Wednesday, January 12, 2011

For Anonymous

Not all the comments make it to the comment section. I personally only ever delete obvious spam, but occasionally I get an e-mail notice and the comment isn't on the blog, so I assume the author deleted it.

A recent one wanted to share a criticism: that I focus mostly on ambush and he has felt it far more likely, for him, for things to get physical because he chose to intervene in a third-party situation.

First thing- I hope the comment wasn't withdrawn out of fear of my reaction to criticism. Sure, I may go off into a dark room and cry a little, but that won't come out on the blog. No one needs to know.

Second, I've adressed this once that I remember, heavily focused on how complicated a question this really is. You can read that one here.

Third, and this is the meat for this post-- yeah, I'm biased towards ambush survival, largely because that is where I see the biggest holes and the highest stakes and the least choices.

Not many people teach third party intervention. Even the stuff at our academy was weak to non-existent. That is a hole. But it's pretty clear that you aren't teaching it. I could ask any martial artist if they practiced third party defense and they would go over their last couple of classes and say either, "yeah" or, "no, not really."

That's cool. But ask a roomful of martial artists if they ever train against surviving an ambush or a sudden assault and, IME, most will assert positively that they practice it all the time...and almost every element of a sudden assault will be completely unfamiliar.

Few people practice third party interventions...but almost nobody pretends they do. People believe they are practicing assault survival frequently when they are not. I consider that a bigger and more insidious hole.

The stakes are very high in ambush survival. The true ambush is a pretty rare assault, but it is always, or almost always, very serious. For all the marbles.

They can be high in third party interventions, but not always. The fact that you are there to intervene means that the act happened with an audience. The presence of an audience is an indicator of social violence. Social violence rarely results in lethal force. There are exceptions. The status seeking show, certain forms of the group monkey dance (betrayal or an insecure leader/group) can both be hideously brutal forms of social violence...and there is always the possibility that a predator missed you in his witness scan.

Intervening there are a plethora of choices. You don't need to get involved. You don't need to act immediately-- you can get help and attention and marshall resources. You can go in at a number of different levels (the presence of a witness alone may make a predator scurry off.) YOU get to pick your angle of approach and position.

Under an ambush... nope. It's on. Any choices or even information gathering take time and time is damage. the bad guy picked time and position and place and distance, not you. All the lower levels of force are off the table...

So, yeah. I concentrate on the ambush. I can teach the other stuff, and sometimes I enjoy it. You can really use the threat's adrenalized state and make some cool stuff happen.

But, unless you are embarrassing yourself (and you didn't) there's no reason to delete comments. Not on my account, anyway.


Anonymous said...

I'm gonna start posting everything anonymous just for fun.

Unknown said...

Third party interventions dominate my experience. There is virtually nothing written about it despite how pervasive it is.

Situational awareness, getting a read on what was about to go down, chances of spike in escalation before de-escalation, assessing the problem child, etc. all happens but when the switch to intervene is thrown it needs to just flow without "talk talk".

Put this subject on the list of things to develop a curriculum for.

Nick Lo said...

I wonder if technical reasons are another reason you're seeing deleted comments. I've had issues using the "Name/URL" where it fails to submit correctly. I now routinely copy my comment before posting just in case.

A recent example was a comment that I tried posting twice to your "What is this thing you call..." post that never appeared on the site. I just presumed since I'd linked to a book* on Amazon called "The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why" I may have triggered spam filters or you'd preferred not to have the link there?

*Note: I was referring to the book with regards to how it echoe'd your writing.

Anonymous said...

FYI... I've had comments kicked back as "URL too large" (... which isn't surprising if you know how much us Italians like to talk!)

-Billy G.

Jim said...

Quick comment -- Third party intervention is dangerous but can be managed. Ambush both/all of the fighters, quick and hard. Sort out who did what when the situation's stable. (I said it was quick!)

Aside: I had a comment get lost recently, too. Figured if Rory had a problem with it, he'd have let me know. So I just chalked it up to the little critters that run around in the wires.

Steve Perry said...

Yeah, I worry all the time about hurting your feelings.

