Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Your Nature

It's in your nature to fight.  It is in your nature to be strong.  It is in your nature not to be a victim. We are the products of 4 billion years of bloody evolution, where the victims were eaten. Everyone dies, we aren't immortal, but we don't die easily.  Not naturally.

Fighting, self-defense, whatever you want to call it, is one of the most natural things in the world.  Competence at it is your birthright.  We do a disservice, I think, when we teach it as if it is complicated, as if it is something that needs to be learned.  Not that you can't improve, learn and train.  It is complex and nuanced to be good... but it is not complicated.  That's a thought for another time.

But in the end, this is not about "forging warriors."  This is about rehabilitating a predator so that it can take its natural place in the world.  This is your nature.

Not fighting, the fear (not of fighting, fighting hurts, it is wise to fear it) of trying and learning, the insecurity is not nature. It is conditioning.

We are a large population of effective predators.  Individually, not impressive.  But teamwork is a power multiplier like no other and we are, often, better than wolves at working together.  But unlike wolves, we're shitty at getting along.  IMO, our teamwork was learned behavior, for wolves it is their nature.  Without the genes to get along, we created rules, and we instilled those rules into our children from the first day.  That's conditioning.

So when your student can't pull the trigger or can't grab a face, that student is not fighting his nature, he is fighting his conditioning.

There are two immediate implications of this, at least in my mind.

I walk in peace with you because I respect your strength.  I see your nature, even if you have been blinded by your conditioning.  The Hindu greeting "Namaste" I have been told translates: "The divinity in me recognizes the divinity in you" (seems unlikely, that's a pretty small word for two nouns, a verb and two locations). We walk in peace, you and I, because the animal in me recognizes and respects the animal in you. Negotiation and cooperation are preferred to testing who is the wilder.

The second: I understand that people need to be trained from a very young age to get along.  But training makes it a choice and conditioning removes choices.  And it seems that more and more effort is going into making people more and more passive.  Who wanted you to be a victim so badly that they convinced you passivity was normal?  Who feared your animal nature so much?

Take your power.

This grew out of a conversation yesterday with Kathy Jackson, the Cornered Cat.  Kathy's a great instructor and great people.  She has the magic power of making me think.

We were attending a weapon retention program designed by Don Stahlnecker of the Firearms Academy of Seattle.  Good stuff.  Best civilian program I've seen. (LEO weapon retention focuses more on holster retention, since officers open carry).


Patrick Parker said...

Every so often, Rory, you knock it clean out of the park. All of your posts are thoughtful and good and worth the time to read them - but this one is clean out of the park.

Particularly effective (for me) was the part about rehabilitating predators and the part about the meaning of Namaste - perhaps you would balk less at that with a looser translation like, "the power in me recognizes the power in you."

Since Asian terminology often come into our language skewed if not garbled, I feel free to use loose translations like that.

Unknown said...

Spot on.

Neil Bednar said...

Great post. Probably lost on the hordes of docile robots out there who wish they could morph into some sort of mobile "device". Stay human.

Kamil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kamil said...

Excellent post. So often when I'm training I have to tell myself to be ferocious. Then I remind myself that the enemy in my mind won't have to tell themselves that. My enemy has a freedom that I lack. Are we perhaps, too well conditioned? Have our times made us too civilized?

Unknown said...

Yeah this is spot on. Ever notice how the verbally most agressive are the ones with the deep social conditioning that no one is allowed to hurt them, who never experienced a little "corrective violence"? They don't respect the power of others, just let their mouths run in front of their brains. Those kind of people infuriate me. I almost wish they would at least take a swing, then it would be justified to apply a little attitude adjustment :-) Well, I don't ever, so they can do it without consequences to me, cause I'am a good guy. But do that to a bad guy, then you are fucked. One way the social conditioning can kill you.

I agree with us being too civilized. Most of our society see capacity to use force as a character flaw. Many have told me I am violent person, tough I never had an unlawful use of force. Interestingly, I have never even said a bad word to any of them, before or after. Even then, after recognising my ability to hurt them, some even deliberately offended me. That stupid or what? They don't realise, it's those who misuse their power they should fear.

SavageKitsune said...

What Patrick said. I've been reading you for a long time, and this post is one of your best pieces of writing.

Doris said...

Who feared your animal nature so much?
One of my assessments: Many people want to suppress the things they fear most. You needn't control things or people you aren't afraid of.
If "the society" is conditioning people to suppress their animal nature, we have to ask for the instigators. And then we have to ask for the "why". At last we have to ask ourselves if we want to be conditioned any longer.
It's worth to be not brainwashed one more second. It's not easy, but it's really worth it. Trying to leave the paths given by conditioning can be hard and can give so much new impressions. I never regret the moment when I decided to "run free".
That does not absolutely mean to act like a criminal. It just means to feel free to think about sense or nonsense of the default rules.
And being free in the decisions to react. Not frozen by the "default settings". Using the brain for what it's made for is the first step.

