See story here.
Sgt. Rory Miller calls it ‘the Monkey Dance’. Two guys square off with one another, shouting character invectives with puffed chests and angry faces. They don’t have to fight, but their pride pulls them into a knuckle-tango that is socially mandated to prove who is the “better man”. Walking away from the situation is an option, but too impalatable for the ego.
A fight ensues. One pummels the other to the ground where he continues to bounce the head of his enemy off the asphalt with clean strokes. Bystanders, who initially seemed quite okay with the prospect of a real fight, now intervene as if some unspoken rule has been violated. The fight is done. The opponent is bloodied and unconscious as the victor stands up, satisfied with the belief that he has “proven himself”. He goes on with his day, leaving his battered opponent to concerned onlookers who feel the need to call an ambulance.
The video of this “victory” goes up on YouTube. It circulates locally and at the end of the day, the two participants are identified. The police show up at the residence of the victor. He looks oblivious as cuffs are slapped around his wrists and an officer charges him with manslaughter. Hours before, his opponent had passed away from coup/counter-coup brain injuries which lead to a life compromising encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). In addition to state charges, the surviving family members are intent on exhausting every legal resource available to them in pursuit of exacting retribution for the death of their loved one. This “victor” is about to spend some serious time in an 8 x 8 cell, all because his ego needed stroked.
Sound surreal? It isn’t.
Fact is, real situations like the above fiction abound.
Take for instance the plight of a 15-yr-old in Marysville, Washington now facing charges after he entered a mutual fight and continued to kick his opponent (16) in the head after knocking him to the ground. The 16-yr-old died from brain injuries and the 15-yr-old was subsequently arrested.
Here is another mutual fighting case from the same state, also ending in death. A 25-yr-old and 55-yr-old exchanged inflammatory words before one pulled a pistol.
Among other variables, these fights and their related deaths tend to manifest out of poor self-control, and the allure of bragging rights. Take my word for it, there is nothing “badass” about participating in a street fight if you could have just walked away.
If this notion is too cliché for you, maybe the following list of ‘fight gains’ will communicate the point better.
What You Stand to Gain from a Mutual Street Fight
1. You could end up with a lawsuit. Seriously injuring your opponent is tantamount to throwing yourself into jail (depending on your statutes). In some states, the individual who provoked the fight (verbally or otherwise) ends up facing the hammer of the judicial system. By choosing to fight, you waive your innocence in view of the law.
2. You could gain a friend or two, depending on the nature of the fight. Hardly worth your time though.
3. You could be infected with blood-borne pathogens like HIV (the purveyor of AIDS), Hepatitis variants, tetanus, and others. Nothing like bloodying your knuckles for a life-time of suffering at the hands of communicable disease, right?
4. You may tarnish your reputation. Believe it or not, there are those who will see you as a buffoon for daring to engage in a completely avoidable fight. I know I would.
5. You risk incurring severe physical injuries. Suppose you are the one who ends up getting kicked in the head? Do you have a job? What will you do when that gimped leg prevents you from working?
6. You exhibit your ignorance of use-of-force ethics. Violence should be used as a means to keep the peace. Whether civilian or not, your use-of-force says a lot about your character, values, and knowledge respecting civil society.
7. You could gain some valuable experience. But, once again, risk applies.
If you are going to engage in a mutual fight, know the risks. Personally, I think you would be insensitive to reason if you chose to fight someone for the hell of it.
For my ninjutsu subscribers out there, note that shinobi and samurai alike would purposively avoid places that invited trouble unless their positions or objectives required their presence in such areas.
Ending conflict before it metamorphoses into a blatant conflagration is superior to dousing a flame with gasoline that is ultimately quelled with water.
Don’t be a victim of your own ego.
“Better watch yourself, you’re about to get fucked up!” This 30-something who had checked me with his bike from behind now peddled in a circle around me.
I didn’t know why this was happening.
I had been walking to work, nonchalantly listening to my Ipod when BAM! I was being accosted by a seemingly deranged man who was now issuing threats of violence. Adrenaline surged. I felt shaky and mildly focused with a bit of anxiety, anger, and fear shadowing the current of the situation. I didn’t know if this guy was on drugs or had confused me with some other hated individual, either way, I knew I had better ready up for an altercation.
