Saturday, April 28, 2007

Fighting science: Teach your children well.

I followed a link to The Anchoress. I've no idea where or when she studied knife fighting but I'm less surprised that she has than I might have been before I started to train in martial arts. To an extent she seemed to be talking about past knowledge that she'd prefer forgotten.

She says:
Buster’s initial reaction was that Mom was kind of a scary broad, but a few minutes later he said, “teach me that stuff…”

No, I don’t intend to train my son to the blade, nor do I recommend anyone else do it. But, this all has me thinking…in a perfect world, we should not need weapons, nor fighting science…and yet as we see, daily, the world is an imperfect place, and all of our best impulses toward peace may be thwarted at any time by someone with another idea. My son is not exactly a kid who wanders around wondering how he can kill people with the tools at hand, and I’d certainly prefer that he bring his mind around to “restraining and detaining” a bad guy rather than taking his or her life, but sometimes I wonder if we have gone too far in teaching our children that “fighting is bad.”

Skeeter, in comment #5 says:
I had a self defense instructor (who believe me, could VERY easily kill an armed man bare handed) tell the class about the time that he was held up, at gun point, and his wallet was taken. What struck me, though, was that he said that he looked at the guy, made a determination that it was the wallet he was after, and he gave it to him.

Teaching children to fight, with a knife or any other weapon, is not incompatible with teaching that fighting is bad.

Skeeter continues with what the instructor said about cases where taking action is necessary:
In that case, he said, that the choice was always with the individual, but if action was your choice, you must hurt him first, and hurt him badly, badly enough that you could turn your back and walk away, without risk.
My instructor expresses this a little differently. He says to hurt the attacker badly enough that you can get free and run. The principle is exactly the same, however. And there may be more than one attacker. Every strike should be an attempt to stop the attacker permanently. There is no place for a gradual ramping up of action until a person gets to "enough." When the decision is made it must be total because the decision that is made is "is this life and death?" If it's not life and death then it's just *not*. The emphasis is always on avoiding the fight. On getting away.

Now, I will say that this advice is for people who are *not* super-duper martial arts masters. This advice is for *me*. My instructor could undoubtedly "restrain and detain" an attacker in most situations. His father could probably "restrain and detain" an attacker using nothing more than his little finger (and I am almost not even exaggerating) .

Training is what makes it possible to make the less lethal choice.

A lack of training or not enough training *requires* the more lethal choice because *I* don't have the ability or physical control to attack just exactly so, to hit a nerve center or manage a joint manipulation, just exactly right. And if I screw up, I don't get a second chance. I get one chance while my attacker isn't expecting me to fight back and I *have* to take the strikes that are going to be most reliably effective to remove someone who may well be a foot taller and twice as heavy out of action *permanently*.

I'm sure that it's the same with knife fighting as well. A *skilled* fighter might be able to disable an attacker. An unskilled person couldn't risk trying.

5 Comments:

Blogger Ymarsakar said...

A good point to make. But I extend that thinking to all forms and incidents of fighting. Meaning, unless this is a sort of barroom brawl in which everyone can have a drink after beating the crap out of each other, assuming people aren't falling over comatose afterwards, then violence is something you have to train your mind to take the limits of society off once engaged in it.

Violence and societal training or limitations do not mix, simply because there are no guarantees. Not for anybody. Not for the skilled Marine Corps and not for the unskilled, not the defender or the attacker.

A lack of training or not enough training *requires* the more lethal choice because *I* don't have the ability or physical control to attack just exactly so, to hit a nerve center or manage a joint manipulation, just exactly right. And if I screw up, I don't get a second chance. I get one chance while my attacker isn't expecting me to fight back and I *have* to take the strikes that are going to be most reliably effective to remove someone who may well be a foot taller and twice as heavy out of action *permanently*.

Even for someone trained, they should not place limitations on themselves. Gradations of non-violence, to violence, to lethal should be an instant translation. The only time they are not is when the life of the fighter is deprioritized to the life of those that might get killed. Such as Iraqi checkpoints and US counter-insurgency. The ROE of steady escalation has its consequences, to both sides.

My instructor could undoubtedly "restrain and detain" an attacker in most situations.

But we're not talking about one attacker in most situations. So at what level of violence will he accept when the case for attacks by criminals is usually in the 3+ range? If the point is that if you know you are capable, then you can choose to restrain and detain, but how long do you have to decide in a fight whether you are capable or not? That's sort of like the combatant commander having to decide whether to open fire or not. That kind of lightning decision making isn't available to most people, perhaps not even more than 15%.

So people have to decide beforehand what they will or will not do. But if that is the case, what criteria will they base it upon? If it is not actual fighting, then if their models for prediction are flawed in some way, their plans will not survive contact with the enemy.

6:41 AM  
Blogger Synova said...

