Wednesday, August 08, 2012

No Good Answers

Good talks with Jake Steinmann yesterday.  About teaching students versus subjects; learning versus experimenting; why the easy things are hard and the hard easy sometimes.  We also talked about his experiment with knife defense.  He has more to do-- turns out people are not nearly as keen on banging out stuff when there is considerable pain and impact involved-- but the preliminary results are in.  There aren't good answers.

That shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody.  It's all percentage points.  Taking the Monkey Dance bullshit off the table, no one is going to pick you as a victim if they think you will win.  The bad guy gets position, surprise.  The bad guy prefers to have the edge in size and strength (not always-- skinny, short meth addicts need drugs too).  And if there is a weapon, the bad guy will have it in play. You won't, because why the hell would he pick you if you did?  The world is full of marks.

Knife-in-play blitzes (what most martial artists envision when they think of defending against an active attack) don't happen that much in my experience-- but they are a formidable tactical problem.  The crazy guy attacking a crowd doesn't happen that often either.   Outside of certain populations, neither does shanking-- but that is where I concentrate my training time.  And I think I have the best available answer for it.

But I'm not gonna delude myself for a second into believing it's a good answer.

Self-defense is a thin list of things that might give you a chance.  But just a chance.  If there was something reliable, criminals would change their tactics.

Take that back-- there is something reliable.  And that is victim behavior.  There are exceptions (and our entire goal as SD instructors is to turn our students into those exceptions) but those exceptions are rare.  Almost all victims freeze under a flurry and their hands go up to protect their faces.  Most people yanked try to pull away instead of step in.  Most men (even very well-trained ones) try to instinctively use the body mechanics of a Monkey Dance fight, with the shitty base and poor body mechanics and wide open centerline that comes with that.  On some level almost all humans when they perceive themselves to be under attack by another human, try to communicate.  What fighting they do is (subconsciously) intended to send a message, not to eliminate a threat.

It's not conscious, but criminals know this stuff and they count on it.  And it works.

But that's an aside.

Close range knife assault.  Caught in a riot. Being a civilian on the receiving end of an active shooter scenario.  There is stuff you can do for all of them, but there is nothing with a guaranteed outcome and sometimes the best possible outcome (the shooter only got one person--that's how you knew-- and you got him) still leaves two grievously wounded or dead people and a messy aftermath.

No good answers.  Whatever you have, if you are sure about it, you are wrong.  Don't get comfortable.


Charles James said...

Victim behaviors, very interesting view. Thanks!

Bob Eggebrecht said...

Well said. I agree with most of it. For the rest, I would just speaking from the wrong end.

David said...

You wrote: "If there was something reliable, criminals would change their tactics."

Or, they'll choose a different target. I think you hit on that when you said victim behavior is something reliable. As you know and teach, there's a LOT you can do to prevent an attack from happening, and I think that's more than a "thin list". It's easy for people to miss how valuable their awareness/prevention skills are. Because if things never get physical, you may not even realize how many times you would have become a victim without those skills.

But you may have been talking about a thin list of physical tactics once the attack is already in progress...

There may only be a thin list of effective default responses to surprise attacks, but as you also know, there's a long list of training methods (and techniques) that can turn a situation in your favor.

I think the reason criminals don't need to change their tactics, and why their tactics work, is...they don't tend to attack those who are prepared. People who are physically prepared most often don't make a good target, and that's obvious. They're either not in the wrong places or not exhibiting the wrong behaviors.

I've known too many people who have successfully defended against a surprise attack though to feel the chance is really small...with PROPER training.

Steve Perry said...

Whatever you have, if you are sure about it, you are wrong.  Don't get comfortable.

This is good.

Toby said...

Knife defense is greatly assisted by tactical wear. Stab vests, kevlar gloves etc....oh wait, but they have limits to ;)