I betrayed my confusion to him and replied, “For what reason?” He continued to circle menacingly and croaked back, “Any reason!”
What happened next? He just rode away.
I finished walking to work and notified the police of what had just occurred. I was fine. No injuries, other than those inflicted on my Ipod which had been spurned to the ground when the guy checked me with his bike. The police didn’t apprehend the guy, but it was of no real consequence to me. I was fine and just thankful it wasn’t worse (i.e. what if the guy had a weapon?). This was a wake-up call to the reality that random, unexpected violence can happen anywhere at any time.
Though undoubtedly this was a strange happening, in my book it could not be counted as a street altercation. Still, I wondered whether there were lessons in violence to be salvaged from it. There were:
What I did Wrong
1. Situational awareness error. I was not at all paying attention to my environment. My Ipod was blaring metal. Had it been off or playing at lower volume I may have picked up on the threat before he got close enough to ram me with his bike. Keeping my head on a steady swivel was also an easy and more valuable fix. Visual orientation to what is going on is more important than sound, especially in a gun-fight (so I’m told). I noted the need to be more aware of what is going on around me as well as awareness of what I am doing. Shinobi Fact: Master anything and all that you can. This instruction descends to us down through the centuries from Natori Masazumi. A shinobi would study himself and how his own mind worked in order to understand others, recognize the limitations of oneself, and the gaps intrinsic to one’s psychology.
2. Disturbed inner state. I was overwhelmed with the ambush. My emotions were all over the place. I was angry, anxious, fearful, and compassionate at the same time. This was a really awkward position to be in. I did not have the intense focus necessary to deal with the threat swiftly, nor did I have the tools at the time to resolve the situation with minimal violence. I had briefly thought about rushing the guy to knock him off his bike, but my mind hesitated with numerous ‘what ifs’. Ultimately I proceeded to keep walking and use verbal de-escalation. Looking back, I don’t recall if this was a conscious decision or not. I just asked a question (not yelling but with relative calm). I noted a development of mental focus for situations like this was a worthy investment of my time. I took up meditation and visualization practices. Fear and anxiety are natural in ambush encounters and even mutual altercations, but one should learn to not allow emotions to overwhelm oneself because it will distort thinking and action. Shinobi Fact: Masazumi exalts a serene, calm mind as a benefactor to your reasoning and strategy.
3. Used the same route to work. I walked the same path to work each day of the week. This was a big mistake. For all I know, this man had been accustomed to seeing me on my route and might have even planned an assault. If not, it would have still served me to change up my routine (which I did) and make my presence in the area unpredictable. Had I taken a different route, the situation might not have transpired. Shinobi Fact: A shinobi would travel as many paths in his area as he could to gain meaningful intelligence of the area.
Note that none of the above mistakes have anything to do with the actual act of inflicting violence on another. The mistakes I made were all mental in nature.
This event aided my self-development by elucidating flaws in my defense disposition. Notable changes in lifestyle I have made which specifically relate to this even include:
1. I scan my surroundings
2. I know an ambush can occur anywhere
3. I carry weapons in case the scaling up of force becomes necessary
4. I know how easily a potential assailant can conceal a weapon and deploy it
5. I am unpredictable in my routines
6. I strive to control my emotions
7. I recognize violence is not always the appropriate solution against violence
8. I train to be more ready for the physiological effects of adrenaline
9. I keep learning about violence
I am thankful to my assailant for giving me these lessons.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and none of the following should be construed to represent legal advice.
The use of force in defending oneself is arguably among the most important rights citizens possess. Without it, we would live in a society that exalts state-mediated public order to the detriment of the lives of our loved ones. Even though we have this right, martial arts “experts” and defense buffs are apt to neglect divulging to their students the many legal caveats and stipulations which may apply to the use of force.
When a self-defense instructor demonstrates the execution of devastating throw, for instance, which has been crafted to turn one’s assailant on his head to snap the neck, it is seldom the case that the instructor makes a point to his students that the legal ramifications of using such a throw may include prison time for homicide. Because our criminal justice system is perpetually engaged in perpetuating a balance of public order with individual rights, even criminal assailants (or their families) are granted charge options should you act in self-defense beyond legal justification.
