Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Simple Brutality, Brutal Simplicity

The title is a quote from Kris Wilder.

Another thought from the week of insane business:
Fighting is complicated and hard and can take quite some time to learn.

Hurting, damaging, injuring, killing (whatever level of harm you wish to invoke) is relatively easy, and often the matter of a simple decision.

If you and I were standing in arms reach you could take me out.  Orientation wouldn't matter-- standing side by side on the deck or walking past each other or sitting on the bus.  If size and strength were too disparate, you simply employ a tool.  All provided you could simply decide and act.

Most can't.  Physically, most people have a host of precursor motions and telegraphs and intention signals.  Mentally, it's not enough to simply have a good reason.  Most people need a justification as well (killing someone to protect yourself or your children is a reason.  "Because he was a bad guy" or "He was a piece of shit" are justifications.)  Killing animals 'for food' is reason enough.  We don't need to be angry, don't need to convince ourselves that the animal is bad. Socially, most people must go through steps as the conflict escalates, must seek hooks so that they can blame their own violence on the victim.

And so we have a tendency to kill animals, but to fight humans.  And everything about fighting is inefficient.  Bullshit dominance games played out physically.

And so, for self-defense, you don't 'fight off' an attacker.  You hurt him.  You make him pay.  If necessary, you kill him.  But you don't fight.  He's a human too, and may have needed both a reason and a justification and all that jazz... which meant he wouldn't have picked you if he had any concerns about winning the fight.  Work on conditioning and skill.  They will never harm you.  They will take you off the target list for many predators.

But if you, or your students, are on that list, the skills needed are qualitatively different than simply being a good fighter.  You need to know how to break a human being (the easy part) and you need to be able to make the simple decision to do so.  Not fantasize about the decision, not imagine your heroics.  Simply decide and act.


shugyosha said...

He. Read my mind, did you?

Take care.

Kasey said...

Fantastic blog. Advanced notice that I will be stealing most of this

Wayne said...

Good post, thanks for sharing (and you too Shugyosha).

Kasey said...

Blog got me thinking,
“Work on conditioning and skill. They will never harm you. They will take you off the target list for many predators.”

I agree. However, and this may be a very Law Enforcement perspective but the physical training that can take you off a asocial list puts cops on a social violence list.

What I mean is I have seen arrestees resist against the big buff male cop as “Bullshit dominance games played out physically” to win status / street cred where that same arrestee is compliant with the matronly female cop (not seen as equal, no status to gain by fighting woman, risk of loosing status if you lose to a woman)

Granted its better to be off the asocial profile and avoid social violence, I guess I’m just making an observation about those who are paid not to avoid. Highlighting the need for con com training. Buff Cops (like me:)) squashing the “Bullshit dominance games played out physically” by recognizing them before they start.

shugyosha said...


conditioning doesn't have to be obvious or "buff". But changing your gait already sends a signal.

Take care [BTW, I wanted to go to the seminar with the conflicted communicators, but it looks like there's no way... wanted to meet you, too; time will tell]

Tom said...


I am unclear what you mean by conditioning and skill below. I wonder if you will elaborate to help me understand. Tactically, I like pre-emption.

Thank you.

"... which meant he wouldn't have picked you if he had any concerns about winning the fight. Work on conditioning and skill. They will never harm you. They will take you off the target list for many predators.

Charles James said...

Do I have it right Mr. Miller, when you develop a higher degree of physical and mental conditioning and couple that with the type of skills for self-defense in say a martial art you build a body language, an attitude, and other such things that project to a predatory that maybe they should pick an easier target?

All things being some what equal?

Rory said...

Weird. Blogger just tried to do a whole new format.
Ferran- That is a little creepy synchronicity.

Kasey- It can. Body language and demeanor are part of it as well. As an aside, being hard to read deters more people, predators and social alike than being clearly dangerous, IME.

Tom and Charles- It's easiest to look at from the bad guys point of view. In logic of violence we start with the premise: you are an addict. You need four hundred dollars today. You don't want to get caught, get hurt, lose your reputation or, ideally, be identified. Who will you target?

You can look at individuals in the street or just scan your self-defense class. Bad guys aren't dumb and they work to limit their risk. Strong, aware people (and those who move well, especially those who move well) are higher risk. So it tends to take you off the target list to be fit and alert.


Jake said...

Hmmm. Lots to think about

@ Kasey -- It's not just a cop thing. I had a conversation many years ago with a LARGE African American man who had grown up in...well, not the nicest neighborhoods. One of his great complaints (and his reason for taking up martial arts) was that little guys* were always trying to pick fights with him to show how tough they were.

*At 185 pounds, I still qualified as "little" for this guy.

Anonymous said...

"Simply decide and act." Simple, not easy.

Or as Tuco said, "When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk. "

shugyosha said...


Synchronicity. Creepy. Yeah...

You sure you ain't projecting... ? ;) Since you can't ever call _me_ creepy, you're left with other rationalizations.

Take care.

Tom said...


Much clearer.

Duh...look at it from their point of view. Thats obvious now in hindsight.

Thanks. I appreciate your help.

Josh Kruschke said...

Elegant Efficiency

Jim said...

A possible thought for comparison.

Look at a predator like a lion or tiger (or even a wolf pack -- but that really fits for a different dynamic). They seldom target the strongest, healthiest prey. Sure -- the bigger elk or gazelle would feed the predator longer. IF it caught it. And could defend it.

So they target smaller, weaker prey that's more vulnerable. Prey that is less likely to defend itself. It's not necessarily size; they'll target an injured or weakened animal in heartbeat.

Criminals are predators, too. They either instinctively or through training via experience read the targets and find the more vulnerable. The guy that's distracted. The big guy who moves clumsy. Not the person who moves with confidence and balance. Doesn't mean that the fittest guy is the one they don't target; but they do read right past bluster.

Am I making a little sense?

Regarding Kasey's comment specifically about cops and dominance games... That's something I've run into, too. Free admission. I'm overweight. I can also do squats in the 300 lb range, and my personal best in bench is 300 lbs. I can run a mile in around the 11 to 12 minute range... and I'm deceptively quick in a short sprint. In short -- I'm not a little guy, and I'm not a fat slob. It shows. I get the occasional dominance game. I've seen and used two solutions (both require staying OUT of the game!). The first is what I call the "big dog" approach, or sometimes the wolf-among-dogs. Ever watch a really big dog like a Rotty being hassled by some little yip-yapping mop of dog like a bichon or pekinese? The big dog just watches, pretty much ignoring it because it's no threat. The wolf-among-dogs comes from a scene written by Gordon Dickson, where one of his Dorsai warrior-soldiers was confronted by several criminals who just melted away as he looked at them; Dickson's line was that he was "a wolf surrounded by dogs."

The other approach is to have someone that's completely out of the dominance games in the other way -- often a female officer. I've seen some of the biggest, meanest, most badass guys that were all set to fight me melt and meekly submit to a confident female officer.

(Note, please, both approaches require real confidence, not bravado. One of the best ways to screw it up is bravado and bluster...)

WING CHUN INCas said...

Great words, I hope you do not mind but I cut and pasted it to a group that I am with, I did of course give credit to you and where it came from.