Monday, September 06, 2010

LawDawg Talks

Talked to the LawDawg the other night. It was brief. It sounded like he was between domestic assignments, but the essence...

Pros and amateurs deal with things differently. They think about things differently. Most of what amateurs default to, in interpersonal violence, are mistakes from the pro's point of view. If the threat is expecting you to do something (your natural default) doing that expected something is just ...stoopid.

So LD pointed out that when Monkey Dance violence starts to kick up, the monkeys playing go head to head... but the pros don't. Unless they get hooked emotionally, almost all pros create distance and time. The MD will burn itself out if you don't feed it.

Get it? Amateur response to Monkey Dancing is to stand up, squarely, to the challenge. Pros get out of there. NOT because it is dangerous, but because it is meaningless. IF the pro has to deal with the monkey dancer (not the MD itself, but if, for some reason, we have to take down someone who incidentally is Monkey Dancing) we do it from surprise (usually skipping steps in the dance is all you need) and break a lot of other 'rules' too, like getting to the guy's back. That allows us to use a lower level of force than we would need if we let it escalate to a fist fight.

If something suddenly turns lethal, say a guy who appears to be Monkey Dancing pulls a knife, the amateur gets the hell out of there. I can't speak for all pros, (there's a continuum of skill and commitment) but the good operators I know immediately close on a lethal threat. This goes for the military as well-- the response to an ambush is to immediately counterattack into the ambush.

It may be counter-intuitive, it may clash with our instincts, but it is the option with the best chance of survival. The bad guy expects you to run when he pulls a knife. That is part of his plan. If his plan was to let you go, then running will work. If not, it is much easier to kill someone when you can't see his eyes and he isn't trying to smack your brainstem and break your knee.

In the cases that deal with violence, the amateur and professional responses are nearly opposite. Then, in dueling-based martial arts systems, it seems like the solution is to refine the amateur response. It kind of works-- if you can apply extreme skill to the stupid option you might still win, but it doesn't magically turn it into the smart option. And maybe that's why it takes years to learn to win versus days, because you are starting from a stupid premise and have tons to overcome.

Maybe. Everything is speculation.
But the professional point of view is actually pretty simple. The amateur's is intuitive, the professional's is logical. Since training is largely a cognitive game, I can't help but think that the professional's point of view could be learned side by side with the techniques of a system.


jks9199 said...

I think you've got the right point when you draw the line that the professional reacts with a plan and thought, instead of instinct. But that plan can be different in different circumstances. I'm several feet away, it's been mostly verbal and posturing, and the guy draws a knife -- I may well back up, creating distance and time to up the ante myself, by drawing my sidearm. After all, 1100 or so ft/sec trumps a knife pretty effectively!

The key is that the pro develops the ability to respond rationally in an irrational environment.

In fact, thinking on it, I'm going to add a third group... or maybe split amateurs into two groups. You've got pros: people who, through training and experience, have a solid grasp of the reality of violence. This isn't limited to LE, bouncers, or the military; prisoners are likely to be "pros" in this sense, too... as are some folks walking around in the world who just spend time in questionable places. As I said, a pro responds with a plan. It may not be a good plan (I can recall some spectacularly dumb decisions in my own experience!) - but it's a rational response.

You've got "hobbyist amateurs": this is where I'll put a lot of martial artists. They've never really looked at violence; they've played in the training hall, with a partner who doesn't resist too hard and plays by all the agreed on rules. Lots of them live in a fantasy land -- and their reaction is all too often shaped by that fantasy. They take a fighting stance built around boxing gloves and are shocked when they get kicked in the nuts or the other guy's buddy sucker punches them from behind. I'm also going to add the guy who's got a lot of "friendly fight" experience here. He's the guy who scrapped a lot in school or the bars... but always with the unwritten rule about not really hurting each other. This guy's really going to buy into a Monkey Dance...

Then there are the true amateurs who live in denial. Bad things don't happen to them; they live in a "good neighborhood" and they're "good people." (These are the idiots who are fueling half my workload at the moment who are shocked that crap is stolen out of their car or the car is stolen when they leave the car unlocked with the keys in it.) They're almost certainly going to react irrationally -- but you never can predict exactly how.

Anonymous said...


Agree with just about everything you wrote, except trying to create distance with a knife at full presentation and you still in the holster. This is a recipe for disaster, IMO and IME. Mr. Tueller backs me up on this. Mostly, when you're moving backwards you are a pedestrian, not a combatant. If you have to withdraw, withdraw! Run! The problem when things get serious is most people just back up a little inns straight line, which, strangely enough, may feed into the aggressor's subconscious idea that you are safe to attack, as that is a submissive move.

Random thoughts only. Feel free to ignore.


jks9199 said...

LD -

Valid point. I wasn't trying to describe a sole response; it's very much geared to the circumstances. I was just trying to make two points: one, that moving forward isn't always the only option (if I'm far enough back, I may not want to charge a knife!), and that the difference is in the rational response to the entirety of the circumstances.

But the Tueller drill, at least as I've seen it presented, isn't built on a developing confrontation. It's a "whoa, crap, that guy charging me out of nowhere with no warning has a knife" scenario rather than "the guy I've been talking to and trying to calm down for several minutes just pulled a knife and is still posturing..."

Tiff said...

With regard to the previous discussions about female power, "slipping the leash," and my curiosity surrounding the unique nature of a female professional...

I think this post adds something. Perhaps female operators/professionals do exactly what male operators/professionals do -- they break the rules. Only females have more rules they need to break, almost a handicap to overcome, placed upon them by society.

Epiphany: The notion that gender roles should always be different is the hurdle facing women, ESPECIALLY when it comes to violence and self-defense.

Overcoming these rules is what makes female operators/professionals "heroines" in my eyes, but the real battle lies in not imposing those rules on future generations of potential victims, male and female alike.

That way, there is no disconnect between a female operator and the young woman who admires her -- the young woman knows there is nothing stopping her from becoming the same.

Anonymous said...

A very interesting and possibly lifesaving post. One question, though. If you are in a situation where serious violence might be used and you are sure you can escape in complete safety would you still recommend taking the professional approach or getting away?

jks9199 said...

If you are in a situation where serious violence might be used and you are sure you can escape in complete safety would you still recommend taking the professional approach or getting away?

I don't know for sure how Rory would answer that -- but I would say that escaping in that scenario IS the pro's way out. With the caveat that they aren't in a situation where they have an obligation to act.

For example, a cop responds to a fight; he can certainly drive around the block or otherwise take his time getting there (or even, in one instance that I sadly know did happen... wait in the car until everything was over), and not risk getting hurt. But he's got the obligation and duty to go towards danger -- but to do so in a way that doesn't needlessly and inappropriately jeopardize his safety.

(I kind of guess that Rory's answer is going to be similiar...)

Anonymous said...

"you are sure you can escape in complete safety "

Cause, you know, there's a lot of certainty in life.

Anonymous said...

The problem with getting old-er and having done something for so long is that you forget the learning curve you went through to get to where you are. What you describe as the professional response is what feeels intuitive.