In short, it is unwise to ‘shoot first and ask (legal) questions later’, or even to advance into a hand-to-hand altercation without knowledge of self-protection laws in your state. This isn’t the wild west. What you do could cost you your freedom. For this reason it is extremely important that any self-protection training you participate in include a legal component. Get to know your statutes.
Laws will vary from state to state, so do not extrapolate what is legal in your territory to others that you visit.
In Nebraska self-protection statutes are presented in Chapter 28, Sections 1406-1416 of the state code. These sections are:
28-1406: Terms, defined. This section provides the definitions of the words used within the following sections to provide for more precise interpretation of the law.
28-1407: Justification; choice of evils. This section gives a terse run-down of when use of force may be justified in court.
28-1408: Public duty; execution. This section also provides indicators of when use of force conduct may be justified.
28-1409: Use of force in self-protection. This section is particularly important for the self-defense oriented individual as it details various justifications for the use of force. For example, “the use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.” But note there are, of course, stipulations. For instance, you will not be justified in using force to “resist and arrest” even if it is an unlawful arrest. Also, you may not be justified in using force against someone who is attempting to remove you from his/her property. For example, if you are on another individual’s property who begins using force to expel you from the premises, you probably;y should not retaliate. Other caveats include: “deadly force shall not be justifiable under this section unless the actor believes that such force is necessary to protect himself against death, serious bodily harm, kidnapping or sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat…”, but even in these instances, if you had the ability to retreat from your assailant and fail to do so, the use of deadly force may count against you. The statute reads justification is sullied if, “The actor”, (the person using force in self-defense), “knows that he can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety by retreating or by surrendering possession of a thing to a person asserting a claim of right thereto or by complying with a demand that he abstain from any action which he has no duty to take…” There is more to this section, so it is good sense to read it in its entirety.
28-1410: Use of force for the protection of other persons. This section basically says you may be justified in using force to protect others if you can provide the same reasonable basis for the use of force as you would if you were the one being assailed.
28-1411: Use of force for the protection of property. This section is loaded with important information, such as justifications in using force against thieves, arsonists, and trespassers. This is a must read. Here is one example of the sections content. “The use of force is justifiable under this section only if the actor first requests the person against whom such force is used to desist from his interference with the property, unless the actor believes that: (a) Such request would be useless; (b) It would be dangerous to himself or another person to make the request; or (c) Substantial harm will be done to the physical condition of the property which is sought to be protected before the request can effectively be made.”
If you studiously integrate the use of force statutes of your state into your self-protection method, you may gain the following advantages:
- Less hesitation to use force against someone in the wrong, as you will be somewhat informed on what is or is not justified.
- Better discretion pertaining to what altercations you should or shouldn’t engage in. For example, Nebraska statutes hold that use of force will not be justified against an aggressor if you were the one who originally provoked the aggression (i.e. giving the middle finger to someone, verbal assaults, etc.)..
Once again, we do not live in the wild west so before you decide to throw down with someone, question who is in the right and never treat defensive techniques as toys to be used liberally.
I’m sure that by now you have heard at least a sound-byte of the situation fomenting in the wake of the US assault on a military compound in Syria.
Youtube is exploding with reports that the basis of our intervention is a false-flag, prepping advisory sites are pulling stock up onto the counters as people rush to gain a competitive edge for a WW3 doomsday scenario, and the mainstream media is neglecting to push objective information concerning the incident.
What kind of objective information?
The kind flowing out from Russian intelligence and their Ministry of Defense that displays a relationship in timing between the US airstrike and the mobilization of ISIS forces in that country. The Russian military officer in this video expounds that the Russian government is hopeful that a forensic analysis of the airstrike, chemical weapons attack, and ISIS’s further mobilization is not coordinated together under guidance of the US government:
Though Nikki Haley, the UN envoy who spoke at the United Nations Security Council convened amid the crisis, thinks Assad is completely responsible for the deployment of chemical weapons, the international community may be experiencing skepticism that Assad was stupid enough to nerve-gas his people with the whole world waiting for him to make a wrong move. The Russians are calling for an international investigation into the incident, and are emphasizing the point that US-Russian relations have been drastically vitiated:
It doesn’t matter who you vote in as president.On the campaign trail Hillary Clinton expressed an interest of taking out Assad if she got into the White House, and with Trump, the same is now evident. Syria has been in the cross-hairs of Western hegemony for awhile now. In the past, I made a couple of posts on former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell, who openly called for bombing Assad’s offices and making Russia “pay a price”, a testament to truth in the notion that the US intelligence community is looking for any means to topple another government, destabilize the region, and take advantage of the ensuing chaos. These games are played above us, and there is no referee other than military ‘might’ which seems to make ‘right’ in this world.