Part of training is the ability to assess the situation almost instantly... which should be possible, particularly if you've been paying attention to your surroundings.

Obviously, as you pointed out, fighting for fun, like bar fights or the sort of chest pounding that is a normal part animal interaction is a different sort of thing. Even so, all martial arts instruction I've ever heard of is that the martial artist simply doesn't get to *do* that anymore. So no acting tough and no chest pounding.

Anyhow, training is about reading your opponent as well as developing physical ability. Obviously even a highly trained person can be taken by multiple attackers... eventually. Just off hand, though, if one is avoiding situations like bars or back alleys the chances of getting attacked by multiple attackers isn't that great. (Though I do hear about that too, sometimes right in front of crowds of people.) Most of what I hear about on the news, it seems to me, involve single attackers... maybe an ex or some nut.

Even so, you're right that there has to be some planning before hand on what to do. Not a plan of action so much because how could anyone plan *at all*? But there has to be mental preparation to instantly "hurt him first, and hurt him badly, badly enough that you could turn your back and walk away, without risk."

7:48 PM  
Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Aside from the loners and the passion killers, my highest priority is for situations in which the hostiles outnumber me. Say, 15 vs 2 Marines, or 3 armed youths vs a Marine. Or 10 youths in Britain attacking 3 adults, starting with a girl attacking the woman of the group.

A lot of people when faced with such, curl up in a ball, on the ground, while their head is being caved in by kicks. Marines excluded of course. But it is what they do, the guy on the ground in that incident with the 15 youths didn't have a "neck injury" cause he "fell down" on the sidewalk. Anymore than the guy in Britain had a crushed skull and concussion because he just happened to "fall" on the concrete.

So I tend to think the tactics that should be used against groups, is to find their leader or the leader's enforcers, and kill them in as brutal and quick a fashion as you are able to. This disables the gang's command chain and causes paralysis to grip their minds. When facing one attacker, you would just be killing him or her for... well to get rid of the threat, rather than buying time to take care of the other threats.

Book's link

A totally unfair fight

Four against one is a totally unfair fight, especially if those on the four side are armed with guns, while the loner is armed only with a pocketknife. Oh! Did I mention that the lone fighter is an ex-Marine? With those facts, the fight's outcome is a foregone conclusion: Ex-Marine — one bruise and a small cut; Assailants — one dead, one seriously wounded, two in custody. Gotta love the Marines.


The one that died was a 17 something year old girl. Whether she initiated the attack or not, whether she seemed the leader of it or not, her death took the initiative away from the attackers and gave it to the defender. Using surprise as the force multiplier to counter-act the fact that the Marine was outgunned and outnumbered. If ever a mob can be said to outnumber a disciplined force.

6:08 AM  
Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Anyhow, training is about reading your opponent as well as developing physical ability.

But let's say you face a single opponent and you read him as being clumsy and not much of a danger, so you downgrade your response. Not you, but let's say someone who you know is stronger, faster, and more trained. That is his read on the opponent.

But things can change. New variables can enter the fold, if you take too long in eliminating a single threat or if it is just a disabling hold, joint or not.

Reinforcements might arrive, his buddies might arrive, or some other factor might arrive. That is why I believe in planning for the worst, not planning on being able to manage a threat. And this is true even for the masters, for like all humans they can make mistakes.

But philosophically, I was always against allowing an enemy to go free and undead, simply because Hollywood and various novels taught me that such was bad. Whether they intended it or not, because you know how many times those villains come back and hurt more people after the "hero" lets him go.

In in the novel form, people do that because they know what the hero doesn't, so they can tell the hero to let the villain go, because the author knows the ultimate fate of the villain. But we humans are not gods, nor omniscient. We do not know what will happen even 5 seconds from now, not with any degree of accuracy and breadth. As you said, Synova, people who are uncertain, need to finish the problem quickly and effectively.

In response to your last passage, I agree with your point on mental preparation. But I would forward that a person needs to prepare himself for anything up to being killed and killing. He can change the variables out during the conflict, increase or decrease the force, but if he doesn't think about killing beforehand, then he will be at a disadvantage in a situation if it really does call for lethal action.

This doesn't seem much applicable to firearms, because that sort of mentality is presumably already there.

One of the things Tim Larkin was talking about, was train as you would fight. Meaning, prepare mentally andp hysically in situations that actually will happen. Whether fighting in a car or around it. In a tight corridor, alley, or building. How would these environments affect your choice of attacks and defenses? While awareness of the situation you are in is important, it would be a lot more effective if you had thought about these situations in advance, so you don't need to think about it now, once you are aware.

6:24 AM  
Blogger Synova said...

The possibility of others arriving or friends or multiple attackers is why my instructor makes such a big deal about running.

"...but if he doesn't think about killing beforehand, then he will be at a disadvantage in a situation if it really does call for lethal action."

Oh, absolutely.

12:06 PM  

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