speed is best applied with motion that is utilized without thought.
“Without establishing control, you can only have continued chaos”
The ability to remain calm (in a violent situation) is a learned skill. It is developed by knowledge (of what to do in a given situation). There are two manners/forms of “control”. One is physical control (of one's motions/actions), and the other is mental control (to avoid panic). One's level of ability in either, can directly be correlated to the other.
One's physical ability to perform any specific technique is dependent upon their control abilities (be they physical, or mental). The “key” to either manner is the ability to remain calm. The opposite of calm, is panic. Panic amounts to not knowing what to do in a given situation. As with most things, knowledge is power. That power is the ability to know what do do, and knowing what to do, gives a person the power of control.
“Mercy is a luxury of the victorious”
When you become involved in a life threatening situation, it is imperative that your responses and actions be devoid of any immediate remorse or concern (for their effects upon your assailant). Your primary concern should be for your own well-being. The time to even consider “mercy”, is only after the aggressor has been neutralized.
An assailant is certainly not concerned with your well-being (quite the opposite). Whether any of the injuries you may receive are life threatening, are of NO concern to them. Likewise, your concern for their physical condition should be minimal (at best).
Your aggressor has unjustly attacked you, in response to their attack you must be brutal, you must be savage, unyielding and become victorious at all costs. Limiting ones concern for inflicted injury, does not equate to a (total) disregard for the consequences of your actions. If you are involved in a Life Protection situation (when your actions have proven successful), it should become apparent that a re-evaluation of the situation will (then) become necessary.
“Surprise can foil the most elaborate of plans”
Surprise is commonly associated with one's first motions (and is often the advantage held by an aggressor). Surprise is also doing the unexpected. It's preferable that any attempted “surprise” be something that is productive to one's defense.
It should be noted that by simply offering a continuous, (even when non-violent) reaction to an attempted aggression can very often disrupt an aggressor's plans from continuing with any further attempt being performed.
Surprise can also be subtle, simply doing the opposite of what's expected can produce hesitation from the aggressor. It's true that “surprise” can cause one to hesitate or pause (in order to evaluate it and determine an appropriate response). But don't become dependent upon the expectation of that response. Use that time to apply an (equally surprising) counter-attack.
Each of the listed traits can obviously be expanded upon (depending upon the individual situation), but each should be considered by the prospective or currently training student during (if not prior to) their beginning to train. To ignore the relevance of any of these traits, is to create a weakness in one's defensive methodology. It is impossible to train for every possible (physical) situation that one could encounter, yet all of these (mental) traits will be addressed (in varying degrees) during every confrontation.