What happened in Idlib, Syria?
According to the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, the chemical weapons attack in Idlib has all the “hallmarks” of Damascus. But curiously, the Russian envoy to the UN is calling for an impartial international investigation into the nerve-gas attack, implying that the details of who used these weapons and how are not known.
What is interesting about all this, aside from the alternative media screaming false-flag, is President Donald Trump’s response to the attack which involved executing a retaliatory attack against a Syrian military base with some 50-60 tomahawk missiles. This response definitively evinces that Trump is NOT a Russian agent as so many media outlets have been suggesting, so we can now sit back and watch for the next move mainstream media will make to vilify him.
On another note, it has been remarked by numerous UN envoys that the use of chemical weapons is a threat to international stability and security (of course), so it is critical that we know exactly who carried out the nerve-gas attack instead of “jumping to conclusions”, otherwise we may be viewing a nuance of the “he has chemical weapons” scenario propped up by the Bush administration to oust Saddam Hussein.
Undoubtedly the media has not only glorified violence to such an extent that the majority of shows, video-games, and movies cannot do without grotesque, heart-thumping scenes that grip the audience, but the media has simultaneously propagated an unspoken myth that violence is easy and comes naturally. This notion is completely false, and veritably so for anyone willing to consult texts written by those social and military psychologists who have studied the nature of human on human violence (aka intra-species aggression).
Enter one of my favorite authors on the subject of real violence, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, the man who coined the term and science of Killology.
Grossman is a former Army Ranger, paratrooper, and a psychologist who has been deployed a number of times to places such as the Arctic Tundras, the jungles of Central America, and “countless mountains and deserts”. His book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society is the most authoritative work of its kind concerning what dynamics are at play when soldiers take the life of another human being.
While his entire work is well-worth a lengthy review, I wish to draw particular attention to the first chapter of On Killing as it relates to violent acts in a non-combat zone – upon the streets of our nation. Self-defense instructors are quick to have you believe that the most accurate model for what happens in a truly life-threatening altercation is in accord with the fight-or-flight model. You probably heard the spiel before. Instructors will tout the effectiveness of their system by citing the fight-or-flight adrenaline dump as reason for using gross-motor movements to demolish the enemy (so far this is reasonable). But where they go wrong has to do with a conviction of what physiological/psychological distortions are manifest in a life-threatening situation, and that they don’t account for the wide-range of circumstances that can make hand-to-hand techniques ineffective. The fact that their notion of the fight-or-flight response is wrong may not take away from the utility of techniques that one might learn under these instructors’ tutelage, but it does suggest that their understanding of human psychology and physiology as it relates to life-threatening violence is shallow. That being said, learn from those instructors who have actually been in the situations you wish to defend against.
As Grossman explains with a wealth of references to actual combat, the fight or flight model is really only applicable to inter-species aggression, whereas intra-species aggression (human vs. human) has historically played out within the scope of ‘fight, flight, posture, or submit’. Taking another swing at the Hollywood which presents images of easy violence, the reality of combat is that humans have an innate resistance to killing one of their own kind. This is evidenced by countless battles wherein the casualty rates were quite low given the rate of fire between the opposing parties. For example, Grossman cites the fire to hit ratio during Vietnam as 50,000 expended rounds for each hit. General S.L.A. Marshall’s study on WW2 firing rates among men of combat found that about 15% of the men actually engaged the enemy, and the majority of casualties were psychological in nature. Even during the Civil War, regiments of 200-1000 men would engage at a distance of 30 yards and accrue a single casualty only every other minute!
So in explaining this phenomenon of combat one must cast off the notion that fighting or fleeing is the default model, and one must abolish the notion that violence and killing are easy.