Unknown said...

First thing I disagree with is the mentioned fact of man being
billions of years old
The blogger overdoes his narratives on the human mindset and
mans abilities and disabilities to overpower what he calls conditioning.
His layout of thoughts of human nature are blurred through confusing
words that make little sense.
He mentions other philosophies by individual culture that have nothing to
do with the main focus.

My conclusion on all that has been spoken of is useless in self defense !

Now here is my perspective of Positive Self Defense.....
 First and foremost..Mans Natural Instincts is all about { Survival ]
of which becomes the Overpowering of the Fear Factor.
The moment our Survival Instinct activates upon our sense's ...the Fear
itself becomes meaningless !
Our mental and physical strength doubles and that little voice kicks in
telling us.......It Pays to be a Winner !

Lloyd said...

Jesse Markovits, explain why people can allow themselves to be killed, then.

Matt H said...

I have seen too many people freeze when the rubber should have met the road. Jesse it sounds like your assumptions about "self defense" are coming from a story you have not lived. A lot of people when it come to flight or flight freeze because of a plethora of elements. I have come to realize that it's peeling a way the layers of my own conditioning is when I see more and am efficient in my thoughts and actions.

Unknown said...

You are absolutely right. I agree 100%

Jessie Markovits
Actually, you are making little sense. It would be better if you explained your point instead of declaring things. Rory was talking about the conflict between human nature and social conditioning, which is quite relevant in self-defense issues. Also, if you believe that survival instinct will pop up and magically take away the fear, you don't really understand survival stress response. Fear IS part of our survival toolset, a big one. But it CAN overwhelm you, make you freeze and kill you, if you can't control it. As you said, it can also help you, but you have to manage the adrenaline flow. That's not always easy.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. It reminded me of a comment by a friend who has studied Aikido for years: "More people need to experience a punch in the nose."

The point was that our society is full of people who think that the slightest violence is the end of the world. And getting punched in the nose would assure them it's not necessarily so.

I don't train in hand-to-hand any more. Too old, too many injuries and no interest in more. But having had the experience of both having my arse kicked and "winning" fights in my younger years taught me two things:

1. If I have to fight you with my hands, I'm going to get hurt, win or lose. The only question is how much.

2. Since I've already agreed to getting hurt, I can focus all my attention on hurting my assailant much worse, thereby reducing the amount of damage I will have to accept.

Lisa said...

Heh. Who taught us to be passive? Governments, police, and some teachers, parents, and significant others: in two words, authority figures. It is a smart authority figure that teaches his underlings to be passive; makes his job (if his job is defined solely by being an authority) that much easier. My opinion: breeding and teaching passivity is a natural consequence of having hierarchical groups wherein some people are in positions of authority, if said group does not take active steps to prevent it. If I could teach patients to diagnose their own lack of ear infections, wouldn't I do it? Certainly would make my job easier. I can't say I precisely blame the authority figures for trying to make their jobs easier. The problem is that the consequences of passive subjects are unhealthy for society as a whole, but most people are too short sighted to make that connection, or too fearful to allow their subjects to try another path. Some parents get it, and some teachers, and they teach their children/students not to be passive, because they intend for those people to grow and leave their sphere of influence. Governments (and some parents, SOs, teachers, etc) never intend for you to surpass their authority and therefore have no reason to teach you to be autonomous or stand up to them.

Societies will always have to fight this problem. It is inherent in the administration of people living in groups. Some societies won't get it and will eventually either crumble due to the weakness of their members or bubble over like volcanoes when their members learn to be autonomous and take action. It's like watching a romantic comedy: you always know what's going to happen next because that's just human nature.

My opinion, anyway.

Josh Kruschke said...


Or Nurture?

(This one took me awhile to put into words.)

Isn't in our nature to be petty, stupid & self-delusional, too?

Yin & Yang.

We have it in us to survive. We, also, have it in us to lay down and die. To give up or fight on.

Learned helplessness. Is there anything as Learned Independence.


Conditioning? Teaching?

Is the only defference intentent?

How much of what we know is learned vs. instinctual? I'm going to go with most. Orher than pain, hunger and other physical reactions isn't every thing else conditioned or learned?

You stick a baby in the woods by itself...

And even wolves have to learn what it means to be a wolf. 

If we didn't learn that we will die, would we fear walking near the edge of a cliff?

RXian said...

When it gets down to it, there is hardly a difference between nature and nurture. Look up "epigenetics".

We are virus and god and everything between. Yes we can reach the heights of enlightened civilization, but, like a tree, our roots must stay embedded in the deepest, blackest earth.