Anonymous said...

hi rory,

thank you very much for responding to my post. no i didn't delete it - and i don't know why it got deleted. having followed your blog closely i was confident that it would be received well.

no i do not teach intervention - i am in no way qualified. i am also very careful to articulate the limits of what can be expected from martial arts training to myself and to my students with out programming them to expect to fail.

keeping a clear understanding of the limitations and virtues of training, and separating the various goals, both for myself and for my students has become central to my approach to karate, and your blog helps me keep this in focus.

i understand thanks to your response why you are so interested in ambush, and i can see that it is important to train for it, but there are so many variables it feels like i should just train as hard and consistently as possible and hope that if that situation to occur i will be lucky enough that all those ducks line up in my favour.

but intervention has buzzed past me a couple of times in just the last couple of years. i think i have handled it relatively sensibly. as my skills develop i do not want any false confidence (or doubt) to develop, and i would like to learn from more experienced individuals as to what strategies worked, what did not, and generally things i should think about and consider.

my experience with violence is very limited - and actually i would like to keep it that way. but i will not be the one to turn away...

so i am really on the look out to develop a plan that optimizes my chance of success (defined as stopping a bad thing while not getting hurt myself) in the event of my intervening when things get rough.

btw - i forgot to sign my last post. my name is rohan.

Anonymous said...

oh and PS

that blog post you linked was excellent. some things i had thought of myself but some subtleties particularly regarding technique vs decision to act and your thoughts on finding weapons were useful to think about. also your reasoning regarding strikes was interesting and could help me re-focus my training a bit.

the other reason that occurred to me was that strikes sort of 'invite the fight'. they say 'i want to hurt you', not 'i want to stop you'. food for more thinking.

thanks again for your response.


Anonymous said...

That old post you linked to Rory uses the analogy of a breaking up a dog fight. I love all that image wraps into itself. I use it all the time. Anyone who's ever tried breaking up two angry dogs on a hot day in July at a BBQ, fighting over a dropped Cheeze Curl or something there is an easy way to for anyone lucky enough to have avoided the same in humans to see the violent tunnel vision and heightened sense of nature.

Even in sparring classes or drills, with no specific SD application intended, this is a great way to encourage students to start feeling the mindset of awareness and urgency to be decisive. Looking at an opponent as if he/she were a large crazed predator bearing its teeth at you allows you to objectify quickly. It inspires a different kind of awareness to the situation. People stop bouncing up and down, waving their arms like Groucho Marks in boxing gloves. There is little question about which foot should be forward or which hand to lead with, etc… When you can visualize this way the mindset is suddenly and decidedly not social anymore. You get down to dealing a problem rather than weighing options and designing plans.

Anyway, I like it.

-Billy G.

Unknown said...

Hey Anonymous, I missed the dog fight analogy though such images do tend to clarify like a flash of bright lightning what needs doing.

Some of my third party interventions involve lap dogs or little children being attacked by (usually) pit bulls around here. Almost always action is required before the cops or animal control roll up on the scene.

In addition to actual interventions to remove the innocent from mauling I practice "Dog SD" using imagination and movement. Sometimes I get lucky and lift the dog by the choker chain and hang it on something so it just dangles.

Sometimes, I imagine giving my non-dominant arm to the dog as a treat so I can get to work neutralizing them (hey, one of voice and non verbals work with dogs sometimes). I have not tried this one yet but it does position you to break front legs and go to work on eyes with thumbs....or a damn pen if I remember one.

Sometimes I swing them around and around by their hind legs and maybe smash dog head into hardest thing around.

Sometimes I will tackle the dog, force non dominant arm in mouth and just make it up from there. It helps if a passerby hands me a weapon of some sort.

Before my sanity is questioned I will plead guilty to lunacy but quickly call to me what the blood curdling screams of kids and young mothers stimulate.

Imagine having to say "Well Ma'am, I don't do dogs so we'll just have to watch till the cops get here (too many afraid of dogs and apparently it isn't easy to cap a moving pit bull).

So...the pitbulls are high on self-efficacy and know they are badasses.

Who else trains to fight dogs ?

Justthisguy said...


On my comment, and your reply, on your post "Seeking a Work-Around;"

Some new information has come up about the Tucson shootings. It seems that some of the bystanders did react, and quickly enough to stop more people from being killed. Mr. Loughner apparently fumbled the reload when it came to ejecting and changing his large magazine. Some people, one of them already wounded, saw their chance and grabbed him.

I would love to see the videos of this, if any exist. I would even be happy to participate in your training re-enactment of the thing. I think I could play an oblivious doo-dah, of which there were plenty.

Well, not really. I am already informed about this, and am not a good actor, so as soon as I heard a gunshot in the simulation, I would run, or drop to the ground, or something.

How do you get real oblivious doo-dahs in simulated re-enactments? Advertise deceptively on Craigslist?

Irene said...

My observation on the 'random shooter' scenario, having played it once:

Of ~20 folks, mostly martial arts and LE:
One attacked the shooter immediately. Most hit the deck, or froze, or both. Several did their best to flee. A couple recovered from the freeze and attacked the shooter, who was already engaged by the one unhesitating attacker.

I'd guess that distribution of behavior pretty representative of a random crowd.