These men are, as Grossman notes, posturing. Combat instances of posturing are innumerable. During the Civil War men were literally postured out of their positions by the yelling of the enemy. So once again, fight or flight is not an adequate explanatory model of intra-species aggression. For more content supporting this idea I suggest reading Grossman’s On Killing because I am now going to address the nature of self-defense in non-combat zones.
One can see how posturing and submission are frequently at play with your typical ‘monkey dance’ altercation. One guy bows up to another, one might even try to look meaner than the other while holding eye-contact. This posturing is wired into human psychology and is intended to effect a submission. If posturing fails to gain a submission, then one participant may walk away or engage. What self-defense instructors need to incorporate into their training is the wealth of research on the physiological and psychological underpinnings of the situations they are training for prior to developing any technique in the student. As noted by Grossman, for soldiers “modern training or conditioning techniques can partially overcome the inclination to posture”, and likewise effective self-defense can be dealt if one will simply understand how violence really operates.
Bottom line, if it is a historical and biological fact that humans are not wired to easily inflict lethal harm on a member of their own species, then how does one interested in self-defense against homicidal criminals develop his/her skill without first addressing the resistance problem? Ask yourself, could you really take a life if you had to? Even if you ask yourself this question, chances are you wont know until the situation presents itself. Self-defense gurus need to stop peddling magical techniques premised on the fight-or flight model and instead cultivate a superior foundation of understanding human psychology as it relates to violence. Only by doing this will any self-defense system, intended to protect against psycopathic/sociopathic criminals, hold water.
Below is an example of the typical “monkey dance” that Sgt. Rory Miller expounds upon in his texts on violence. These situations are not typically life-threatening and therefore not only do not constitute real violence, but should not even be engaged in from the start. Notice the posturing prior to engaging.
Abnormal psychology, colloquially referred to as mental illness, may conjure up images of a behaviorally disturbed individual such as Christian Bale’s character out of American Psycho. But while this type of person is certifiably insane by exhibitions of homicidal tendencies (killing random homeless people), we should not find it difficult to assert that collectives of individuals, as those found in nations, may exhibit precisely the same symptoms of mental illness as a single man or woman.
The philosopher Plato once wrote that “States are as men” for they “grow out of human characters”, and inasmuch that this is true, we may apply the criteria of what constitutes a mental illness to the activities of a society.
The author of the collegiate textbook Abnormal Psychology, Ronald Comer, relates to the reader the notion that mental illness is difficult to define, but nevertheless there are criteria for classifying as ill the behavioral characteristics of an individual.
These are the criteria:
- The exhibited behavior must be deviant – this is to say the actions and thoughts of the individual conflict with social norms
- The exhibited behavior is dangerous, to self and others
- The exhibited behavior causes significant distress, i.e. difficulty coping with anxiety associated with the behavior
- The exhibited behavior is “dysfunctional”
Using the above criteria, we may reasonably conclude that the American society (and one might infer other nations as well), exhibit behaviors that meet the mental illness criteria. To illustrate the validity of this conclusion, take the instance in August of 1945 when our nation atom-bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaaki.
This action was deviant. No other nation had used such weapons of mass destruction prior.
This action was dangerous. Hundreds of thousands were annihilated, civilian and military alike.
This action caused significant distress. Many of the world’s citizens were indirectly victimized with the anxiety educed from the destruction the U.S. caused.
The action was “dysfunctional”. The decision to drop the bombs was premised on the paradoxical belief that peace could be drawn out by an act of war.
Given the inference that other nations exhibit behaviors matching the mental illness criteria, we can indeed state with confidence that “All the World is Mad”.
Take care all.
Back on November 10th we promulgated a post about a cyber-attack which targeted Russian banks. In that post we also speculated on the possibility that, in light of Vice President Joe Biden’s comments, the CIA (or NSA, take your pick) was responsible for the alleged attack on Russian banks.
Now, with reference to an article out of The Telegraph, those speculations seem to have taken on substance.
The Russians have not yet stated which intelligence agencies they believe were involved with the plot, but we can be cautiously sure that the U.S. was involved.
As a premise to the conclusion that the U.S. may have been involved,
we have Joe Biden who stated thus:
What is unfortunate respecting this recent development is the possibility that the Obama administration may still continue to deteriorate Russian-U.S. relations despite President Elect Trump’s vow to restore confidence in Russian-U.S. ties.
To read our post from November 10th, click here.