Thursday, August 8, 2013

Irresponsibility vs. the ability to respond

I had a conversation with a guy the other day. I was telling him about the self-defense courses I teach. He asked who the clients were and I told him it was a mixture of folks - athletes, teens, housewives, kids …  you name it.
He chuckled.
I asked why.
“It is just not realistic that some small woman could fight off a guy like you. It could never happen,” he said.  “I don’t think it is right to teach them that they can. It’s irresponsible.”
See, the problem is that guy is envisioning a different fight than most self-defense situations really are. He is envisioning a fight where the two go toe-to-toe like some kind of sporting event. He is not envisioning a fight, where the bad guy doesn’t want to get caught or go to jail; a fight with witnesses that may jump in and help the victim or at the least whip out iPhones and film it for evidence; he is not imagining an attacker that may have a family at home, or a job, and he doesn’t want to have to explain how he got the claw marks on his face.  Screaming, flailing and fighting people grab other’s attention. Bad guys don’t want attention.
Besides, I am not exactly sure what the alternative is.
He is, however, not unique in his perspective. Lots of people think that if you fight back, you are at greater risk of getting hurt worse, maybe killed.
My coach, Tony Blauer of Blauer Tactical Systems explains it this way: “If you cooperate with a rapist, you get raped. If you cooperate with a murderer, you get murdered.”
The logic, as I understand it, is that if you just let the bad guy have what he wants, be it your body or your stuff, he will let you leave with your life. But even if you are OK with that, it doesn’t take into account what kind of bad guy he is …
“If you cooperate with a murderer, you get murdered …”
And even if you are willing to accept a lesser form of victimization in trade for the hopes that the bad guy won’t opt for a higher form, bad guys don’t wear shirts stating, “I only rape,” or “I’m a killer.”
Coach Blauer teaches that there are things a bad guy wants and things he doesn’t want. They don’t want to get hurt, they don’t want to get caught and they don’t want it to take too long. He teaches the good guys responsibility is the ability to respond -- giving themselves permission to fight back.
While it may be unrealistic to think we can teach any 110 pound person to knock out a 220 pound attacker … or use pressure points or joint locks, that is not what self-defense is. See “fights” in a self-defense sense aren’t won with techniques, they are won with what Coach calls indignation.  
Bad guys aren’t looking for a fight. They are looking for a victim. Give them a fight, even an unskilled one, and often times they will go look for a “better” victim
But don’t take my word for it. Google “Woman fights off attacker.” This is just a short list of what I found. There were many more from the last two months (more than 2 million results). Check some of the links
And none of them were ninjas either. Lets face it: it wasn’t their physical skills that saved them. None of the stories tell of fancy techniques. Simply that they chose to fight. And that is the reality of self-defense. It is less about how you fight but more simply about the fact that you fight.  

Make the decision you will fight now. You don't want to wait until you have to.
Self-defense classes shouldn’t be so much about teaching people how to fight, and more about empowering them to fight and fight with everything they have.
Watch the video of the 64-year-old woman in the link above. Listen to her.
“I am 64-years-old but I still have a lot of fight in me,” she said. “Had it been some other person … that wouldn’t put up resistance, he would have been able to continue to victimize people.”
So the question is still there. Is it irresponsible to tell a 110 pound woman she can fight off a stronger attacker?
I am glad no one told her.
Don’t let anyone tell you.